How to Build a Nest Egg, in a Nutshell

A golden egg and regular eggs inside of a nest

What is a “nest egg,” really?

If you go back to the old days, as early as the 17th century, a “nest egg” represented income.

The phrase is believed to have been coined from a tactic used by poultry farmers to induce hens to lay more eggs — by placing both real and fake eggs in hens' nests — which meant more egg sales and income later at market.

Today, a nest egg can represent your personal savings and investments, and means different things to different people. In this context, it can be defined simply as a sum of money (or certain assets) saved or set aside for a specific purpose.

Whatever comes to mind, it’s best to start building one as soon as you can, because your nest egg’s purpose is to provide enough money for your goals and financial security in the future.

Read on to learn how to get started at building and bulking up your nest egg.

Define your nest egg

Start by figuring out what your nest egg is and how you plan to use it. Remember, there’s no right or wrong setup.

For example, your nest egg may be the retirement account that you build up over the course of your career. Or perhaps it’s money set aside to buy a new house. It can also be an emergency fund of cash to protect your family from an unexpected financial setback.

Your nest egg can also look like some or all of these parts, together.

Generally, each of the “eggs” in your nest can represent different short- or long-term financial objectives, like those mentioned above: retirement, the down payment for a major purchase like a new home, or any other significant expense, like college tuition for you or your children.

Your goals may require different types of financial tools and investments, hence “not putting all of your eggs in one basket.” Consider diversifying your nest egg to ensure you have access to cash when you need it, while your other money is invested and adjusted for risk and inflation, so that you can optimize your interest-earning potential.

How to build a nest egg

If you’re unsure of how to start building a nest egg, then many financial experts recommend prioritizing having an adequate emergency fund. You’ll also want to put these funds in a savings account where you can quickly and easily access your cash.

An emergency savings nest egg could be used for unexpected major expenses, such as a hot water heater bursting or an expensive bill after a medical emergency. These savings can also be used to cover household bills if you unexpectedly lose your job or see a drop in income.

For most people, an adequate emergency savings may contain three to six months’ worth of living expenses. If you’re already retired, then you may want to consider aiming for 12 months’ worth of expenses.

If you already have multiple savings accounts, then try gathering all of your account statements and balances and taking inventory of how much you have saved altogether. This will tell you how much you need to continue setting aside to meet your savings goals.

You can also use this opportunity to figure out how much your money is earning for you and whether your savings can earn even better interest-bearing rewards. If you find that you can optimize your returns with high-yield savings accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs), then consider moving the funds elsewhere.

Finding a home for your savings nest egg

Short-term savings, like those needed for an emergency fund, may be best kept in a high-yield savings account (HYSA). These accounts may earn you more in interest than a traditional savings account and offer the same great benefits — quick and easy access to your funds in a secure and FDIC-insured account.

For mid-to-longer-term goals, you may want to consider a certificate of deposit. CDs typically offer even higher interest rates than high-yield savings accounts — but they work a bit differently. With CDs, you typically make one lump sum deposit, which you agree to leave untouched for the term you select. Once the term is over, you can withdraw the money and the interest you earned without penalty.

Luckily, CDs offer various terms that usually range from a few months up to five years, so there are plenty of options to fit all of your nest egg needs.

SaveBetter is here to help you open and manage multiple high-yield savings accounts whenever you’re ready to get started!

Retirement and other long-term goals

Once your emergency savings are in good shape, you may wish to focus on building your nest egg for longer-term financial goals, like a comfortable retirement.

Your retirement nest egg may be spread through a diversified investment portfolio of stocks and bonds held in brokerage accounts, other types of tax-advantaged accounts like Traditional IRAs or employer-sponsored 401(K) accounts, and even property or other real estate assets.

Remember to include any additional income you may be able to receive from Social Security benefits or rental income from investment properties.

Savings in retirement

When planning your finances for retirement, you want to incorporate cash savings into your goals, too. Liquid savings are crucial to your retirement strategy because they provide access, security, and safety.

As for how much you need to save to live comfortably without a full-time job, there are many rules of thumb and calculators available to help get you started. In addition, you may wish to speak to a financial advice professional to ensure you stay on track, develop a budget, and stick to good savings and investing habits for the long haul.

This way, you can identify your top-priority savings goals as well as create a plan that factors in things like inflation or living longer than expected. This person can also take your ideal retirement lifestyle and help you calculate the realistic costs involved.

As your family situation, income, savings rate, and even spending habits change, your savings goals may also need to shift. It’s smart to revisit your projections every year to see if any savings need to be redirected or bulked up.

A better way to build your nest egg

SaveBetter allows you to explore many different high-yield savings account and CD options offered by our various partner financial institutions.

Through a single SaveBetter account, you can open and fund multiple FDIC-insured savings products for all your nest egg needs. Then, use your account to track and manage each account’s growth over time, similar to an investment portfolio. This enables you to earn the highest possible return and stay on top of your savings goals for as long as necessary.

Learn more about getting started with SaveBetter here.

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