A “Game of Cards”?

That used to mean, “Let’s play Euchre, or Crib, or Rummy, or Bridge, or even Poker”! Nowadays, ‘cards’ usually refers to those familiar little plastic Credit and Loyalty cards. Having a wallet or purse stuffed full of these cards would be very easy, with so many companies wanting us to have their card/s (and a lot of our spending habits, too). Although I touched on banking in an earlier post, I will explain with a little more detail how, in my retiring years, I’ve simplified the deal – using only two banks – and I don’t use a ‘Credit’ card. …….

Instead, I have two ‘Debit’ cards and only one of them (Visa) is in my wallet. The second Debit (Master) card is on an account with a different bank and it stays at home near my desk to use solely for Internet trading and it’s my only account with that bank. Neither card incurs any fees (one even earns interest!) and if my wallet card is lost or stolen its easy to stop payments and get a replacement card. Likewise, each card only ever has a small, ‘tailored’ working balance which I can easily monitor and manage, online, at each bank. The only Statements I ever need to check are my bank accounts, which clearly show all transactions and are accessible any time. No separate card statements!

The Debit (Visa) card I carry in my wallet and use for everyday shopping is with my ‘main’ bank (a Co-op) and is attached to a small-balance account. At that same bank, I have second ‘Reserve’, non-card, Savings account, and I can easily transfer funds online, 24/7, to the Visa card account to maintain a sufficient credit level (usually about $200) to cover every-day shopping. The Reserve account is where the bulk of my everyday savings and Centrelink payments reside and from which I can top-up the card account. When/if the Reserve account gets too big (I wish!), I can start a Term Deposit to pick up better interest (well, in a previous era!).

In summary: I use one bank with a debit card account solely for internet use, and a second bank (my main one) with two accounts, one of which has a Debit card attached and the other is for my accumulated savings and for transferring money across to the Debit card account as needed.

There are a few large, regular bills to be paid, like: Council Rates, Water, Electricity, Car Registration and Insurances and, to simplify my financial life further, I have those all setup as ‘auto-deduct’ from my Reserve account. Because I am always advised by those bodies, with a letter or email a fortnight or more before they are deducted, there’s plenty of time to make objections and/or check bank levels, etc.

I am old-fashioned: I also like to keep a ‘few bob’ in my wallet, and I manage that by getting some ‘cash-out’ when shopping at the supermarket.

It’s so easy to do all my banking on-line, and I never have to pay any bank fees! I can transfer money, check balances, pay accounts and print monthly bank Statements. If I do have a query it is always easily and courteously dealt with by a real person on the phone, without having to deal with an outsourced call centre operator. I love my Co-op bank!

I should also explain that when Dorothy went into full-time residential care (nearly a year ago now!) I methodically separated our banking so that we each have our ‘own money’. That means that I can keep track of her Care home accounts (I have the signing rights, and our daughter also) for pharmacy, clothing and other expenditure, and her Centrelink pension goes there, too. Just one basket for the lot.

Now, here’s my tip: (1) Separate your banking for each partner and (2) minimise the number of ‘cards’ you need to manage.

However, I will hasten to add that I do have four more cards in my wallet: Medicare, Drivers licence and a Fly-Buys, and….. one other very important card if you are out with your partner, it reads: “My companion has a condition that affects behaviour, thinking and language. Thank you for understanding”. That card is from Dementia Australia (Phone 1800 100 500) and it has been very useful on several occasions. Don’t play the multi-card game. I recommend a full hand of only one or two money-type cards in your hand at any time!

So, there you have it, my ‘Five card’ wallet trick!