Why Automation Is Your Money’s BFF

Why Automation is Your Money's BFF: At Peace With MoneyAutomation is your money’s best friend. By automating your finances, you reduce your opportunities for decision making, thereby reducing your chances to change your mind about saving money or paying a bill in full. By reducing your decisions you set yourself up for success! Automation can build up your savings and pay off your bills, without any extra effort on your part. So, how can you use automation as a financial tool?

Automate Everything!

There are many different facets of your finances which can benefit from automation. Automating your bills is a good place to start. Many banks have online bill pay options available that help you pay your regular monthly bills on time. In particular, automation is a good way to ensure you always pay your credit card balance in full, so that you don’t accrue any interest fees. However, one important thing to be aware of when automating your bills is that you will need to stay aware of your bank balance, to avoid over-drafting your account. As long as you keep an eye on your balance, automating your bills is a good way to avoid late fees, build good credit, and stay on top of your finances.

The other major arena of your finances that definitely deserves some automation-attention is your savings. I touched briefly on automating your savings in an earlier article, which you can read here. The most important thing about automating your savings is that if money automatically gets moved out of your spending account, you have no chance to spend it. That makes saving that much easier! We do this with our retirement savings, and it really helps us keep it up. A great resource for further information about automating your savings is The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach.

I hope this motivates you to try out automation with your finances!

Angela

Image Sources: Mitch Lensink, Lucas Silva Pinheiro Santos

How I Broke Up With Wells Fargo (and You Can Too!)

How-To-Break-Up-with-Your-Bank

When my daughter Madeleine learned Wells Fargo planned to charge her increased bank fees and increase her minimum account balance because she was no longer under 18, she decided to switch to a credit union. Below, she outlines the process of research that led her to choose the bank she uses now.

I’d wanted to break up with Wells Fargo for a long time. It was also difficult for me to rest easy while I knew my bank was funding projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline, for-profit prisons, and other tar sands projects.(Here’s their official statement confirming their involvement after the city of Seattle cut ties with the bank for continuing to fund the DAPL project.) If that weren’t enough, the exorbitant fees the bank charges for a variety of reasons led me to decide their convenience factor wasn’t worth it.

Banks and Online Credit Unions

My first thought was to look up the best current banking offers, but most of the options were simply other large banks also involved with the nefarious funding interests I was looking to avoid. Then, I began researching credit unions. Credit unions usually offer higher interest rates and lower fees. They also tend to be more community-oriented and value driven.

So, I decided to join a credit union, but not without a little research. I started by looking up information about the best credit unions. NerdWallet and ValuePenguin both had helpful recommendations, and supermoney was also a helpful resource. Most of these options are national, online credit unions. After reviewing these, I looked up reviews for the ones that fit my criteria. The one I was most interested in was Alliant, but after reading their review, I decided their terrible customer service wouldn’t be worth the hassle. However, I included these resources because you might have different banking needs and be interested in another credit union. I definitely recommend perusing those options.

Local Options

After this dead-end, I decided to look locally. We live in the Bay Area, so I looked up credit unions in the region. I picked out a few different credit unions and looked over the criteria to make sure I’d qualify. Some credit unions require you to live in a very specific area, have a certain type of job, etc. Online credit unions have fewer criteria or easy ways to join without meeting criteria. They’re a good option if you don’t have any local credit unions.

Once I’d found a few options that I would qualify for, I compared their banking offers and looked up reviews. I chose Star One credit union, which offers 1.35% APY on savings accounts (and had some of the best reviews I could find!).

The Switch

The last step was actually making the switch. I went to Wells Fargo and got a cashier’s check from my accounts, and then took it straight to the nearest Star One branch.

On the whole, switching to a credit union was easy. I wish I’d done it a long time ago, because my savings are earning more than 100% of the interest they were at Wells Fargo. Keep that in mind if you’re procrastinating on switching. Your timeline matters!

How to Break Up With Your Bank: At Peace With MoneyFinally, another resource that might help is Magnify Money, recommended on the Stacking Benjamins podcast. I used this tool to look up credit card offers while making the switch. For motivation, this Facebook page, bank transfer day ,encourages you to move your money. I used this tool to look up credit card offers while making the switch. Good luck with your breakup, and happy switching!


Madeleine

Image Sources: Robb Leahy,  Nathan Dumlao

How to Avoid Monthly Bank Fees

How to Avoid Monthly Bank Fees: At Peace with Money

Here’s an easy fix for your financial life: stop wasting your money on monthly bank fees. As you may well know, banks like Wells Fargo, Chase, and Citibank charge monthly service fees for certain accounts and services. Generally there are many ways to avoid these monthly fees, in your personal banking as well as your business banking, and gain more financial freedom.

Here are a few steps you can easily take to eliminate monthly fees:

  1. Open your statements to make sure you are not being charged. You might be surprised.
  2. Call your bank and find out how to avoid those fees. Some banks require a regular deposit of monthly income in order to waive fees. Others ask for a minimum balance. Find out what your requirements are and make sure you will no longer be charged.
  3. Consider your local credit union. Local credit unions may offer incentives to joining them such as a lack of fees. They may also offer higher interest rates on deposited funds and financial involvement with projects that improve your local community.

How to Avoid Monthly Bank Fees: At Peace with MoneyFor example, one of the credit unions in my area partners with an organization that provides financial support and bilingual assistance to startups and small businesses run by low-income and minority entrepreneurs. If you’re looking to align your money with your values, your local credit union is a good place to start. If this interests you, you might enjoy this video on breaking up with big banks.

In addition to credit unions, there are many other banks that offer sign-up bonuses and higher interest rates. Doing a little research is worth it! Here are a few links that compare features of the best current banking offers in 2018 (1, 2, 3).

Angela