How Many Bank Accounts Should I Have?
Knowing how to bank effectively is a big part of being financially responsible. Different banks can have advantages over others. Employing different banking techniques can improve how you budget your money. One of those techniques is having multiple bank accounts. So, how many bank accounts should you have? Read on to learn more.
A financial advisor can build a financial plan to help you achieve your financial goals.
How Many Bank Accounts Should You Have?
How many bank accounts you should have depends on who you are and what your life is like. In general, having three to five bank accounts can be helpful for managing your money.
For instance, if you're married, you may share a joint checking and a joint savings account with your spouse. You and your spouse may also decide to have individual checking and savings accounts, as well. That adds up to four accounts for each person. The joint accounts can be used for expenses, emergencies and savings goals, while individual accounts are dedicated to your own savings and purchases.
If you're single, having three or four might make sense. It's best to have at least one bank account that's a dedicated emergency fund, another savings account for large purchases you plan to make in the future, and a checking account for everyday spending.
How Many Savings Accounts Should You Have?
You should have at least two savings accounts: an emergency fund and an account to save for big purchases. Your emergency fund should have enough to cover at least three to six months' worth of living expenses. Your other savings account is where you put cash to cover specific purchases you plan to make in the future. These can be things like a nice vacation or a down payment on a vehicle.
Some experts recommend having three savings accounts. In this situation, you'd have your emergency fund, but then you'd also have one account for long-term savings and another for short-term savings. The long-term savings account is for expenses like having a baby or to cover the down payment and closing costs on a house. The short-term savings are for smaller expenses you'll cover within the year, like holiday gifts or paying your car registration.
How Many Checking Accounts Should You Have?
It's a little hard to answer how many checking accounts you should have. One thing's for sure, you should have at least one. If you have joint accounts with a significant other, you may want to have an individual checking account for yourself, as well. You could have multiple accounts organized by the types of expense, too.
While it may seem a little daunting to have multiple spending sources, it can help you keep your finances organized. One way to think of having multiple checking accounts is like the envelope budgeting method. This can work with three checking accounts:
Monthly expenses: This account pays for things like utility bills, debt payments, housing and auto expenses.
Weekly expenses: This account covers expenses like groceries and gas, along with other frequent essentials.
Discretionary spending: Your third account covers non-essentials, such as entertainment, eating out, shopping and more.
You may be wondering, "How many checking accounts can I have?" The truth is that there's no limit. You can have as many as there are banks that will give them to you. Just keep in mind that having too many can be confusing and expose you to additional risk.
5 Reasons Why You Should Have Accounts at Multiple Banks
On top of having multiple accounts, there are upsides to having accounts with multiple banks. Let's break down five reasons why should bank with more than one institution.
1. Keep Finances Separate from Significant Other
If you decide to open a joint account with your spouse or significant other, it can be smart to keep your individual accounts. It's healthy to have separate accounts for your own financial goals and expenses. As long as you aren't hiding destructive spending habits from one another, having your own account is good. Plus, you can easier hide what you bought your partner for their birthday.
2. Take Advantage of Bank Perks
Banks often offer unique perks, like cash bonuses for opening a new checking account. Or perhaps you have your emergency fund and want to move it to a high-yield savings account. But the bank you use normally doesn't have attractive interest rates. You may want to research another bank that offers a greater yield.
3. Different Banking Needs
Different banks cater to different kinds of customers. For instance, if you start a small business, you may find that your current bank has high expenses or requirements for small business checking accounts. Say you've done some research and found that a local credit union would be perfect for your business. It makes good financial sense to open an account there.
4. Prioritize Saving
If you have your savings account at a different bank than your checking account, it's an extra hurdle to spend that money. This could be a good thing if you're focused on saving. By making it a little more difficult to withdraw your money, you protect your savings from your own impulses to spend it.
5. Access to Your Money
While having bank accounts at multiple banks can make your money less accessible, it can also have the opposite effect. Say that you primarily bank with your local credit union, but you've taken a new job that requires some travel. Your credit union doesn't have bank branches outside of your state. So, moving some of your money to a larger, national bank can make a lot of sense. You'll be able to use their ATMs and other banking services without extra fees.
You've probably asked yourself at some point "how many checking accounts can I have?" You can have as many as you want. Ideally, you'll have two to three savings accounts and one to three checking accounts. This is enough that you can manage your savings and expenses, but not so many that it becomes unwieldy.
Tips for Responsible Banking
How many bank accounts you have and where you have them should be part of your financial strategy. If you don't have a plan for your finances then you may want to work with a professional financial advisor. Finding a financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you're ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Now that you know the value of multiple bank accounts, how do you know where to bank? Thankfully, SmartAsset's got you covered on how to choose a bank.
Once you've found the right bank for you, research a credit card to meet your needs. SmartAsset's Credit Card Guide helps you find the right card, compare offers and calculate how the interest could affect your debt.
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