When considering how many bank accounts to open, it’s tempting to believe there’s a magic number that will open the doors to a life of wealth and luxury.
But if you ask how many bank accounts most millionaires have, the answer is that it depends.
Keep reading to learn all you need to know about opening multiple bank accounts.
The magic number
We promised a magic number of bank accounts, so here it is: four.
Although the number of accounts you should have varies according to your specific needs and your strategy to develop your wealth, four accounts is a good place to start.
Checking account for bills
Your first account should be a checking account. You’ll use this account to pay all your monthly bills: cell phone, internet, credit card, rent (or mortgage), insurance, car loan, etc.
We recommend not having a card for this account. That way, you won’t be tempted to spend this money on other expenses.
Checking account for expenses
Next, you should have a separate checking account that contains the money you’re free to spend on other expenses, like gas, groceries, entertainment, gifts, or any other purchases you might make with a debit card.
Since this account will see a high volume of transactions, you might want to consider making it a high-yield checking account.
Savings account for emergencies
This account contains funds that you’ll only use in case of emergency, like an unexpected job loss, car and home repairs, or medical bills.
Most experts suggest having enough money in your emergency fund to cover three to six months of regular expenses.
Savings account for other savings
Your fourth account should be a savings account for other big savings goals, like buying a new car or making a down payment on a home.
Since you’ll be leaving the money in this account untouched, you might want to make it a certificate of deposit (CD) account, money-market account, or another form of high-interest savings account.
Keeping it simple
As you can see, having multiple bank accounts can be a great way to organize your funds.
But it’s also important not to get carried away. Having too many accounts can lead to increased costs and expensive mix-ups.
The most important thing is to keep your banking practices as simple as possible and only open new accounts for specific goals.
Aligning bank accounts with goals
No matter how many accounts you choose to have, you should always align each with a particular goal or purpose.
For example, in our magic four-account plan above, one account is dedicated to bills, one to debit expenses and purchases, one to emergency savings, and one to long-term savings.
Aligning each bank account with a goal will help you clarify your personal finances and bring you one step closer to reaching your objectives.
Pros and cons of having multiple accounts
- Helps you organize your finances according to specific goals.
- Can help prevent you from overspending.
- Allows you to separate business and personal finances.
- Allows you to separate individual and joint accounts.
- Gives you access to various types of accounts.
- Requires more work to manage.
- Potentially more maintenance fees.
- Risk of incurring extra penalty fees.
- Reduced interest returns due to funds being spread around.
- Difficulty satisfying minimum balance requirements.
Opening multiple bank accounts
When opening multiple bank accounts, you have several types to choose from.
Online banks offer different perks than traditional banks.
Different types of accounts
In addition to savings and checking accounts, here are some of the most common kinds of bank accounts you’ll come across:
- Certificates of deposit (CDs): CDs offer higher interest rates in exchange for not withdrawing your money before a given time, such as three, six, or twelve months. The interest rate you get depends on your bank or credit union and the length of the term you choose.
- Money market accounts: These accounts also offer higher interest, but not as high as CDs. They often have minimum account balances and limits on the number of allowed withdrawals. Unlike savings accounts, money market accounts allow you to use checks and debit cards.
- Brokerage accounts: You have to open a brokerage account to hold your investments when you start investing in stocks and mutual funds. Fees and requirements vary from one financial institution to another.
- Retirement accounts: These are investment accounts reserved for retirement plans like 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), and HSAs.
What to look out for when opening an account
You should look at interest rates first when opening bank accounts. Many checking accounts don’t pay interest, but some do. Consider CDs, money market accounts, or high-interest savings accounts for savings.
You also want to be aware of any maintenance or penalty fees you might be subject to. Some accounts charge no fees, while others might waive them if you meet specific requirements.
Also, check if the bank has ATMs in your area. If not, try to get an account that offers refunds on out-of-network ATM fees.
Finally, look into the procedure for closing the account after it’s open to avoid surprises.
FAQs about having multiple bank accounts
Should you have multiple bank accounts with different banks?
While having all your accounts at one bank might be more straightforward, there are times when having accounts at different banks is the best option.
For example, if you’re married and have a joint account, you might choose to keep it at a different bank from your personal account for organizational purposes.
Using different banks for your accounts can also be helpful if you want to track freelancing income or if you run a small business and want to track your business finances separately.
What is a high-yield account?
A high-yield bank account is a savings or checking account that earns higher interest in exchange for meeting specific usage requirements. These can be good options for an expense account or a long-term savings account.
When should I not open a new account?
You should only open a new bank account if it fulfills a specific purpose or helps organize your finances. If you already have more accounts than you can keep track of, it’s not time to open a new one. Having too many accounts can lead to extra maintenance or penalty fees and make it more difficult to meet minimum account requirements.
Is it bad to have multiple bank accounts?
Having multiple bank accounts isn’t necessarily good or bad. What matters is how you use your accounts to achieve your financial goals. If you need to separate your finances for different projects, opening additional accounts can be an excellent choice.
Having multiple bank accounts can be an excellent strategy for budgeting funds to meet particular objectives and achieve clarity in your personal finances.
While we suggest starting with a simple four-account structure, you may find a different magic number for your specific needs.
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