Gas station without pumps

2018 October 2

Dumped Wells Fargo

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 14:48
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As I mentioned five months ago in Thinking of dumping Wells Fargo, Wells Fargo has done so much wrong lately that I’m feeling I can’t really let them have access to my money any more.  I finally closed my Wells Fargo account today, after 32 years of doing business with them.  I have no beef with the local branch, but the corporate management seems to have turned evil in the past decade—if enough people and businesses stop working with them, maybe they’ll toss out the crooks at the top and return to being a responsible business.  I’m not holding my breath waiting for it.

To close the account, I first needed to set up a new checking account elsewhere, connect it to my various other financial accounts (paycheck direct deposit, Paypal, investment accounts, household checking account, … ) and make sure everything was working.  Because I already have my household account in the better of the two local credit unions (Bay Federal), I looked at local banks and on-line banks and credit unions.  The two local banks (Lighthouse and Santa Cruz County Bank) looked OK, but not great, so I decided to try the online Alliant Credit Union, which at least gives a little interest on checking and savings accounts.

Setting up the account was fairly easy, and it only took me a week to find all the accounts that  were linked with my Wells Fargo account and switch them over to using the Alliant Credit Union Account.  The final confirmation came yesterday, when my October 1 paycheck was correctly deposited in the new account.

So this morning I went to the Wells Fargo office to close my account.  They were not very surprised at my reasons for closing the account (I suspect that a lot of Santa Cruzans have been dissociating themselves from Wells Fargo).  It took a little while to get a cashier’s check for the balance of my account, but the process was fairly smooth.

I did run into a little problem with the check, though.  It turned out to be too large an amount to deposit into my Alliant Credit Union account via ATM machine!  I tried depositing into the Bay Federal Credit Union account via ATM, but the check was rejected from that also.  I ended up having to go to the BFCU office and hand the check over to a teller (who had to get a supervisor signature in order to accept the check).

It will be 2 days before the money is accessible in the BFCU account, and I’ll transfer it from there to my investment accounts.


2018 April 23

Thinking of dumping Wells Fargo

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:53
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For decades, my personal checking account has been with Wells Fargo, largely because they had conveniently located ATMs and branches, and because Bank of America treated me poorly enough that I dumped them, even though they had the closest branch to my house (that branch is now closed and for lease at prices inflated even by Santa Cruz standards).

But Wells Fargo has done so much wrong lately that I’m feeling I can’t really do business with them any more. So I’m looking for recommendations of places to move my personal checking account to.

I already have my household account with Bay Federal Credit Union, and the last time I checked they didn’t allow a member to have two checking accounts.  In any case, I’d prefer to keep my personal and household accounts in separate institutions with different ATM networks, just in case of difficulties with one institution.

So do any of my local readers have recommendations for me of places to move my checking account to?

I mainly use my checking account for direct deposit of my paycheck, ATM machines, debit card, and monthly transfers to a mutual fund account (with a different institution).  I write an average of about 2 checks a month, with an occasional flurry of more when I decide to give to several charities at once.

2013 August 8

Useless advice from the credit union

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 16:16
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I was amused today by an article my credit union newsletter that was titled “How to Save up to $1,000 in a Month”. It had 14 items:

  1. Lunch out $30/ week: pack your lunch and save $15 or more every week. Save $60
    I’m spending about $6 a week at the taco truck this summer and about $24 a week during the school year. I probably could save almost what they claim here, if was willing to take the time to make sandwiches every morning. Is it worth it?
  2. Groceries $100/week: The average person wastes 40% of the food they buy. Combat that statistic—use or freeze leftovers before they spoil. Save $160
    We spend more like $200 a week on groceries for a family of 3, but we waste almost no food. Maybe 3–5% of the produce we buy goes bad before we get around to eating it. Our grocery bill is high because we buy almost entirely fresh organic produce, dairy products, and meat. Of course, we buy very little in the way of prepared foods (especially not canned goods), so our spending is mainly on high-quality foodstuffs.
  3. Soda $6/week: Drink water—you will be doing your wallet and your body a favor. Save $24
    I don’t drink that much soda—maybe averaging $1/week getting soda in restaurants occasionally. My wife does drink fizzy water, though, and probably averages $5 a week on it.
  4. Eating out $50/week: Skip “burrito night out” and make a special dinner at home for less than half the cost. Save $150
    We eat out quite a bit—possibly coming close to this $50/week. Generally it is because we are too tired (or sick) to cook, so we’d have to find some way to get more time to get any savings here.
  5. Pet grooming $35/month. Why pay someone to wash your pet when you can do it yourself for free! Save $35
    Our cats groom themselves. The big expenses for them are food (one needs “sensitive stomach” food) and vet bills. I buy the largest bags of cat food I can find (they keep getting smaller each year).
  6. Premium cable TV channel $99.99/month. Switch from premium channels to a $7.99 online subscription. Save $92
    When I bought my house 26 years ago, one of the first things I did was tell the cable company to take out their unsightly cable. I do occasionally watch a (free) video online, and we pay about $60 for 10Mbit DSL service and unlimited (US) long-distance phone.
  7. Car loan payment $377/month. Take advantage of today’s low interest rates and refinance your auto loan. Save $137
    I’ve never had a car (or even a driver’s license), and neither has my wife. My 17-year-old son has no interest in learning to drive.
  8. Auto insurance $225/month. Shop around for better rates or make adjustments to your current policy. Save $40
    No car, so no auto insurance.
  9. Mobile phone bill $80/month. Combine your individual mobile plan with that of a trusted family member. $25
    No cell phone for me or my wife. My son does have a prepaid phone, which he got in order to be a “prefect” on a school field trip in May. He uses about $12/month (at $2 for each day he uses the phone). My wife and I pay this, since most of the calls are for our benefit (telling us he’s coming home late) or for school.
  10. Gas $150/month. Save an average of $400 a year by properly inflating your tires, and another $265 a year by cutting one driving day out of every week. Save $55.
    No car, no gasoline.
  11. Specialty coffee $15/week. Save the money and make a tasty coffee drink at home. Save $60
    I don’t drink coffee. I make tea for myself at work and at home, at a cost of about $2–3 a week.
  12. Gym membership $40/month. Instead of paying to run on a treadmill, run along the beach or on the track at a local school and cancel your gym membership. Save $40
    What gym membership? I rely on my bicycle for aerobic exercise, and I do some sit-ups, leg lifts, push ups, and chin ups at home with my son.
  13. Electric bill $100/month. Save over $250/year by unplugging electronics that are not in use, turning off lights when leaving a room, and cleaning the dryer exhaust duct and the coils under your refrigerator regularly. Save $22
    Our electric bill is about $40/month (somewhat more in winter, when we use more lighting and the fan for the furnace runs). We should clean the refrigerator coils and the furnace filter more often, but I doubt we would even notice it on the bill.
  14. Clothes and shoes $200/month. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it—and if you do need it, buy it on sale or at a thrift store. Save $100.
    Our whole family maybe spends $200–300 a year on clothes. My clothing budget comes to about $50 a year, much of which is for replacing my cycling shoes every three years.  My wife does shop the thrift stores (generally buying only designer labels).  We occasionally buy new clothes, but generally at online clearance sales.

Almost none of the advice they gave would save us any money.  If we were living on a much smaller income, we could probably spend about $200 a month less (by never eating out), but there’s no way we could cut our expenses by $1000/month.  Our big expenses are education for our son, and health and life insurance, none of which are particularly dispensable.

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