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Why Saving Money Under Your Mattress is a Big and Unnecessary Risk

By Elizabeth McLaughlin, AVP Marketing, Affinity Federal Credit Union

While cleaning out my home office this weekend, I found a Costco reward check from 2014. My stomach dropped; the thought of losing 100 bucks was almost overwhelming. But surprisingly, there was no expiration date. I crossed my fingers and drove to Costco. Sure enough, the reward checks don’t expire and I walked out of the store cash in hand.

Personal victory? Absolutely. But there’s a larger issue worth discussing. As I chatted with the cashier about my fear of lost money, she confided she has several reward checks (“a few years’ worth!”) and is stashing them away for a rainy day. At first I thought, “Great idea.” But is it really?

Historically, people have “put money under the mattress” for ages. In this instance, though, say those checks get stolen, or the house goes up in flames, or she forgets where she put them – they’re gone! “Rainy day funds” or “mattress money” may seem like a safe plan, but there are too many variables and risks associated. Why not put them into a savings or certificate account where not only is your money safe, but earning interest.

Consider these three benefits of certificate accounts:

    • These type of accounts keep your money locked up for a term that works with your needs –from 30 days to 5 years –so you don’t get tempted to withdraw the funds unless it is absolutely necessary.
    • Certificates allow you add to your savings over time; when you have some spare change, make a deposit.
    • You could even open a 12-month certificate using with the Costco monetary rewards and add to it each year when your the new rewards check arrives comes (assuming your Costco shopping habits stay consistent and your redemption check arrives at same time annually, your certificate term would be up when your new funds are available).

Of course, a traditional savings account is always an option too, likely with no minimum balance or term restrictions. Both offer peace of mind, too. Don’t risk losing your rainy day fund; keep it safe so it’s there for you the day it starts to rain.

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