Monday is Move Your Money Out Day of Action! See below to see how you can help.
Want to participate in the Occupy Movement but don’t quite feel ready to march or protest? Don’t worry, there are many other ways to disempower the financial institutions which form a virtual shadow government that subverts the will of the people.
You can move your money.
Late last year, sick of being charged a $3. overdraft fee on a $2 cup of coffee, I decided that I didn’t want HSBC - recipient of $3.5 billion of taxpayer-funded bailout money from AIG - to continue to nickel and dime me, so I opened an account at Ally and directed my paycheck to be deposited there. It was that simple. Now, when I receive $2 statements from HSBC, I laugh. They’re not taking my money any more.
Here’s how you can do the same:
1. Find a local bank or credit union: Check out this handy credit union locator. Type in your zip code and it returns a plethora of local financial institutions that invest in your neighborhood - as opposed to the banking conglomerates like Bank of America and Citi that couldn’t care less about supporting your community gardens.
2. Open your new account: In most cases, you should be able to open a checking account with an initial deposit of $3. to $100. At a credit union, you'll also become a member and co-owner at the same time. At Ally - formerly GMAC bank, which folded during the financial crisis and reopened as a branchless account holder that refunds all ATM fees - customers can keep a savings account open with just three cents. But be sure to keep your old account open for just a bit longer - you’re going to need it to activate your new account.
3. Order checks and a debit card: These typically arrive within 1 to 2 weeks. You can order a credit card, as the interest rates are likely to be much lower than the 20. the big banks typically charge, and at least your interest payments will go toward your own community. However, to really save your hard-earned money, use your debit card for purchases instead. Breaking our credit habit will eventually break all the banks, and this is the long-term goal.
4. Ask your employer to reroute your direct deposit: When you open your new account, ask the bank or credit union for a direct deposit authorization form that includes your new account information. It may take one or more pay cycles for the change to be made, so keep your old checking account open for a couple more weeks and watch for the switch.
5. Activate your new account: Once you have both your old and new bank accounts open, your new bank will likely ask you to transfer a small amount into your new account to activate it. You can do this online. This will clear in a day or two, and once it does, you’re ready to go.
6. Contact companies that enroll you in auto-pay: Take your last bank statement and make a list of any utilities, cable companies or other businesses you've authorized to directly debit your account. Call these companies and let them know your new account and routing numbers. Make sure to do this as soon as your new account is activated - if your old account is unsuccessfully debited, some companies immediately place you on a collections list. This once happened to me. Don’t let it happen to you.
7. Close your old account: Once you have started receiving direct deposits into your new account and are sure that there are no outstanding checks or automatic debits that need to clear, close your account. Do not just withdraw the last dollar and assume the account will fade away on its own. Your old big bank may start charging you fees for an empty or inactive account. Remember when I said I had $2 left in my HSBC account? That was the amount left over after my very last maintenance fee was deducted. Now that you’ve escaped the clutches of your corporate financial institution, the last thing you want is for them to chase you down for fees.
You’re now ready! Enjoy your totally manageable $9 overdraft fees and customer service with a smile!