Every mom needs a savings account in her own name, arguably more than the average American.
After all, statistically, we are more likely to be fully responsible for the care and cost of children, and less likely to benefit from a spouse or large Social Security check later in life.
More than half of us will be single moms in our lifetimes, in which case there is no question!
Why it’s so important for women to work towards wealth
These are reasons why I urge women to prioritize saving, investing and being financially independent.
This means living debt-free, investing for retirement, building a career or business that you enjoy and earns you a lifestyle you deserve.
It also means not only never being ashamed of working towards wealth, but being proud of it!
One of the easiest and yet most powerful tools in a mom’s financial game is having an emergency fund.
A minimum of $1,000 in an account for unexpected car or home repairs, unemployment, illness or any other of the zillions of things that life can dump in your lap usually comes with the need for extra cash.
Without extra cash on hand, you live in fear. When you are afraid, you make less wise, long-sighted decisions — worse decisions.
Money in the bank is power.
Money in the bank is control.
Money in the bank is a better life.
Rules for an emergency savings account:
- It should be in a bank separate from your regular checking account. A little harder to access. Keeps you honest.
- Do not think of this as fun money. This is safe money. Fuck-you money. Power money. It is not for vacations or clothes or dinners out.
- Look at that money often. Maybe it is linked to your Mint.com account, or you keep a statement within eyeshot on your desk. Give yourself regular reminders of how powerful you are because of that money.
Now, let’s get you an account already!
You can find plenty of excuses not to mosey down to the local bank and stand in line to open a savings account. Time. Business. Whatever.
Thankfully, there are lots of great online savings account options that you can open from home, in a matter of minutes.
When it comes to your savings accounts, there are a few things single moms should look for in their bank in order to make sure they save both time and money:
- Accessibility: You need to be able to do your banking at night after the kids go to bed, not worry about getting to a physical bank location before closing. Any bank you choose should have a robust online platform and preferably an app so you can deposit checks, make transfers, and ask customer support questions easily.
- Low (or No) Fees: As a single mom, it’s important to watch your spending, which means plugging any financial leaks that pop up. Bank fees can be one of those slow (and sometimes quiet) leaks. Educate yourself on the banks that have low or no fees at all when it comes to their savings accounts. Don’t be shy about asking questions!
- Mobile Deposits: Raise your hand if you just want to take a picture of a check and have the money appear in your bank account immediately. Who has time to wait in line at the bank drive through? It’s amazing that some banks still don’t offer this feature.
- Fantastic Customer Service: You don’t have the patience to deal with rude or unhelpful employees. After all, you already have to discipline your kids all day! Instead, bank with an institution that’s known for putting their customers first (and makes it super easy for their customers to contact them). Seek out banks that have award-winning customer service teams, or the availability to do an online chat when you don’t feel like talking to an actual human.
- Long-Term Savings Options: Once you establish a pattern for saving successfully, you’ll probably be interested in long-term savings options too. Look for a bank that offers money market accounts, CDs, or investment options for the future. That way, you can avoid switching banks or having too many accounts to keep track of when it’s time to invest for the long term.
The banks listed below each meet many or all of these criteria.
These banks have low (or no) fees and have excellent reputations for customer service.
Some even offer sign up bonuses and savings accounts for your kids (so you can help them become financially savvy too.)
Additionally, many of these banks offer long-term savings options, whether it’s a great rate on a money market account or full service investing options.
I guarantee you can find a bank that meets your needs below:
Best savings accounts for single moms
CIT Bank’s high-yield savings account has won a host of awards for its online savings account, which at 1.85% APY, is 25 times the national average. That is a lot. CIT Bank is FDIC insured. To earn this rate, CIT requires a $100 minimum deposit, and setup of a new account takes less than 5 minutes (I tried it). (Also, the CIT CD has one of the highest rates at I’ve found: 2.5%). You can make checking deposits by:
- Electronic transfer
- Mail in check
- Mobile check deposit
- Wire transfer
BBVA Compass is a growing U.S. bank whose online accounts are extremely user-friendly. Account holders enjoy a network of more than 55,000 ATMs nationwide, and a really great money market rate of 1.7% APY for 12 months for new accounts — no matter how much you deposit (it makes me crazy when banks advertise a high interest rate — only to disclose in the fine print that it only applies to like $500,000 deposits. None of that baloney with BBVA Compass!). Just $25 to get started, a great app, and takes less than 5 minutes to apply and fund your account.
Chase Bank is one of the largest banks in the United States, one I happen to do a lot of business with (business and personal checking accounts, savings accounts for my kids, and my mortgage — not to mention a killer business credit card). Some customers prefer banking with smaller institutions, but Chase’s great perks and frequent sign-on bonuses should encourage you to consider them.
For example, you can earn up to $350 as a new customer when you open a checking and savings account with them (and meet certain requirements.) Additionally, they do charge small fees for checking, but typically those will be waived if you enroll in direct deposit or maintain a certain daily balance.
With this particular sign up bonus, you could get enough free money for a car payment or an entire birthday party for your first grader, so it’s definitely worth considering. After all, $350 is a lot of money!
Additionally, Chase offers paperless statements and access to a human banker guidance to help you reach your savings goals. They even have something called Text Banking where you can send them a text and they’ll send you your current balance and more in seconds.
So, if you’re standing in the shoe aisle at Target wondering if you should buy the boots that are on sale, a quick text can show you if you really have the money to spend or not. If that’s not convenient for a mom on the go, I don’t know what is.
USAA is a bank that’s specifically for military families — including if your parents are or were military. So, if that’s not you, you can jump to the next section.
USAA is great for single moms because you can access your accounts through their mobile app. Also, one of the best perks of a USAA savings account is that you pay no fees whatsoever, regardless of your balance. So, there’s no need to worry about having direct deposit set up or keeping a certain amount in your savings account.
Also, if you can’t find a USAA ATM near you, you can use another bank’s ATM machine and USAA will refund your ATM fees. If you have a check you want to deposit, you can do so using their app too. Goodbye, long lines at the bank.
Again, USAA is only open to military families but if you don’t meet that requirement, there are still several other banks with similar perks on this list. Just keep reading.
Capital One 360
The Capital One 360 Savings Account is part of the Capital One umbrella, and it’s a wonderful option for single moms for many reasons. First and foremost, your Capital One 360 account is free. There is no minimum to open the account and no fees. This savings account is completely online too, so it’s incredibly convenient.
Like USAA, Capital One also has a great mobile app. You can accomplish all your banking needs right from your phone. Use it to check your balance, transfer money, and earn 1.00% APY on your savings account while you do it. Also, if you lose your phone, you can log in securely on another device to check your accounts with a technology called SureSwipe.
Additionally, you can open a Kids Savings Account through Capital One. Kids Savings Accounts also earn 1.00% APY, which is a great rate in the current market, and you can easily transfer money from your account to theirs. This can help your child build lifelong financial habits and get excited about seeing their money grow. The best part? You can teach your kid these money lessons right from the comfort of your living room since Capital One 360 is entirely online.
If you like goal-based savings accounts, you will love Ally Bank. For example, if you want to save for a big trip, holiday spending, or even something as simple as a new bike, you can open a separate Ally Bank savings account for each goal.
Then, you can rename each savings account to a goal so that when you log into your Ally dashboard, you can see how much money is is each individual savings account. This will not only encourage you to save more, but it’ll make you think twice before you withdraw that money for another goal.
Your Ally Bank savings account has one of the highest interest rates on this list. Your savings earns 1.8% APY, and Ally has increased this number up to 1.25% a few times recently. Plus, like others on this list, Ally Bank is 100% online. You can manage your money through your computer or on your phone with their app. They also have highly rated customer service reps that are just a phone call away.
Many people think of Charles Schwab as an investment company, and that’s because it is. However, if you open a brokerage account with them, you can open a savings account for free.
The biggest perk of being a Charles Schwab customer is that they have live chat, which is great if you’re a single mom and can’t get through one phone call without a kid screaming. You can ask their customer service agents questions on the live chat at any time, and they can help you understand how to use their website, transfer money, and more.
If you want to start saving for retirement, Schwab also has a robo-advisor called Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, which is a great, low-cost alternative to paying for pricey investment fees.
All in all, Charles Schwab is a great company with many different options to help make your banking life easier.
EverBank is a bank that’s headquartered in Florida. Unlike some of the banks on this list. EverBank does have several physical locations. However, you can be their customer from anywhere, nationwide. Many people bank with EverBank because of their competitive rates, especially when it comes to long-term savings.
For example, if you have $5,000 and want to get a higher interest rate on your savings, you can open a money market account with them and earn 1.35% APY. If you prefer to open a basic savings account, you only need $25. Plus, there are no monthly fees as long as you keep a minimum balance.
EverBank also has an A+ health rating, which means that they are strong as a bank, with a substantial amount of assets and strong profits.
Bank of Internet USA
While the name sounds kind of funny, Bank of Internet USA is actually the oldest Internet bank around. This means they have extensive experience working virtually with customers, and they have many different tools and accounts that they customers can use to help manage their finances.
Their high-yield savings account earns 1.3% APY, which is a great current rate for the industry. Plus, there are absolutely no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum account balances. Additionally, if you want to use a debit card to access your savings, all you need to do is request one.
Best of all, if you are a Bank of Internet USA customer, you get access to something called FinanceWorks. This is a comprehensive money management software that combines all of your accounts to one dashboard so you can monitor your spending and look for new ways to save money. Ultimately, this perk plus the fact that you can conduct all your banking online makes Bank of Internet USA a worthwhile choice for single moms.
Online Banking for single Moms
Ultimately, being a single mom can be incredibly challenging. You have to manage your life, your work, your household, and as a result – your finances – all on your own.
When you have children and all of these different responsibilities, it can be hard to run one errand let alone several in a day. That’s why it’s so important to find a bank that caters to busy parents like you. Many single parents really enjoy the accessibility of online banking. Really, as long as you have a smartphone, you can accomplish most, if not all, of your banking needs from the carpool line.
And remember, if you want to save as much money as possible, you should seek out one of the banks above that has no minimum account balances and doesn’t require a certain savings threshold to keep the account free of fees. Also, be sure to keep researching different sign-up bonuses for checking and savings accounts since the terms and conditions tend to change.
Lastly, if you want to start investing or earn higher rates on your money, you might want to consider a bank that offers the highest APY on a basic savings account or a bank that has several different investment options. That way, once you become an expert at meeting your savings goals, you can stay with your bank and learn how to invest for the long-term, too.
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Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.