John McAndrew

Moving Your Money

In Uncategorized on October 11, 2011 at 12:33 AM

[This is the first post I am cross-posting to a new blog in which I am participating. My friend Jack Jamison (no relation to Jenna, at least that I know of) and I, along with others, will be posting all manner of ideas, ruminations, and discussions on the affairs of the hour/week/era. So please come by and see what’s up.]

A year ago I decided that it was no use complaining about the behaviors and policies of the big banks if I was letting them use my money to do what I railed against. So I closed my Wells Fargo account and moved my business to a local credit union. If we don’t like how Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America treat people and conduct business, WHY would we give them our money? This is a rare issue that conservatives and liberals can agree on, albeit for different reasons: conservatives railed against the bail outs, liberals against the bail outs AND foreclosures. About the only ones less popular with both groups are insurance companies and Congress.

There is a group on Facebook called Bank Transfer Day. It was launched around October 6, so it is less than a week old and already has 18,000 “attendees” – those who have already transferred their accounts, and those who pledge to do so before November 5 (Guy Fawkes Day, and a day made more memorable to Americans by the book and movie, V for Vendetta). Time Magazine and The Village Voice have already done stories on this effort.

This is not the first effort to remind Americans that we have the power to cast votes for or against particular businesses as well as politicians. There have been boycotts for years, whether sponsored by Greenpeace or Focus on the Family. A year or two ago, Huffington Post sponsored an effort called the Move Your Money Project. But this effort is riding the wave of the suddenly-emerged populist movement, Occupy Wall Street, which even a Fox News poll shows to be supported by 67% of respondents. While Bank Transfer Day is not an official outgrowth of #OWS, there are clear affinities between the groups; a Venn Diagram would show a significant, and maybe an almost total, overlap.

It takes little effort to make the change. Keep your old bank account open for a month or so while you make the transition to a credit union or local bank, just to make sure everything is working smoothly. Then cut ’em loose.

That’s free market capitalism at work. Bank of America just gave two severance packages worth $11 million to two execs who were let go. These were not performance bonuses. This, after stating that their need to cut expenses will lead to the elimination of 30,000 jobs, and announcing a $5/month fee on debit card use.

At some point, you realize you have to leave an abusive relationship.

To find a credit union near you, go here. For a local bank, go here, then go here for other resources: make sure the local bank is FDIC-insured, and check their financial stability.

If we stop abdicating our responsibility as citizens, we may find that our country begins to look something like what we want it to look like. This is just the first small step. Think of it as practice for bigger things.

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