Here’s how to think about banks and cash … consider your time-frame first:
If you are keeping your money in the bank to save for something important (hopefully, for a deposit on an income-producing property?) over the next few months or two or three years, then don’t be overly-concerned about the interest rate or inflation. I keep a HUGE amount in the bank right now because I sold out of some investments and am staying ‘in cash’ for a short time through the current market.
If you have a large’ish sum that you are building up for something major in say 3 to 5 years, then a better ‘savings account’ would be a low cost Index Fund … as you save enough to meet the minimum investment criteria, drop it in … just be prepared to hold for at least the MEDIUM TERM
If you are, say, 7 to 70 years before retirement, you in the investment mode of your life, and (a) are unlikely to have your cash in the bank, and (b) are crazy if you do! Over 7 or more years, yes, ridiculously low investment returns (and, to a lesser extent inflation) will eat your future alive! Put your money into any mix of Index Funds, Business Opportunities, Real-Estate Investments, Direct Stock Investments – keep away from Mutual Funds – as suits your personality profile and desire to get rich vs merely keep up with the Middle Class Joneses.
SUPER LONG-TERM (a.ka. Retirement)
Here is where that low interest / inflation combo (even if inflation is just 2% or 3%) will eat you alive … be prepared to be retired for a long time, say 30 – 50 years (even if you die young, at least your spouse and kids will be happy with their nest egg!) … you do NOT want your money running out before you do.
If you have a lump-sum, there’s only a few choices:
– Put it all into an Index Fund and only draw down 2.5% – 3.5% each year to live on.
– Put it all into income-producing real-estate and spend no more than 75% of the rent (after paying down mortgages and building up a suitable buffer to guard against ‘problems’)
– Put it all into TIPS (inflation-protected Treasury Bonds) and happily live off all the interest that they pay you every 6 months
– Implement a Bond laddering strategy, such as the Grangaard Strategy, which claim to be able to let you live off 6.6% of your lump sum at retirement every year
– Any combination of the above that suits your needs and ‘investment personality’
Each of these strategies is relatively “inflation-proof”, in that you get to increase the amount that you take out every year as a ‘wage’ to live off, and pays more interest typically than the bank will give you (expect maybe, the bonds … you pay a ‘price’ for the inflation-hedge).
Hope this helps?