Have you ever wondered if you have too many bank accounts? There’s the very first checking account you opened when you were 18. Then there’s the savings account you opened because your car payment was at that institution. And you opened yet another account because your mortgage holder gave you incentives for automatic withdrawals.
For some people, the issue of how to combine bank accounts comes up when they’re planning on getting married. Others might be looking to minimize the number of accounts they have for financial simplicity. Whatever your goals, if you feel you can better control your finances with fewer accounts, here are a few tips.
Benefits of Combining Bank Accounts
A shared account gives each person in the relationship access to money when they need it. Joint accounts usually offer each person a debit card, a checkbook, and the ability to make deposits and withdraw money.
This also includes online access to account information, which might help when it comes to paying bills together or other when making shared financial decisions.
Even those who are not looking to combine finances with someone else could benefit from merging their own money into fewer accounts. For most single adults, just one checking and one savings account at the same bank should cover your financial needs.
This could help cut down on confusion and simplify your spending, so that you’re not trying to balance your budget across multiple accounts. Minimizing the number of accounts you hold could mean fewer fees, since many banks charge monthly fees or require a minimum balance.
Another advantage to a joint bank account is that you are less likely to run into financial surprises with your partner. With money going into (and out of) one account that you both have access to, it might be easier to keep tabs on your monthly budget and spending.
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Drawbacks of Merging Your Accounts
Sharing a bank account could help simplify and organize your money as a household, but some couples might want to keep their financial independence.
In fact, rather than combining all your finances, you might decide to create a new joint account but also keep some accounts separate. Or you might decide to keep your finances totally independent of each other, and instead come up with a budget to figure out which expenses each person will pay.
Before you decide that a combined bank account is your goal, you might want to have a big-picture conversation about what each partner brings to the table.
For instance, what if one partner is entering the marriage with student loan debt, past loans, or other financial burdens? Will the new shared account be used for those payments? Or is it up to the individual to pay off their own debts?
A joint account could also become a problem in some states if the relationship ends, because without any other agreement in place, that shared money might get split up evenly in a divorce. Or, even worse, one spouse might clear out the account, leaving the other without money.
If you’re concerned about only having a joint account, you could open a joint account specifically for shared bill management with each person depositing a specific amount every month.
You could even have three separate checking accounts—yours, mine, and ours—maybe if one person is a spender and one is a saver. That way, both people manage their checking accounts on their own.
Combining Bank Accounts
If you decide a shared bank account is the right step for you, the first step—whether you are downsizing for yourself or joining two individuals’ finances together—might be to decide where you want to open your new account.
If you or your spouse have multiple accounts across different financial institutions, you could evaluate which institution offers the best benefits and lowest fees.
Next, if you’ve decided you want to combine accounts, you could start moving your direct deposits and automatic bill payments over from your old accounts to the new one. You might also want to make sure any subscriptions or other deductions are switched over as well.
After about a month, you might want to double-check and make sure that everything has transferred properly. You don’t want to end up paying a late fee or have a check bounce because you weren’t monitoring your accounts.
Once you see the correct payments and deposits coming in and out of the new combined account, then you could start to close your old accounts. This might involve a trip to a branch in person, and if there is anything left in your old account, the bank will issue you a check or cash payment for the remainder.
Whether you decide to combine bank accounts, keep them separate, or something in between, it’s important to choose an account that meets your needs. SoFi offers a checking and savings account with no account fees (subject to change).
You can save, spend, and earn all in one place. Plus, joint accounts are now available with SoFi Checking and Savings. You can simply add a joint account holder online with just a few clicks. Easy.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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