When it comes to investing, we’re taught to never put all of our eggs in one basket for the fear that a single bad investment will spell financial demise. But, for savings, we’re better off having our money in one place, according to new research.
Studies by the Kansas University School of Business allowed participants to earn money by completing tasks and spend on various products. The research found that those with just one assigned bank account would spend less — and, therefore save more — compared to those with multiple accounts.
Researchers explain that consumers find spending to be enjoyable and that the “vagueness” introduced by multiple accounts aids to drive that propensity to spend.
“Nowadays, the average American has multiple liquid accounts, typically a combination of checking and savings accounts,” said Promothesh Chatterjee, one of the researchers, in a prepared statement. “But our research finds this is the wrong strategy to encourage saving. We find that individuals are more likely to save if they have only one primary account, rather than many accounts.”
However, maintaining just one account is not as realistic because different bank accounts serve different purposes.
You may have chosen your checking account because the bank has many branches and ATMs nearby. But if the savings account at the bank is offering a terrible interest rate, it might lead you to open a savings account at an online bank.
There are exceptions in interest checking and rewards checking accounts, but they don’t always fit your needs.
“If you’re really opposed to consolidating, you can at least try to reduce the vagueness of having money across multiple accounts by utilizing software and services that provide a consolidated view of all your accounts in one place,” Chatterjee added.
Many companies have answered the call for such software, which are now better known as personal financial management (PFM) tools. Mint, Pageonce and Personal Capital are examples of PFM tools that allow users to aggregate their financial accounts in one place, so that they see a complete view of their money situation without having to log into multiple websites.
Mint, which has more than 12 million users, said that the average user saved nearly $2,000 in an emergency fund. Meanwhile, a 2012 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that 30 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.
Mint’s user base appears to validate the findings of the University of Kansas study — increased transparency of your financial accounts means you’ll save more. Do you find this to be true? Leave a comment below!