Most of us use our checking accounts on a daily basis. Every swipe of a debit card, bill we pay. or personal check we write takes money out of our checking account.
But, how much money should we be keeping in these super-convenient accounts? Let’s find out.
What’s your magic number?
It’s best to have one to two months’ of living expenses in your checking account at all times. Some experts suggest adding 30 percent to that for an extra cushion.
To determine your exact living expenses, track your spending over several months, including all bills and discretionary spending.
Why keep that much money in your checking account?
Here are three reasons you want to keep your checking account well-padded at all times:
1. Avoid overdrafts. Even high-income earners can miscalculate their spending and end up with an overdrawn account. Why risk being charged overdraft fees for every transaction when you can easily avoid them?
2. Provide a cushion for pre-authorization holds. Some merchants place a pre-authorization hold on your debit card until the transaction completes. These holds can reduce your available checking account balance by up to $100 per hold. Keeping your account well-funded allows you to comfortably accommodate the holds without fearing a negative balance.
3. Keep liquid funds available. A robust checking account means access to cash is just an ATM transaction away.
Can I be keeping too much money in my checking account?
Having an overstuffed checking account may mean you’re missing out on higher returns. You could possibly earn more by keeping those same funds in a Money Market Account or in a Share Certificate.
Once you’ve determined exactly how much money you should be keeping in your checking account, look into other options for the rest of your funds.