Back to Basics- Saving your savings and checking your checking.
Last issue we discussed the overview of your financial life such as the IN’s and OUT’s of your money. This month I’d like to discuss a little more in depth about the IN’s and how to get that money up off the proverbial “comfy couch” and up and working as hard as you do! So now that the lazy days of summer are behind us and we’re back with our noses to the grindstone, making an appointment with our family and/or ourselves is something that we must NOT put off.
There are several things that you must look for when looking at the basic elements of our fiscal regimen. With the volatility of the markets and the low rates of bonds etc, has translated into ultra low rates of interest on our savings and checking accounts. In addition, with some new federal regulations imposed upon banks, limiting the fees they can charge has also lead to some new costs or limits and required minimums on items not normally limited with fees for going over or staying under. Do your homework, ask the right questions and as many as you feel you need to gain a comfort lever. No matter how basic YOU think they are, don’t be afraid or embarrassed…remember this is YOUR money, and the banks are going to make money from it too. The most important things I can say when it comes to this part of your appointment with your everyday spending and saving life is. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF, if you aren’t, then everything you’ve done isn’t going to really apply to you and the more common theme I will always touch back to READ THE FINE PRINT!
In this wonderful word of information and convienence thankfully there are some really great sites that seem to do a good job in comparing basic elements of checking and savings accounts. They even can offer searches and comparisons on things like internet or “brick and mortar” based banks as well as local or national institutions. The most important thing to make certain of is that these are ALL FDIC insured*. A couple sites that I found to be very helpful and seemingly unbiased were. www.bankrate.com and www.findabetterbank.com these sites seemed to offer several different banks based upon scenarios that were entered in and didn’t seem to favor one over another. I always recommend using these kinds of sites to identify a few contenders, and then the real homework can begin. Visit their websites, call/visit branches near you and start to narrow down who the front runners are and don’t be afraid to ask for “specials or deals” and be right up-front in letting the representative know that you are shopping around and that the answers they supply you with may be the deciding factor in beginning your relationship with that bank!
Fees and ways to save are some of the best starting points for conversations with bank representatives. In addition how their “on line” services stack up and branch hours if the local branch visit is something that you find important. Some banks offer discounts for being paperless, but may limit the number of electronic bill pays. Some banks offer free checks but will charge you for too many transactions. In addition, as of late some banks may now even charge monthly fees for the convienence of a debit card, and may in addition, charge for non branch withdrawals on top of the bank where you withdrew from (‘the double whammy”) where some banks even offer credits for when you are charged from outside institutions. So your spending habits definitely play a role. Most of these fees are either charged or not charged based upon minimum balances and if you go below these balances some of these services may be retroactively charged on that whole months transactions. So once again honesty and a little research on your spending and savings habits in of the utmost importance.
We ALL want to be in the best shape and when we eat we are aware that every bite is important and when we are at the gym or running, we are aware that “every rep and every step counts”, and when it comes to our daily financial lives we must be aware that every penny truly does count. Over time these pennies add up to dollars and making sense of these cents in these uncertain times will lead to a lifetime of healthy habits!
Thanks and as always Happy Saving!!