I may have too many bank accounts. Are you familiar with the envelope method? If not, The envelope method is a budgeting method where you put all your cash in separate envelopes for each need.
Well, I might do that with bank accounts. I have a bit of a collection.
How many bank accounts do I have?
I have three different banks with seven accounts between them. This isn’t even counting my investment accounts!
Most people only have one central bank, but having two has served me very well. The most significant advantage to having two banks is to protect yourself in case of identity theft. I’ve had my identity stolen twice, and the first time they got into my main bank account. That was a pretty awful experience, and the only thing that kept me afloat was the fact that my other bank was spared from the attack.
Why So many?
Ok, It may seem like an overload, but each bank account has a specific purpose. And I need all of them! Well, I probably could consolidate, but I don’t want to!
Ok, let’s start with checking accounts. I have three checking accounts. The first two are for my regular monthly transactions. One gets the bulk of my direct deposit payment and I use it to pay my bills. The other gets a small amount that I use for groceries and eating out.
Big Purchases (and Paypal)
My other checking account is a staging area for big purchases. I know that I will need to buy something big every few months or so (Currently, I’m saving for a new water heater), and I need a place to store that money, so I don’t spend it on other things. This is an excellent strategy to budget for those big expected costs.
I also use this account for Paypal for some reason. It seems like my Paypal should be tied to my main account, and while that makes the most logical sense, it’s not. The reason for this is that I initially set up my Paypal for my eBay Sellers account, and I was saving all the money I made. Therefore, it had to go to this bank to go into the correct savings account.
Short Term Emergencies
The significant known expenses have older meaner cousins. These are the high unexpected costs. It’s hard to budget for them because you don’t know exactly what, when, or how much it will be. It may be as simple as a flat tire or as complicated as a broken refrigerator (or worse!). I have a particular bank account ready to go with a few thousand dollars for just such short-term emergencies.
Long Term Emergencies
Unfortunately, a few thousand dollars isn’t going to fix everything. That’s not going to help much if I lose my job or if I can’t work for some reason. Enter my long-term emergency fund. I currently have enough money to pay three months of living expenses, but my goal is to have enough to pay for a full year of living.
We all know I love to travel. So, of course, I have a separate account dedicated to that! I put a little bit of money aside each paycheck to fund my next adventure. I usually have my trips planned out (at least in my head!) months in advance, so I know how much I’ll need.
Japan will run me about five thousand dollars, so I have to put up a little more each month for that. But it’s super fun to see my travel fund grow and know I’m getting closer and closer to that fabulous trip!
This is the bank account that I’ll probably get some question marks on from my personal finance friends, but hey, I have to do me. I have one savings account dedicated to all the things I want to do once I quit my job. This includes going back to school, studying Tai Chi in China, buying an RV, and all the other crazy stuff I want to do once I’m job independent.
I need to save up a lot of money for these things, and I know many of my finance friends will tell me that keeping this much cash in a bank account is a terrible idea. I know it’s not going to grow in the bank. But this money isn’t for growing. I have investments for that. This money is earmarked for specific goals, and I don’t want to risk losing it.
Keeping Track of it all
I’m old-fashioned. I keep track of all my bank accounts with pencil and paper. That doesn’t work for most people because they are with the times (unlike me). Personal Capital is a great tool for normal people to track all of their accounts in one place without resorting to my stone-age methods!
What do you have?
So now you all know my dirty little secret. I hoard bank accounts. Is this normal? Does anyone else have more than 2 or 3 bank accounts? Let me know how many you have in the comments!
Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.