Multi-banking: Are you getting the big financial picture?

Most of us have a number of accounts with different financial institutions. These include chequing and savings accounts, credit cards, retail cards, student loans, mortgages and car loans. With your money spread out in so many places, it can be difficult to get the overall financial picture. Let’s look at why it’s a good idea to spread your money out and how you can better manage it when you do.

Why multi-banking is a good idea

While multi-banking certainly isn’t for everyone, it does have its bonuses. If done properly, multi-banking can provide added protection, reduce overall fees, save you money and make for easier money management.

Extra protection – If you should ever become a victim of identity theft, keeping your money in several accounts will protect you from losing everything in one fell swoop. Think about it. If you have all of your money in one account, what happens if it gets drained? You end up with nothing.

Fee reduction – Most banks charge monthly fees to use your accounts. Make sure to ask about each institution’s monthly fee package and what it includes. By using several accounts you may even be able to keep your transactions under the basic package’s maximum allowance, thereby reducing service costs.

Money Savings – If you do multi-bank, there’s a good chance that you went with another bank or credit union because they were offering a better product or a lower rate.  If you stay with one company you limit yourself to the products and services of that company.  When you’re open to multi-banking you can shop around for better offers without restricting yourself to one provider.

Easier money management – Everyone does his or her personal finances differently. Some have several savings accounts and a couple of chequing accounts, while others put all of their eggs in one basket. Really, it all depends on how you like to manage your money. Having several accounts can make it easier to stay on target, though. Here’s how I manage my money:

  • Savings 1- Retirement savings, tax free savings account, emergencies, etc.
  • Savings 2 – Personal savings – for vacation, fun, etc.
  • Chequing 1 – Paying bills – mortgage/rent, insurance, taxes, utilities, etc.
  • Chequing 2 – Expenses – groceries, gas, daily expenses, leisure, etc.

The first two accounts accrue no service fees because money goes in, but rarely gets taken out. Pre-determined amounts go into these accounts automatically each month.

Transactions in the first chequing account are regular payments at a consistent rate. To make sure that these bills are always covered, I transfer money into this account each week. Since this account uses very few transactions per month, I pay no monthly fees.

The remainder of my money goes into the second chequing account, which covers daily expenses, groceries and gas. It also covers any debt I accrue on my credit cards for the month. This account needs to be closely managed; since it’s used regularly, I pay a flat fee for unlimited monthly transactions.

Managing several accounts

This kind of banking – multi-banking, as it’s called – takes dedication and organization. You really have to know where your money is going and how much to transfer each month. It can be difficult, especially if your accounts are with a number of financial institutions. Mint.com has come up with the perfect solution to this problem – free software that streamlines all of your accounts into one. What makes Mint.com so cool? Here’s a look at what you can do with Mint.

1)    Add all of your accounts – Enter the details for each of your accounts and have them all appear in one place. You can manage your mortgage, car payment, chequing and savings accounts, credit cards and insurance payments – all in one place.

2)    Set up budgets – Create budgets to manage how much you spend on the extras, including entertainment, dining out and clothing.

3)    Find personalized savings – Mint analyzes your spending habits and the accounts you use, they also make suggestions based on this information on ways you can save money.

4)    Create e-mail alerts – To help you avoid late fees and low balances, you can set up alerts on your Mint account. Alerts can be created for low balance, bill reminders, unusual spending, interest rate changes, large purchases or deposits, out of date credit scores, and home and mortgage notifications. Mint will also alert you if you exceed your proposed budget, or if your credit usage is too high, potentially damaging your credit score.

5)    Stay safe and secure – Mint uses bank level security, so you know that the information you provide is safe and secure. Accounts can be managed, but money cannot be transferred through Mint.

Mint’s software is free, easy to set up and makes managing your money a breeze. Why not try it out and make more financially sound decisions by taking your entire banking picture into account?

Melanie
Writer for RateSupermarket.ca

 

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