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How Low Do You Let Your Checking Account Get?

post #1 of 71
Thread Starter 

I realize that this number will depend on a variety of factors, including your own monthly income and expenses, but what have number have you found to be safe for your own, self-imposed minimum balance in your checking account?  The author of The Tightwad Gazette doesn't let hers dip below $1000.  We followed that "rule" for awhile, but I'm wondering if some of that money might do better in savings or some sort of investment.  For you and your family, what works?  Assuming that it's a good idea to have some sort of "buffer," how low do you let your checking account get?

post #2 of 71

me? Seldom less than $100. DH will runs his down to under $5. I just know I'm not that accurate.

post #3 of 71

i dont really have a rule.  i had like 89 cents this last time. 

post #4 of 71

Oh... geez.  I don't have a set amount.  The times I've tried a dog needed to go to the vet or something came up and so I always dipped below. Forever I wouldn't go below 500... then for a year or so I was literally balancing on 0!

post #5 of 71

We don't let ours dip below $1000 either and keep the rest in a savings account.

post #6 of 71

I start having anxiety attacks if it dips below a certain number.  A number that most people would find ridiculous.  So it's really a lot about what you're comfortable with. 

 

If you have another option of somewhere to put the money where it will do you good, and you know that you're responsible enough to keep your account from going into the red (by which I mean you're religious about balancing/reconciling your account), then there's no reason to keep more than maybe $100 in it for "emergency", so long as you have another source of quick cash (like a savings account you can transfer money from). 

 

Right now the interest rate that we're getting on our savings is so ridiculously low that it makes no difference which account the money is sitting in.  I could get more by tying the money up in a CD, but I need the money to be liquid. 

post #7 of 71

We keep a $200 buffer.  It often dips very low when I am being aggressive about paying off debt.

post #8 of 71

We keep our gifts budget amount in our bank account (every month we set aside $90 for family/friends birthdays and Christmas) so it depends on that. Usually at least a few hundred dollars, less as we get closer to Christmas....

post #9 of 71

we have several checking accounts, for various things (one is the main bill account, like mortgage, utilites, etc, another is the monthly variable stuff like groceries, gas, clothing, and then one is the yearly variable like car maintenance, gifts, etc.)  For the bill one, it's never less than the total of one month's bills.  The monthly variable doesn't go below $150, and the yearly variable never drops below $500 or so, mainly because we're putting money into it each month (for that month's portion of the budgeted items) but then it doesn't get spend each month, only when needed.

post #10 of 71

.

 

I get down to the pennies each and every pay period (2 weeks). Like Imakcerka, a vet bill or car repair comes up every time I think I have a grip on it. I do keep $3-500 cash stashed at my mother's house (just far enough away that I have to go out to get it, and explain to her what I need it for!), but lately I have been getting into that too for groceries and gas. I hate being this close to the line all the time.

post #11 of 71

Ideally I keep about $5 "just in case" money, but most often my account hovers just above 0. I have to keep a few cents in there or there are fees and charges (makes sense, right eyesroll.gif) but there have been periods where I literally had .02 -.05 for months.

post #12 of 71

We are a cash only family so we just use our accounts for bills monthly. We keep $1-$10 in our checking and just deposit the money when the bill is going to draft out. We usually keep $500-$1000 cash on hand locked in a safe for a emergency fund but right now we don't have anything. Last  year was a hard year.

post #13 of 71

I dont keep a 1000 in the checking account. I don't want too! If an emergency pops up its easy to transfer money over to the account. I have never been in a situation where I had to have the money available immediately. If that happens (my car breaks down for instance) I could put it on the credit card, then transfer / pay that off the next day.

 

Checking is my most active account and each time I get paid I move allocated money to other accounts (savings, mortgage/home maintenance, ira) and leave the rest in checking to cover the bills. There is  an extra 300 -400 per month, that is buffer for things like hair cuts, (a rare occasion), extra food, clothing items, day trips, weekend trips, dinners out ... extra cash for extra things.   Maybe thats the same as my monthly spending money budget and there for 10-100 just in case.


Edited by SunRise - 1/23/12 at 4:42am
post #14 of 71

DH has reliable paydays, we've gone below $300 just prior.  High income, expenses include mortgage (we're overpaying it while we can), two college tuition payments (not full pay, the kids get aid); the huge chunks of outlays split up roughly evenly for his mid-month and end-of-month pay.  We're kind of paycheck-to-paycheck for our routine expenses.  We have several months' living expenses worth in stocks / bonds that would take a few days to make liquid, in an emergency we'd use a credit card and pay it off after selling off some of that if we needed to.

 

I'd like to keep things above $1000.  We're working on it.

post #15 of 71

I am very uncomfortable if it dips below about two weeks' worth of income. 

post #16 of 71

$500 is the number for me. While cristeen's point that savings account are just about not worth it right now is true, I do keep the rest of my liquid money in savings. Maybe it's just habit but I don't care to change it, and would feel uncomfortable having thousands of dollars in a checking account.

 

Why $500 and not less? I am good at keeping tabs on the money but I just like $500 because I feel it should cover anything I might have missed.

 

Maybe off-subject, but I remember that about 15 years ago I treated my family of origin to a lunch in the city. I used my credit card to pay (I have always used cc as convenience and pay off in full). It took them 8 months to actually run my frickin charge. I was mad but there was nothing I could do about it. I had long since forgotten - didn't even notice it didn't show up right away. (The days before online banking). It wouldn't happen today - I watch it like a hawk - but stuff like that lurks in my mind anyway.

post #17 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post

$500 is the number for me. While cristeen's point that savings account are just about not worth it right now is true, I do keep the rest of my liquid money in savings. Maybe it's just habit but I don't care to change it, and would feel uncomfortable having thousands of dollars in a checking account.

 

Why $500 and not less? I am good at keeping tabs on the money but I just like $500 because I feel it should cover anything I might have missed.

 

Maybe off-subject, but I remember that about 15 years ago I treated my family of origin to a lunch in the city. I used my credit card to pay (I have always used cc as convenience and pay off in full). It took them 8 months to actually run my frickin charge. I was mad but there was nothing I could do about it. I had long since forgotten - didn't even notice it didn't show up right away. (The days before online banking). It wouldn't happen today - I watch it like a hawk - but stuff like that lurks in my mind anyway.


Right with you there -- that would set my teeth on edge!  I'm way more comfortable with the money gone once I've spent it.  Even waiting for a check to clear has me tapping my toe and glancing at my watch.

 

post #18 of 71

Because I am reliant on multiple transfers between accounts I always keep $1000 as a buffer in my checking account.  It is the amount of the largest check I write so I am assured that nothing will ever bounce.  Now, I haven't bounced a check in 30 years, but banks can make mistakes and then the fees can add up.  If it is bank error, then I assume they would pay fees, but it could take a while.  And it is possible that I make a mistake or the person who transfers money into my account (actually that happened a couple of months ago - a whole month's expenses did not transfer properly but I caught it).  I had been thinking of making it $500 but after that bank snafu, I decided against it.

post #19 of 71

My goal is to have the checking less then $50. We're a cash family. And our emergency fund is tied to the checking. A few clicks and money is transfered. If we keep money in the checking, we want to spend it.

post #20 of 71

Traditionally, we've kept a $1000 buffer (well, for the past 10 years or so) but lately it's inched higher.  I need to be better about that.

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