As a child, I enjoyed doing errands with my mother. The grocery store held the promise of candy or gum. Woolworth’s produced a nickel toy from their vast selection. The pharmacy meant sitting at the soda fountain and getting whatever I wanted for free. It took me a while to realize this only happened, if your uncle owned the pharmacy. I enjoyed selecting stamps at the post office and checking out all the gadgets at the hardware store. Each visit held possibilities for excitement. The bank was the sole exception. Solemn as a church, without even a couple of stained glass windows to provide distraction, banks were the epitome of tedium.
Adulthood did nothing to increase my fondness of banks. Every Friday’s lunch hour was devoted to standing in a long line with other customers waiting to deposit their paychecks. Twice a month, I faced the monotonous task of bill paying. Monthly statements were accompanied by the checks I’d written just a few weeks before. I didn’t dare throw them away, but over the years, I collected a small mountain of them. Finally, technology intervened. I embraced direct deposit, automated phone inquiries and ATMs with unrestrained glee. Could it get any better? The internet proved that it could.
I enjoy the convenience of viewing account activities at any time. My income is direct deposited to my checking account and I can quickly make transfers between accounts. Bills can be scheduled and paid on time, without writing a single check or buying a single stamp. Mount Paid Check is a thing of the past. If I do write a paper check, it’s always available for online viewing. I can even categorize my checks and electronic charges, allowing me to see how much I have spent for food, clothing or entertainment. It’s a wonderful budgeting tool and as close as the nearest computer. Although my bank has physical locations, it has been years since I’ve walked into one. I’ve started thinking that an online bank would make sense for me.
I began by googling and found an extensive list of online banks. They are obviously more popular than I realized. I started checking out a few and creating a checklist of features that I would like. Ease of use is near the top of my list. Some sites have demos of their account menus and services. Even when they don’t, I can evaluate each site’s readability and ease of navigation. I’m checking fees carefully and interest rates as well. I noticed that some offer interest on checking accounts. I’ve added that perk to my checklist. Bill pay and budgeting tools are also a must-have for me.
Banking has changed over the years, but I’m more predictable. I still enjoy a trip to the grocery store and finding a fun bargain. I still visit the pharmacy too, but sadly, those visits have far more to do with medications than soda fountain treats. Some things were better sixty years ago. Banking wasn’t one of them.