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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Monday (10/17/11) 9:07pm - ... wherein Peter sorts out banking.

There are two significant financial things I want to sort out for the Long Vacation:  my insurance, and my banking.  This is the post about banking.

[Note:  I'm going to un-friendslock this post in a month or so, so don't say anything below that you wouldn't say in public.]

Getting Away from the BoA
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Bank of America is evil.  And right now, I have thousands of dollars sitting in their accounts, as I have done for about twelve years now.  By this point, I've just heard too many awful things about them.  Once the Long Vacation kicks in, I'm going to have a significant chunk of money in savings, and I'd like that money to be somewhere that isn't evil.

Also, I'm going to have to make some slightly-tricky financial arrangements.  Of this chunk of money I'm going to trust the bank with, I need to withdraw about "chunk÷12" dollars at the start of every month.  So, that means I want each "chunk÷12" arranged in a financial instrument that will mature at the start of that month, so I can get the most interest on it.

I really don't want to make an arrangement like that with a bank I don't trust.

Credit Unions
Everybody says to go with a credit union.  My friends all rave about their credit unions.  Credit unions typically use their money to invest in the local community instead of whatever baby-seal-torturing that BoA has in mind.  Also, as I understand it, credit unions didn't destroy our nation's economy, so hey, that's nice.

Basically, I like the notion that my money might be invested in a local business, instead of going up Patrick Bateman's nose while he's in the midst of some prostitute-knifing bender.  And there are plenty of horror stories about BoA hanging its customers out to dry when doing so helps add a few dollars to their own bottom line.

Locals highly recommend RBFCU and UFCU.  There's also a (slim) chance I could qualify for the highly-renowned USAA, because my dad did a stint as an army doc in the late 60s.  These options would also qualify me for their agencies' respective insurance programs.

Alternately, I could go with ING Direct, which would give me a savings account with a 1% APY interets rate, which is probably hard to beat.  On the other hand, it's the largest financial conglomerate in the world, so:  probably evil, possibly employs Patrick Bateman.

How To Pick
I have no earthly idea how to choose one bank over another.  None.

Maybe I need to see how much each one costs.  How much money do they eat up in ATM fees, and checking-account fees, and other miscellaneous fees?

On the other hand, maybe there's some difference in interest rates.  Again, I imagine ING squishes all of them.  I can only assume that, for non-ING banks, CD rates and savings-account rates are roughly equivalent.

Here are the steps to switching banks, as recommended by Consumer Reports:
1.  Open the new account with a small deposit -- enough money to avoid getting dinged with a low-balance fee.
2.  List any automatic payments you have on your bank account.
3.  Ask your employer to move direct deposit to your new account.
4.  Reschedule automatic payments to come out of the new account.
5.  Leave a little bit of cash in the old account, just in case you forgot anything in (4).
6.  Electronically transfer all the funds from the old account into the new one.
7.  Close the old account, and get written confirmation that it's gone.

Since I have no automatic payments scheduled from my bank account, I basically have to do steps 1, 3, 6, and 7.

My Plan!
At present, I'm just going to assume that USAA is far better than anything else available.  It has crazy-high ratings from any agency that can rate either insurance or banking, and my friends rave about it with religious ardor.  So, I'll first see if I qualify for that.  If I don't, then I'll see if there's any clear difference between UFCU and RBFCU.  If there's not, then I might as well flip a coin.

Whatever I pick, I'll go with the steps listed above to create an account there.  I'll dump the funds into it, and then talk to a banker about how to get that money meted out to me in month-sized chunks.

Mood: [mood icon] contemplative · Music: none
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Date:Wednesday (10/19/11) 8:51am
I've probably already said basically this, but given the extra information of your goals above I would recommend to open both an:
- Ing Savings account
- credit union checking account

This would mean most of the every-day management and fees would be through the feel-good option. It would also mean you'd get the better interest rate for the longer term stuff. That seems like a fair balance? Plus with Ing you can schedule monthly transfers on your own online, so it would be super easy to set up the monthly savings->checking transfer, then basically never have to touch it again unless you had to change something.
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