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.
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
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.
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.
- 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
- Credit cards just create another account to manage each month when refreshing my budget
- If having a credit card is someone’s way of staying afloat each month then there are deeper concerns needing to be addressed
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.