I have a lot of credit cards.
That’s actually not a surprise. After all, I opened them. Truthfully, I have far fewer credit cards than I used to. I pretty much opened a credit card at any store that asked back in my 200-plus-pair-of-shoes heyday. I never got into any consumer debt with them, but I burnt through thousands upon thousands of dollars that could have worked harder in places besides my closet.
When I decided to create a master spreadsheet that detailed all of our financial accounts this week, I knew the credit card tab would be obnoxious.
What I didn’t realize, though, is how many other accounts we have. Though I do try to keep apps on my phone, the problem (or blessing?) is how consolidated the accounts appear thanks to the single sleek app. That Bank of America app? It’s housing not one, not two, but three active credit cards. That’s not the only app like that on my phone.
I grabbed my phone and my laptop, and I got to work creating our account master spreadsheet.
What Went Into Our Account Master Spreadsheet
I wasn’t working off of anything other than one of our goals for the remainder of the year. We are working on rounding up all of our accounts, and a spreadsheet seemed simplest to me. Our budget, our tracking, and pretty much all of our other financial records live in spreadsheets, so we know it works for us.
In a single spreadsheet, I created tabs for the following accounts:
- Savings accounts
- Checking accounts
- Credit cards
- Debit cards
- Retirement and other investment accounts
- College savings account (529)
After I tracked down all of this information, I compared it to the details in Credit Karma. Like the terrible financial blogger that I am, I actually had to double check that I hadn’t forgotten about any credit cards. Phew! Safe!
In addition to that little mental jab to consider closing some accounts or lock boxing them away safely, I came to several other realizations about my finances when I saw everything in a single spreadsheet.
What I Learned Creating an Account Master Spreadsheet
The first thing I learned is I really need to add a line item in our budget for a standing desk. This process took longer than I thought, and I am so tired of hunching over in our dining room. Ergonomics aside, I learned some financial lessons as well.
1. We combine our finances…mostly.
My husband and I both have separate Roth IRAs and separate credit cards. We’re fully transparent with what we each have saved for retirement, and neither of us use the credit cards. They’re equal parts credit score boost (our oldest accounts!) and just-in-case (we plan to stay together forever, but we’ve heard enough horror stories of people who combine everything and can’t even come up with gas money to get out).
Other than those accounts, our money is totally combined. In theory. What I quickly realized from this activity, though, is that I am a barrier to entry. As the money nerd in our relationship, I’m definitely more hands on with our money. That’s fine, except he needs to know where everything is too. This spreadsheet helped remedy that.
2. Bank bonuses create lose ends.
Remember when high-interest savings accounts were all the rage because they actually paid high amounts of interest? Insert wistful sigh here. Several years ago, I opened an online savings account with Discover. It’s one (OK, fine, two!) of my favorite credit cards, so a savings account with them seemed like a no-brainer.
But I’ve also chased account bonuses to two other online banks. One, I adore. The other, I tolerate simply to keep our Christmas sinking fund totally out of sight. We also have several other savings accounts at a community brick and mortar bank.
3. Financial clutter bothers me a lot.
About halfway through this spreadsheet task, I wanted to quit. The clutter felt overwhelming. Unlike my Gmail inbox that practically screams at me whenever I open my phone, this clutter remained relatively quiet.
Once I started collecting the information, I immediately felt a sense of unease. None of the accounts bear bad news. If anything, we’d get gold stars. Lots and lots of gold stars. While it’s too much of a good thing, it also felt like it could quickly turn into a bad thing since it’s much harder to keep an eye on everything. Plus, I really hate clutter.
4. A password manager is a GOOD goal.
Now that I’ve rediscovered all of our accounts, I’m slowly syncing them with a password manager. I put this off for years, telling myself that password managers are unsafe.
Using guesses and hunches to determine how many credit cards you have and where the rest of your money is stashed is obviously much more problematic.
Plus, this gives my husband equal access to everything.
My only regret is not doing this years ago.
Final Thoughts on Tracking Down Our Accounts
This activity was definitely one of the nerdier money things I’ve done in a while, and I’m really glad it’s checked off our list. We decided to review it at least once year. There are no bells or whistles, but it definitely helped us sort through our finances and get more on the same
So Tell Me…Does financial clutter bother you? How do you manage your accounts? Teach me your ways!