Free Checking – Headed Into Hibernation?

We assume free checking is and will always be, well, free. But that age may be ending, at least for some customers. Which banks might be going “freeless”? According to the New York Times:

Wells Fargo: As of July 1, the bank is no longer offering its “free checking,” or no monthly fee, account product to new customers. Instead, new customers will either have to pay a monthly service fee or meet certain requirements like a minimum balance requirement to have the fee waived (the change does not affect customers who had the account before July 1).

Citibank: Last November, the bank announced it was removing certain waivers from its EZ Checking and Access Checking packages.

Fifth Third Bank: Discontinued sales of free checking to new customers last September, though existing holders of the account weren’t affected.

Bank of America: The bank is testing new pricing models but spokesmen wouldn’t go into details.

Seems like bigger banks are starting the trend. Will local and community banks follow? Will free checking end entirely? Only time will tell.

Read the rest of the article.

Are People Without Nice Things Lazy?

Kid’s ask the darndest things, don’t they? According to a recent NY Times article, a young boy asked his dad…

“You tell me all the time that the reason we have nice things and can go to a nice school is that you work hard. Does that mean that people who don’t have nice things don’t work hard?”

Doh. Not having nice things = laziness? How to respond to that one? Maybe I would tell my kids, “I was wrong. This reason you have all these nice things is because you (a child) persuaded me (the supposed adult in charge) through various means of guilt and bad behavior to buy you these things.”

Maybe “life isn’t fair” is the only simple answer available. For the most part, if someone chooses laziness, they won’t have nice things. And if someone chooses hard work they will have nice things. But those are general statements that we all know don’t apply in all cases.

How would you respond?

Financial Literacy

A presentation of personal financial discipline. Do you have it?

4 Splurges That Make Sense

Ever find yourself justifying an expensive pair of shoes or a pricey pair of jeans by promising yourself you’ll “wear it forever”? Often, we’re just kidding ourselves – it just makes sense to go for the lower-priced alternative, especially if you’re in the market to save. But believe it or not, some merchandise (and some memberships) can be be well worth the splurge. Here are four examples, including some ways to save on the splurge:

4 Splurges that Make Sense.

The Secret to Getting Out of Debt

There are two sides to the debt elimination coin—reducing expenses and increasing income. I think both sides work hand in hand. I also think it’s wise to start with reducing expenses. Why? Because it forces you to re-think your real needs. Increasing income without stabilizing spending will only promote bad habits further. And reducing spending is something you can do right now.

Once you see that, yes indeed, eating at home most nights won’t kill you, it’s time to start working on the income side of the balance sheet.

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How to Leave a Worthy Legacy

Yes, a legacy is more than money. But avoiding money when it comes to what happens when you’re gone will affect those who come after you in ways you may not have wanted. This article in the Montreal Gazette helps to clarify how to leave a sustainable financial legacy.
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How to Save Up for Anything

Anything? Yes, you can save up for anything. Follow these steps.

Prioritize. Prioritize. Ever get the feeling that, even though you made it through another dizzying, chaotic day at the office, you can’t remember accomplishing anything? That’s called a lack of prioritization. The same happens with money. If you don’t have a plan (i.e. a priority) for it, somehow it manages to get spent on whatever happens to be a priority at the moment.

How to prioritize? Setup a savings account and automatically transfer money to it each month. Trust me. Automation = happiness.
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4 Budget Tactics to Save More and Spend Better

I write a lot about setting spending and savings goals. A big reason why is because most of us go through life on cruise control. Sure we can come up with all varieties of dreams but do we really plan to reach them? Or, even better, how do we know if we’re achieving them? We don’t. Not unless we make spending and saving a priority.

Next up are 4 budgeting tactics that will help you save more and spend more wisely.
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Family Budget Spreadsheet

Found this simple family budget spreadsheet from WiseBread:

Top 7 Things Every Budget Should Contain

Ok. So you’re starting your budget. Or you’re looking to simplify your current budget. What now? What overarching ideals should you be following? Here are 7 different things I think you should focus on with your budget. Some are more strategic. Some more tactical.
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