In their quest for saving for money by trimming costs from their spending, consumers often tend to overlook one area of their personal financial life that may indeed be bleeding them of money – their own bank. Banks have done a lot of changing in the last year and those changes do not always translate well for the consumer. Essentially, as banks have been limited on what they can now charge consumers for services, they have been especially cunning in tacking on fees where there were none before. This could cost you a lot of cash if you are not looking closely.
Settling for a bad bank can be a budget-blower so it is especially important you take a look at your bank and what kinds of changes it has made in the last year. Many people pay little attention to their bank because it has become a habit of sorts. They have a certain level of comfort with their present bank so they neglect to keep tabs on changes affecting their wallet.
Another reason people continue to stick with their bank is because they often feel overwhelmed by the process of switching to another financial institution. If you have direct deposits set up or automated payments each month that go to creditors, it can be a hassle to switch you money from one place to another. However, the amount of money you save in a year’s time by changing to a better bank should be well worth the effort.
Scoping New Possibilities
Before making any changes, it is important to first explore what is out there. If you haven’t compared banks lately, it is a good time to start doing your research. Start by making sure you understand what you get from your present bank and how much you are paying out to them each month. Take that information and compare it with the other bank’s offers.
You’ll want to compare the services you presently have and how much different banks are charging. You’ll also want to find which banks continue to offer free services such as free checking or savings accounts, free online transactions, higher CD rates and other incentives your bank may no longer be willing to give away.
Start With Negotiations
If you find other banks appear to be a better fit for your financial needs, don’t sign up just yet. First, take the information and the offers to your current bank. See if they will negotiate better terms for your existing accounts including a higher interested rate on savings or waived fees for your checking accounts. Your bank is not obligated to honor your request but if you have been a loyal, long-time customer and they want to retain your business, they may be willing to negotiate.
If they directly refuse, start contacting other banks. If you contact them in person or by phone, you will get a feel for their level of customer service which can be an important factor in the decision-making process when selecting a new bank. Make notes about the services that are important to you so you’ll remember the details later when it is time to make a decision. The new bank may try to push you into services you do not need so be ready to stand strong to avoid paying new fees for services you don’t intend to use. Once you are able to find the bank that offers what you need, which has the best interest rates, and lowest fees, you should schedule an appointment to get the ball rolling and start moving your money.
Before you go to the appointment with the new bank, be sure you are familiar with the logistics of your current banking system. Keep a list of the automated payments going out to creditors so you’ll be able to change your banking information promptly and not risk making a late or missed payment. If you have a direct deposit set up for your payroll checks, be sure to speak with the human resource department to get the proper paperwork to take with you to the appointment. The more information you have upfront, the smoother the bank switch transactions will be.
If you are unsure you want the hassle, take a few hours and tally the total amount of money you have paid to your current bank in service fees, ATM fees, and overdraft charges. You may be amazed at how much your bank is actually costing you and may be inspired to get started on your research. Banking is often off the radar when it comes to making cuts to your budget and making financially-savvy moves to keep more of your money in your own pocket. If your bank is not measuring up, it may be time to find a bank ready to help you get back on financial track. Don’t forget to explore the local credit unions too which often beat banks considerably when it comes to cost comparisons.