Use Your Financial Map to Architect Bank Account Changes

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Last November, Citibank announced that anyone without an average balance of at least $1,500, by February 1st, in their combined accounts would have to pay a monthly fee or be subject to per-check charges. That didn’t sit well with people who had just signed up for EZ Checking, which is supposed to be free. Well it turns out that it also didn’t sit well with the New York State attorney general because on February 1st they reached a settlement with Citi. Anyone who opened an EZ Checking account, in any state, between Jan. 1 and Nov. 5, 2009 would not be subject to any of the new fees until Jan. 31, 2011.

What if you’re one of the million customers getting a one year reprieve? Now might be a time to map out your approach to changing your bank. There are plenty of free checking accounts without $1,500 balance requirements and it should be trivial for you to change.

The trickiest part about changing your checking account is knowing everything to change. That’s why it’s important for you to keep an updated financial map of your accounts. By having an updated financial network map, you know which accounts you need to change whenever you change the hub of your network (the checking account).

When you’re done, here are a few common network relationships for a checking account, double check that your map reflects these connections (if you have them):

  • Links to online savings accounts
  • Links to brokerage accounts, regular and retirement accounts
  • Billpay to mortgage or rent
  • Billpay to utilities
  • Billpay to credit cards
  • Billpay to student loans
  • Direct deposit of paychecks
  • Autodebiting (car loan, loans)
  • Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments!

Once you’ve drawn your map, it’s easy to go through each of those connections and change them to reflect the new checking account. By completing the map, and reviewing the checklist of common relationships, you can feel a little more confident that you’ve made every change you need.

As you can see, there’s a reason why all those new bank account promotions require billpay and direct deposit, it makes changing a little trickier… especially if you haven’t drawn a map!

{ 13 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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13 Responses to “Use Your Financial Map to Architect Bank Account Changes”

  1. JNichols84 says:

    This is such an essential thing to do. I used to work within a Human Resources department, and we changed our policies to all new employees utilizing direct deposit. After the employee would be around for a couple of months, they would change bank accounts, without changing their direct deposit information. After they closed their old account, they weren’t getting paid in a timely manner. If they would have made the necessary adjusments, they would have avoided the delay in pay. Map your money, it keeps the headaches away!

  2. Soccer9040 says:

    The old bait and switch. Banks will try anything these days.

  3. Safeway_Sage says:

    I just saw an article on Tim Ferriss’ blog. It had a cool article with the same concept in mind. It’s called “The Psychology of Automation: Building a Bulletproof Personal-Finance System ”

    There is a cool little drawing that looks like an org chart with the dependencies and percentages of where the money goes. Here is the link.


  4. Shirley says:

    Wow… I never even thought of this! I have copied your list to get me started and I will make a Financial Map page in my excel workbook for all our bill pay/budget worksheets.

    Another thought: should something happen to me, this would be invaluable to our daughter who would need to oversee handling the finances here for a while.

    Thanks so much!

  5. dmeanea says:

    If you are making changes anyway, it might be a good time to consider setting up an account firewall, as Jim has previously described. The main discussion of the firewall is at
    but you can also search for “firewall” (the search box is in the top right corner of the screen) to see the other places Jim refers to his financial account firewall setup.

  6. jsbrendog says:

    i wouldn’t have even thought of this. well done

  7. I need to create a financial map. Such a great idea. I am actually thinking of moving my checking account and that would be extremely helpful for a situation like this.

  8. daenyll says:

    finance maps/webs are a great way to keep track of all the online and brick and mortar accounts and how they’re connected. It lets you have a quick look at how everything relates without having to search for each individual link.

  9. Mrs. Money says:

    There is nothing more than I hate about banks than the stupid fees. I’ve thought about switching to ING’s Electric Orange because they don’t have any fees. I have an email where you can get $50. If you are interested, I can forward it to you. 🙂

  10. BrianC says:

    Check with Citi before closing. I recently closed my EZ Checking account due to the fee, but they did offer to convert me to a no-fee account (Workplace Checking? – I think it just required direct deposit), but as this wasn’t my main checking account, I just let it go.

  11. eric says:

    Citi did that to my sister’s account too. Luckily, I reminded her that she qualified for student checking and she got the account converted.

  12. Soccer9040 says:

    I’d be in big trouble. My primary checking account is at the heart of my entire financial map.

  13. aua868s says:

    BoA told me that if I close an account but still have the link from a Direct Deposit to the account, the link would make the account re-open…weird.

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