The easiest way to explain what a CD is is to copy directly, someone else’s explanation:
“A certificate of deposit or CD is a time deposit, a financial product commonly offered to consumers by banks, thrift institutions, and credit unions. CDs are similar to savings accounts in that they are insured and thus virtually risk-free; they are “money in the bank” (CDs are insured by the FDIC for banks or by the NCUA for credit unions). They are different from savings accounts in that the CD has a specific, fixed term (often three months, six months, or one to five years), and, usually, a fixed interest rate. It is intended that the CD be held until maturity, at which time the money may be withdrawn together with the accrued interest.”
Thank you Wikipedia.
So how do CD’s work? You go to your local bank or credit union and speak to a personal banker, the guys and gals at the desks. To open a CD account, there is generally a minimum balance required of $500 or more depending on the terms. The terms are laid out at the time of opening the account, the most common terms are 3 month,6 month,9 month, 12 month, 3 year and 5 year. The interest rates are generally higher than that of a savings account with some exceptions.
Why do you want one? Security. CD accounts are just as safe as savings accounts and are insured all the same. There is no risk of losing your money unless our financial systems collapse and at that point money won’t have a value anyway so it’ll be the least of your concerns.
Secondly, the rates normally beat inflation by a healthy amount. What many people don’t realize is that having your money in a savings account can actually make you LOSE money. I’m not talking about fees here. A typical bank offers you an interest rate as low as 0.01%, while inflation sits at a much higher 3% on average, making your oney worth less by the year. How does it make sense to be saving money and lose 2.9% of it’s value every year?
That’s why I suggest CD’s to anyone who is just starting to build up their money reserve. My suggestion is to keep an emergency fund in savings so it may be accessed immediately, but put the rest of your money is short term CD’s until you have an alternate idea for it. I’ll be laddering my funds in 3 separate 3 month CD’s, opened n consecutive months. This way I will never be more than 30 days away from money being available to me.