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How Many Bank Accounts Do You Actually Need?

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
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Suck at money? Congrats. You’re part of the 99 percent of people in their 20s floundering when it comes to finance. Adulting is hard, and money is harder—especially when it’s your own and not your parents. My Two Cents is here to break down everything you need to know about finance, business, and entrepreneurship. We’ll tackle all the basics, from how to get a business permit to how to invest in stocks, to educate the fledgling adults on how to not go broke.

Welcome to the idiot’s guide to money. Next lesson: figuring out how many bank accounts you really need in the Philippines.

Do you have only one savings account? Is it your payroll? Or worse, do you have 10+ accounts with half of them lying dormant? Having too many accounts can be a burden, and having only one isn’t the wisest choice. As they say, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

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So how many bank accounts do you really need?

First, definitely more than one. The issue here is simple: security. Hackers and scammers are getting better and more sophisticated at entering and emptying the hard-earned savings accounts of many Filipinos, so to err on the side of caution, you ought to have more than one bank account.

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But, you can’t have too many. Now, there’s no penalty on having many debit cards or bank accounts since these aren’t credit cards. No one is keeping track of your credit score. But, having too many accounts is a burden on the account owner. If you can’t keep up with maintaining its balance, fail to use your account for years, or forget the password to your many accounts, then things can get messy.

How many do you need? It depends primarily on your lifestyle and the purpose of each account. Some might recommend having only two: a savings account and a checking account, but checks aren’t as popular as they were before. And what if you have a business or do freelance projects and want to keep track of the income from them separately? And what if you’re related to an OFW who sends remittances every month?

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Here are all the accounts you might ever need:

1| Income account

Let this be your payroll account set up by your company at the bank of their choice. Keep track of your salary with this account, but don’t let it be your savings account. Why? Because companies can opt to change their bank of choice. It’ll be a headache if you’re asked to transfer your funds if they choose to close their partnership with this payroll bank. Also, if you’re fired or choose to resign, then this payroll account will automatically be closed after a while. So stay on the safe side and don’t double your income account with your savings account.

But you can double it as your utilities account. Deduct your bills, loans, and scheduled payments directly from your income account so you encourage yourself to keep your monthly expenses within your means. Whatever’s left over can be transferred to your savings account for safe keeping (and away from your pesky add to cart habits).

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2| Savings account

The most basic of bank accounts and usually the first account we’ll ever open. Choose a trusted bank to hold your savings account, especially if you have a lot of, well, savings. You can opt for a bank with a high interest rate so your savings can earn slowly over time, but we all know that a bank account isn’t a place to grow money—that’s why there are mutual funds, stocks, etc.

The number one factor to consider when opening a savings account is security. If you’re into digital banking, does this bank automatically enable SMS OTPs, does it offer a Mobile Key, does it use biometrics for its Mobile Key, and does it automatically log you out of your bank account on one device if you log in using another device? In the Philippines, deposit accounts are only insured up to P500,000, so even deposit insurance isn’t foolproof. In 2021, it’s time to take digital security seriously.

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3| Business/freelance account

Do you moonlight as a freelancer or a run a small business on the side? Having a separate bank account to track your income from side projects is highly recommended so you can get a better hold of your finances. Keeping it separate from your day job salary will also make it easier for you to save your side income or reinvest it back into your business.

4| Foreign currency account

If you have a relative who’s an OFW or foreigner who regularly sends money to your family, consider opening a foreign currency account so you can choose the best time to convert to Philippine peso when the foreign exchange rates are good.

5| Checking account

If you’re renting or need to give out checks regularly for business or personal reasons, then a checking account is important. But nowadays, a checking account is not necessary for the everyday Juan, so it is something you can live without.

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6| Spending account

For your daily expenses, excluding bills and loans, avoid using your payroll or savings account so you’re not tempted to spend more than you’ve allotted. Our suggestion? GCash, PayMaya, and the like. Most shops now have a QR Code for mobile payments, and you can also pay for groceries, load, and transpo using these apps.

Now, we’re not saying you need six bank accounts. The first three will do. The others are just options depending on your needs. Overall, having more than one bank account is a good way to manage your finances and avoid the temptation of spending all your savings on groceries, or worse, Shopee.

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Anri Ichimura
Staff Writer, Esquire Philippines
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