Banking Basics

How Much Money Should You Save?

A lot of people often ask me about how I save money and my views on it. Disclaimer: these are my personal experiences and opinion, so they might not apply to your circumstances. In this post, we'll talk about how much you should save from each paycheck and where/how to invest money.

How much should you save from each paycheck?

A: I usually try to save at least 50% of my after-tax paycheck. This means that for every month I work, I get an extra month of security. The money is for in case I lose my job or if/when I want to start my own company.

I discourage people from saving a specific amount because it doesn't scale long-term. For example, if your goal is only to save $500 each month, that doesn't scale with you through the years. If after five years, you're still saving $500/month after inflation and promotions, your savings won't go far.

The benefit of trying to save a certain percentage instead of a certain amount means that you'll most likely contain your spending habits.

Even when I was making less money, I still aggressively try to save at least 50% of my paycheck. There were times when it wasn't reasonable to hit the goal. For example, when I co-founded a company and went through a startup accelerator, we only received $20,000 to last three months between four people. I was super frugal and lived off events that had free food or ate snacks that were provided.

For a lot of people, this seems really extreme, and for me, it was making sure my bank account wouldn't get depleted.

On the flip side, even when I was making six figures, I still drink Soylent. A typical lunch in San Francisco can range from $10-$15. I drink Soylent because the lunch options aren't good, and it's cost-effective.

How much money should you save?

A: My goal is to have at least 12 months of runway in case I lose my job, or an emergency comes up. After stashing away 12 months, then I look into investing. The stock market is unpredictable, so if the market takes a downturn, I don't want to be out of money.

For the one year of runway, I recommend putting it in a high-interest savings or checking account that earns 1-5%. You can also put part of it in a CD account, but I haven't seen any high interest offers lately.

For you, it might be 3-12 months depending on your circumstances.

If you're trying to save money, why do you use credit cards?

A: My perspective on credit cards is that you should treat it like a debit card and not spend outside your means. I pay off my bill in full every month, and I'm optimizing for rewards on my everyday spend.

What should you do if you already have credit card debt?

A: If you already have credit card debt, then I would build up a smaller nest egg and aggressively pay off the loans.

For me, I would cut back on all unnecessary expenses like dining out and movies.

What about balance transfers?

I think balance transfers are fine in the short-term if you need it. Balance transfers are like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off because the debt still exists. Read more about balance transfers in this post.


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American Express Rewards Checking Review 2022: Should You Get One?

American Express Rewards Checking Review 2022: Should You Get One?

In February 2022, American Express launched its first consumer digital checking account, offering a competitive APY (annual percentage yield) and rewarding Amex cardholders with points for eligible debit card purchases.

In this post, we’ll cover the basics, pros/cons, and whether it’s worth it for you.

Amex Rewards Checking Account Features


One of the big advantages of the account is that it doesn’t have a lot of the fees you would typically expect. For example, it has no monthly maintenance or minimum balance fees. Plus, you don’t have to worry about overdraft fees since it’s a debit card; the transaction will just decline. You can also withdraw money for free at over 37,000 MoneyPass ATMs.

There are still fees though. For example, there’s a 2.7% foreign transaction fee. If you travel abroad frequently and use a debit card, it might make sense to add a different card that has that feature.

Interest Rates

The account offers 0.5% APY which is dramatically higher than the 0.03% average interest rate for other banks.


Earning Points in Debit Transactions

The debit card earns you 1 Amex Membership Rewards point for every $2 in qualifying debit card spend. This is one of the most interesting parts of the program if you care about points.

Is this worth it? For transactions where you can use a credit card, probably not. This is interesting for purchases that are limited to debit cards though or ones where credit cards are prohibitively expensive (i.e., fees outweighing the points you earn). The fact that debit cards are usually not great earners makes this an interesting play.

Combining Points

The MR points earned through the checking account are the same as the MR points earned from cards like the Platinum or the Gold. This means that you can combine your points to get more value, including the ability to transfer them to partners.

If you only have an Amex consumer card that earns rewards other than Membership Rewards points, such as the Amex Blue Cash Preferred® Card or a co-branded Amex card like the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card or Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, you can still sign up for Amex Rewards Checking and earn points on debit card transactions. Your only option, however, will be to redeem a deposit into your account at a rate of 0.8 cents per point. This means that if you have accumulated 10,000 points, you will receive $80.

Interestingly, by having this account, you’ll be able to redeem all your MR points (regardless of how they’re earned) at the 0.8 CPP rate. If you have the Gold or Platinum and don’t want (or can’t get) the Schwab Platinum, then this might be a good alternative to cash out your points.

Mobile App

With the American Express mobile app’s chat feature, you can reach their customer service 24/7. You can also use the app to deposit checks, set up monthly American Express bill payments, send money to Venmo or PayPal users, manage your alerts and more.

Purchase Protection

Tap-and-go payments are supported with the included debit card at participating retailers. Purchase protection is available for qualifying purchases and covers accidental damage or theft for up to 90 days from the moment you use your card to make a purchase. This coverage is limited to a maximum of $1,000 per occurrence and $50,000 per account, per calendar year. There are other exclusions and nuances, so I would check out the terms PDF for details.

So, Should You Open An American Express Rewards Checking Account?

The Amex Rewards Checking account is competitive given the ability to earn points, minimal fees, and cash out optionality. It might make sense to wait for an intro bonus but, outside of that, it’s an easy pickup in my book.

Right now, only American Express consumer credit card holders are eligible to apply for the Amex Rewards Checking account. I think it might make sense to have it as a backup system but I wouldn’t prioritize it if you have more competitive options.

If you’re focused on interest rates, there are other checking accounts that might provide more value, especially if you’re not focused on things like FDIC insurance.

However, if your goal is to accrue as many Membership Rewards points as possible on all of your purchases, the account could be worth having to cover transactions where debit cards make more sense.

Chase Private Client: Worth It?

Is Chase Private Client worth having in 2020? Chase offers different tiers of banking like Premier Plus, Sapphire, Private Client, and Private Banking.

Chase Private Banking vs Chase Private Client

Chase Private Client is often confused with Chase Private Banking. They’re two different programs, and Chase Private Client has significantly lower minimum asset requirements.

How to qualify for Chase Private Banking

Minimum: $10,000,000 of Investable assets*

How to qualify for Chase Private Client

Minimum: $250,000 of investable assets*

For Chase Private Client, this is not a hard minimum; they've been  promoting this to people with $100,000 to "upgrade" to Chase Private Client.

* investable assets = cash, bank accounts, securities, liquid investments.

Qualifying personal investments include balances in investment and  annuity products offered by JPMorgan Chase & Co. or its affiliates  and agencies. Balances in 529 plans and certain retirement plan  investment accounts do not qualify.

Chase Private Client Intro Bonus

The intro bonus for opening a Chase Private Client account can vary based on which targeted offer you receive. We’ve seen intro bonuses range from $1,000-$2,000.

The typical requirements to earn the bonus are:

  1. Receive an offer to upgrade or open a Private Client account with a Private Client Banker.
  2. Transfer a total of $250,000+ in new money to a combination of checking and/or savings and/or investment accounts (excludes You Invest, JP Morgan retirement accounts and CDs), and maintain the balance for at least 90 days.
  3. The bonus will appear in your new account within 30 business days after completing qualifying activities.

Chase Private Client Banking Fees

Starting on November 8, 2020, Chase will start charging $35/month for CPC accounts with balances below $150,000.

How to waive the $35 monthly fee:

  • Maintain a balance a balance of $150,000+ of investable assets with Chase. Business balances do not count towards the $150,000 requirement.
  • OR, link a Chase Platinum Business Checking account

Benefits of Chase Private Client

No fees for:

  • wire transfers
  • money orders
  • counter checks/cashier's checks
  • personal checks
  • no monthly fees
  • no fees on [insert almost every other instance where banks would otherwise charge fees]

Other benefits:

  • free 3 x 5 safety deposit box (20% discount on other sizes)
  • 0.25% off standard auto loan rates through Chase Auto
  • "best rates" for mortgages
  • priority processing/customer service
  • Arts and Culture card

Is Chase Private Client Worth It?

A few changes to the Chase Private Client program took place in 2019 that no longer make the account as valuable.

Negative changes:

  1. CPC no longer gets you around the 5/24 rule. If you opened more than 5 personal credit cards within the past 24 months, you’ll automatically get rejected by the system.
  2. For example, even though you might have $800,000 with Chase, that cash by itself does not get you around the 5/24 rule.
  3. A lot of the waived fees are now offered by competing services.
  4. The Palladium card got converted into the JP Morgan Reserve.
  5. Instead of requiring CPC and a $250,000 asset level, you now need $10 million to qualify for the JP Morgan Reserve.
  6. Existing Palladium cardholders that got converted to the JP Morgan Reserve card are grandfathered in.
  7. The Art and Culture card still exists, but arguable not valuable in 2020 since most museums are closed during COVID times.

Who Should Consider Chase Private Client?

  1. People who want an all-in-one banking system. Theoretically, there are separate banking systems out there that have no banking fees, free stock trading, and a credit card ecosystem.
  2. People considering a mortgage or auto loan.
  3. The Chase Mortgage Rate Program offers Chase Private Clients rate discounts of 0.125% for total deposits and investments in personal  accounts of $250,000 – $999,999 or 0.25% for $1,000,000+ for purchase and refinance transactions. Terms apply.
  4. Receive a rate discount of 0.25% off standard auto loan rates through Chase Auto. Not available for applications submitted to a dealer. Terms apply.
  5. People who value the Arts and Culture pass. Visiting a museum can get expensive, especially if you have a group of 2 or more. Get complimentary admission to partners museums, and sometimes even guest passes.
  6. See the full list of partners here:

Investing Accounts and Apps

If you’re looking for new stock trading platforms, Charles Schwab has most of the features people look for in a brokerage.

For beginners, I suggest looking into M1 Finance or Public. Both offer commission-free trading and fractional shares. Check out this post for a more in-depth review.

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