Tuesdays with Mindy: Bank Transfer Day
As far as I’m concerned – the only thing positive to come out of the Occupy Wall Street Movement has been the reversal of a $5 Bank Fee by some of the major corporate banks across the country. If it takes all this movement and energy to reverse one $5 fee, our country is in worse shape than I thought.
It did motivate me to switch banks. Yep – we participated in Bank Transfer Day and moved our money along with 650,000 other people across the country. Here’s an article to prove it! We got quoted in an article that made it into the Credit Union times. We’re all fancy and shit! It pays to know journalists. 😉
Moving our money was one of the few requests I noticed on signs and over the interwaves that actually made sense to me. Seemed doable. Was something that I actually had some time and energy for.
Our process started over two weeks ago. On our anniversary. We are working to get our car refinanced through On Point and had been in communication with them anyway, so it didn’t seem like too crazy an impulse to sit down with a banker on a warmish, sunny Sunday (our 6th wedding anniversary) and open up three accounts.
Then we spent the next week cancelling and re-routing our direct deposits and autopays. Made that much simpler by splitting the tasks down the middle. Dan took half and I took half.
Then, one day – we scooped all of our money out of one account and dumped it in another. Just like that. Closed down at least three accounts, still have one open with a few hundred in it until all those debits clear.
Moving your Money in Four Relatively Easy Steps:
1. Open up a credit union account (CUs ARE open on Saturday)
2. Reroute direct deposits and auto bill pays
3. Withdraw funds, close account
4. Deposit money in credit union
Sure – it took almost three weeks to accomplish the goal, but with the steps spread out over time, it wasn’t anymore difficult than tackling any other project.
The rewards are less tangible than the immediate impact I think many people were expecting to feel. Some of it was symbolic. Some of it was an honest interest in boosting the local economy.
For me – moving banks was a difficult and emotional decision. I’ve been with Washington Mutual since I was 16 years old and had my first job at McDonalds. My sister has worked there longer than she’s been married and manages a local branch. My brother and I both held decent, stable jobs there at one point in our lives. I remember rocking a Rodeo Grandma T-Shirt to school back when they were the voice of WaMu.
And then WaMu slowly became corporatized – creeping their way across the country.
And then the housing market collapsed and Chase did some eerie take-over of our locally grown bank which caused many people to lose their retirements.
Ever since then, I’ve felt less and less happy banking with a large corporate entity. But closing out my savings and money market accounts – those have been alive and well for 13 years. That’s love right there people.
Fortunately – my SIL works at On Point Community Credit Union, so that softens the blow of putting my sister out on the street a little bit more.
The process of chatting with the Chase bankers as they closed my account was even somewhat painful. One of the bankers was a brand new employee and celebrating his move from a retail job where he never had a weekend. Chase offers him that and better health insurance. He’s an average dude trying to make a living, just like the rest of us. You know – he’s one of the 99%. I don’t look casually on disrupting anyone’s employment prospects.
I would be lying if I said it doesn’t hurt the employees of large banks when you “Move Your Money.” Not that I truly believe the banks give two crusty craps about their employees. Do you think the CEOs and shareholders are worried about the bottom lines for the thousands of people they employ? Probably not.
I WAS feeling quite guilty about making a move that jeopardizes the jobs of innocent civilians in such a time of economic uncertainty. Then the banks came out basically saying “whatevs, you people had low account balances anyway. We weren’t EVEN making money off you.”
I guess Chase and Bank of America and Wells Fargo don’t NEED $100 million. Oh wait, that was just in ONE STATE? It’s actually $4.5 billion nationally according to this article.
This idea that the banks are trying to pass off like “it cost US money to run your accounts, so good riddance.” Uh-uh. No, I’m not buying that shit for a minute. I’m also not buying that this won’t hurt them down the road, when people start doing other sorts of business with credit unions that have traditionally been done at big banks. Car loans, home loans, home equity lines of credit (LOL, who has that?), and credit cards.
All those other “banking products” they are trying to sell you. I’ve done some time in the banking trenches. I know how that works. The amount you have on deposit isn’t where they make the most money, it’s how much credit you were borrowing from them. That’s where it will start to hurt.
And also where it will start to benefit the local communities. $4.5 billion was just injected in non-profit organizations in the hometowns where you and I and Joe Schmo live. Not lining the pockets of shareholders on Wall Street who drink champagne in high rises on spit on the lower classes.
As for the Occupy Movement in general? I suppose if they’ve accomplished one thing, it’s that. Their other goals and achievements are quite murkier, and I’m steadily inclined to write them off. Especially as safety at the camps becomes more of an issue, and at least in Portland – they are over-run by street kids.
For me – the whole energy of the movement is now centered around occupation and sustaining their camps rather than working to get any kind of message across and move ideas forward. Someone completely un-connected with OWS started the Bank Transfer Day movement. The same is happening for the “Shop Local” on Black Friday movement. The things that are actually propelling people into action are not coming from the camps.
I don’t need a soundbite, but I would like some kind of directive. Marching orders, if you will. And I think the free camping trip has just about reached the limits of patience for this concerned citizen.