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Savings account mistakes to avoid

Not all savings accounts are created equal. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Savings accounts are one of the most common financial products Americans have. We all know we should be putting money aside for the future, and a savings account is often the go-to method for doing so. In fact, it's such a regular part of our financial lives that many of us don't give ours a second thought once we've opened it.

But not all savings accounts are created equal. They aren't just a place to park your money. They can also help you grow that money faster — if you know what to look for. To help you maximize your earnings, we've compiled some of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to savings accounts so you can steer clear of them.

Check out today's top savings account offers here to see how much more you could be earning.

Savings account mistakes to avoid

Don't fall into these common savings account traps.

Putting your money in a low-interest account

Arguably the top savings account mistake is letting your money languish in an account with a paltry interest rate.

All savings accounts earn interest, but some earn it at a much higher rate than others. If you're not keeping your money in a high-yield savings account, you're missing out on potential earnings.

Consider that the average interest rate for a regular savings account is currently 0.40%, according to the FDIC. Rates for the top high-yield savings accounts, by comparison, range from about 4.00% to 4.85%. Here's what that means for you:

Let's say you have $1,000 to deposit. If you put it in a regular savings account at 0.40%, you'd earn a mere $4 after 12 months. In a high-yield savings account at 4.85%, however, your $1,000 would earn $48.49 in the same period. And since interest compounds, the difference in earnings only grows the more you deposit and the longer you keep it in the account.

How much more interest could you be earning? Find out by viewing current rates now.

Not shopping around for the best offer

High-yield accounts are the best way to earn maximum interest on your savings, but rates vary from bank to bank and account to account. If you only look at your current bank's offerings, you may be stuck with a much lower rate than you could find elsewhere.

Take the time to do your research and compare today's best high-yield savings accounts to find the one that will give you the most for your money. You have plenty of options to choose from, so don't settle for the first one that catches your eye.

Only considering the interest rate

Getting the best interest rate is essential, but it shouldn't be the only factor you consider when choosing an account. If an account comes with high fees or doesn't offer the features you need, it may not be the best fit for you.

When evaluating your options, take a look at everything from maintenance fees to withdrawal limits to the size of the bank's ATM network (if it's an online bank). You want to strike a balance between the features you need, the interest you can earn and the potential for any fees to chip away at that interest.

Find the best savings account for you by comparing today's top offers.

The bottom line

There's one more mistake to watch out for when it comes to savings: not setting (or sticking to) your goals. Without a clear savings goal in mind, it can be difficult to know how much you should be putting aside each month. And once you've set that goal, you need to avoid some common pitfalls to make sure you achieve it.

Make it easier to meet by automating your savings. For instance, you can set up direct deposit for your paycheck so a portion goes into your savings account each pay period. This eliminates the possibility of you forgetting to contribute to your savings (or deciding you'd rather spend the money elsewhere).

Then, resist the urge to tap into that money for unnecessary expenses. If you're always withdrawing from your savings account, you're not making the most of its benefits. It's important to exercise self-control and remind yourself why you're saving in the first place, whether that's for an emergency fund or a major expense like a vacation. Your future self will thank you.

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