Some grads delusional when it comes to how much they can earn

Some grads delusional when it comes to how much they can earn

New grads may be in for a rude awakening when it comes to the power of their paycheck for saving.

In a small recent survey from LendEdu.com, only 26 per cent of college students correctly guessed that the average savings account interest rate is in the 0 per cent to 1 per cent bucket.

To be specific, annual percentage yields on savings and money market accounts currently average 0.56 per cent, according to Bankrate.com.

Forty-two per cent in the survey think the typical consumer earns 1 per cent to 3 per cent on their money.

Twenty-two per cent thought it was 3 per cent to 5 per cent, 8 per cent thought it was 5 to 7 per cent, and a very optimistic 2 per cent put the average at 7 per cent or better.

The survey was limited to 455 undergraduate and graduate students from three unidentified, four-year colleges on the East Coast, so fingers crossed that's not a representative sample of college students' savings savvy.

Grads looking for a decent rate of return on a savings account will see some of the highest-yield options in online-only accounts, said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com.

In that category, young savers could easily get 1 per cent, or as much as 1.1 per cent if they have more than $1,000 (S$1351) to stash away.

"Where you're going to earn 3 per cent or more would be a high-yield rewards checking account," said McBride.

But those accounts, largely available through community banks and credit unions, often come with a long string of qualifying hoops - including direct deposit, a minimum number of debit card transactions each month and electronic receipt of statements.

Account requirements and fees can ultimately be more important, especially for grads on a starting salary, said Odysseas Papadimitriou, founder of WalletHub.com.

Look for an account that's free or has fees waived with a low minimum-balance requirement, and that allows you to easily avoid other charges.

"Rates are so paltry that even the best of the bunch would be wiped out with a modest monthly fee or ATM withdrawal charge," he said.

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