By Kristine Ramsbottom
Banking can be an illusive aspect of your life that may seem somewhat intimidating. I remember feeling quite overwhelmed when I had to first start handling my own money. It was difficult to know where to start and the entirety of what I needed to worry and know about, and which financial products I should be incorporating into my fiscal portfolio.
These worries and overwhelming feelings can be quelled with going to the right bank for you and your needs, which will help you in getting the assistance you need to get started. This may mean that you are deviating from the bank your family uses, which can also be quite intimidating. After going through this process, I have compiled some tid bits of advice to to help make the search and transition process to a new bank a little easier.
Each bank has its own culture and set of services that will be similar across the board, with unique features that differentiate them. They key into choosing your ideal bank is by doing your homework. The following steps are some handy tools to use to identify the best bank for you and what products to ask about that will propel you into a financially stable future:
IDENTIFY YOUR STATUS:
What kind of status do you hold and how can the institution best meet their needs? Are you a student? Some banks have student accounts especially designed for a student’s needs and lifestyle. New employee? You may need different savings accounts options if you are hoping to save up for a purchase and are working to do so. Knowing your status will help aid your search in evaluating the different banks and what they offer.
DO YOUR RESEARCH:
Even if that means going to each of the main banks you know and chatting with their advisors, or extensively browsing their website. And do not be afraid to expand your options to credit unions and smaller institutions. You never know where you will find your best fit, so it pays to explore all of the possibilities. Literally.
You are looking out for you and your finances. Make sure that you take the drivers seat in these conversations. They want your business, and you are the one who can choose to give it to them. If it does not feel like a good fit, move on. There are better banking options awaiting you.
Perhaps you have now found an institution that you really connect with and meets your needs. While you are going through the process of signing paperwork to open accounts and add products, ask what each will do for you, what your rates are, and for credit cards, find out what happens when you go over your limit and what interest charges you will be looking at. These are only a few to think about- so be creative! The more you know the better prepared you will be for your financial future.
These key points are items to think about when choosing your first financial institution. They are not exhaustive, but provide a quick guide of ideas to keep top of mind when venturing into this space. Good luck! And may the market be with you.