Move Your Money Month- Breaking Up's Not Hard to Do
I recently ended a 13+ year relationship and it could not have been easier. I broke up with Wells Fargo.
When I moved to the Bay Area, I like many do, simply opened my account at the bank closest to my first apartment. I did very little research, and I assumed that a big bank would have more ATMs and therefore be more convenient.
For years, I would shudder every time I heard a story where Wells Fargo was responsible for a foreclosure. And I felt conflicted that my bank paid the lowest worldwide tax rate of the top five big banks. When I learned that Wells Fargo invests in prisons, in fact their prison holdings are valued upwards of $120 million, it became crystal clear that I belonged to an institution that was damaging people in communities all around me.
And I believe, very strongly, that each of us votes with our wallets every time we buy something, invest in something, or make any consumer choice. Foreclosures and private prisons are not things I’d ever normally vote for, so why was I letting my bank use my money to do just that?
Therefore, this fall, I felt very motivated by the nationwide conversation around “Moving Money” from the big banks to more socially responsible credit unions and local financial institutions. My sweetie and I did a little research and opened new accounts with a regional Credit Union.
In the 1st few days much of my fears and myths about credit unions were blown apart. I had always thought I'd end up accruing ATM fees since there aren't as many locations. In fact, my credit union actually reimburses me anytime that I get charged an ATM fee and I'm able to access a whole network of credit union ATMs all around the Bay Area.
I had also kind of assumed that smaller banks meant slower customer service. That couldn't be more far from the truth. Our account manager actually calls and e-mails us out of the blue just to see how things are going every once in a while. I don't think anyone at Wells Fargo ever knew my name.
On the day when I finally went to close my Wells Fargo accounts once and for all, I wasn't sure what to expect. As I explained to several staff members during the process, I just was no longer comfortable with my money being part of business practices that harm to so many families and communities. Most of the people I talked to seemed as if they felt bad, and maybe even some of them agreed.
From beginning to end, moving my money was way easier than I could've expected, and the satisfaction of having done it way greater than I imagined.
And I am only one of millions of people who have made the move. In 2011, almost 10% of bank customers took their money out of the big institutions. Now many churches, city governments and small businesses are following suit. And in May 2012 alone over $80 million has already been moved.
Many are calling May “Move Your Money” month. Will you be the next to experience the easiest break up in the world? Start with our simple guide to moving your money.