Even in these tough economic times, many people remain financially passive. Content to let their money sit wherever it happened to end up – maybe an old stock tip from a friend, perhaps a money market that at one time offered a great interest rate, or even a CD that is left to perpetually roll over – their money is on a money-making vacation. Perhaps it is time to revisit your investments and put them back to work for you.
If your money has stopped working for you, perhaps your bank has too. You may consider changing banks; it’s much easier than most would think. You can take the first step by simply visiting your local banks to get an idea of what perks are available. You can set up several appointments, or simply spend a sunny California afternoon perusing the local banks. While banks competing via interest rates have largely disappeared, there is still enough competition out there to make this valuable criteria by which to choose.
Interview several banks, take notes, and have your savings information readily available, as this can assist the bank in seeing what types of investments you’ve traditionally invested in, how they’ve fared, and how better they can increase your portfolio. It’s not all about the savings, however. Be prepared to share, with your advisor, the amount of debt that you carry. They may be able to reduce your monthly payments through lower interest rates or a debt consolidation program. Look into what their offerings are and compare credit cards, as you could be saving money. Some banks will even offer unsecured credit cards for bad credit.
Besides interest rates, many people decide to change banks simply for better service. Convenience can be a deal breaker, with bank hours and the number of branch locations and ATMs being deciding factors. Be sure to inquire about their fees. In lieu of higher interest rates, many banks have opted to attract customers by lowering, or eliminating, some of their fees.
If you do decide to change banks, make life easier for yourself by making a list of all automatic billing and direct deposits from your old accounts. This can save missed payments and missing funds.
Take your time and make a well-educated decision. There is no need to hurry, as the interest rates are probably not going to go up any time soon. If you are apprehensive about changing banks, or just don’t feel informed enough to make a solid decision, our own Brentwood Bank has many financial advisors who can assist you with your questions. It’s always good to support a local business, and Brentwood Bank has been active in many of our local charitable events.