My money management journey started pretty early in my life. When I was maybe 7 or 8, my parents started paying me a $5 allowance for doing weekly house chores. It wasn't much, but in the '90s, it felt like a lot. Part of the agreement was that my parents saved half of it in a bank account for me, and I could keep the rest. At the time, they banked with a local credit union in Cleveland, OH, that eventually was bought by Bank of America.
By the time I was 18, that small amount of money had turned into $500, and I put those savings towards my first car. Because the savings account was with BOA, I naturally opened a checking account for students. My parents have been with BOA for at least 20 years by that point, and it was easy to set up my checking account and even open a credit card.
This tale doesn't have a happily ever after ending (for a good reason). My early 20s gave me some great lessons, including why it's essential to manage your finances and the consequences if you don't. After almost fifteen years of banking with BOA, I started to notice something:
I had regular paychecks for roughly the same amount coming into my account.
I had identical bills each month for rent, utilities, and a cell phone plan.
I had a modest budget for going out with friends and being social when I could afford to.
I never had an overdraft because I knew there wasn't enough money in the account.
Yet something wasn't adding up. BOA had a laundry list of account usage, fee schedules, and minimum balance requirements. My student account at the time had a minimum balance, a set amount I could spend each month, and a card use limit. There were overdraft fees that I had to pay on top of the amount overdrafted by a specific time. I thought I fully understood all of their terms, but I noticed I was getting maintenance fees between $15 to $50 a month. After realizing how many fees I was paying BOA just to hold my money, I realized it was time for a change.
I had started my own business by this time and decided to avoid charges by upgrading to a business account. Upgrading didn't help, and I began to incur even more fees because I could rarely maintain the minimum balances. This led to more maintenance fees, which led to an overdraft fee, leading to a second maintenance fee. This story is probably starting to sound familiar to a lot of you.
For a while, friends raved to me about the benefits of online banking, but I was always skeptical. I thought, "if there isn't a physical location, what happens if I need something immediately?" And that's when it hit me—I only felt like I needed a physical location to go to when I had a major issue with the bank. What if I could bank with a provider that never had any problems?
Some weeks of digging eventually led me to Simple. They offered something BOA never will—the ability to truly manage my finances. Life was good, but I learned again not all stories end well. After happily banking with Simple for six years, BBVA acquired them. Obviously, it was not ideal, but I knew there were more digital banks in the space than when I first joined Simple. The one that stood out was one my friend recommended—One.
The app is sleek, the features seemed comparable to Simple, and they even offered some perks for people ready to leap from Simple to One.
It took less than a week to transfer and set up my One account, and I already knew this was the next step in online banking. Pockets and the industry-leading interest rates are among the many reasons I love using One.
My One Budget
My Pockets might look familiar to anyone sharing finances with a partner. I have everything broken down into two main groups: "mine" and "ours." I'm paid roughly the same every week week,, so it was easy to budget my expenses out with One weekly, monthly, and yearly. I started the budget off by using my Spend Pocket as my main pass-through for everything. I then took my total monthly bills and divided them to figure out how much goes into every Pocket each week and month.
I try to save an additional 5-10% of my paycheck for long-term goals like purchasing a home, upgrading a vehicle, and paying for education by moving money to the Save Pocket.
After saving, my partner and I budget for our groceries, utilities, and future date nights. For the shared "Bills" Pocket, sometimes our expenses are higher or lower, so we try to have a flat amount to cover everything, and then if there's extra, yay! If it's less, we both top it off, so we're ready for the next billing cycle.
Our manual and automated system took a little effort to get set up, but now our money management is a breeze. I'm less stressed about where my money is going and feel blessed with how easy it is to keep track of savings.
Virtual Card For Pockets
I feel like I can't live without virtual cards. I can create a unique virtual card number for each Pocket, and this is perfect for two reasons—the first is being able to specify a Pocket and pay a bill or expense directly from that Pocket. The second is it helps compartmentalize Pockets as a complete package. I now have my monthly "Bill" Pocket funded automatically from paychecks and then have bills debit that Pocket. I don't have to manually move money back and forth to pay for my streaming service or internet bill. Best of all? If I lose my physical One card, I don't have to re-enter my banking info for a bunch of different accounts.
A New Banking Relationship
I really like how incredibly easy it is to share finances with anyone at One while still keeping your other money separate. Using One card to switch between all of the Pockets has been a dream for my wallet. My partner and I are relieved that we don't have to constantly send money back and forth to pay a bill or cover a quick shopping trip. Now it's a few taps to switch which Pocket the card spends from, and we're golden!
I know a lot of people are hesitant about switching from their bank. Banks are a relationship you foster and grow over the years, but if you're going to trust them to hold your money, you should enjoy the experience and like who you're with, right? That's why I chose One— because they're more than just a banking experience.