According to a 2018 study by, half of Americans are “cheating” on their banks. Fifty percent of respondents had active accounts at more than one financial institution. The reasons range from different products or services to convenience, fewer fees and wanting finances separated.

Choosing the right financial partner can seem overwhelming, especially for younger Kentucky families who are just starting out. There are so many options and choices to make. Is it better to simplify life and stick with one institution or spread your accounts out based on the best deals?

Here are a few key questions to help you identify the financial institution that best fits your specific needs:

How important is it to have access to financial education? If you’re just starting out or about to experience a major life transition, such as starting a family or retiring, then having financial education resources you easily can access may be vital. Ask about any free resources – such as online tools and in-person training – that financial institutions you’re evaluating provide.

Are you on the road often or are you in the military? If your job requires travel or if you may be deployed soon, having access to a large network of sur­charge-free ATMs worldwide may be an important factor. Check around and compare your op­tions, you may be surpris­ed by how much the number and availability of surcharge-free ATMs differ among institutions.

What kind of products will you be needing? If buying a new home or starting your own small business may be on the horizon, make sure your chosen institution has the options you need with competitive rates and terms. This is important if you plan to stick with one financial partner to consolidate your finances and make paying bills easier.

Do you prefer a local institution with strong community ties? If so, looking at the institution’s history of community partnerships and service is an important factor. You may find some information on the institution’s website. You also may want to see for yourself who is out in the community supporting the same causes you care about and providing free financial education.

Why does the institution exist? What is its ownership structure? Beyond a financial institution’s published mission statement, it’s important to consider the underlying ownership structure of the organization. Does it have shareholders looking to make a profit? Is it a member-owned cooperative with a focus on helping people? These factors can make a big difference to your bottom-line as fees, rates and other terms may be impacted by the mission of an institution.

Being an educated consumer can save you big in the long-run and taking time to evaluate your options now will most definitely save you time and money later. Another great way to start is by simply asking your family and friends for their referrals. If they recommend their financial institution, it may be worth checking it out for yourself. Even if you’ve had an account at one institution for years, sometimes mergers and acquisitions among institutions or just entering a different stage in our own lives make us re-evaluate our banking relationships.

Here’s to finding your perfect match and forging a relationship with your financial partner for the long-term.

Ray Springsteen is president and CEO of Fort Knox Federal Credit Union