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A new banking paradigm

I have never been particularly enamored of banks and have always seen them as being somewhat adversarial. But there has always been at least an understanding of mutual dependency.

We need the banks for things like checking accounts and a place to stash the vast fortunes we woodworkers typically accumulate. And they need us because, well, where else are they going to get money?

Lately though, we have begun to realize that while we were distracted and busy making a living, the banks have changed all the rules. It used to be that we could write a check in the morning, make a deposit in the afternoon and everything would work out OK. We used to call that "the float". But the float doesn't work anymore. What's worse is that if you flip that and make the deposit in the morning and write the check in the afternoon, you still get hit with charges. The bank somehow delays recording the deposit until after the checks come in. That way, they can bounce your checks even though you already deposited sufficient funds to cover them.

The other day, we experienced a most egregious instance of this practice. A deposit was made at ten o'clock in the morning. A check came through at four in the afternoon. But since the deposit was not yet recorded, the check caused an overdraft of eighty seven cents. The overdraft fee was thirty five dollars.

We have been hit with similar charges over and over. Somehow it seems like the banks think we really do have vast fortunes and will not be concerned about these small fees that, somehow, we are not supposed to notice. Our bank will not be our bank for much longer. In spite of the hassle, we are planning to shift our accounts to a local credit union. At least then we can actually talk to a person when we have a problem. Some people have advised against this because the local credit union might not be able to provide the services offered by a big bank. But we are thinking that these services might just be in the same vein as most of what is offered on cable TV. You really would not miss it and it costs way more than it's worth.


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