Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I still like going to an actual banking branch. Sure, I do certain banking transactions electronically, but there are other banking activities that I just enjoy better in a person-to-person environment. But I fear the standard bank branch may one day go the way of the milk man and rotary phone.
According to a recent CNN Money article, in an effort to cut costs, "Overall, banks closed 2,267 branches last year and opened only 1,149, according to research firm SNL Financial. That resulted in a total loss of 1,118 branches nationwide -- the highest level since 2005, when the firm began tracking closures."
This concerns me a bit since I would still like the opportunity to visit my local banking branch occasionally for a multitude of reasons.
I Still Like Cash
Personally, I don't have a credit card. My wife does, and I have a debit card, but I just don't really need or particularly want my own individual card. If I felt the need, I could apply for one or just add myself to my wife's account, but I continue to like cash for a number of purchases. I feel that having to shell out cold hard cash for purchases makes me think a bit more about what I'm buying and makes it a little more difficult to spend frivolously. This means though that I make a stop in at our local bank or banking drive thru window typically every several weeks to take out cash. I don't usually visit ATMs for this purpose as I'm wary of fees.
This means that my local banking branch is a regular visit for me several times a month.
There are some things for which I still find person-to-person banking very helpful. Getting rolled coins to sort through with my son (since we're collecting together now) is something I can't do over the Internet. When we were purchasing our home and transferred large sums from an account in another state, while we could start the process online, we needed a banking representative to close out the certificate of deposit in which much of the money was kept and another to sign off upon and conduct the wire transfer for the purchase of our condo. And such a representative can be helpful in other areas such as cashing in savings bonds, answering account questions, opening new accounts or closing or changing existing accounts, and similar activities.
Safe Deposit Boxes
We have a small safe deposit box at our local bank branch. I don't know exactly how this would work if they closed our branch. I guess they could set something up where there was a central safe deposit box location with an automated procedure and some sort of scanner/signature recognition/login system. Maybe they could make it kind of like a post office box and just employ a part-time person to sit there and "man the fort" so to speak, checking people in and providing access to their safe deposit boxes.
From what I've seen at most bank branches though, they don't appear to be instituting this sort of procedure anytime soon. Therefore, having safe deposit box access where I can protect documents such as Social Security cards, passports, birth certificate, car titles, our house deed, and similar items from things like fire, flood, and theft is yet another crucial element in visiting my local bank branch.
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The author is not a licensed financial or parenting professional. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader's discretion.
Ellis, Blake. CNN Money. "Say goodbye to more bank branches". January 25, 2013. http://money.cnn.com/2013/01/25/pf/banks-online-mobile-banking/. January 29, 2013.
- Banking & Budgeting