Track Your Personal Finance Account Mix

by Kevin on July 21, 2009

How complicated have your finances become? How many various accounts do you have open: checking, savings, certificates of deposit, rewards credit cards, student loans, 401ks, IRAs… the list could go on and on.

I’ve never been one to shy away from an additional account. At the same time I don’t want to juggle several savings accounts at the same time. Keeping it mostly simple works for me.

But what about you? How many accounts are you juggling right now?

Sketch Out Your Account Mix

Give yourself a test and sketch out how many accounts you have, and how they are connected. It might look something like this:


It’s a pretty simple exercise, obviously.

The problem you run into is when you’ve got two checking accounts, three savings accounts, three credit cards, a handful of student loans, and four investment accounts.

Do I really need to say this? That’s too much. Way too much.

Our Account Mix

Here’s what our account mix looks like:

  • Checking: two (one brick-and-mortar for writing paper checks, one online with ING Direct)
  • Savings: two (ING Direct and Virtual Bank)
  • Certificates of Deposit: one (at ING Direct, leftover from our CD ladder)
  • Investment: four (401k at work, two Roth IRAs, one taxable investment account)
  • Credit Cards: two (American Express Blue Cash and Chase Amazon Visa)

Overall I’m pretty happy with this. Of course I can justify the reason for each account. I specifically opened the Virtual Bank account with the $100 minimum to get the $20 bonus for free. Plus I wanted to refer my readers (13 of them so far – $260 for me, $260 for them). Admittedly I don’t use it for traditional savings. That’s what my ING account is for.

We’ve kept the taxable investment account open because we have one small investment that is a loss at this point. It doesn’t cost us anything to keep it open. When the investment recovers or we suddenly need the funds we will sell the investment and close the account.

Consolidate Bank Accounts to Simplify Your Life

If you find yourself in the sort of situation where you can’t remember which checking account your paycheck is direct deposited into each month just consolidate them.

Go from three checking accounts to one. Drop a savings account and bring all your money together. Consider how many real benefits you are getting from three credit cards and consider closing one (as always, being careful to not negatively affect your credit score).

Fill in the Gaps

If you sketch out your account and notice you are lacking something… what, no savings account? … intelligently pick a new player to add to your banking team.

We’re actually considering doing this. I’m considering restarting our CD ladder with Ally Bank.

Additionally we are considering closing our checking accounts and moving to a high-yield rewards checking account. I’ll tell you about that in my next post.

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