Step 3: Consolidate Finances

This week, Mr. DebtFree JD and I consolidated our finances.  Our strategy was: go down to EnormousMega Bank, get cashiers’ checks for all our money, and then deposit them in TinyFriendly Bank.

Don’t ever do this.  Ever.

Why not, you ask?

  1. EnormousMega Bank put what they called a “five-day hold” on our checks.  This is code for “we’re seizing your money for five days and you can’t touch it.”  Even with credit cards, five days is a long time to be completely money-less.
  2.  We thought we had canceled all our automatic withdrawals.  Wrong.  Our electrical bill automatically withdrew from our old bank account, which means we have to pay Enormous MegaBank for the electrical bill (and associated fees?) and then close our old account again. On the plus side, our lights still turn on.
  3. We also thought we had scheduled this transfer between any due dates for bills.  Wrong again.  We had a credit card bill due, and have to pay a lay fee.*

These minor speed bumps in the Highway of Life aside, consolidating our finances was a great idea, since we now know how much money we have.  Rather than having our money in seven separate accounts (two joint accounts and five individual accounts), it’s now all in one checking and one saving account.  Much easier.  It also led to a serious discussion about how much we need to keep in our checking and savings accounts, and how much can go straight to debt.

For bonus points, we signed up for Mint, so we could get a better grip on what we were spending. A half hour of poking around led to such discoveries** on my part as:

  • Our combined cell phone bill is $187/month?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
  • We are paying $166/month in car insurance on our used car which we drive maybe twice a week?!?!?!
  • Holy guacamole, that’s a heck of a lot of spending on restaurants.
  • Etc., etc., etc., etc.

In other words, after some very minimal effort on our part, we know how much we’re spending and how much we’re saving.  And it feels more like a partnership having all our money in the same pot.  Mrs. & Mr. DebtFree JD, LLP: Taking On Ridiculous Student Loans One Dollar At A Time.***

High fives and a celebratory beer are in order.

*If you are planning to change banks, my advice to you is: move half your money, make sure you’ve got your ducks in a row on automatic withdrawals and bill due dates, and then move the rest of your money.

**These were only discoveries in the sense that previously I refused to pay any attention to our monthly bills and now I can’t.  I “discovered” this in the same way I once “discovered” I needed to clean out my closet when I opened the door and a small mountain of clothes fell out.

***Sadly, I don’t think this actually counts as making partner before the age of 35.