Yesterday, I took myself a big step toward freeing myself from my bank. Since moving to Fairbanks, I've been banking with one of the big 5 banks and I really can't stand them. Not only do I hate all the fees (and find it absolutely ridiculous that an entity would have the right to charge me for using/accessing my own money) but I hate them on principle for what they're doing to people around the country. They're one of the companies behind such lovely things like the "robo-signing" scandal.
So, I opened an account with one of the Alaska credit unions. I don't know why I never did this before. Laziness? Probably laziness. But not only am I getting much a much better deal--including better interest rates and service, fewer fees--but now I'm not helping to support an entity I hate. That's a good feeling.
I would most likely have kept being lazy about this if not for our honeymoon. When I purchased our plane tickets for our honeymoon (the airline company is foreign) I was charged $75 because it was an international transaction. (I did not realize they'd charge for such a ridiculous thing. What on earth does it cost them to move a few electronic numbers that they'd charge me $75 for?!) When I looked into this a bit deeper, I found out that not only would the credit card charge me a percentage every time I used it in a foreign transaction, but my bank would charge me $5 for every debit transaction in a foreign country. My credit union does not charge me anything, and if I have to use an ATM they will return any fees incurred from that transaction. A much better deal, wouldn't you say? There's no way we're going to carry around enough cash to cover everything we'll need to pay for while we're gone. That would be silly, as it could be easily stolen. This way, we have the security of a financial institution behind us without the ridiculous fees that a bank would charge.
I still haven't closed down my accounts with the big banks. For one thing, my work is still auto-depositing my paychecks to that account. (I've sent in the paperwork needed to change that, but it will take a couple of weeks.) I also have a few outstanding transactions that I'm waiting to clear. But I'll close them down soon and move all of my money to the new accounts.
Shane and I have been talking about how we wanted to arrange our finances for a while now. Since we realized we'd have to get new accounts anyway, moving our money at this time was easy enough. And I'm so glad we did.