Here's What Happens When You Leave a Lot of Money in Your Savings Account

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page. APY = Annual Percentage Yield. APYs are subject to change at any time without notice.

KEY POINTS

  • It's a good idea to make sure you have enough money in savings for emergencies.
  • Keeping too much cash in a savings account over time could mean losing out on higher returns in a brokerage account. 

Even when interest rates are high, you could still lose out financially. 

You'll often hear that it's important to have money set aside for emergency expenses, like home repairs, car repairs, or medical bills. And the best place to put that cash is a savings account. That way, you'll have access to it whenever you need, and you won't have to worry about your principal contribution losing value. 

But while it's good to have a nice amount of financial protection from emergencies, you don't want to make the mistake of putting all of your money into a savings account. Even when interest rates are higher like they are today, they might pale in comparison to the returns you manage to generate by investing your money in a brokerage account

Don't sell your money short

Putting your money into a savings account means keeping it safe. Investing, on the other hand, carries risk. But in exchange for that risk, you might manage to generate a much higher return on your cash than what a savings account will pay you. And in the long run, that could really make a difference.

These days, you might be able to score a 4% return on your money in a high-yield savings account. For a risk-free deposit, that's not a bad deal. 

Our Picks for the Best High-Yield Savings Accounts of 2024

APY
4.25%
Rate info Circle with letter I in it. 4.25% annual percentage yield as of July 12, 2024
Min. to earn
$1
APY
4.50%
Min. to earn
$0.01
APY
5.10%
Min. to earn
$0

But here's something to consider. The S&P 500 index, which consists of the 500 largest publicly traded companies, generated an average yearly return of 11.88% between 1957 and the end of 2021, according to Investopedia. 

Now, let's be a little bit more conservative than that and assume your portfolio only delivers an average yearly return of 8%. That's still a lot higher than the 4% you might get on the money you keep in a savings account. And that could make a world of a difference over time.

In fact, let's say you have $10,000 in cash beyond what you need for your emergency fund. If you keep that money in the bank for 30 years and score an average annual 4% return on it, you'll end up with around $32,400. But if you invest that $10,000 in a brokerage account and your portfolio delivers an average annual 8% return, in 30 years' time, you'll be sitting on about $100,600. That's a difference of more than $68,000.

It pays to take on some risk

Any money you have earmarked for emergencies, or for near-term goals, like buying a car or home, should be kept in a savings account. But if you have money you're trying to save for long-term goals, like retirement, then investing it could really be a far more lucrative choice. 

And if you're not good at picking stocks or you feel you don't have the knowledge needed to do so, you can invest in exchange-traded funds instead. These allow you to put your money into the broad market so you're not taking on the risk that comes with buying individual companies. And it may make you more comfortable with the idea of investing in the first place.

These savings accounts are FDIC insured and could earn you 11x your bank

Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. Our picks of the best online savings accounts could earn you 11x the national average savings account rate. Click here to uncover the best-in-class accounts that landed a spot on our short list of the best savings accounts for 2024.

Two of our top online savings account picks:

Rates as of Jul 12, 2024 Ratings Methodology
Advertisement
American Express® High Yield Savings Citizens Access® Savings
Member FDIC. Member FDIC.
Rating image, 4.00 out of 5 stars.
4.00/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Rating image, 4.00 out of 5 stars.
4.00/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor

APY: 4.25%

APY: 4.50%

Min. to earn APY: $1

Min. to earn APY: $0.01

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow