Are Multiple Bank Accounts the Solution for Lazy Budgeting?

I’ve decided to open a third checking account. Right now, I have two accounts – one business account that holds my income until I’m ready to “pay” myself and another that receives my monthly paychecks. The second is a personal account that I use for paying bills and other various spending.

While most of my bills are paid by the 5th of the month, I have a few that aren’t due until later. It’s those stragglers that can throw off my spending. Until the 22nd of the month when everything is paid, I’m constantly checking my account balance, subtracting the bills that haven’t been paid, to figure out how much spending money I have left.

I can solve that problem by tracking all my spending on my budget and reconciling it with my checking account, but for the past few months I’ve been too lazy to do that. Note: if I were having troubles with overspending and needed to get my budget under control, laziness would be a nonissue. I’d budget anyway.

The plan

Keep one checking account that’s used to pay all bills and household expenses (including groceries).

Open a second checking account that will hold my non-bill money. This money will be used for gas, eating out, entertainment, and other discretionary spending.

The benefit

Having the second account should make it easier to decide whether I can afford to spend more money on non-essentials.

I don’t have to worry about spending the money for my cell phone or electricity bills because it’s in a separate account.

If you have a spouse, you might open two separate checking accounts for discretionary spending to avoid bumping heads on spending. There’s always the question of how much money should you each have in your separate accounts – an equal amount or some other amount based on how much you earn or spend.


There’s another password to remember, another bank statement to check, another check card to keep up with, another set of checks to keep safe, and yet another set of funds to keep out of overdraft.

Budgeting is still required

Having multiple checking accounts doesn’t eliminate the need for a budget. It simply makes managing a budget easier. Even with another checking account, I still need to budget my income to figure out how much money goes toward bills, savings, and other spending.

I also realize that having a separate account just for spending doesn’t give me the freedom to spend as I wish. That money has to last until the end of the month, so smart spending is required.

Any of you use multiple accounts to help manage your money?

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LaToya Irby is a full-time freelance writer and a graduate of the University of Alabama. She primarily writes about personal finance, freelancing, and other self-employment topics.

7 thoughts on “Are Multiple Bank Accounts the Solution for Lazy Budgeting?”

  1. THat just sounds exhausting to me (a third account)! I have a third one for saving, but not using. Oy! Let us know if it works.

  2. We have a ton of accounts and we don’t actually use them all. It’s a big mess at the moment unfortunately because we both have multiple accounts for personal and business plus savings accounts outside of those. It’s been extremely helpful in the past and will be again, but I need to get back on top of it again. :/

  3. I’ve had 3 accounts for years, and it doesn’t help with the budgeting that much– it’s because each account has a unique strong point to it that the others don’t. One provides me with free checks and free ATM withdrawals from any ATM, but is only in TX. Another is a credit union that is local and has competitive offers. The third is a bank that is nationwide, so I can use it anywhere I go, even when traveling, which is great if I have to go inside a branch or use the ATM. I’m even considering a 4th account (gasp!) with an internet bank because they offer good rates on checking and savings accounts, with the hope of letting go of my credit union as soon as my loan with them is satisfied.

    • Believe me it would be much simpler if both members of this household understood and practiced what the accounts are supposed to be for. Handling one person’s accounts is much easier than handling accounts for two.

      • I agree. What do you think about both spouses having their own separate discretionary spending account? That’s in addition to a joint account that’s used to pay bills. I’d say money goes into the joint account first, then what’s left over can be split among the two.

  4. I think my sister and her husband have that set up and it works well. For years I handled all the bills over here out of my account and my husband dealt primarily in cash (it’s better for him), but just recently we’ve set him up in his own personal account and I’ve given him his own bills to pay. Now we both pay bills based on our income (percentage-wise) and whatever is left over is ours for various projects and extras.

    It’s a work in progress, but with two variable incomes, it just works better that way than me trying to hold the reins on everything all the time. It’s funny how much more he “gets it” when he has to get his own car payment and what not in on time. Plus we can focus better on paying down some odds and ends we’ve accumulated from old business stuff.


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