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Simplify Your Personal Finances

One of the benefits of creating my Personal Finance Users Guide [3] was that I learned that we an overabundance of unused bank accounts and credit cards. In years past, each one had their purpose but have since been made obsolete. For example, one is a credit union near my home town that linked my finances with my parents and was important while I was in college. Having graduated many years ago, this link has become less and less important.

Another example is a credit card I had in college that never kept up with the times in offering competitive cash back (Discover). Yet another is a credit union account at my former employer, one I kept just to have a local credit union account available (they have extremely good loan rates). However, for each, their time has passed and they need to be shut down.


That’s the mantra for the next few months of my life when it comes to personal finances. One of the things that comes with marriage is the inevitable doubling up of the essentials. A great non-personal finance example would be beds. Every person needs a bed. This inevitably means that when two people get married, you have two beds when you only need one. The same applies for bank accounts and credit cards. She has accounts at a bunch of banks, I have accounts at a bunch of banks, we certainly don’t need them all! (read this discussion about coupled finances [4] and combining accounts [5], it’s a hot button issue!)

So, we’re getting married this weekend and then going on a much needed vacation honeymoon. When we get back, we’re going to start paring down all of these accounts and getting down to the basics.

Final Thoughts

Some would argue that you shouldn’t cancel your credit cards because it will affect your credit score (read this Devil’s Advocate post arguing [6] otherwise), I say that simplicity is more important than a few points. If you can swing it, try consolidating your cards [7] rather than canceling them. Closing bank accounts doesn’t appear to have a publicly recognized negative effect on your credit, so cut those away at will!