Ready to Spring Clean? Don't Forget Your Bank Accounts

It's finally spring, or at least the calendar says so. That means warmer days, more daylight, and spring cleaning.

When it comes to your house, spring cleaning might mean opening doors and windows and packing away winter clothes and blankets. But what does spring cleaning mean for your bank accounts? Here are a few things you may want to consider.

Aligning your targeted savings accounts with your current goalsIf you have targeted savings accounts, are you still saving for those goals? If the answer is no, then you can reallocate the funds in a particular sub-account to a goal you are still saving for. Then you can delete that obsolete savings category so that when you log in, all you see are the goals that you're still actively striving to achieve.

Or perhaps you've set a new goal in its place. If that's the case, you can change the name of a sub-account to match your new goal. From there, establish a timeline for reaching the goal to determine how much you should be setting aside each month.

Speaking of setting money aside each month, have you automated that process? If not, most online banks make setting up automated savings easy. You'll need the account number the money will be coming from, and then you'll have to decide which savings categories the funds should be allocated to. If you're unable to meet all your savings goals, then you may need to cut back on some of your expenses or extend your timeline so that you are saving appropriately.

Making sure your money is as (in)accessible as you want it to beSome people want their money to be easily accessible in case of an emergency. If that's the case, then you may want your checking and savings accounts to be at the same bank. This should enable you to move funds quickly and easily between the two.

Other people may be tempted to spend all their money if it's too easy to access. If that describes you, then you may want your checking and savings accounts to be at different banks. That way, once something has been moved to your online savings account, it's "out of sight, out of mind." If you truly need the money, it can be moved, but since the process may take several days, you've got a bit of a barrier between yourself and temptation.

Finally, some prefer the blended approach. They have a linked checking and savings at one bank, with just enough in the savings account to prevent overdraft in the case of a small emergency (think $500 or $1,000). Then they keep funds that are being allocated toward longer-term savings goals in a targeted savings account. If you have a blended approach going, take a moment and ask yourself: Is it still working for you? Is the system too complicated? If necessary, make any changes you feel are necessary to simplify and optimize.

Finding the best accounts for youWith even the best savings account rates fairly low these days, it doesn't necessarily make sense to rate-chase constantly. However, sometimes an excellent opportunity arises. So keep your eyes peeled; especially as your balance grows, better account benefits might become available to you.

Additionally, interest rates are not the only benefits offered by banks. Sometimes banks offer sign-up bonuses that can make parking your money there worthwhile. If you're paying fees at your current bank, it may be worthwhile to seek out a new bank that doesn't charge them.

Updating your passwordsExperts say that keeping the same password too long is a bad idea. Remember that your passwords should be different for different accounts, and strong passwords are case-sensitive and contain letters, numbers. and special characters.

Spring-cleaning your financial life requires a bit of effort, but it can help bring your goals into better focus and potentially improve your approach to spending and saving.

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