Thursday, February 16, 2012

Brokerage, retirement, checking, savings, ... How many accounts is too many?

How many accounts is too many? We have brokerage accounts with Schwab, Scottrade, Fidelity, and Etrade. And retirement accounts with Schwab, Scottrade, Fidelity, and American Funds. And savings/checking accounts with 2 banks and a credit union.

Overall it is a lot to keep track of. I often wish I could consolidate accounts. In fact, last year I did close one stock brokerage account with Interactive Brokers. I found their UI confusing and clunky. Their platform is intended for professional traders so I will admit I wasn't a good candidate for their product and services. It felt good to close it down. One less thing to worry about for taxes.

It is difficult to consolidate our brokerage accounts because I don't want to sell stocks just to transfer the money and buy them back again in a different company's account. This will cause unnecessary commission fees and tax issues. When I do sell to buy something else I generally just keep it in the same account. But perhaps I should start transferring the money into a chosen primary account. But as a buy and hold inverter this could take years, decades even, before we are able to close any of our older brokerage accounts.

We use an online bank as our primary checking/bill pay bank. And a local credit union where we can deposit cash and keep our emergency fund available locally. And a third bank for our "future dream house" fund. We could consolidate these to two accounts but I think it is good to have the 3rd bank for the house fund. This keeps it completely separate and off the radar.

For now I continue juggling accounts. Luckily 3 companies hold a few of the accounts in the different categories so it makes it easier with single sign-on for these. But I wish there was a feasible way to slim the load.

Do you have too many accounts? Have you closed any to make things simpler?

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