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I have read through some personal budgeting articles and saving tips. Most articles and books mention saving money for emergency funds, large purchases, etc.

  1. Should emergency funds and saving funds (eg. money for buying a house) be in the same savings account?

  2. Or, should each specific saving plan be set up in a separate savings account?

  3. If held in one savings account, how can I easily manage what percentage is planned for which purpose?

  4. If the funds are not held in one savings account, would the interest earned be less because they are spread across multiple savings accounts?

UPDATED:

I found some interesting information. I hope this is related to my question.

For people in Singapore, OCBC offers interesting banking account to for people like me allowing to create multiple saving goals with FRANK Account. you can find more information on this. I,myself don't have a FRANK Account yet because need to check more this. Hope this info will be a help.

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If you have a high interest savings account (such as ING) you can setup multiple savings accounts at no extra costs and easily move the money between accounts. It takes a few(2-4) days to move it to an external (non-ING) account. –  Mark S. Oct 23 '11 at 4:02

6 Answers 6

up vote 6 down vote accepted

As long as you are disciplined about it, you can certainly have your emergency fund and other savings funds in one account. Multiple accounts may incur added costs, since you may not have the minimum balances to avoid the fees. Some banks provide tools or account features to help track separate "buckets" of funds within one account.

One important principle for an emergency fund is liquidity. Those funds should be easily accessible, ideally without withdrawal penalties or transaction costs. For this reason, certificates of deposit (CD) or money market funds should be avoided for this purpose.

Another important principle, for any savings fund, is capital preservation/safety. That money should not be held in risky assets. Depending on the purpose of the fund, you may consider other options beyond just a savings account. For example, you may consider placing funds for a house in CD(s) early on, before you are actually looking for the house. As you get closer to having enough for a down payment, you would shift that money into a savings account. One drawback of such an approach is the extra management that this requires on your part.

A spreadsheet is a simple way to track these funds, though that requires more manual management and discipline to do that tracking. It also requires some knowledge of spreadsheets, but it provides you with flexibility so you can create a process that works well for you. Any accounting software should allow you to do this in some fashion with (hopefully) less effort than maintaining a spreadsheet, though you may have to do things in a certain way that may be awkward in some cases.

Those are the basic principles that come to mind. I am sure others can provide more specific suggestions, like banks which allow you track buckets of funds or accounting software that can help you track the funds.

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Thanks for sharing tips. I miss the point that fall below fees. I think I better track down the multiple categories by spreedsheet is better way. –  kitokid Oct 23 '11 at 3:08
2  
A spreadsheet doesn't have to be complex to track this, and will allow you to track a basically unlimited number of categories. I have one where I'm tracking a dozen categories, and really, unless you want to go fancy it's just about addition and subtraction. –  Michael Kjörling Oct 23 '11 at 18:59

You're asking for opinions here, which is kindof against the rules, but I'll give it a try.

1) Does emergency funds and saving money(eg.Money plan to buy a house) should be in same Saving Account?

2) or should each specific saving plan set up in particular Saving Account?

No, it doesn't. It's a matter of convenience. I personally find it more convinient to have different stashes for different purposes, but it means extra overhead of keeping an eye on one more account. Fortunately, with on-line access, mint.com and spreadsheets, it's not that big of an overhead.

3) If saved in same Saving Account, how could I manage easily which percentage is planned for which?

Excel spreadsheet comes to mind. Banks may have some tools too, for example Wells Fargo (where I'll be closing my account soon), has a nice on-line goals manager that allows you to keep track of your savings per assigned goals (they allow one goal per savings account, but you can have multiple accounts for multiple goals, and it will show the goals and progress pretty nicely).

4) If not saved in same Saving Account, the interest earned would be smaller because they all clutter across multiple Saving Accounts?

In some banks interest rates are tiered. But in most on-line savings accounts they're not, and you get the same high rate from the first $1 deposited. So if in the bank where you keep the money they only pay a decent rate if you deposit some big lump of money - just open an account elsewhere. Places to check: American Express FSB, ING Direct, E*Trade savings, Capital One, Ally, and many more.

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Thanks. seems like everyone shares the same idea :) plus 1 –  kitokid Oct 23 '11 at 3:10

If held in one savings account, how can I easily manage what percentage is planned for which purpose?

I used a spreadsheet for some years, but found it clumsy for everyday use. Thus I wrote some software which my wife and I use for our short-term as well as long-term planning, available at http://budgeter.sourceforge.net. It specifically helps with splitting the money in one or several accounts into logical categories.

(The software is not the most user-friendly ever, so there may be better suggestions that follow, but it works well for us. Please feel free to suggest improvements to it as well.)

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Beautiful Richard. I wish I'd seen this before I spent many, many hours trying and failing to do something similar with Kmymoney and Gnucash. –  matt wilkie Jan 4 '13 at 8:06

Having separate savings account for your kids college fund, retirement fund, holiday fund etc is one way to compartmentalise savings. Downside to this is the management of these funds especially if you have them with different banks. Like others here have pointed out, keeping track via spreadsheet is relatively easy and especially most banks now like OCBC, HSBC , DBS, POSB etc offer online banking, however from a financial standpoint, spreading your funds doesn't allow you to get as much interest as you would from one account that has the highest interest rate.

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This is a somewhat subjective question, but if you are following a particular personal finance methodology, just do whatever they recommend.

For example, I believe that Dave Ramsey's program calls for the emergency fund to be in a different account.

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I read Q#4 as

Will $250 in one account earn more interest than $250 in five accounts?

in which case Excel says no, assuming a constant interest rate for all accounts. I dunno if the same holds true for banks.

Funds  2% Interest  
==================
250    5.00 
------------------
250    5.00 Total

100    2.00 
10     0.20 
20     0.40 
50     1.00 
70     1.40 
------------------
250    5.00 Total
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protected by Chris W. Rea Dec 18 '12 at 14:03

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