Part of an effective financial strategy includes maximizing your earnings while balancing your need for liquidity; and a certificate of deposit, or CD, is one way to accomplish that goal. Just like with a high-yield savings account, you will want to stay informed on the best CD rates and terms available at each bank.

The tool we created to monitor the rates of more than 500 financial institutions (banks, credit unions, savings banks, and savings and loan associations) also displays the top 50 highest rates for CDs. Again, these are weekly rate updates designed to help you find the best rates for the type of account you are interested in, the specific term you seek, as well as the amount you would like to deposit.

I used to monitor these rates by hand, but it quickly became an enormous task. I hope you will find this tool useful, and I encourage you to add your comment below so others can benefit by your experience as they conduct their research.

TermRateAPYMin. To Earn APYDetails
5 year2.25%2.27%$5,000Share Certificate - contact Melrose CU for opening paperwork - Must be a member
5 year2.25%$1,000Term CD - Apply online
5 year2.23%2.25%$060 Month Online CD
5 year2.22%2.24%$1,500Yield Pledge CD
5 year2.13%2.15%$1,00060 Month CD
5 year2.08%2.10%$500Tiered interest rate - between $500 and $25,000 - must be a member and reside in Texas, Colorado or Utah - apply online - Rate collected within: 78203 (TX)
5 year2.08%2.10%$500Apply online - located in New York
5 year2.08%2.10%$500Open online - Maximum deposit amount $1,000,000
5 year2.05%$5,000Certificate of Deposit Accounts, New York Branch - for CD 5 years and above
5 year2.03%2.05%$50060 Month CD - Less than $100,000 - Rate collected within: 10025 (NY)
5 year2.01%2.05%$1,000
5 year2.00%2.02%$10,000eCD rates for online account only
5 year2.00%2.02%$1,000Term Share Certificate - 60 Months (1825 days) - Must be a member - County of Los Angeles, CA
5 year2.00%2.01%$1,00060 Month CD - Located in Avon, MA
5 year1.98%2.00%$50060 Month Regular CD - Rate collected within: Northern CA
5 year1.98%2.00%$5,000Callable Relationship - 60 Month with 1 year lock. Rate collected within AL.
5 year2.00%$10,000Rate available with active checking account - membership is available nationwide - may become a member and open account online - contact credit union for details - credit union located in Wisconsin
5 year1.99%2.00%$500Central New York market area only
5 year1.98%2.00%$50060 Month Regular CD - Rate collected within:Jacksonville, FL
5 year1.98%2.00%$50060 Month Regular CD - Rate collected within: Birmingham, AL
5 year1.98%2.00%$1,0005 Year CD Tier $1,000-$2,499
5 year1.93%1.95%$2,500
5 year1.92%1.94%$2,500Limited to New York and Florida market area
5 year1.90%$50060 Month CD - Rates may vary based on location - Rate collected within: NY
5 year1.85%$50060 Month CD - for balances in Tier $0-$9,999
5 year1.79%$1,00060 month CD - Limited to Brooksville, KY market area
5 year1.75%1.77%$1,000
5 year1.74%1.75%$500Rate collected within: 08034 (NJ)
5 year1.75%1.75%$2,500
5 year1.75%$500Apply online - Rate collected within: Adams County, Ohio
5 year1.73%1.75%$1,000Apply at a branch
5 year1.74%1.75%$50060 Month CD - Apply Online
5 year1.70%1.71%$50060 Month CD - Tier $500 - $4,999
5 year1.70%1.71%$1,000
5 year1.65%1.66%$1,000
5 year1.64%1.65%$1,00060 month CD
5 year1.60%1.61%$500Membership is limited to employees of the air transportation industry, as well as those who live or work in select counties of the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, metro area
5 year1.59%1.60%$100High-Yield CD - Apply online
5 year1.60%$2,50060 month CD - Traditional Term Certificate - Available in Pennsylvania and Ohio market area - Rate collected within: 15222 (PA)
5 year1.54%1.55%$1,00060 Month CD - Rates may vary based on location
5 year1.50%1.51%$1,00060 Month CD - Limited to local Nebraska market area
5 year1.50%1.51%$10,000
5 year1.50%1.51%$1,00060 Month CD Tier $1,000 - $9,999 - Apply online or at branch
5 year1.50%1.51%$1,000Money Market Certificates - membership is open to U.S. military
5 year1.50%1.51%$1,00060 Month CD
5 year1.50%1.51%$5005 Year CD - Must be a member of O Bee Credit Union
5 year1.49%1.50%$500
5 year1.49%1.50%$500Apply at a branch - New York
5 year1.49%1.50%$1,00060 month term-Balances of $1,000-$89,999-Account must be opened in branch. Accounts are available within: WA, OR, ID, UT, AZ, NV, TX and NM
5 year1.50%$2,500Nationwide - apply online

Rates / APY terms above are current as of the date indicated. These quotes are from banks, credit unions and thrifts, some of which have paid for a link to their website. Bank, thrift and credit union deposits are insured by the FDIC or NCUA. Contact the bank for the terms and conditions that may apply to you. Rates are subject to change without notice and may not be the same at all branches.


Current Certificate of Deposit Rates

A certificate of deposit (CD) is considered a time deposit because it is not a liquid asset that can be accessed on demand. Instead, the amounts deposited into a CD are expected to remain untouched for a specific period of time. (In general, the longer the term, the higher the interest rate for a CD.) Historically, interest rates for CDs have been higher than for high-yield online savings accounts, and both types of accounts are generally FDIC-insured. There is usually a penalty if you withdraw your funds before the end of the term.

Interest rates are a moving target, though, so it is important to stay on top of the latest developments and think through how you will use a CD in your overall financial plan. There are a few different strategies to be aware of too: A CD ladder can help you maintain a relatively constant income no matter how current CD rates fluctuate. A parallel CD strategy can help you maintain some accessibility to your funds during the term. If you need to learn how to shop for CDs, read Richard Barrington’s post – but do shop for the best CD rates. In fact, you might want to bookmark this page just to make it easier.

An online account is arguably one of the most convenient ways to manage CDs, and most of these banks say they can offer a better rate structure because they aren’t brick-and-mortar institutions. Here are some of the best I have found:

GE Capital Bank CDs

GE Capital Bank requires a $500 minimum deposit and there are no monthly fees or transaction fees at all. You can link an external account and transfer funds – or send a domestic wire transfer or check – to open the account. GE offers a 10-day CD Rate Guarantee in case rates go up just after you open your account too. Interest is compounded daily and applied monthly, and deposits are FDIC-insured. Of note, GE Capital Bank tied for “Best Savings Account” by Money Magazine in 2013.

GE Capital Bank CD Rates
Term APY Minimum
6 months 0.70% $500
9 months 0.70% $500
12 months 1.05% $500
18 months 1.05% $500
24 months 1.15% $500
30 months 1.15% $500
36 months 1.30% $500
48 months 1.65% $500
60 months 2.10% $500
72 months 2.15% $500
Savings account: 0.90% Rates as of April 17, 2014

Barclays Online CDs .

Barclays is a large, international bank that has been in business for more than 300 years! There is no minimum balance to open a CD and there are no hidden monthly maintenance fees. They even offer a CD calculator to help you decide how best to manage your portfolio. Interest is compounded daily and deposits are FDIC-insured. Of note, Barclays also tied for “Best Savings Account” by Money Magazine in 2013.

Barclays CD Rates
Term APY Minimum
3 months 0.35% $0
6 months 0.55% $0
9 months 0.60% $0
12 months 0.80% $0
18 months 0.85% $0
24 months 1.15% $0
36 months 1.35% $0
48 months 1.70% $0
60 months 2.25% $0
Savings account: 0.90% Rates as of April 17, 2014

Ally High-Yield Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

Ally Bank’s CDs offer no minimum deposit to open and no monthly maintenance fees. Ally Bank also offers the Ally Ten Day Best Rate Guarantee. Interest is compounded daily and deposits are FDIC-insured. In MoneyRates’ “Best Savings Accounts for 2014,” Ally Bank was awarded first place for consistently offering high rates for an entire year. Money Magazine also gave Ally Bank the top slot for “Best Online Bank” in both 2012 and 2013. Accounts are accessible 24/7 over an award-winning-mobile-banking application as well.

Ally Bank CD Rates
Term APY Minimum
3 months 0.30% $0
6 months 0.61% $0
9 months 0.64% $0
12 months 0.99% $0
18 months 0.94% $0
36 months 1.20% $0
60 months 1.60% $0
Savings account: 0.87% Rates as of April 17, 2014

Bank5 Connect CDs

Bank5 Connect offers a CD with a $500 minimum deposit and no monthly maintenance fees. Bank5Connect says its competitive rates are possible because it operates online, but certainly the degree to which your deposits are insured is also important. Bank5 Connect CDs are insured to their full amount (FDIC-insured to $250,000 and DIF-insured for over $250,000).

Bank5 Connect CD Rates
Term APY Minimum
6 months 0.85% $500
12 months 1.00% $500
18 months 1.05% $500
24 months (Investment CD) 1.20% $500
36 months 1.30% $500
Savings account: 0.90% Rates as of April 17, 2014

CIT Bank Jumbo CDs

If you can commit to a larger minimum deposit, CIT Bank seems prepared to make it worth your while. The CIT Bank jumbo CDs with a $100,000 minimum deposit and no monthly maintenance fees also compound interest daily. CIT Bank lets you manage your accounts online (24/7 access via the Internet) and provides online statements. CIT Bank was founded in 1908 by Henry Ittleson to provide financing for businesses. Throughout the 20th century, CIT expanded its product lines (including CDs, IRAs, and custodial accounts) to consumers and many business sectors and small businesses. Deposits are FDIC-insured.

CIT Bank Jumbo CD Rates
Term APY Minimum
24 months 1.25% $100,000
36 months 1.40% $100,000
48 months 1.80% $100,000
60 months 2.30% $100,000
Savings account: 0.95% Rates as of April 17, 2014

EverBank Yield Pledge CD

EverBank made a commitment to always be in the top 5 percent of competitive accounts, so their rates should be attractive no matter when you shop. There is a $1,500 minimum to open an account, but there are no account fees. Interest is compounded daily and deposits are FDIC-insured.

EverBank CD Rates
Term APY Minimum
3 months 0.33% $1500
6 months 0.35% $1500
9 months 0.35% $1500
12 months 0.70% $1500
18 months 0.70% $1500
24 months 0.90% $1500
30 months 0.99% $1500
36 months 1.26% $1500
48 months 1.73% $1500
60 months 2.20% $1500
Money Market account: 0.86%** Rates as of April 17, 2014

**For first-time account holders, Everbank’s Yield Pledge Money Market Account offers a new account bonus rate of 1.10 percent for the first six months, a first year APY currently at 0.86 percent for account balances up to $50,000 and an ongoing APY of 0.61 percent APY. (Rate as of April 17, 2014.)

Capital One 360 CDs

Capital One 360 CDs offer standard term lengths with no minimum deposit required. You can decide when to receive the interest earned (monthly, annually, or at the end of the term) and receive automatic renewal reminders. Interest is compounded daily and deposits are FDIC-insured.

Capital One 360 CD Rates
Term APY Minimum
6 months 0.40% $0
9 months 0.40% $0
12 months 0.40% $0
18 months 0.40% $0
24 months 0.40% $0
30 months 0.70% $0
36 months 0.70% $0
48 months 0.70% $0
60 months 0.90% $0
Savings account: 0.75% Rates as of April 17, 2014

Have you been able to find CD rates that rival these? If so, please add a comment below. Don’t forget to include the details: name of the bank, state, rate, when you opened the account with this rate, and whether you can open the account online or must appear in person.

This article is about Banking, Investing, Savings

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We’ve been discussing the value of time a lot lately. For me, it’s been an appropriate topic. Lately, my work-life balance has been out of control. There are a few reasons for this:

  • I’ve been giving into time-sucks.

  • I’m struggling to organize a few new writing gigs into my schedule.

  • I don’t give myself any breathing room.

The result of my poor time management? One, I’ve been working a lot at night. Long after my boyfriend and cats have gone to bed, I’m up typing. Two, I’ve possibly been missing out on more work. Because my schedule is so stretched, I haven’t had time to take on other gigs. If I was more efficient with my time, I might be able to earn more. There are a handful of other irks, but these are the two that bother me most. Ultimately, I want to feel like I have more control of my time so that I can, as J.D. said, spend it on the things that matter most to me.

I am getting better, though. Here are a few tactics I’ve adopted that have helped me learn to better manage my time.

Tackling the tough stuff first

One simple time-management tip has made a huge difference in my day: Get the tough stuff over with and done.

If there’s something on my daily to-do list that I dread, I try to make sure it’s the first thing I tackle. Sometimes this isn’t that easy. But when that dreadful item is crossed off my list, the rest of my day is cake. I work more efficiently knowing that I don’t have to deal with that item.

Here’s an example: Sometimes I really don’t enjoy video editing because it’s excruciatingly meticulous and time-consuming and technical. When it’s on my to-do list, I often dread it for the entire day. But I’ve found that getting it out of the way in the morning helps me get it done faster so I can really focus on the rest of my work in the afternoon.

Finding my optimal times

There’s some work I do better in the morning and some I do better later in the day. I first noticed this when I was a technical writer. For some reason, in the morning, I struggled to communicate. If I had to guess, it probably had something to do with my being half-asleep. At any rate, when I had to write instruction manuals, I knew I might as well get the technical stuff (spec lists, spreadsheets etc.) out of the way in the morning. I saved the writing for the afternoon, when I was lucid. Years later, my brain seems to work the same way. I tackle analytical tasks in the morning and I save thoughtful, intuitive tasks, like writing, for the afternoon.

Letting go of what I can’t control

J.D. recently wrote about the basics of investing wisely. This sentence in particular stood out to me: “Ignore the news and ignore your fund.” Around that same time, Warren Buffett’s annual letter was released, and it echoed the same sentiment:

“With my two small investments, I thought only of what the properties would produce and cared not at all about their daily valuations. Games are won by players who focus on the playing field — not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard. If you can enjoy Saturdays and Sundays without looking at stock prices, give it a try on weekdays.”

While I can control how much I decide to invest, I can’t control (nor do I have much knowledge about) the daily valuations of the market. Yet, I’d check my investments every single day, throughout the day. I didn’t realize it at first, but this took up a lot of my time.

I’ve been learning to let go of the things I can’t control — things like the stock market. I should instead spend that time on areas of my finances that I can control — like getting my work done so I can earn a living. That’s a pretty important one.

Letting go of obsessions and bad habits

On a similar note, I had to let go of some obsessions that became time-sucks. These time-sucks included:

  • Checking the stats of my blog
  • Monitoring my budget throughout the day
  • Refreshing my email
  • Checking my phone for new notifications

It’s good to stay on top of this stuff. But there’s a difference between staying on top of it and becoming obsessed with it.

And then there are bad habits. Part of the reason I left Facebook is that I found myself mindlessly browsing it for hours on end, not really enjoying the experience very much. It just became a habit that ate up a lot of my time. The Internet makes it easier to develop mindless habits like this. Sometimes I find myself typing in the first few letters of a website into my browser without even realizing what I’m doing, I’m on auto-pilot and, half an hour later, I have no idea what I’ve been doing or what I’ve read/looked at. Meanwhile, I could have been using my time productively.

Stepping away from work

Earlier this year, I decided to fulfill one of my New Year’s resolutions and I signed up to volunteer at my local library. Over the past few months, however, my work schedule has become a bit overwhelming. But I vowed to offer my time at the library, so I want to stick with it. Here’s what’s interesting, though: I get more work done on my volunteer day than any other day of the weekWhat’s up with that?

I could be wrong, but I think this happens because I step away from work, and when I come back to it, my mind is clear and focused. During the week, I put a lot of pressure on myself and try to cram way too much into one day. I’m a workaholic, and I rarely take breaks. As you can imagine, I’m often stressed. After my volunteer realization, I started doing a couple of things differently:

  • I take breaks every hour: I go for a small walk, call my mother, or even just go outside to breathe and bask in the daylight.
  • If I’m stuck, I move on: This sort of goes against the “get the tough stuff out of the way” solution. But if I’m truly stuck on a problem — I don’t know how to start an article, for example — then I save it for tomorrow. For me, it’s better to work on something that I know I can get through than to spend hours dwelling on my problem.

Basically, I’ve learned the importance of giving yourself breathing room. When we make a budget that has zero room for fun or small indulgences, that budget often fails. For me, it’s the same way with time management. I tell myself I’m going to cram a bunch of stuff into one day and, when I don’t accomplish it all, I feel like I’ve failed. It’s important to make time for breaks.

Overall, I want to learn to manage my time so I can spend it more fruitfully. Like money, when my time goes unmanaged, I usually don’t spend it wisely. I want to spend my time on what matters the most to me, and that means learning to be in control of it.

What about you – How do you manage your time effectively? Have any of these methods worked for you?


Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about how to be happy.

“How would you like to write an Unconventional Guide?” my friend Chris Guillebeau asked me last spring. As long-time readers know, I’ve joined Chris to travel across the U.S. by train, travel across Norway by train, and produce the first three editions of the World Domination Summit conference here in Portland. When he’s not traveling or dominating the world, Chris publishes a series of guides on subjects ranging from art to law, from entrepreneurship to publishing.

“What kind of guide would I write?” I asked.

“A guide about money,” Chris said — as if there could be no other possible answer.

“What would we call it?” I asked.

“How about Get Rich Slowly?” Chris said.

“No way. I don’t think the folks who own the blog would like that,” I said. “I doubt they could stop us since you can’t copyright a name, but I’d rather not make them angry.”

“Well then, how about Master Your Money?” Chris said.

I thought for a moment. I was reluctant. I’d retired from Get Rich Slowly (the blog) a few months before and was enjoying all of the free time. But something about having a specific goal appealed to me. How hard could it be to produce a guide about money?

“I like it. I’ll do it,” I said, “but I can’t start until I return from Ecuador at the end of September.”

“No problem,” Chris said. “You should be finished by Christmas.”

A writer’s life
I didn’t meet that Christmas goal. Not even close. You see, I had too much to say but couldn’t find a way to say it.

When I came back from South America, I spent two weeks performing a braindump. I sat at my computer and brainstormed everything I wanted to share with readers. There was a lot — enough for three books. I tried to mold this mountain of words into some sort of recognizable shape, but it was no use.

After three weeks of work, I’d written maybe 20,000 words but felt like I’d gotten nowhere.

The writing process
Early in the writing process. Isn’t it ugly?

In mid-October, I flew to St. Louis to attend Fincon. Mixing with a couple of hundred other financial writers sent my brain spiraling in new directions. Talking with my colleagues made me reconsider what I was trying to do with Master Your Money. I went back to the drawing board.

When I returned to Portland, I spent a crazy week cooped inside my office. I wrote without ceasing. When Kim came home from work every night, I’d greet her with non-stop talk. She laughed. “This is funny,” she said. “You should see the difference between how you are now and how you were two weeks ago.” The difference was I felt energized. I was no longer suffering from writer’s block. My writing had purpose and direction.

Unfortunately, it was the wrong direction.

At the end of October, I met with Chris and showed him what I’d written. Over Thai food, he leafed through the pages. “Hmmm,” he said, and I knew that wasn’t good. “This is interesting stuff, but it’s not what I had in mind. This is about fear and freedom. It’s about happiness. I thought you were going to write about money. Besides, these sections are too short. The guide reads like a blog.”

I’d written 50,000 words of great material, but they were the wrong 50,000 words.

Note: Die-hard readers know that I didn’t just abandon the stuff about fear, happiness, and freedom. Instead, I’m using it as source material this year at More Than Money. Every Monday, I’m publishing one piece of this abandoned version of the guide. Last month, I finished the section on overcoming fear. Now we’ve begun exploring what it means to be happy.

So, I went back for a third stab at Master Your Money. I still thought maybe I could finish by Christmas. But I didn’t. Again, I lost my way. I couldn’t find anything to latch onto, no central theme. What did that mean, master your money? It seemed so vague.

On the day after Thanksgiving, I met Chris in a coffee shop. “It’s not going well,” I confessed. I showed him my outline. He nodded.

“What’s this bit?” he asked, pointing to a section where I described how I’d decided to manage my personal finances as if I were running a business. “I like it. Why don’t you focus on writing about how to be the chief financial officer of your own life?”

That simple suggestion was all I needed. For a fourth time, I started to write Master Your Money. This time, no problem. The words didn’t flow out of me unimpeded, but I had a clear idea of what I wanted to say and how to say it. I knew I’d found the angle that had been missing for months.

More than words
Master Your MoneyAfter a few weeks of writing on this fourth iteration of Master Your Money, it became clear that I wouldn’t be finished until spring. “No problem,” Chris said. “We’ll shift things around. But maybe you should start working on the other parts of the course too.”

“Course?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “Master Your Money should be an entire course, not just a single guide. We can call the guide How to Become CFO of Your Own Life or something similar. But with a name like Master Your Money, we want to provide even more. For instance, you’ll probably want to record some interviews with top financial writers and experts.”

For the next two months, I interspersed writing with recording. Although I’d become accustomed to being interviewed, I hadn’t yet mastered the art of interviewing others. But I figured it out. Before long, I found that I enjoyed conducting interviews more than I liked writing!

I recorded interviews with some of my favorite finance folks, including:

  • Jean Chatzky, whose books helped me start digging out of debt
  • Gretchen Rubin, best-selling author of The Happiness Project
  • Liz Weston, one of the country’s most popular financial columnists
  • Ramit Sethi, the mastermind behind the book (and blog) I Will Teach You to Be Rich
  • Adam Baker, former Get Rich Slowly staff writer and a good friend
  • Mr. Money Mustache, whose polarizing ideas and personality have had a tremendous impact on my philosophical development

In the end, I’d accumulated 18 interviews totaling over eight hours of audio!

“Great,” Chris said. “Let’s do more. When people buy the course, let’s give them a weekly email to remind them of all the different things they can do to master their money.”

Back to the office I went. I created a list of 52 topics that I thought were crucial for anyone wanting to take control of their finances. I researched. I wrote. I edited. I scheduled these emails to go out every Monday for an entire year.

“Now it’s time to put the finishing touches on the course,” Chris said the next time we met. “You need to create some tools for people to use. We want to give them a sort of money toolbox.” More time in front of the computer! This time I researched data on saving and spending, best practices for negotiating salary increases, complex formulas for retirement and investing.

Ready for launch
After I’d finished with the spreadsheets and handouts, I met with Chris again. He looked them over. He looked at the list of email topics. He looked at the interviews. He paged through the guide, which we were now calling Be Your Own CFO.

“It all looks great,” he said. “But I don’t like the name. We shouldn’t call it Master Your Money. We should call the course Get Rich Slowly. That’s what it’s all about.”

I’d long ago surrendered to his ideas for this course. I’m a writer. I produce content. Chris has proven time and again that he’s a marketing genius. I trust him. So, I approached the company that owns Get Rich Slowly (the blog). I told them about the course that we’d created. I explained that we planned to launch it as Master Your Money, unless…How would they feel about us using the name Get Rich Slowly?

To my surprise, they agreed. In fact, they thought it was a good idea, a way to cross-promote.

Now, after nearly a year of work, my Get Rich Slowly course is ready to launch. Next Tuesday morning, it will be released as one of Chris Guillebeau’s Unconventional Guides. The course will contain a 120-page guide describing how to Be Your Own CFO, 18 audio interviews with transcripts, 52 weeks of action-packed emails, and a variety of tools in a sort of “money toolbox”.

Wow.

“I can’t believe I’m finished,” I told Kim the other day. “It’s so much! I never would have started if I’d known it would take this much work.”

“Well, you know what they say,” she replied. “If you want to eat an elephant, you’ve got to do it one bite at a time.”

And that’s how I created the Get Rich Slowly course — one bite at a time.

Be Your Own CFO
The finished product. Isn’t it pretty?


This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or maybe it’s that I’m in a better financial place than I was just a few years ago, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot more about giving back.

In recent years, it’s becoming more important to me to be socially conscious and charitable. I’m secure, I’m healthy, and I’m free. That contentment seems to urge me to check in on the rest of the world.

Or, maybe it’s coming from a more selfish place.

According to a new research paper from Harvard Business School, spending money on others makes us happy.

Giving makes us happier

The paper, titled, “Prosocial Spending and Happiness,” was published this year in Current Directions in Psychological Science. In it, psychologists write:

“Although a great deal of research has shown that people with more money are somewhat happier than are people with less money, our research demonstrates that how people spend their money also matters for their happiness. In particular… people who spend money on others report more happiness.”

The researchers cite a 2008 study they conducted. Subjects were given $5 or $20 to spend by the end of the day. Half of the participants were told to buy themselves something nice. The other half were instructed to use the money to help somebody in need.

Results found that the givers reported greater happiness:

“That evening, people who had been assigned to spend the money on someone else reported happier moods over the course of the day than did those people assigned to spend the money on themselves.”

Other research seems to suggest that feeling happiness after giving is an innate trait. In 2012, one of the researchers, Lara Aknin, conducted a study that involved toddlers under the age of 2. Aknin found that when toddlers gave away crackers to a puppet, they “exhibited more happiness” than when they kept the crackers for themselves.

Of course, it’s not that simple. Conflicting studies have found that giving back doesn’t always increase happiness. For example, a 2010 study found that people only felt happier about giving money away when they had a choice of how much to give.

Overall, the paper suggested that organizations can appeal to possible donors by maximizing “the emotional benefits of giving.” Basically, make people feel happy about giving.

But whether it makes us happy or not, giving is important. I have to admit, I feel a bit selfish for only thinking about the plight of others now that my own life is in order. Maybe you have to look out for yourself before you can look out for others.

But even if you don’t have a lot of resources, there are ways to give.

Support social enterprise

Unless companies make big, disgusting headlines, most people don’t pay much attention to business ethics and social enterprise. Forbes discussed this topic recently. They reported on a survey that found many American consumers (30 percent) want to start buying from socially responsible companies. But at the same time, most of these consumers aren’t familiar with social enterprise, the concept of a business making “improvements in human and environmental well-being, rather than maximizing profits for external shareholders.” (Thanks, Wikipedia.)

Forbes reports that the poll was conducted by Good.Must.Grow, an organization “aimed at social enterprises and nonprofits that also uses money from after-tax profits to help nonprofits pay for marketing services they couldn’t otherwise afford.”

Becoming a more socially conscious consumer is probably the simplest way to give back when you don’t have much to give. Next time you make a purchase, find a company that will use some of the profit for good. Purchase from a “buy-one-give-one” company. Of course, being a socially conscious consumer does take some research and an open mind.

Oh, and maybe a small sacrifice in frugality.

“What’s more, many consumers also seemed to be more interested in getting a good deal than making a difference,” Forbes reports.

I’m all for a good deal, but as J.D. wrote, “Money gives you more options, but happiness makes life worth living.” If making a difference makes you happy, then it might be worth it to forgo a good deal for the benefit of social enterprise.

Redeem your credit card rewards

It’s not for everyone, but some of us like to earn rewards on our credit cards by using them for our expenses, and then pay off the balance in full each month.

Instead of redeeming your rewards for cash, consider redeeming them for a charitable donation, if your rewards program offers that option.

Volunteer

Of course, if you don’t have a lot of money, but you do have some time, volunteering is the way to go. Perhaps selfishly, it’s also probably the most gratifying way to give back. VolunteerMatch is a website that helps you find volunteer opportunities in your area.

Get crafty

This is very cool. In an article about supporting charities without donating money, Mental Floss found quite a few organizations that need handmade items. If you want to volunteer on your own time, you can knit blankets for shelter animals, for example. Or you can assemble Chemocaps for cancer victims.

There are multitudes of ways to give back when you have limited resources. You can donate blood, cut your hair, or clean out your closets and give the items to Goodwill.

Maybe you’re like me and you suddenly feel a social responsibility because you’re grateful for your health and well-being. Maybe it makes you happy to see others benefit from your help. Maybe you want to give back simply because you believe it’s the right thing to do. Regardless of our intention, there’s a lot of need in the world.

Do you give back? If so, how?


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