Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Don't Hate Banks......Really, I Don't

Many readers of IOU NO MORE somehow come away thinking I hate banks.  I'm not sure why and it couldn't be further from the truth.  I don't hate banks at all.  I hate debt

I don't even hate bank fees.  At least not all of them.  For example, it doesn't bother me that banks have overdraft fees.  Common sense dictates that if you spend more money than you have, there should be a price to be paid.  Technically, it's stealing.  The over spender has taken money that is not his/hers.  The bank converts the theft into a loan, saving the (over)consumer embarrassment and making a little money on the service.  It's called, Capitalism. It is not the bank's fault when we overspend.

Having said all that, I think that consumers should be very careful when we choose our banks.  They are not all created equal.  Many banking institutions really are reputable and sound.  Others, are, shall we say, less so.

One change in at least some bank practices that really burns me up has to do with how they process transactions at the end of the day.  Once upon a time, most, if not all, banks added your daily deposits before they subtracted your withdrawls and checks.  It was thoughtful and customer focused.  It was almost as if the institutions really did have hearts.  Now, many banks do it the other way around.  The reasons are fairly obvious, primarily the chance to find a fee charging opportunity.  That's just not cricket! It makes a bank look like  Snidely Whiplash from the old Penelope Pitstop cartoons.  And it's just the kind of thing that will cause me to look for a new banking partner.

Banks are great places to store your cash flow.  Brittan and I have a checking account in a bank.  We use a bank for our mortgage.  We use an online bank for our savings because rates are better.  Since we don't do debt, we don't have to worry about fees or cards or minimum payments or much of anything else, really.  It's a great relationship.  We store our money in their computers.  They use it for investments, loans etc.  In return, they let me use their cash machines, provide checks and statements for us and let us have it back whenever we want it.  As a result, we have a peaceful alliance.  In the event our bank changes the game on us, we will find another home for our nickels.  It's just business.  I don't hate banks.  But I'm not married to one, either.