Simplifying My Banking… Or Maybe Not…


As part of my goal #6 for 2016, I planned to do some research on bank accounts to streamline and hopefully simplify some of our finances… Part of the goal is to leave my bank completely once the mortgage is moved… And well, I did some research, but I don’t think I’m going to actually be successful in simplifying our accounts – which I’ll discuss a little later on…

The Research

So, first up I decided to compare a few of the banks that are around here and see what they have for account options.  My criteria for comparison is monthly fees and minimum balances to waive fees, how many transactions per month, and cost for Interact e-transfers.

I’m sure there are many comparisons that have been done already (like this one), but I wanted to do my own research to know that I was doing things based on the most current information that I could find myself.

I made myself a spreadsheet to compare them all, but it’s just too big for you to really see properly here…

bank accounts

You probably don’t need to know all the details, but most of the big banks have a couple options for chequing accounts… Most have a monthly fee from $4 to $15 that is waived if you hold a balance between $2000 to $3500.  But here’s the thing… I don’t want to pay a monthly fee… and I don’t want to have to hold that much money in a chequing account without making any interest on it.  I would also like to not worry about how many transactions I make per month (if at all possible) and for the few times a year that I transfer money using Interact e-transfers, I don’t want to pay $1.50 per transaction.

Most Canadians that read or write personal finance blogs know about Tangerine.  The online-only bank that doesn’t charge fees.  Well, they don’t for most things… But they do for Interact e-transfers.  The other options for free chequing accounts came from the local credit unions.  In fact, one of the local credit unions has a free chequing account with unlimited transactions and it even includes free Interact e-transfers.  SOLD!

The Plan

But, as I mentioned earlier, I think I’m not actually going to be simplifying my banking by doing the changes I’m making… So, what have I decided to do?

First, I opened a Tangerine chequing account.  There were a couple reasons for this.  My husband and I already have a few joint savings accounts with Tangerine for our short term savings goals, and I was interested in trying out their rewards credit card… So, to keep things simple (ha ha right…) and because everything is free with Tangerine, I decided to open a chequing account with them as well so that we can easily access all our savings if needed.

Side note: Opening new accounts with Tangerine is so awesomely easy online!  I did it in a few minutes and then got my new bank card in the mail a few days later.

Next, my plan is to open a shared account with my husband at the local credit union.  I am a bit old fashioned and like the idea of being able to go in to a branch and talk to a person occasionally… Not that I really ever do this, but I would still like the option.  This shared account will be what we use for our mortgage payments, once we get our new mortgage, and all the shared household bills and such.  We probably won’t actually go open this account for a little while yet…

My husband will likely keep his own free account that he already has with another local credit union.  Although, once we go through all these changes, we may revisit that…

So, we will go from the two chequing accounts to three… so not exactly simplifying… However, we will only have free accounts… and no requirement for a minimum balance… so in a sense there will be less to worry about, and more freedom to move our money around to get it working for us better.

Of course, this is all just a plan right now, and as we get closer and do more research and investigation in to all the mortgage options, things may change…

Have you done anything to simplify your banking?  Do you think I’m going in the right direction with our plan?


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