Monday, February 14, 2011

Switching Banks: Good-Bye Chase, Hello Wells Fargo

This last month I officially migrated over to Wells Fargo for most of my banking needs with Jessi. You see, back in December I got a nice letter from Chase explaining to me that my free checking accounts would no longer be free. Well, technically if I did some very specific things (like keep high balances, or make large direct deposits) I could waive the fee. However, Chase managed to set the bar so high that 2 of my 3 accounts would be charged $10/month . Here's the one that really got me: One of the requirements was a direct deposit of at least $500. Since I get paid bi-monthly, I had two direct deposits of $300 each. Bummer.

So, Jessi and I took the opportunity to re-evaluate our situation. Before now, our accounts were pretty much separate. We decided this time to mostly merge our accounts together. Here's the set-up we wanted (it's the Dave Ramsey envelop method using the Automatic Millionaire process):

  • 1 Checking account that all deposits go into. All automatic monthly payments also came from here. We also set up automatic transfers to all the other accounts.
  • 1 Checking account for charitable donations.
  • 2 Checking accounts for living expenses (gas, food, shopping). One for Jessi, one for me.
  • A bunch of savings accounts for later spending (emergency fund, travel, car maintenance, etc)
Every single account is a shared account, but I never spend from Jessi's living expenses account, and she doesn't spend from mine. This makes everything really simple to track, and with we're able to see everything all together at once.

So, with this in mind we set out to find possible solutions. Some of the ones I was hoping would work were ING and BankSimple, but they actually pride themselves on aggregating everything together which is the opposite of what I wanted. Furthermore, because of our business, we needed to easily be able to deposit checks and cash. We also looked at classic large banks and local credit unions.

In the end, we ended up going with Wells Fargo. Here's why:
  • They let us set up the checking accounts the way we wanted - for free
  • Jessi was already banking there which meant only I had to move everything
  • There's a branch right next to us, plus there are branches all over the nation
  • Jessi's mom actually works for Wells Fargo in Colorado, so we're supporting her family.
We also kept all those savings accounts I mentioned with ING. We never need that money right away since it's planned spending and we earn more interest than what Wells Fargo offers.

Me being the web-a-holic that I am, have already spent plenty of time on their site customizing my account views, setting alerts and just surfing around to see what they offer. Wells Fargo isn't the most technologically advanced bank (I'm going to miss depositing checks with my phone), but it's passable.

So that's what we're doing. It's nothing glamorous or brilliant, but it works for what we're trying to accomplish. The biggest change is really combing our income into one large bucket. I'm sure there'll be some learning along the way, but I ultimately think it's a positive change. At the very least, it'll help it feel like it's "our money" instead of mine and Jessi's.


  1. Jeff Pommerenck10:26 PM

    It is pretty cool how you guys post your own blog - and best of all it is interesting so it's actually fun readying it (not to mention some of the tips you have found). Keep it up!

  2. I'm so glad to hear you enjoy reading it. I'll keep 'em coming. :)

  3. Jeff Pommerenck11:38 AM

    It is pretty cool how you guys post your own blog - and best of all it is interesting so it's actually fun readying it (not to mention some of the tips you have found). Keep it up!