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This is the best place to put your money you plan to spend 2 years from now

For short-term goals, here's why you should avoid the risk of the stock market and opt for a high-yield savings account instead.

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Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on links for products from our affiliate partners.

If you have a 401(k) or another long-term retirement plan, you already know the importance of saving for the future. 

But you can't tap that money until much later in life (when you turn 59-and-a-half, to be precise), so it's good to also have savings to cover big-ticket expenses coming up in the not-so-distant future.

When saving for financial goals you want to achieve before retirement, it's important to think about where you're putting that money. If your goal is five to 10 years away, you might want to consider opening a brokerage account, such as an index fund, mutual fund or ETF. There are a number of easy options, including robo-advisors, that make investing more accessible to beginners.

But with investing comes risk, and when you know you'll need the cash you need in the short-term, a better option is to keep it where you know it's safe. That way you can earmark it for the future and trust it will be there when you need it.

"Keep savings in cash for anything that is expected to occur in the next two years," says Bridget Todd, head of trainer development at The Financial Gym. "This way, you're not beholden to the movements of the stock market and can access your money at any time without worrying about tax implications or market returns."

High-yield savings account are perfect for this purpose. They act just like traditional savings accounts, but with the added bonus of higher interest yields. Interest rates are currently between about 0.6% and 1.21% APY for high-yield accounts, compared to traditional accounts, which have an average APY of just 0.05%.

Having money you need for near-term expenses in a savings account is also useful because you don't have to worry about your cash. All FDIC-insured savings accounts will reimburse your deposits up to the legal limit of $250,000 in the (unlikely) event the bank fails, and since you're not investing, you can't get burned by a volatile market or a bad stock trade.

Read: This 3-question checklist will help you determine when you're ready to invest your money

Of course, APY on savings accounts is constantly going up and down based on the Fed's benchmark. You won't ever lose money, but there may be periods where you earn more or less in interest. That said, returns for high-yield accounts still average out to be higher than what your normal savings account probably offers.

Even if your high-yield account is on the low end at 0.6%, you're still making considerably more interest on your savings and that can add up over time. If you have $1,000 in your account, that's $6 versus 5 cents a year. And the more you have in savings, the more you'll earn in interest. 

To determine which high-yield savings accounts are the best overall, CNBC Select analyzed and compared dozens of savings accounts offered by online and brick-and-mortar banks, including large credit unions.

Our top pick is Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings because it comes with no fees whatsoever and easy mobile access. It is the most straightforward savings account to use when all you want to do is grow your money with zero conditions attached.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings

Information about the Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the bank prior to publication. Goldman Sachs Bank USA is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.50%

  • Minimum balance

    None to open; $1 to earn interest

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle *The 6/statement cycle withdrawal limit is waived during the coronavirus outbreak under Regulation D

  • Excessive transactions fee

    None

  • Overdraft fees

    N/A

  • Offer checking account?

    No

  • Offer ATM card?

    No

Terms apply.

Another popular choice is the Ally Online Savings Account, which currently offers a higher APY and also comes with no fees. If you have multiple savings goals, Ally provides a helpful way to organize them. Account holders can put their money into different "buckets" within the same savings account. For instance, you can create a designated fund for a "Future Vacation," another for "Emergency Savings" and another for "Down Payment Fund." If you're looking for a way to stay motivated and remind yourself of the good things to come, this feature might help you stay on track.

Ally Bank Online Savings Account

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.50%

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Monthly fee

    No monthly maintenance fee

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle *The 6/statement cycle withdrawal limit is waived during the coronavirus outbreak under Regulation D

  • Excessive transactions fee

    $10 per transaction

  • Overdraft fees

    $25

  • Offer checking account?

    Yes

  • Offer ATM card?

    Yes, if have an Ally checking account

Terms apply.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.