Did you know you can have multiple accounts at one, two or more banks? Having multiple accounts is a great way to manage your money. You do need a good way to manage your accounts, but that’s pretty easy to do. Money management programs like Quicken can help you manage multiple accounts but can be expensive. There are also free apps like Mint that put management on your phone. Now that you know you can have multiple accounts, what ones should you have?
How Many Bank Accounts Should I Have?
There are many opinions surrounding how many accounts you might need or want. These include checking, savings, emergency, retirement, and special spending.
Your first account should be a checking account. These generally come with low or no interest rates and either checks or debit card. If you are married or in a partnership, consider three separate accounts – mine, yours, and ours. “Ours” is for common expenses like utilities, groceries, and housing. Mine and yours are great for discretionary spending. Fund the ours account first.
Some families with teens like to have a family account and a parent account. The kids have a debit card to the family account. At some banks, you can set a daily limit for spending on each card. It helps to have responsible spenders and clear expectations if you are jointly using an account.
How Many Savings Accounts Can I Have?
Most banks and credit unions have savings accounts associated with checking accounts. These accounts generally don’t have much in the way of interest, but there is at least a bit. Use these for placing money for distribution to other accounts and for the occasional overdraft. You can also set up a separate savings account for emergencies or annual expenses.
An emergency account should be your first “special” account. Your goal will be three to six months of living expenses. This account should be a bit harder to access. Try an online savings account. You’ll get better rates and the money is generally available within three days. This keeps the temptation to spend it down, but still lets you access it if needed.
A retirement account is important. Some retirement options like a Roth IRA or regular IRA are generally very safe. If your company offers a 401(k) or another similar retirement fund, always sign up! If you have questions, an accountant or investment professional can explain the pros and cons.
Special accounts can include Christmas, vacation, car purchase, or any other item you wish to save for. You can also place this money in CDs (certificates of deposits). The money is tied up for usually a year and you do get a bit more interest. However, the return is fairly low. If you prefer investing, you can have a savings account for investing and use it to buy stocks, bonds, and other equities.
If you have children, look into an education savings account. These accounts can only be used for specific education expenses but can be invaluable in helping your child go to college or trade school.
How Much Money Do You Need to Open A Bank Account?
How much money you need to open an account depends on the bank and the specific account. Credit unions generally allow you to open an account with $5. But those dollars can’t be spent until you close the account. Others offer far higher interest rates if you can deposit significantly more money, like $10,000. If you can maintain a minimum balance, you can also get a better interest rate.
What Bank Should I Use?
That depends on what you want. Generally, banks are expensive because they charge fees for practically everything. Credit unions are generally less expensive. Online banks often have better interest rates, but it is harder to deposit paper checks. You can have a combination of accounts to support your financial plan.
Some Examples of Multiple Accounts
I’ve included some strategies from real people to give you some ideas of what you can do. Obviously, these may not work for your situation.
- College Student
- Checking account and a savings account at the credit union.
- New Military Recruit
- Checking, savings, and vacation accounts at a credit union, military account.
- Newly Married/Partnered Couple
- Mine, yours, and our savings and checking accounts, individual retirement accounts
- Household checking and savings, family checking and savings, individual retirement accounts for adults. Emergency account at a different bank at $1000 for minor emergencies. Emergency savings at an online bank with goal of 3-6 months living expenses.
You can have as many accounts as you need and it can hold them at a selection of financial institutions. The secret is to budget, cut expenses and fund the emergency and retirement accounts as much as you can. You might need to give up luxuries for a while, but knowing you have money in the bank for emergencies can ease a lot of worries!
If you have a different strategy that is working for you, let us know. We’d love to hear about your financial planning.