This diary will be real short. But I had never thought that closing a bank account would feel as good as it felt just now. Bank of America has been my bank for five years- since I was 17 years old- and it was the right time to switch.
I could not longer continue to talk about the evils of large corporations and banks while my money (which, granted, doesn't amount to much at the moment) was in perhaps the largest culprit- Bank of America.
When I was a kid, my parents taught me the value of smart investing. I had a joint savings account from the time I was 8 ($1 minimum!) at a local bank, but by the time I was 16 nearing 17, I finally had a job, my family had moved, and I wanted a bank that was more convenient. So I joined Bank of America, after hearing of their "free" "CampusEdge" checking account offer. I opened a checking and savings account, eager to see my money grow! (Free meaning no monthly fees, yet somehow new fees kept popping up anyway).
I then got a little more involved in politics. I started college, at a good state school, and one of the issues I was most interested in was the massive wealth inequality growing at an amazing rate. I had a few questions:
-- Why am I over 50,000 dollars in debt to get an education, despite a perfect GPA? When I graduate with a liberal arts degree, I'm quite likely going to need to go to law school if I want to pay off my loans (which is the plan now, and I am going to a top law school in a year or two), but this requires another ~100,000 dollars or more in loans. Others, in other countries, don't seem to need to deal with this, at least on the same scale. Why here?
-- Why does it seem like there are only two kinds of economic stories now in the news- most talking about people having trouble making ends meet; but others talking about private islands and jets and space travel and profits for GE and Exxon?
-- Why do large banks like Bank of America continue to post record profits, yet deny my family members the opportunities for loans to start small businesses? How can Bank of America get billions of dollars from the government yet continue to take peoples homes, sometimes unlawfully?
I had never really considered that having my money invested in a bank like BofA was a part of the problem. It just never occurred to me, until now. After reading (fairly obsessively) about #OccupyWallStreet, now spreading across the country, I was a bit disappointed that I cannot be in New York for more than a few days for this. I'll be helping out the Occupy DC and Occupy Baltimore protests, but there is little I can do directly because I am a full time student in the area, and also work two full days a week.
So what can I do? Other than a small contribution, I feel a bit powerless. We finally have our social justice movement sprouting up, yet there isn't too much I can do to help.
But at least I shouldn't be part of the problem. I joined a statewide credit union where members make all the decisions.
One member, one vote. Democracy.
No hidden fees and charges making a few people at the top rich.
NOT FOR PROFIT.
I'm just not sure why I didn't do this sooner. And I feel that much less hypocritical now that I know that every time I use my debit card, I am not essentially contributing to Bank of America. Bank of America no longer has my money. Bank of America will never send me another statement, or charge me for using my own money.
My money isn't going to matter much to them. But I've talked to several people that have done the same thing, after hearing of the new $5 a month debit card fee starting next year. My money might not matter to them, but lots of people doing this will.
I feel so much better talking about the greed and evils of big corporations now that I know that I am not helping one every time I buy a coffee.
Quick Update: Great comment by Winterpark, pretty much summing it up: "As a former banker. If people realized that that maintenance fee is them charging you for the privilege of using YOUR OWN money and then making at least 5-10 percentage points on it while you make squat, I think alot of people would run not walk from their banks."