Thursday, October 27, 2011

put your money where your heart is

Whether you want to take part in #OccupyOakland, or you disagree with the protesters, odds are that you're part of the 99%. While some executives from big financial companies may face charges and be convicted of fraud, odds are most of them won't, and even some of the other 1% are unhappy about that. Unsurprisingly, it all makes people want to keep their money closer to home.

I've written about shopping locally and even eating locally before. But another way to keep your money closer to home is to bank locally. Instead of keeping your checking and savings at a big bank like B of A or Chase, keep it at a local bank or credit union. Protesting against banks is one thing, but hit them financially to really get their attention. Individually, none of us has enough money for big banks to notice, but if we all invest our money locally, they'll feel it.

I'm not the first* to think of this, and plenty of others have done or are planning to do the same thing. Bank Transfer Day (on November 5th) is a rapidly-growing movement for people to move their money from big financial companies to local banks and credit unions. Credit unions have already noticed an uptick in new accounts.

It may not be as easy or convenient as banking with a big bank that has branches and ATMs everywhere, but credit unions and local banks are surprisingly well-connected with various ATM networks even if they don't have as many branches. It does take time and some work to move your money, but if you want to keep more it, bank closer to home.

I started** by opening an account at One PacificCoast Bank which is headquartered here in Oakland, and is partnered with the One PacificCoast Foundation which is the sponsor of the Oakland Indie awards. The foundation actually holds the economic rights of the bank, meaning dividends go to the foundation. Their mission is "to build prosperity in our communities through beneficial banking services delivered in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner."

There are a lot more options for joining a local credit union. Credit unions are not-for-profit because they operate to serve their members rather than to maximize profits. They have differing membership requirements, so you may not be able to join just any credit union, but odds are you can find one or more that you can. For example Patelco is open to people living in Alameda County; living, working or shipping in Oakland; or an employee of any of the 1100+ companies, associations, trade groups, chambers of commerce, or federal government agencies that use Patelco.

Tools to help:
You can find local credit unions with the Find a Credit Union website. The Google Advisor page allows you to compare checking and savings accounts (as well as mortgages, CDs and credit cards) at a variety of financial institutions. But one of the best tools is word of mouth: ask your friends which local bank or credit union they bank with.

Who do you bank with? If they're not local, have you thought about putting your money where your heart is?

* Special thank you to formerly Oakland-based photographer Valerie Cochran who tweeted about moving her money to a local bank or credit union earlier this year and got me started thinking about it, too.
** Several months later, I'm still in the process of moving things. Autopay for bills is mostly great, but makes switching accounts harder. As does laziness, but recent events are helping overcome that.


Anonymous said...

great post Gene!

yourwaitress said...

thanks so much for spreading the word gene! :) is another good place to start. arianna huffington (huffington post) is behind that site. I LOVE being back at my old small, friendly, low fee bank. chase doesn't even have branches in kansas city! hope it stays that way.

my thoughts are with everyone in oakland. it is good to be back home, but oakland will always loom large in my heart.

Oakland Daily Photo said...

You got me to look again at the services offered by my credit union compared to my bank. This led to my decision to move funds from one to the other. So, thanks for your post.

Gene said...

if it's not a local bank, time to shut it down and keep your money local