We want to spend lots of time on our craft… not on banking, so it’s important to have a checking account that gives us the ability to do everything we want, whenever we want.
The problem is, most of us have had the same bank account for a long time and have no idea what’s widely available.
Banking has changed significantly in the last five years. Banks are worried less about branches and now focus on online services… Well, at least the progressive bank is worried about online banking. Yours may not be yet, which is why I wanted to write this piece! The average millennial, according to a recent report, would rather NEVER set foot in a bank, and thinks that a bank is actually better if they can provide all services online. Banks are following… some kicking and screaming, but others are leading the charge.
1) No fee checking. This feature has been around for a long time, so if you don’t have a fee-free checking account, it’s probably time to make the switch. These types of accounts are common for personal use, but uncommon for businesses. If you’re looking for a fee-free checking account for your craft or business, you’ll need to visit one of the many comparison sites online, like MagnifyMoney or NerdWallet to see which banks offer this option. They’re out there… you just need to look.
2) Robust online banking. Online banking should now be easy and fluid. I should be able to move money between accounts, pay bills and check balances from any device… instantly. Initially, because of security precautions, signing up for online banking features can be a real pain (even if it’s a great bank), but the payoff is worth every bit of the trouble when you’re far from your bank and computer and need to transfer funds using your phone.
3) Online deposits. Here’s a cool feature. Your customer writes you a check. How are you going to deposit it without spending forever waiting in line at your local branch? Easy. Good banks now offer online check deposits. They’re incredibly simple. Here’s how it works: take a photo of your check in the online banking app, and BAM! verify the amount is correct and it’s deposited.
4) ATM fee reimbursement. There are times when you need cash on the go—and your bank’s machines are nowhere to be found. Ouch. Some machines gouge you to the tune of a $3 or $4 fee. That’s highway robbery. Well, some banks now offer fee reimbursement. Use any machine that’s available and they’ll reimburse some or all of the ATM fees. If you use ATM machines a ton, this is a “must have” feature.
5) Budgeting tools. There are many good apps out there for budgeting, like Mint, YNAB or Tiller. But if your bank has a robust budgeting program, you won’t have to worry about setting up online connections between your bank and a separate institution. It’s all in one place. Don’t have a budget? Find a great bank and you’ll see how easy (and profitable) it is to track your expenses.
Overall, what are you looking for?
Especially for creative people, good banking is about being able to move quickly without the friction of having to worry about not being able to get the information you need… NOW. You want the ability to be flexible. Good budgets and banking are about access to data, and then using that data for good communication among anyone you’re budgeting, investing or banking with (partners, spouse, business associates, etc.).
There are more banking applications on the way, so it’s always a good idea to annually review how your bank stacks up to current banking features. In fact, it’s good to review your brokerage accounts, retirement accounts AND banking all at a big, annual family meeting. By checking out your bank periodically, you’ll be able to quickly know your strengths and weaknesses… and worry less about your money and more about your craft!