Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Financial Perspective

I do not pay as much attention to the news and national happenings as I should, but I have noticed the Occupy Wall Street and I Am The 99% movements and memes across the internet. I do not fully understand what these are about, so I cannot agree or disagree with what is being said or done. I can say that the people involved have caused quite a stir and have finally impacted my life. No, I was not among those locked out of entering my bank, but I was on hold for a very unreasonable amount of time with my credit union as a result of one of their spreading messages.

The process of switching from Big Bank to Credit Union has been a long one for me - mostly because I've been procrastinating switching all those automatic bill pay settings. I have both accounts, but my account at Credit Union is in a mere holding pattern with the minimum allowed savings accruing interest with small deposits each month to keep the account active.

Because I am a full time student and a full time employee, my bank account never hits that magic $3,000/day balance to be free - Hell, I'm lucky to have $300/day between checking and savings! The fees associated with my accounts were once only $5/month. Then there were a few changes in laws, a few changes in the bank's procedures, and now I pay $12/month to use Big Bank. If you go back and look at my statements, 9 out of 10 times I am overdrawn, I had forgotten about the "monthly maintenance fee" and my balance falls from $8 to -$4 + an overdraft fee (which is only a flat $10 fee because I have overdraft protection in place, otherwise it would be $30 per overdrawn transaction). When Big Bank institutes new fees for debit card usage, I will be paying almost $20/month just to have a bank account. Tell me when the absurdity will end!

With the ever fluctuating cost of fuel, the increase in college books and my soon-to-increase tuition costs (moving on up from community college to that big name university to get my degree), I need something that is financially feasible for me to handle my money. Switching to a cash-only existence sounds all well and good, but paying my bills by cashiers check? Carrying home a wad of bills on payday? I will not use the excuse "I am woman", but I will use the excuse "I am weak"; if I have cash, I am liable to spend it, even on some small, seemingly frivolous thing like a large unsweet tea from one of those fast food places. Little purchases add up, and they add up fast. Thus enters my need for a bank and debit card. I hesitate to spend money with my card, always stopping and wondering if I can afford what I want, and even when I know that I can, asking myself if I really need what I am about to purchase. My debit card is my financial conscience. I cannot and will not pay for that if I don't have to. And that is the beauty of living in America: I have options, I have a choice, and I have the right to decide what is best for me.

Right now, I am deciding that it is time to finally get off my ass and finish the transfer from Big Bank to Credit Union. Right now, a lot of other Americans are thinking the same thing. Based on my 35-minute wait to speak with a representative about my account at Credit Union, I am glad I already had an account. She said they have extended their hours to accommodate the influx of applicants vying for the privilege to bank with Credit Union's free accounts and services. I wish all the applicants the best and hope they get what they want or what they think they need for their financial stability.

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