How Not to Waste Time at the Bank

In life, time is often times our most valuable asset.  In an attempt to simplify my finances and reduce the amount of time I spend on them, I have tried to minimize the number of banks I use and focus on banks that provide me quick and, at times, instant services.

What Do I Need From My Banks

When considering personal finances, it is important to understand what you need from banks. Personal bank accounts provide you with the following key services.

  • Quick access to your money
  • Interest on money you are not spending
  • Safe storage for your money

Ideally, I would use one bank to do everything to minimize transfers, but for now I use two banks to satisfy my basic needs plus some more for loans and investments.

Where Can I Get What I Need

Technically, all banks provide some form or another of the three basic needs I have outlined, but some banks do it much better than others. More so, online banks provide the best speed and interest on money while decent access and, with these services, they have revolutionized the banking industry.

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I personally use and recommend ING Direct for online banking. ING provides a wealth of services including the following that I use often.

  • Quick transfers between accounts or other banks
  • Easy debit card access of money
  • Competitive interest rates
  • Set up of multiple savings accounts (emergency fund, long/short term savings, etc.)
  • Free bill pay
  • Free checks mailed anywhere for free
  • Great customer service
  • Cutting edge security features

(To get $25 from ING for a new account click here)

The largest downside of ING and other online banks is the inability to make deposits quickly. For these transactions, I have set up a checking account at Bank of America. Due to healthy competition online, Bank of America and other local banks provide free checking accounts that can be set up fast.  One of the best things about Bank of America is that their ATMs can read checks and bills to automatically calculate deposits on the spot. Also, due to Bank of America’s size in my area I can deposit money almost anywhere, and even though their interest rates are not that attractive it is easy for me to instantly transfer the money over to ING every few weeks when I have time.

Automatic Transactions

In order to cut back on time spent paying bills, I have also set up automatic bill pay. This frees up a significant amount of time for me and works well through ING. There are two easy ways to setup automatic bill pay.On a bank’s website you can –

  • Enter the company information and the bank will download and pay the bill
  • Or, enter your debit card or checking information on the company’s website to allow them to pay the bill

Some people worry about what happens if a bill is wrong. I check all my bill payments each month just to make sure they are reasonable and then contact the company if necessary. This has never happened, but if it did I believe the time saved up front would still be much more than the time spent rectifying the situation.

What About Credit Cards

Although credit cards are very convenient I have chosen to stay away from them for a few reasons.

  1. The only possible advantage of credit cards are reward programs, but I just don’t ever want to be rewarded for spending money since I fear that it may develop a bad habit
  2. Credit cards just create another account to manage each month when refreshing my budget
  3. If having a credit card is someone’s way of staying afloat each month then there are deeper concerns needing to be addressed

Your Thoughts

So what do you think about online banking? Do you feel like you could cut back on the amount of time you spend banking so that you can do more things you enjoy? Comment below with your thoughts.

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5 thoughts on “How Not to Waste Time at the Bank”

  1. Found your blog very interesting. I’ll comment on this post. I use a regional bank (not as big as BofA, but still pretty big) for most of my activity. I use online bill pay because it saves a lot of time. Recently, I’ve begun scheduling payments, that is sitting down on the 1st or 15th and paying a bill, but no have it mailed until several days later. Occasionally, I have to deposit a real paper check and it’s handy to go into a bank.

    I use a large online bank for a “savings account”. Basically, I put money in for long term savings. It takes a few days for money to get into and out of the bank, which forces me to plan.

    I also have a checking account at a credit union that I use for my business related expenses. When my employer reimburses me, the money goes directly into the account. On the rare occasion when I have to write a check for business purposes, I use that account. (I’ve probably written under 100 checks in the last 5-10 years).

    Finally, I have a credit card that I use for day-to-day expenses such as gas and eating out. I pay this off monthly. I also use this for Christmas shopping to better track my expenses.

  2. Hey @Randy,

    Great comments. I like that you sit down twice a month and pay your bills. This keeps from having to worry about getting things in on time, but still allows you to get it done all at once instead of wasting a little time here in there worrying about it.

    I also like that you brought up your credit union. I’ve never used one, but I know they can have good deals.

    Finally, credit cards definitely provide some good tracking features. These are nice as long as people pay off their cards monthly like you do.

    Thanks!
    -Ryan

  3. Since I spent most of my day at my “banks” refuting fees and getting refunds. I have to say I did triumph in the end with free checking and savings at both. I found this very interesting and may just get a account there. I like your website and advice, thanks. Nice to have someone do the leg work for you!

  4. @Traci, great to hear you enjoy the blog and you’re considering a better bank. I’m also researching Ally Bank as I’ve heard good things and may write a blog post on them soon.

    If you ever have anything you’re wondering about let me know and I’ll do the research for you. I’m always looking for new things to write about.
    -Ryan

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