When you're juggling the many responsibilities of family life, you may not slow down long enough to realize your needs in a checking account and money management have changed. Many checking accounts offer features that can make your busy life easier, so maybe it's time to re-evaluate your current account. Here are some items to consider.
1. Does my bank offer convenient digital and electronic tools to make banking easier?
With a busy family life, you may depend on the ability to transfer money and pay bills via online and mobile banking. But does your bank enable you to manage your money 24/7 in other ways? For example, can you deposit checks right from your smartphone? Does your online banking offer a personal financial management program to help you consolidate all accounts (even those at other financial institutions). Such programs can be especially helpful for tracking spending and keeping the family budget on track.
2. Are balance requirements in line with what I can maintain in my account?
Many checking accounts do require you to maintain a minimum daily balance or an average monthly balance. If you drop below this required balance, you may pay a fee. Sometimes, money can be a bit tighter when you're raising a family. So consider whether any balance requirements with your current account are realistic given your current financial situation.
3. Am I taking advantage of ways to avoid paying monthly fees on my account?
Even when a checking account falls below a required minimum, many banks offer ways to have that fee waived. For example, if you have a savings or other account at the same bank, combined balances of multiple accounts may be taken into consideration. Direct depositing your pay into your checking may be another way to have fees waived. Whether you plan to keep your existing checking account, or are considering a new one, it makes sense to be aware of ways to avoid paying fees.
4. Can I benefit from "extras" with my debit card?
Some banks offer rewards for card usage, such as discounts on purchases at designated retailers. You're already making purchases and using your debit card, so why not find one that pays you back in some way? Also, consider whether you can add your debit card to a digital wallet on your smartphone or other device. A digital wallet is a fast, convenient way to securely pay with a single touch on your Apple®, Samsung or Android device. That can lessen the stress when you're trying to navigate the checkout with children in tow.
5. Are there tools to help guard against fraud on my account?
When you're days involved dashing from home to daycare to work and back, it can be difficult to constantly monitor your account. Does your current account enable you to receive alerts when a purchase is made over a certain amount? Can you set a limit on debit card purchases and receive a text or email alert about transaction activity? Even more importantly, can you suspend and re-activate your debit card yourself via an app or other tool?
6. Can I easily send money to other people?
You may find yourself regularly paying teachers, coaches, other parents or the babysitter to cover your kids' activities and needs. Having to get cash or write checks can be a hassle. Make sure your account offers an easy person-to-person payment option. And since you most likely do have to make some payments by check, be sure you have an account that doesn't charge you for writing them. On a final note, if your children are teens or college-aged, consider whether your checking account enables you to easily make transfers into their account when necessary.
7. Is earning interest important to me?
Checking accounts don't tend to pay a high level of interest, unless you can maintain a higher balance. If you can maintain that balance, of course you will want to compare the Annual Percentage Yield paid on your current account against others you may be considering. However, you may be better off putting your money into a savings account, CD, money market or other deposit account that pays a higher APY. The amount of interest you earn on a checking account may not be significant enough to make it a deciding factor in your choice of account.
8. What is the cost of overdrawing my account and what tools are available to help me avoid it?
Most banks offer overdraft services, so if you withdraw/spend more than you have in your account, the transaction will go through, but you will be charged a fee. When comparing checking accounts, consider what overdraft services are available, how they work and what fees are associated with them. Also, look into features that can help you to avoid overdrawing your account, such as text alerts that let you know when your account balance has fallen below a certain level. When family life gets busy, having such notifications can be a lifesaver.
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Old National makes it easy to compare checking accounts here on our site and even open one online. Whatever your life stage – from student to senior – and whatever your financial goals, we have an account for you.
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