3 Steps to Simplify Your Banking and Other Accounts

Simplify your bankingOver the years I have lived in many different cities and states. I seem to have opened a similarly large number of banking and other accounts as I’ve moved. It isn’t something I’ve consciously done, but whenever I move on to a new bank or service I almost always leave the old service open (assuming it doesn’t have any fees) just in case I need it again in the future. Other times I would keep old accounts open just for one feature  that I really liked.

However, the time has come when I realized that keeping track of all of these different accounts is taking up more and more of my time! I can see why because after adding it all up I realized I have over 35 accounts, ranging from bank accounts to investment accounts and health savings accounts, with 7 different institutions.

I’d like to try to defend myself and say that a lot of these are Capital One 360 Savings accounts that I use for targeted savings goals, but I even have too many of those. I’ve gone out of control trying to manage my money and it is actually hurting my poor, little brain! It is time I start to get my giant list of accounts under control.

How to Simplify Your Banking and Other Accounts

The first thing you need to do to figure out which accounts to close is to make a full inventory of all of the accounts you have. You might be as shocked as I was when I found out how many I had open! Once you have the list it is time to get to business.

The second thing I did was look at the list of accounts and determine which ones weren’t really useful to me anymore in any way. I saw that I had a few bank accounts open at old institutions I used to bank with that only had $5-$50 in them just to hold them open. They all had horrible interest rates and no benefits at all. I closed these accounts first.

The third step is a little harder. Now that all of the accounts that add no value are closed you have to choose which accounts to close that actually add value on some level. I really like my current banking setup but it means having accounts at three institutions, USAA, Capital One 360 and a local brick and mortar credit union. I decided to keep the checking accounts with each of these institutions but decided to close the USAA and brick and mortar credit union savings accounts.

In addition to closing the savings accounts at USAA and my brick and mortar credit union, I closed some of my targeted savings accounts at Capital One 360 that had outlived their usefulness or were really micromanaging my money more than necessary. Now that I have a good handle on my money I don’t need quite as much detail in my targeted savings accounts structure.

Finally, there are just some accounts you can’t consolidate. I had to keep my 401(k) with my company’s 401(k) provider and I decided to keep my HSA with my company’s HSA provider for ease. However, if you have any old 401(k)s or HSAs from previous employers you might want to roll them to your current providers (IRA, 401(k) or HSA).

One last note. Don’t over simplify. Even though I have my business accounts and some personal accounts at the same bank, there is no way I’d ever combine them because it is very important that you keep your business and personal finance separate. It is a bummer I have to keep track of more accounts, but it makes my business accounting much easier to keep track of.

How many banking and other financial accounts do you have to keep track of? Do you think it is time to simplify a bit?

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.

Comments

  1. Wow, that is a lot of accounts. Great last tip on not combining your business and personal accounts. That is an easy hole for a lawyer to blast through the corporate veil if you were ever sued.

  2. That is a lot of accounts. My wife thinks I am nuts to have the number that we do. I think we have roughly 15 or so accounts. Maybe it’s time for me to count them all. 😉 Great point on keeping accounts separate, that is vital to do.

  3. I keep it relatively simple. I have one checking account and one credit union account. I would not want o have to keep track of of as many as 35 accounts. I guess that how some accounts are sent to the state.

  4. I used to have so many small, stupid accounts everywhere. It was such a waste of time. At one point I had a little flow chart that showed which account was where and what money was setup to link between them, etc. Then I said to hell with this and shrunk it down to just a few main accounts. I’ve got to agree: Life is better when its simple.

  5. Including Credit Cards, I have 16 accounts. If you take those away, it’s only 10. I use Mint to track everything, but consolidation and simplicity is a good thing. Me, I love the complex, and actually enjoy having separate accounts for different purposes. BUT, I do have all my targeting savings in one account, and track them separately in my budget spreadsheet.

  6. I have a related post up today on why we still have BoA accounts even though we don’t do any real banking there. The checking account we have adds a tiiiiiny bit of value (cash deposit through ATM) that we don’t have elsewhere so my husband wants to hang on to it.

    My Mint is more cluttered than I would like due to targeted savings accounts! We originally had all our TS at ING but then migrated them to Ally and closed the ING savings accounts. So taking that step was great, but we didn’t want to eliminate them from Mint because we want to keep the tracking data! That’s like 8 accounts that no longer exist that are still in our Mint overview.

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