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Banking Tips

Personal Banking Background

I began banking as a child. My parents opened a savings account for me which came with a small book. Every time I put money in the account, the bank teller added the amount to my bank book. It was so fun to look at the book and see the balance growing. Thus began my lifelong passion for wealth management.

As I got older, I opened a checking account at a bank branch. I loved the check book and the opportunity to choose the style and a picture. Banking seemed so much fun back then.

Over the years the banking industry has evolved into a total financial management solution.

We recently moved from the east to the western part of the United States. Instead of switching banks, I decided to keep all of our accounts at our prior bank, in spite of the fact that they had no branches in the area. I admit, laziness was part of the reason I stayed with the former bank. The other reasons were that I could do all of my banking by mail., phone, or computer. Add to those factors, the reality that our daughter’s savings account is linked to our account and I didn’t have a viable reason to switch to another bank.

How to Choose a Bank Today

As a portfolio manager and  personal finance  website publisher, I spend hours per week researching money related topics. The banking industry has evolved into more than simply a place to park your cash or borrow money to purchase a home or business. Today, a bank needs to be part of your total financial picture.
When making banking related decisions consider what you are looking for and ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I need a branch close to home?
2. Is an internet bank sufficient for my needs?
3. What services am I looking for?
4. Fees are growing rapidly. Does the bank have reasonable fees?
5. Are there free ATM’s in convenient locations? (I’m fortunate because my bank pays for all of my atm fees due to the amount of money I keep in the account and the type of account.)
6. Does the bank offer free checking and savings plans?
7. If you would like to invest at your bank, are there opportunities to buy investment bonds, stocks, mutual funds, and other financial assets?
8. Are there mandatory account minimums?
9. Does the bank limit the amount of ATM transactions per month?
10. Does the bank mesh with my banking needs and requirements?

In general, it’s best to keep financial accounts to a minimum. Do not open too many accounts as it complicates life. Actually, keeping things simple is one of the reasons I decided to remain with my prior bank when we moved.

What criteria do you use when choosing a bank?

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