Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bank Account Madness

I have a confession. I have 7 savings account and 3 checking accounts. It wasn't always like this. Up until a couple of years ago, I was a one-bank woman. If banks were single men, I'd be a promiscuous 'ho.

lolcats and funny pictures

In the early '90s, I opened checking #1 and savings #1 at Wells Fargo while I was a Freshman in college. Wells Fargo really didn't give me great products or services, but I liked them enough. In Southern California, Wells Fargo is one of the easiest banks to do business with since they have ATMs and branches everywhere. But at some point, Wells Fargo started charging me $7.00/month for online bill pay. Little did I know I didn't have to put up with this lousy service!

In early 2005, I opened savings #2 at my local credit union. I opened the account under the naive thought that if I had a savings account, I would get better terms on my car loan. (I didn't.)

Then in October 2006, I received a letter from Bank of America offering me $125 if I opened up a new personal checking and savings account. I was told I wouldn't be charged a fee on my checking so long as I had direct deposit every month. I was also exempt from fees on my savings if I transferred $25 every month from my checking to my savings. I thought, "What the heck?" and opened checking #2 and savings #3. At this point, I started using my BofA checking account as my primary checking account to pay bills. My Wells Fargo became my secondary checking account for "fun money".

In January 2007, I received a promotional mailer from ING offering $25 if I opened an Orange Savings Account. As far as I could see, there was no catch and the bank offered a remarkable 4.41% APY. Wells Fargo and BofA was paying a laughable 0.01% APY, so how could I turn this offer down? I signed up for savings #4, got my $25 and I was introduced to the wonderful world of online savings accounts. I was hooked!

In April 2007, I learned about another promotional offer for $100 if I opened a Citibank Ultimate Savings Account online. Again, there didn't seem to be any catch and the APY was competitive with ING. I opened savings #5. (Ahhh. The good ol' days when Citibank was giving out money, not taking money.)

In November 2008, I learned about DollarSavingsDirect, who was offering 4% APY while other banks were paying approximately half. I enjoyed the thrill of rate-chasing, so I opened savings #6. Little did I know that the interest rates would plummet at all of the online banks in less than a year. But online banks still offer a much better rate than the bricks-and-mortar banks. I'm sticking with them.

Around the same time, I opened checking #3 with my local credit union. I was concerned that if I got laid off and didn't have additional direct deposits, I'd be charged monthly fees by Wells Fargo and BofA. The local credit union offered a true free checking account, so if and when I get laid off, I'm certain that I will close down checking #1 and checking #2 and start using checking #3 exclusively.

And finally, most recently, I opened savings #7 through Smarty Pig. This was partly due to my addiction to rate-chasing (currently 3.05% APY) and because I liked the whole Christmas Club-like plan it offered.

You're probably wondering, why don't I just close some of my accounts? I wondered about that too. And here's what I came up with:

  1. I'm lazy;

  2. I like having options, including ATM and branch accessibility;

  3. I'm lazy;

  4. In case any of my banks fail, I have the peace of mind that I have money accessible at other banks while I wait for FDIC or NCUA to make me whole;

  5. I'm lazy;

  6. I may be clinically insane;

  7. I have too much time on my hands;

  8. Did I mention I'm lazy?

I was planning to write the bizaare and complicated system I use to keep track of my money, but I realized it will take forever. Tomorrow, I'll write about my crazy system and my even crazier spreadsheet.


MoneyMateKate said...

Heh, I've got checking accounts in three countries. I couldn't figure out how to close the one in Japan, and I think I left about $3 in it 11 years ago. I couldn't even tell you the name of the bank. I still have my Royal Bank of Scotland checking and saving accounts because it was so freaking hard to qualify for a checking account (they only give them to fully employed people, not temps), that I just don't want to shut that door.

MoneyFunk said...

LOL. Lazy, huh? I was curious as to why you never combined all those accounts of yours.

Miss M said...

I'm lazy too, which is why I don't have a ton of accounts. I have one checking account and I guess 4 savings accounts if you include the one I had to open to get a mortgage. That's enough for me.

444 said...

You can get these anywhere online. This was the first link I found:

I printed one and put it on Mr. 444's desk. Would you tell him to use it?

I've mailed in a few of these. In a week or two you just get a check in the mail for whatever was in your account and voila! The old account is closed. Less for you to keep up with.

Come on now... 3 or 4 bank accounts, maybe more if you have really good reasons for them. But don't keep old ones you no longer use and just haven't gotten around to closing. For one thing, you may get hit with a large "inactive account" fee.

Ms. MoneyChat said...

LOL - literally!!! hilarious.

Anonymous said...

sounds like you're easily tempted by promotions and (as you admit) high interest rates. I'm never sure if it's worth it to chase rates and bonuses...