October 17, 2008

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Multiple checking accounts – If you have many checking accounts it's a good time for you to consider streamlining this part of your life. Elaine writes that she has 4 checkbooks and uses different accounts for different things. As a streamliner I am almost speechless as I think about how complicated that must make things. Some complexities that come to mind: That means Elaine has to move money from one account to another just to keep the balances high enough to use the accounts. Elaine gets 4 statements every month. Each account should be reconciled every month (I doubt she does that but I can't bring myself to ask). I imagine promotional pieces come from each bank stuffing her mailbox frequently. What if she is spending money that is supposed to come out of a checking account that she does not have the checkbook for at the moment? She has to keep straight which account is for what types of expenses. That all adds up to headache to me. To streamline I suggest an alternative. First Elaine can simply move all her funds to her favorite bank and close 3 of the accounts. That bank might have the most locations close to her, offer free money card transactions, have the easiest download center online, and possibly all these features. If she needs to track expenses by category the manual method is to put a code in the check register as she writes check. Periodically she tallies expenses by code. The computer method is to download transactions to money management software such as Quicken or Microsoft Money, code the transactions to relevant categories, and enjoy the simplicity of automation totaling expenses by category. The great thing about the computer method is that the computer remembers how expenses from a particular vendor are categorized and automatically enters them next time she visits the vendor. If you have multiple checking accounts please share the reasoning behind keeping them in a comment below. If you're going to close some accounts now, let us know that too.

Susan Sabo

I am a tool-loving productivity specialist who gets things done so I can travel the world, bicycle our country, spoil my friends & colleagues, and show you how to do the same.

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