If you believe the PF-o-net (which I cannot stress enough you SHOULD NEVER DO), you’d know that only suckers invest in individual stocks, buy a mutual fund, get whole life insurance, buy a brand new car, or work at any moment past your 40th birthday. Working into middle age is worse than ass cancer.
Yeah, that’s right. Ass cancer. You’ve never heard of it because we’re all too scared to speak about it directly.
A few years ago, back when my wife encouraged my blogging habit enough to write here, she wrote a post outlining how she bought a token investment in some crummy mutual fund to get free banking. I threw my clickbaitest title on that bad boy and watched the angry comments roll in. It was great. So many people obviously didn’t read the thing before jumping to conclusions.
Meanwhile, my wife’s $500 investment is worth more than $700 now, and she got free banking in the process. Outstanding.
But for some of you, this isn’t enough. Why even bother with a traditional bank when there are branchless banks that don’t charge a nickel for as many transactions as you want?
I’m well aware those financial institutions exist, and have largely avoided using them. Here’s why.
The beauty of local banking
Many of you have no need for local banking. You get paid by direct deposit. Your side hustle income comes in via Paypal. Your drug dealer takes interac e-transfers for some reason. If you do get a cheque, every banking app has the ability to deposit it remotely. That covers pretty much everything.
Except for getting cash, that is.
I own a few different rental houses, and while I’m not terribly active on the private lending side anymore I still have a bunch of loans that are slowly being paid off. I’ve found that some of these people like paying me cash. I get an envelope of cash I can spread on my bare chest like a freak and they get a payment method that’s comfortable to them. It’s a totally not weird at all win-win.
How am I supposed to deposit cash at an online only bank?
I’m not just getting a couple of bucks each month, either. We’re talking upwards of $1,000. I don’t feel comfortable having that much money at my house, and although I probably could spend that much cash every month, I’d have to make an effort to do so. Sure, I could go to the bank and give them cash to pay off my credit card, but they would mock me as soon as I left. And rightfully so, too.
Fun fact: back in 2001 and 2002 when I first started using a credit card, online banking wasn’t a thing. My current bank (a credit union) didn’t even offer credit cards back then. I was forced to go to a competing bank and get a card there. I’d go to the credit union, withdraw the cash, and then go to the other bank and pay off the credit card. It got to be such a pain in the ass I’d barely use the card.
What our banking setup looks like today
I’ve maintained my own bank account while my wife has hers. All earned income goes into one account while passive income goes into the other.
This setup is maintained so I can easily track payments going in and out. It’s essentially became a business account without a business attached to it.
I pay $2 a month for the privilege of having the account and then $1 per transaction each time I pay a bill or use a cheque. Most months I’m spending anywhere from $4-$5 on banking.
For me, saving $5 a month is nothing. I’ll squander that much on jalepeno flavored Doritos on a given weekend if I’m feeling peckish. Taking the time and effort to switch the account to somewhere I would pay less in fees just isn’t worth it. And as I’ve mentioned before, I think having a relationship with your local banker is beneficial.
We also have a high-interest account at one of the branchless banks. Every now and again they’ll send us a promo for 3% interest for 90 days and we’ll stick some cash in there. The promo expires and we yank the money out faster than I nope out of a yoga class.
Let’s wrap it up
Banking is a popular topic here in the personal finance world, but it shouldn’t be. If you never have any cash in your life, it’s probably best to have an online-only bank. Or stay with your current bank. Even if you’re paying $10 or $20 a month in fees it’s not really that big of a deal.
Big expenses are important. So is earning more money. Feel free to try and lower your bank fees, but spend way more time on the important stuff. Or, just buy some Canadian bank shares. Profit off everyone else’s bank fees.