Take control of your banking

By April Dykman

Why are you with your current bank? If you can't think of a good reason, it might be time to reevaluate your needs.

J.D. Roth posed a good question on his blog Get Rich Slowly when he asked, "Why are you with your current bank? Because it's close to home? Because they gave you a free Frisbee when you signed up? Is it the bank your dad uses, or the one you've been with since you were 16 and needed a place to deposit your first paycheck?

"Your bank won't make you rich," he continues, "but it's the central hub for much of your financial life. You should choose a place with features and fees to match your needs."

Evaluate your banking needs

Whatever your reasons for choosing your current bank, make sure it's still the best choice for your needs. For checking accounts, location of ATMs might be an important factor, but make sure to also look into reward checking accounts, which sometimes offer better rates than the best savings accounts.

Speaking of savings, compare savings rates. You'll quickly see that not all high-interest savings accounts, for example, are the same. Or perhaps your money is better off in a money market account or certificate of deposit, depending on your situation and goals. If you aren't sure, read up on what type of savings account is right for you, then compare rates and terms. Don't forget to look into online savings accounts rates as well, since the lower overhead costs of banks without brick-and-mortar branches means online banks can offer some of the best bank rates around.


"Nobody cares more about your money than you do," J.D. writes, emphasizing do-it-yourself (DIY) finances for the control, the ability to customize accounts based on your personal goals, the savings on commissions and fees, and the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment you'll feel. If you're facing bigger, more complicated financial issues (like an IRS audit) you're better off hiring a pro, but finding the right bank is something you can easily handle on your own with a little time and motivation.

Finally, evaluating your banking situation might seem like a chore, but thanks to the Internet, it's easier than ever to compare rates and banks. If it lingers on your to-do list, consider taking a one-day personal-finance holiday to take care of the money tasks you've been putting off.