Mar 30 2012
It is embarrassing to admit, but for years I was terrified of banks. There is actually a technical term for this phobia. I didn’t know the rules for banking; I was uneducated about products and how they worked; and I was terrified that those with access to my finances would judge me. I’ve since found out that this is not an uncommon fear. Fortunately for me, my phobia was easy enough to overcome. Things became clear when I faced adversity head-on, put on my big-girl pants, and got my act together.
Here are three simple points to help prepare you to put your best foot forward and step into your local bank:
1. Get to Know the Rules
If you have questions, just ask (politely). I used to get hung up on how to fill out a deposit slip, whether to wait for a teller to call me to the counter or just walk up, and how to balance a checkbook (or my account… hardly anyone uses checks anymore). As it turns out, when I asked for help, my local bankers were more than willing to help. They were glad I asked and they ended up becoming my friends. I had always thought that everyone who worked at a bank was serious, rigid, and unapproachable without realizing that they are regular people who get paid to help me keep my financial house in order. This slight change in perspective made all the difference. I now know how to fill out a deposit slip, balance my account, and many other things just because I asked. As it turns out, yes, the employees at your local branch are professionals, but they are trained to assist people who aren’t.
2. Get Educated
The same solution for knowing the rules works for product options. If you’re interested in one of the many products or services a bank offers, it is a great idea to ask a teller. Also, put on your investigator hat and do a little research on your own before picking your bank. The internet is a great place to start. Most banks have websites with products and services they offer clearly listed. Compare them based on what you find most valuable. Check out at least two to three bank websites so you can feel confident that you have a good idea of what is available as well as what each bank does differently. Remember that cost and value is not the same thing. Sometimes, one bank will cost a little more, but you will earn higher interest on your money, have better customer service, or have access to mobile banking. Be sure to look at the big picture and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions.
3. Get Smart
Your bank is actually a very safe place to keep your money. If you are afraid of having your money misplaced or stolen, rest easy, you most likely have a team of bankers working to safeguard your money. Banks have really great anti-fraud departments to safeguard your assets from fraudsters. Even so, here is a link to another post on specific ways to secure your money. Most financial institutions are also backed by the FDIC .
In short, there is no need to be afraid of your bank. The best thing you can do for your money is become comfortable with the bank you have chosen. Get to know your bankers, and help them get to know you so you can get the best advice and take advantage of the resources they have available. What fears about banking do you still have?