Bank Transfer Day

I am sorry not to have written about this sooner, Bank Transfer Day is just two days off, November 5th. The idea is to close your account with Big Evil Bank and move your money (meager though it may be) to a local credit union. There are 37,000 “likes” on the Facebook Page, and I read somewhere that 68,000 are planning to switch.

I heard on the news yesterday that both Bank of America and Wells Fargo have withdrawn their threat of monthly debit card fees, which apparently is what started all this. Although it’s undoubtedly exciting that the People spoke and the Man listened, I myself am disappointed that this has become all about the fee issue. I hope those 68,000 people do the switch anyway. The real problem is not the fees, but the underlying greed and overwhelming power, right?

Credit unions are non-profit, cooperative financial institutions, functioning at a local level. Sounds perfect. I’m not sure what the catch is, except that local means you can only go to your bank to make a deposit when in your hometown. They appear to have ATM and debit cards available so you can spend money everywhere, just like the big boys.

Strangely, the woman who started this set the date for a Saturday, apparently in connection with the date that Guy Fawkes was captured. Cool but, seriously? I guess the idea is that November 5th is supposed to be the deadline, not the change day. I am hoping to get the deed done tomorrow. It’s always helpful to have a deadline, but of course this is just a good thing to do, any day you can find the time. We have one account with Wells Fargo and one with an Alaskan bank. Our hometown of Cordova, which we will be returning to in May, doesn’t have a credit union so we are going to have to hold onto the Alaskan bank. But WF can go.

Honestly, this whole bank thing has been very difficult for me to grasp. I am still functioning on the apparently antiquated idea that corporations are The Man. What, banks are The Man now? When did this happen? And how will I ever, ever be able to understand it???? The whole Wall Street business is so far over my head. I have tried, on numerous occasions to get even a glimmer of what the hell goes on there, and every time it’s like sliding down a steep slope. I get just a lick of possible understanding, then whoosh!

Of course, that’s how it works, why it works. If we can’t understand it, we feel like we have no right to fight it. Certainly no way to fight it. Corporations were too obvious, too easy I guess. Too intellectually tackle-able by your average person. The Man had to get a new rig.

We watched Inside Job recently, and it did help. Mostly I felt that same old sliding feeling, but I did come away with a bit of understanding. Primarily that it’s even more straight forward than I’d thought how all the money made on Wall Street, and the ever rising arrow, are stolen from everyone else.

How do you fight something too big too understand? You camp out on the lawn. You say, “I don’t know what the fuck you are doing, but stop it.” You remember that, backwards as it may seem, you are holding the cards.

You and 5 billion other people.

11 thoughts on “Bank Transfer Day

  1. I am in the process of converting, but still waiting for the wash-out of auto-debits, online payments, etc. to filter through. Ugh…

  2. Try reading “Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America” by Matt Taibbi. This would have been way, WAY over my head, but he peppers it with enough smart-assery to keep it entertaining. I just had to go at slower than my normal reading pace. I even remembered some of it. Check it out.

  3. There is a series on Youtube called “Money as Debt” that explains the concept of fractional reserve banking in a very understandable way. It did more than anything else for me to explain the fundamentals of why the banking system is so out of control.

  4. Great post! I belong to a small local bank (as do my brothers and my dad: mom’s in a credit union) and my husband is in the process of switching his direct deposit over to my bank. I do hope everyone moves regardless of the fee withdrawal, because that is just one problem among many and it won’t be the last we hear of it.

  5. We’ve had most of our money in a credit union for a while, and I really like it. They know who we are and we can call and talk to a person about our finances. My husband still has a savings account with a big bank, but it’s local too. I keep trying to get him to close it.

  6. yep, most of our ‘money’ is with a credit union which I was fanatical about til my partner agreed but sadly our loan is still with one of our big fat ogres. We have been planning to move it to the credit union and swallow the larger costs (which are probably more real) but haven’t been able to do it by d-day. will happen this year with luck. tell you what – not an easy thing to do though. When I finally closed our other bank account – it took over a year to sort through getting the last $37 out and actually closing it. No end of hours on the phone and faxing paperwork. Madness. No wonder I hate them. My partner won’t let me go to the bank as I get too wild and don’t stop ranting for ages. any hoo, i digress. enjoy closing it all down!

  7. Our money has been in a credit union for about a year now. Everything is great. They even have toys in the lobby for kids to play with. State banks and credit unions are where it’s at.


  8. We have always been with a building society, for many years now, and never had a problem with them… and hope not to either!

  9. For working-for-free stay-at-home mom me, the issue of banks has become particularly complex. I have to have a bank. I mean, I’m just not one of those people who can keep their cash in a shoebox (not that I really even have any cash), so I have to bank somewhere. After years of using credit unions I ended up switching to a big bank because my mortgage was through them. and I could do online banking for my mortgage payment and got a discount. So they sucked me in. BUT, it is a) easier to bank there because they have more branches and ATM’s (free withdrawals) b) friendlier and faster to bank there because the tellers are nice and plentiful and c) cheaper to bank there because of all of their perks. OK, so I sound shallow here, right? But how do this compare to the idea of shopping at whole foods versus the regular grocery store (your post that I keep thinking and thinking about)? Money out of the pocket is simply money out of the pocket. If I spend more money shopping at Whole Foods then I am further away from financial independence. If I spend more money banking at a credit union the same applies. For me, now that I have no income other than what my mate brings home, that counts.I know WF and CU aren’t one in the same, but in my mind the parallel is there. We just got an absolutely free re-finance on our house through Wells Fargo that really did cost nothing and immediately chopped 10 years off of our mortgage. 10 years! That’s a decade. These credit unions are indeed wonderful businesses compared to the big banks – I cannot argue that. But how does one reckon with all of the things on the list they “should do” when they are not in accord with their highest core value which at this point for me is being close to home while raising my child. I can’t afford not to use a big bank. I really feel that way. None of the mortgage offers at credit unions compared. And if I’m in house debt to a bank then I might as well bank there all the way. It seems silly to split my accounts just for the sake of having a foot in the door of a credit union. It is so complex. Are all of these 68,000 people renters? Or are they using the big banks for their mortgage and putting their checking and savings elsewhere? I like the idea of the switch, I really do. But it’s just one more thing on the list of things I should be doing to live right. That list is pretty darn long already. Am I totally missing the big picture here?

    1. hey there MamaH, are you new here? i don’t recognize your name. in case you are new, welcome! you will find a friendly company of other confused, well intentioned folks. no one has the answers to these questions. if they say they have answers, you can stop trusting them then and there. this is complex, convoluted stuff. personal too. for everyone a different balance point. we all do some noble things (often the things we enjoy doing most), and compromise elsewhere. i haven’t met any saints yet, and i’ve met some truly kick-ass folk in my life.
      i always hate when people parade around their noble deeds without stating their privileges. so, for the record, my man’s folks have the big bucks around here. they took out the mortage on our alaska house for us. and they have loaned us more than half the money we have burned through here in no-income land (my man’s a 3rd year law student) doing “noble” things like shopping at whole foods. i never have any judgment for those of you who do all of this without any family help, no matter your compromises. in fact, i have a heavy dose of embarrassment about being among the privileged. i grew up below the poverty line, so believe me, it’s all new.
      thanks for reminding me to keep it real. what with all this recent riot/occupy righteousness, i ought to do a special post on this important subject.
      if you haven’t read it yet, try Why We Do What We Do
      another note: i kind of jumped the gun on this transfer day post, because i wanted to let folks know before the actual day. but, on close inspection, it looks like it’s going to be a lot harder than i thought to close our big bank accounts. i still hope to get it done, but it’s going to take some time. and we don’t even have the mortgage issue…

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