I am divesting!
Over the last two weeks, I have been working on divesting from Bank of America as part of my #FinancialFitness2018 journey. After going over the Bucket Strategy for saving, I took a hard look at my checking and savings accounts. As a Socially Responsible Financial Advisor, I work hard to make sure that my investments match my values, and I want that to extend to all of the aspects of my financial house.
After doing quite a bit of research, I found that there were several benefits to switching to a credit union. There were several reasons I wanted to make this move, so I was pleased to find out that it would only help me financially to do so.
Bank of America, as well as the other large, private banks, need to make a profit. They have a duty to their shareholders to do so. To make this profit, they engage in a number of practices that I personally do not agree with. They lend money to advance causes that I am against. The most well known is the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). I don’t want my money being used to finance these types of projects, and by having my money with BofA, I am perpetuating that.
BofA has also been in the news recently for raising their fees on checking accounts that are below a certain balance. This was done to raise their profits, and it is going to negatively impact the most disadvantaged among us. A proactive response to my disagreeing with these policies is to divest my assets from the bank, and move them to a credit union. Making this switch is truly a win-win. Not only am I divesting from a bank that does not meet my values, I am able to turn around and support a credit union that will use my assets to do good.
Credit unions are local, not-for-profit organizations. That not-for-profit component is pretty awesome. By not having to generate a profit for their shareholders, they’re able to put their members first. This translates into low or no fees. Even better, instead of financing things like the DAPL, they finance mortgages or car loans for your neighbors and people in your immediate community. Seriously, how cool is that? I would so much rather be a part of this type of an organization than a private bank.
One of the things that I was concerned about was whether I would be able to access my money in other cities. I am used to having a number of Bank of America’s when I travel, but with credit unions being local, I wasn’t sure how that would work. Turns out, there is an agreement among most credit unions. If you search for credit union service center, you can access your money at any participating location. Right now I am in New London, CT, and there are a dozen ATMS right near me that I could access with no charge.
The decision to switch to a credit union was really simple. They had everything I needed! After doing a bit more research, I chose Empower Federal Credit Union and Syracuse Cooperative Federal. One will house my personal accounts and the other my business accounts, so that I could keep them separate.
The final step was to close my accounts at Bank of America. I think this is what a lot of people get hung up on, when moving their money from one institution to another. For me, this is going to be a process over a few weeks. I don’t want to close of my bank accounts at once. I have a number of things linked to those accounts that I wouldn’t want to mess up by closing them.
I need to make sure that all of the checks that I’ve written to other people and businesses have been cashed before I close my checking account. I have my mortgage, student loans, and other bills that are all paid automatically out of that account. I need to switch those over to the credit union, before I find myself defaulting on those payments.
With the credit card I have with Bank of America, I need to double check that everything that is automatically charged to that card is switched over to a new method of payment before I closing it. I also need to make sure I’ve cashed in all of my rewards points! Don’t want to miss those.
To make sure that I have everything covered, I am going to leave my checking account open for a few weeks before I transfer all of the assets. Then I will have to physically go to the bank to close all of them. For Bank of America, you can’t close it online.
I hope that if you’re thinking about divesting from private banks that this was helpful for you. Follow along on Facebook to experience my #FinancialFitness2018 with me, and check out our website for more posts!