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My personal banking system is pretty complicated. And my recent attempt to simplify it only made things worse.
It all started years ago when I graduated from university and no longer qualified for free student banking. I had never had to pay banking fees before in my life, so I was not too happy when suddenly it was going to cost me $15 a month for fewer options than I previously had for free.
I have been a client of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) since I was a pre-teen. Prior to that, I had a children’s account with the only other bank in my hometown. But when I was going on a school trip to Toronto, I didn’t want to have to carry all my cash around with me. My original bank didn’t yet offer this “cool new thing” known as a debit card, but RBC did. So I switched banks. All of my money was now safe inside this little plastic card that I could use to pay for things.
Throughout high school and university, this was the one and only bank account that I had. It was my spending and saving account in one. It was easy, and for the most part, it worked well for me. That is until I finished my undergrad.
I unemployed while in grad school, and somewhat unintentionally drained my $10,000 in savings one debit transaction at a time.
Suddenly paying $15 a month in bank fees was not something I could afford and was definitely not something I wanted to be paying.
With some advice from my sister, I looked into PC Financial who offered no-fee banking. I did a little research, liked what I saw, and opened an account with them.
My intention was to close my account with RBC and move everything to PC Financial. But I didn’t know what to do about my RBC credit card.
I had heard bad things about closing a credit card and didn’t want to ruin my credit score. (Although to be honest, at the time I had no idea what any of that meant or if that was even true.)
I foolishly never asked or looked into it and instead of switching everything over, I now had 2 banks accounts instead of just the one.
When I got my first “real” job, having 2 bank accounts actually worked out better for me. Despite being 2008, the theatre I worked at still paid us by cheque. Each month, I’d deposit one cheque into my RBC account to pay my rent and my online bills. I’d deposit the other cheque into my PC Financial account to use as my spending money (since it had free debit transactions).
Somewhere around this time, my sister told me about the new Tax-Free Savings Accounts. After years of making only pennies off my savings account with RBC, this sounded perfect. I used her Tangerine Orange Key to opened an account with them and got a $50 bonus!
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I used my Tangerine TSFA strictly as savings. I set up automatic payments to this account and since I didn’t do any day-to-day banking with them, it was easy to “forget” that this money was there, slowly growing.
Until I decided to buy a new car. Which I financed with a bank loan.
I had sort of settled into my complicated banking ways when I started to have more and more issues with RBC. Pending transactions would disappear and reappear weeks later. They kept adding and increasing their fees. And they were constantly contacting me, trying to up-sell me on one thing or another.
So I once again tried to simplify my banking by moving everything over to a new account with Tangerine. But I ran into problems.
Half of my bill payees aren’t available through their system because they are local companies from my small community. And when I tried to pay my rent with a Tangerine e-transfer, my landlords couldn’t figure it out and refused to accept it.
Now between my husband and I, we have 10 different accounts or financial products with 4 different banks. And not a single joint account.
And I hate it.
My wallet is overflowing with little plastic cards. I can’t keep all the PINs straight. And every payday, I have to shuffle money around to make sure the right accounts have the right amount of money needed in them.
My banking system is needlessly complicated and it’s my own fault.
I really got to sit down one day and figure it all out.
YOUR TURN: How do you manage your bank accounts? Do you have multiple accounts with the same bank? Or do you use multiple banks?
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