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One of the best ways to keep your money working for you is to make sure it is stashed in the best bank and investment accounts.
Every couple has their particular preferences on what they are looking for, but there are some basic requirements that you no doubt want to keep in mind so your money stays with you instead of lining a bank or brokerage's pockets.
No matter how you handle finances, it is helpful to review your accounts every now and then to make sure you're earning the money you deserve. You may find that there is a better deal out there for the two of you.
Getting the Right Checking and Savings Account for You
Having the best checking and savings accounts for your family can be a huge boost to your finances. We learned this firsthand when we opened our first joint accounts.
When we were married, we picked Bank of America to be our home for our joint accounts. It made to us – it had plenty of branches and ATMs in the area and I had a student checking account that I was fine with.
I've about it before, but long story short, it was not the right bank for us. For all the hassles, we were really getting anything. Every quarter they'd show the interest we earned in our savings account and it was a joke – literally pennies.
Fed up, we switched and have been happy with our joint accounts at CapitalOne 360. We have fantastic service with them, earn more interest on our savings, and more importantly, it's easier to stay on top of our finances.
I highly recommend them if you're looking for a new bank. Whether you go with them or not, you two should be using a bank or credit union that fits your goals.
Make Your Bank Accounts Work for You
The first step is probably defining what essentials the accounts need to do well and what you'd like the accounts to have.
For our primary checking account we needed a place that was:
- Reliable (FDIC or NCUA insured)
- No maintenance fees
- Pretty fast (and free) bill pay system
- Conveniently located ATMs
- Good customer service
We also wanted a place where our savings could actually earn us some real money.
When it came to making a choice we went with Capital One 360 (back when it was ING Direct).
We started by moving over our savings and we very pleased with the interest we were getting every month.
Next, we moved our checking account, keeping some buffer money in our old account for a little bit in case we forgot any semi-annual bills.
Finding the Best Accounts for Your Investments
It can be easy to accumulate several different investment accounts, especially if you've changed jobs over the years.
Rolling over your 401(k) can be a fantastic way for you to consolidate your accounts and have more control over your money.
Besides your retirement accounts at work, if you don't have them already, consider opening up an IRA for each of you.
These accounts can be powerful assets as you make your contributions. One of their biggest advantages is that you have more freedom in what investments you choose unlike a 401(k) where you may only have limited options.
When looking at where we wanted to stash our money, we chose Vanguard and Betterment. I like Vanguard for a few reasons:
- Lower Fees: Vanguard's index funds are some of the lowest in the industry. If you register for e-delivery of account documents, Vanguard won’t charge you an annual account service fee.
- Free ETFs: Being with Vanguard means I can buy their ETFs free. Since I already buy these it would save me some money.
- Solid Reputation: Vanguard is known for having great customer service and being a valuable resource when it comes to investing. They offer investing advice in an understandable language.
For my husband, Betterment was a practical solution. Like Vanguard, Betterment makes index investing simple and easy to set up and manage.
- Saves Money: Betterment is very reasonably priced. There are no transaction fees, no deposit/withdrawal fees, and no fees to rebalance your portfolio.
- Saves Time: Keeping your portfolio on target with your asset allocation is easy with Betterment as it’s done automatically for you. You don’t have to stress out about where to invest. Once you’ve set your plan, Betterment automates the process.
- Easy to Navigate: Going through the set up process was a snap. In addition to asking me for personal and funding information to open the account, Betterment also went ahead asked about financial goals we had.
- Encourages Contributions: The easiest way to stay on target for your investment goals is to go ahead and automate your IRA contributions. With Betterment, it’s quick and easy to set-up so you don’t have to remind yourself to make your monthly contribution.
We're really happy with both companies and recommend them to anyone who needs a place to build their investments.
Get a Free Portfolio Check Up Today
If you want to keep tabs on your money, there are some wonderful and free options like Mint and Personal Capital.
Mint allows you to pull all the data from your various accounts into one place. We've used them to quickly set-up and adjust our budget.
With Personal Capital you can get a financial snapshot of all of your accounts and you may qualify to get a free portfolio check-up to make sure your investments are aligned with your personal goals.
Thoughts on Banking as a Couple
Every couple is different, so I'm very curious to see how you handle your finances. How many accounts do you have between the two of you?
How do you stay on top of what you have? Which banks, brokerages, and credit unions do you love to use?