Snip: one less tie to Wells Fargo!

January 30, 2011 at 10:31 am (bank)

A year ago I changed my main bank from WF to a solid local credit union, BECU, but I kept all my accounts open, though inactive and drained to almost zero. I managed to move all existing debt from a personal line of credit to various credit cards with zero interest starter rates (otherwise known as the credit card shuffle), and then finally to a BECU credit card (at a much lower percent: 10 down to 6.9). My balance on the personal LoC has been zero for quite a while. They’ve been making some changes, and trying their typical tactics of mysteriously charging fees unexpectedly in case I wouldn’t notice or care. Instead this time, I’m not the gullible consumer anymore!

They sent me a notice for a new annual fee of $25. But I have a zero balance! So I decided since I no longer needed or used this account, I should cancel it. I went into their bank last week to do just that. There was a big confusion, with a manager having to get involved, to see if the fee could be waived before closing the account, and to even see if I could get out of it. I’m happy to report, that at the end of the day, they called me and confirmed they were able to. But it illustrates exactly why I dislike the big banks, and have left. They are all about hidden fees, charges, and the quest to make a profit at the consumer’s expense. They tried that sh*t with my checking account, every few months trying to slip in a $12 fee to see if I’d notice, then doing the same to my savings account. They’d change up the account details very few months with fancy mailed handouts with lots of small type, having to notify you of account changes, and hoping (and expecting) that their customers would just shrug and toss it away into the recycling bin. I’m happy to say, none of that crap has been happening at the credit union. I’ve been with them a year now and nada. What a nice change!

Well, the personal line is now closed. I have cut yet one more tie to Wells Fargo. I still have my personal checking and savings open, but have had no activity on either in a year, and my account balances on both total less than $1. I still have a business checking account, for which they charge a fee annually. The only reason I still have any accounts with WF, and why I haven’t tried to close the business checking, is because of my huge big SBA loan. It’s at $27,798 right now. I have been paying the minimum payment on it for over 2 years, since it’s at a measley 5% interest rate, so I could concentrate on other, higher interest debts. And last year it matured, being more than 5 years old, and they were kind enough to recognize what a golden goose they had sleeping in the barn and moved it over to a business line of credit at the same percentage rate. Why rattle the cage if it keeps paying $115 every month of pure profit? I was told when I opened the account and got the loan that I needed a business checking account to qualify for it. I don’t want to jinx that low rate by closing the business checking account. Heck, I don’t even want to jinx it by asking, and having someone look closely at it and maybe notifying someone that they should raise the rate! So I’m being quiet and meek and not making waves. And next month I finally pay off my only other debt, and can start paying it the hell down!

In February, after I pay the final $654 balance (plus interest fees) on my BECU visa, my very last credit/loan debt outside the SBA loan at Wells Fargo, I will have a little extra I’ll be able to pay towards the SBA loan. Then in March, 100% of all my debt repayments will go strickly and completely towards cutting the very final strings with Wells Fargo, and ridding myself of all nasty debt. I think next month will be the most satisfying month to date since I started this debt repayment journey over 2 years ago. I’ll be starting on paying off my final debt. The end is actually in site!

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Annoying dowside to my credit union

February 9, 2010 at 8:31 pm (bank, work) (, , )

Argh! I’ve been with Boeing Employees Credit Union (BECU) for 1 month now and there’s one thing that’s driving me crazy! My payroll check, unlike at Wells Fargo, does not clear very quickly. They give me a $1,000 “benefit of the doubt” for any check deposit immediately, but the remainder is taking 3-5 business days to clear! Well, I think it is that long, I haven’t actually seen how long it takes yet.

This is frustrating in oh so many ways. I’m usually cash-strapped by the time the first paycheck of the month comes around. I’ve paid all my bills, bought all my food, splurged a bit too much on eating out, deposited my required monthly allotments into my mini-funds, and paid as much as I could towards debt principal. Then when I get paid on the 5th, I need to immediately pay rent. The difference between rent and that $1,000 auto-cleared amount is a measly $105. I have that small amount to live off of for up to a full week including the weekend, and that’s all! By the time I get it, I need to do a big food shopping trip, since I’ve been waiting to make bigger purchases (see list of items paid above). That leaves very little money to live off of.

I’m kinda missing WF – they would clear the check by the very next business day, as long as I got it in before 4 pm. This is a little frustrating also because it says “payroll” right on the check, and it’s from a small, local bank. This is a frustration that I’m going to have to get used to and work around. There are a few things that will make it bearable. The small company that I work for (50 odd people) doesn’t have the cash flow to afford full direct deposits. However, they recently started offering a $300 direct deposit. If I get that direct deposit to kick in, then the maximum $1,000 available on the remainder of the paycheck will actually give me a $1,300 total to work with. That’s much more of a useable cushion.

The other option I have is to go to 2 banks on payday. First to the local bank which is 2 banks away from work, Columbia Bank, cash it (as they are the issuing bank), then deposit the cash at BECU’s ATM machine. They have a high-end machine since they are a “cashless” bank. They don’t do tellers or a counter, they  have individual work stations that you can sit at, that are in an open-plan in a very tiny area, then there is a single ATM machine that everyone queues up in. The machine reads checks and amounts off the checks, and can count cash. That’s a little more effort, the 2 bank visits in 1 day, but I can always stop by the ATM at the supermarket on my way home (there is another location a mile from my house).

I did call a bank rep last paycheck with a general inquiry about how long it takes for my payroll check to clear. That is when I was told 3-5 biz. days. But since it was a payroll check (and it says so directly on the check), and because it was issued by a local bank, he was able to release the funds immediately (even after 5 pm). I can always try that trick again, in a pinch. However, I was told that once I am with the bank for 6 months, and in good standing, they will clear checks more quickly, possibly even immediately. I wonder if that’s why my checks cleared so quickly at WF – I had been with the bank since the mid-90s, and was definitely in good standing. Well, except for a few times when I was overdrawn and had fees, but they probably liked that, since they made more money off of me back in the old days.

Moral of the story? If you have direct deposit, be grateful. Very, very grateful.

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Hello Credit Union! Goodbye Wells Fargo!

January 10, 2010 at 9:41 am (bank) (, , )

Well, I did the deed. This past Friday I went down and opened up a new checking/savings account with Boeing Employees Credit Union. While I am not an employee of Boeing nor have I ever been (though I do have a shirt with their name on it!), I can join since they are open to all WA state residents.

I obviously have good credit, since I was pre-approved for a $5K line of credit (which I accepted) and received the lowest rate possible for the loan, 8.9%. I don’t currently need it, nor do I expect to use it, but I want it just in case Wells Fargo gets mad at me for leaving them and decides to change the terms of my business loan, once it rolls over from an SBA to a business line of credit next summer. Now that WF has promised me the same terms (5% for up to a $30K balance), I don’t feel tied to them anymore, and I am starting the process to leave and go somewhere better.

I expect I can begin using the BECU checking account as my primary account by the end of the month, once I get checks (which are needed to pay my rent). I’ve already set up my emergency fund and my 5 mini funds as separate savings accounts: kitten fund (for vet bills), vehicle fund (for car repairs), health (for larger health expenses like dental stuff that isn’t covered by health insurance), xmas (self explanatory), and clothes (since it’s hard to stay under $70 within one shopping trip, if I need to buy something). This makes me really happy. Now I don’t have to keep several wads of cash at home, or have one big lump sum in the bank. I can have it separated out and saved separately (and it will be easy to transfer it to my checking account when I need to pay for something).

Now all I have to do is add all my utilities, etc, for the bills that I pay. I haven’t really ever done this before! I tried bill pay once, early on when it first started and it was an absolute disaster. I couldn’t locate any of the main local utilities, so I gave up and cancelled and have avoided it since. It is many many years later now and I’m sure the process is much simpler, so I’m going to give it a try, especially since they pretty much require it.

They also offer very good deals on their accounts – they have 6% interest for the first $500 in both checking and your primary savings accounts. They have a branch very close to where I work, and just a mile from where I live, which makes it more convenient than my old bank.

Yeah, I am pleased to be supporting a local business rather than a big national corporation. “Buy local” indeed!

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