6 Ways to Spring Clean Your Bank Accounts

Spring cleaning isn’t just for your closets or attic. It can apply to your finances, too. Taking the time to do a deep clean of your spending and deposits can help ensure you’re using minimal effort throughout the year to meet your saving and budgeting goals. Here are a few steps to take when you’re ready to spring clean your bank accounts.

1. Review account transactions from your bank

Look through your statements from the past few months for any penalties or charges that have been assessed by your bank. While some banks and credit unions have eliminated overdraft fees, yours might still be charging them. Some banks also charge an inactivity fee if you haven’t used your account in a while. Or your account might charge a monthly service fee.

If you’ve been charged an overdraft recently, try asking for a refund and consider what you can do to avoid those fees next time. Find an account that doesn’t penalize overdrawing your funds or charge any monthly or other fees. There are plenty of FDIC-insured banks that offer competitive accounts with no fees and no minimum requirements.

2. Hit ‘unsubscribe’

Scanning your bank account can be an effective way to see your subscription payments in one place. The cost of your subscription services can be much higher than you estimate. A survey done by market research firm C+R in 2022 of 1,000 consumers found that consumers, on average, estimated their subscription spending to be $86 per month. Their actual average monthly spending on subscription services was $219. So it’s a good idea to audit your subscription charges.

“One of the things I recommend that people do when it comes to subscriptions is to make sure you’re at the right level,” says Mical Jeanlys-White, CEO and founder of WealthMore, a firm that aims to provide accessible and affordable financial advisors for investment and financial planning services. She says to consider whether you need the subscription, and if you do, to see whether a cheaper plan might be enough. “Are you keeping a premium level where you may just need the basic?” she asks.

3. Take a holistic view

As you review your subscriptions, take time to look at all your transactions and expenses, including ones from your credit cards. Consider whether they all align with your money goals. “The biggest transfer of your wealth is your day-to-day spending. So be intentional,” says Jeanlys-White. “Do I want to transfer my wealth to this vacation? This retailer? This restaurant here? This wine bar?”

4. Go paperless

If you receive paper bank statements, consider switching to electronic statements. Some financial institutions charge a fee for paper statements, so it could be an opportunity to save a few dollars each month. If you’re not already receiving and paying bills online rather than by mail, you can set this up for yourself as part of your spring cleaning.

Anora Gaudiano, a certified financial planner and assistant vice president at Wealthspire Advisors in New York City, recommends also ditching paper checks, if possible. “Checks get lost and checks get stolen,” she says. “People can use online payment systems and wires to avoid this.” You can set up online bill pay or, in some cases, use peer-to-peer payment apps such as Zelle or Venmo if you’re paying someone you know and trust.

5. Automate your accounts to meet your goals

There’s a lot you can automate to make it easy to manage money in your bank accounts. You can set up automatic bill payments from your bank account for recurring expenses such as utilities, and set up direct deposit for your paychecks. You can even split your direct deposits so that a certain amount goes straight to your savings, for example; or you can set up recurring auto transfers from a checking account into savings. Jeanlys-White recommends turning that discipline of good financial habits to autopilot mode so you don’t have to think about it.

6. Streamline your bank accounts

Review the bank accounts you have open. For each, ask yourself, “Does this serve me? Is this aligned with my lifestyle and the goals that I want to accomplish?” says Lea Landaverde, Founder of Riqueza Collective, which makes bilingual financial education accessible to underrepresented communities.

Investigate if your savings accounts still have competitive rates. The best rates right now are around 5% annual percentage yield, while the national average savings rate is just 0.46% as of February 2024. If you’re not earning as much as you could be, consider moving your money to a high-yield savings account or, for funds you won’t need in the near future, to a high-rate certificate of deposit.

Comb through to see if there are any accounts that you aren’t really using. Consider consolidating or closing accounts and moving funds where they can earn more interest.

Alternatively, you may find that you want to open another account in order to get streamlined. You can open two checking accounts, for example: one for paying bills and another for your spending money. Or you may find it helpful to have multiple bank accounts at different banks or credit unions to keep your savings at a different place than your checking account, so your funds aren’t easy to dip into when you’re tempted to spend more. “You can have multiple accounts,” says Landaverde. “There is no right or wrong with having 10 accounts versus two accounts.”

Don’t limit yourself to springtime to clean up your bank accounts

“I would suggest that you do a financial spring cleaning, summer cleaning, fall cleaning and winter cleaning,” says Jeanlys-White. Landaverde agrees that it’s a good idea to review your bank accounts more regularly. “You can set up a monthly reoccurring date with yourself on a Sunday or on a Friday when you get paid, to organize your finances to ensure that you kind of know where your paycheck is going,” says Landaverde. This way, reviewing your finances is less overwhelming, she says.

Whether you’re spring cleaning your bank accounts for the first time or you already have the kind of regular schedule that Landaverde and Jeanlys-White recommend, taking the time to consider whether you’re getting the most of your deposit accounts — and switching banks or accounts when necessary — can help you maximize your earnings and avoid fees.

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