Where We Keep Our Money


15 Comments
Where We Keep Our Money

We talk a lot about how to save money on here. But one thing we’ve never talked about is where we keep our money. We’ve had a few questions on just this topic recently, and as it always is with us, if you ask, you shall receive much more than you asked for in the first place. Yup, oversharing is about to happen. So here’s some info on where we keep our dough.

Ally Accounts

At Ally, our main bank, we have three separate accounts, which all serve different purposes. We use Ally because it has some of the best interest rates, as abysmal as they still might be. Ally also waives all ATM fees, which makes it easy and convenient and makes up for the lack of a brick and mortar location. And we’ve had mostly good experiences with Ally.

  • Checking: We use our checking account for all of our day-to-day expenses, including paying down our credit cards each month. Our checking account usually holds a little more than a month’s worth of our budgeted expenses at any given moment.
  • Money Market: Our money market account is where we keep our future-house fund, as well as our general savings and emergency fund. In other words, the majority of our money that isn’t invested is in this account. While we mentioned in Monday’s post that we think of a Roth as an emergency fund as well, to be clear, we have a separate emergency fund that stays in our money market account. We use a money market account over a savings account because we have access with our debit card, if necessary, and the interest rate is about the same as a savings account. It is pretty similar to a checking account, but we rarely need to transfer money into and out of it (since you can only do 6 transactions a month with that account).
  • Savings: Our savings account doesn’t serve a purpose anymore. In the past, when Johnny was working as a freelance writer, we would auto-transfer money into that account each month to be used to pay our quarterly estimated taxes. But now that we’re not using it for anything specific, we don’t keep much money in it.

Chase Checking Account

We use Chase because we used to use WaMu, which then became Chase. And it was convenient when we lived in the cash-only-mecca NYC since their banks are everywhere out there. It’s also nice that we still have access to a brick-and-mortar bank in the event that we ever need cash fast. But we keep this account open mostly as a formality and don’t keep much money in it.

Retirement Accounts

Currently, I have a 403b, which we contribute to up to the employer match. We also have our Roth IRAs, which we have through Vanguard. Johnny doesn’t currently contribute to a 401k, but later this year, we’ll either contribute to his employer’s 0% match 401k or a traditional IRA. We also have a general investment and a Roth IRA account at Sharebuilder, which was rolled over from Johnny’s previous employer’s 401k.

So those are the deets on where we keep our dollars. Now that we’ve written all of it out, that’s not as simple as we thought it was, but it works for us. Any other questions? Are any of you out there banking buddy’s with us? Tomorrow’s post will list our usernames and passwords, so stay tuned! 😉

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15 Comments

  • Reply Michelle March 28, 2014 at 9:04 am

    I used to have a WAMU account but got rid of it right before the change. Then, I decided to open a CHASE account. I also have an ING account and an account with a local bank. I contribute to a 403 (B) and am currently looking to open a Roth and a solo 401 K. I’m double checking that I can open both concurrently.

    • Reply Joanna March 30, 2014 at 11:09 pm

      That’s great Michelle. It sounds like you’ve got a good handle on where you want your money to go!

  • Reply Little House March 28, 2014 at 9:40 am

    My checking and savings accounts aren’t all that simple either. Between a brick and mortar checking and saving, and three additional online accounts, it actually seems a little more complicated than it should be. But I think one of my excuses for that is the dismal interest rates in most savings accounts. I try and use a couple of online ones for a slightly higher rate (not sure it’s really worth the hassle, but I do it any way!)

    • Reply Joanna March 30, 2014 at 11:11 pm

      We initially did online banking for the higher rates, too. Hopefully one day those interest rates will start to show both of us a little love :).

  • Reply Leigh March 28, 2014 at 10:32 am

    I’ve kind of collected accounts over the years, though I have made a good effort at closing down accounts this year:

    1) I have my primary checking account at a local credit union, which I love. That’s where the credit card payment goes from each month, as well as my HOA dues, property taxes, and mortgage payment and where my paycheck goes in.

    2) I keep my emergency fund in a savings account at Ally and have a savings account from when I opened it to get a bonus last year and decided the $300 minimum account balance to avoid fees was worthwhile. (I used to have a down payment savings account, as well as several others at Ally as well, but I closed that when I bought my place!)

    3) I have a few more checking account with specific purposes: a) at Charles Schwab because they refund ATM fees anywhere in the world and I travel a fair amount, b) at Ally from when I had more than one savings account and that made distributing savings amounts easier, c) at Fidelity because I have one of their credit cards and it makes getting dividends easier.

    4) I have a regular investment account and my Roth IRA at Vanguard. I also have a 401(k).

    5) As for credit cards, I have a 1% cashback card from my credit union, the Amazon.com Rewards visa from Chase, the Chase Freedom visa, and the Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express card. I love the Fidelity Amex – it gives 2% cashback on all purchases and it auto-deposits to my Fidelity checking account once it hits $50 :)

    I love that you guys use Ally as your primary bank! I definitely consider that occasionally.

    • Reply Joanna March 30, 2014 at 11:14 pm

      It’s crazy how accounts just start collecting. This post was a good reminder for where exactly we’re keeping our money these days :). You’ve got quite a few accounts, girl! But it sounds like each of them serves a purpose, so keep on keepin’ on!

  • Reply Katy @ katytrackslife March 28, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Hey, I just blogged about this too!

    We use several free accounts to “categorise” our funds, and after a comment on this blog have just opened a separate emergency fund account (thanks for the tip!)

    Do you think you have too many accounts? It sounds like you have some your could close but haven’t gotten around to it, or do you prefer having the extra options to use if you need them?

    • Reply Joanna March 30, 2014 at 11:21 pm

      Glad you’ve got an account for your emergency fund! That’s great. My income is direct deposited into our Chase account actually, so it would be kind of a pain to change all of that stuff just to close the account. Our “extra” accounts aren’t doing any harm, so I think we’ll leave them open for now!

  • Reply Tabitha March 29, 2014 at 1:02 am

    We deal mostly with one local brick and mortar bank having 5 account with them 3 checking and 2 savings. Our accounts are all joint but we each had our own checking when we got married that our respective jobs direct deposit into and it’s been easier to keep those two accounts than deal with the hassle of changing how the direct deposit works. And then, being farmers, the third checking is for a line of credit with the bank (in order to buy seed, machinery, spring agronomy etcetera.) the formal term the bank gives it is, “Agricultural Loan” need to have that separate account for all farm related expenses – it’s nice for the book keeping. Then the two savings – one is for general savings and is split out part emergency fund, part several other categories. The other is for our house rent, we pay rent bi-annually, but in our monthly budget we have a line for “monthly” rent that get transferred into that savings, and then twice a year gets paid to the landlord. (in the in between 6 months is can sit and earn it’s .01% interest…)

    We have a completely separate (out of sight out of mind) savings account with U.S. Bank, that is our someday anniversary (we haven’t decided which one yet – we’re just 2 years in so far :) vacation fund – money is deposited into that once a year at least (and we have a pact that we won’t withdraw from it until said anniversary vacation)

    And lastly we have a credit card used only for gas with BankAmerica that gives us 3% back on gasoline (2% on grocery if we used it for that (we’ve debated, but are afraid it’d be too much of a temptation to over spend), 1% for everything else). We actually just got it about 2 months ago, and are loving the perks; we budget for gas each month as if we were going to pay cash for it, but just let that add up, use the card when we fill up, and then pay the card off with the money already budgeted when the bill comes at the end of the month. We’re really liking the cash back perk.

    • Reply Joanna March 30, 2014 at 11:27 pm

      I love hearing how other people divvy up their money, so thanks for sharing, Tabitha! I totally understand leaving an account open for simplicity’s sake. Even though we don’t really use our Chase account, my income is directly deposited into it, so that’s another one of the reasons we keep it open. I really like your idea of the someday anniversary savings account!

  • Reply Debra April 3, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    I wondered if everyone else’s money was as crazy as ours! We got married later than most (after 35), so we each had establishments at our own banks (credit union for me). I finally convinced my husband that we needed to consolidate our assets in order to make them go further (and that was during the 99% movement away from big banks), but somehow we still have the same number of accounts!

    Lucky for us, we also each owned a house, so we live in his and rent out mine. However, that means two banks to hold the mortgages: Wells Fargo for him and Chase for me. Last year when I refinanced with Chase, they offered a cash back incentive for having a mortgage and checking account, plus more cash back through our credit card with them. Bonus! I use that checking account to direct deposit my meager paycheck which barely covers my mortgage, but since it’s the bank on the corner from our house, I look at it as our money laundering bank. Any bonuses or rebate checks or cash from my side businesses go in there. They then get promptly transferred to my (relatively) high interest savings account at Sallie Mae.

    I was doing this for awhile before I realized that I should be transferring any and all transactions that we put on our credit cards for the rewards. So now, at the end of every week, I add them up and transfer the total from our credit union checking account to Sallie Mae. They have a month or more to sit in there earning interest (making money babies) before the auto-pay for the credit card kicks in to pay the balance!

    My next area to tackle is our investment accounts. We each have old 401ks and current 401ks. I also have a pension with the state that I forgot about, but boy does that make me breathe a sigh of relief! I’d like to get the old 401ks into Vanguard accounts and start college accounts for the kiddos, and Roth accounts as soon as we have some free cash to throw at it!

    • Reply Johnny April 7, 2014 at 1:22 am

      Your system sounds like a well-oiled machine! In a lot of ways, we use our Chase account similarly where it merely “launders” our money into our higher interest savings at Ally.

      And congrats on your pension! Those are rare to find these days. While it might not sound like the most exciting day off, if you circled a day on your calendar, I bet you could tackle all of that consolidation work in one day. Wouldn’t that be awesome to be done? That’s the only way I get our taxes done each year.

  • Reply Chad E April 5, 2014 at 1:03 am

    1. High Interest Savings
    2. Roth IRA
    3. 401k
    4. Index Fund
    5. Stocks [mimic an index fund]

    = money now + great retirement :)

    • Reply Johnny April 7, 2014 at 1:24 am

      I dig it. We still need to beef up our “money now” investments, but that will happen sooner than later.

  • Reply Shona December 24, 2016 at 4:55 am

    I think this post was written about 3 years ago. Just an update on Ally Bank – they no longer reimburse all ATM fees. It is currently limited to $10 per month only.

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