Consolidate your bank accounts.

It’s National Pay Your Bills Week!  I had no idea about this “holiday” until I saw a post about it on Facebook–on TRICARE’s Facebook page no less.  At any rate, I posted the suggestion to establish your bill pay procedure several weeks ago.  But I wanted to touch on an issue that we encountered early in our marriage and are now dealing with again:  consolidating bank accounts.  My husband is from the Pacific Northwest and used U.S. Bank (which I’d actually never heard of at the time) when we married.  I am from the deep South and used a local credit union in my home state.  We moved to a mid-Atlantic state where he was stationed, and we opened a third account together at a local bank.  A few years later, we closed accounts and consolidated all of our money into my credit union, which was based in the town where we moved after he separated from the military.  We were glad to have all of our funds in one account.  But after moving twice, both times insisting on having a local bank while loving the interest rate and other perks at my old credit union, we have found ourselves with more accounts than we had when we married.  So back to the proverbial drawing board we go.  If you’re finding yourself with the same issue and interested in consolidating your accounts, here’s what I suggest.

  • First, determine which account you prefer to keep.  Maybe the bank is close to your house or work and easy to access.  Maybe it refunds your ATM feed.  Maybe it pays high interest on your checking account.  Whatever your reasons, determine the bank you want to stay with.
  • Make sure you have checks and/or an ATM card for that account (if you use an ATM card, that is!).
  • If your income is deposited into a different bank account, complete and submit the necessary paperwork to ensure that your income is deposited into your chosen account.  Make sure that you take note of when the change takes place, and ensure that you make money transfers as necessary between accounts until the changes take place.
  • If you have bill payments debited from your accounts, grab your bill pay checklist for this month.  Then go through, bill by bill, and ensure that your payment for each is being debited from your chosen account.  Change the bank information if you need to, taking note of when the change will take place (it may take a month or two before the change goes into effect).  Make a note to check in next month (and maybe the month afterward, if your effective dates are two months out) to ensure that the change actually did take effect.
  • Begin writing checks from the account you have chosen to consolidate your funds into.
  • Slowly transfer the money from your other accounts into your consolidated account in increments.
  • If you don’t have financial padding, you should check your accounts regularly until the changes take place, just to ensure that you don’t have an insufficient funds situation if one of these institutions makes a mistake.
  • Close your old account.

One more thing:  Since it is National Pay Your Bills week, I’ve finally uploaded a simple bill pay checklist!  I have a digital download of a monthly checklist and a yearly checklist for sale for just $1.00 at my web site at Bridget E Creations.  It is an instant digital download.  Just pay through Paypal.  (I may upload it to Etsy later this week.)

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