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The reason banks continue to create junk fees is simple: they understand that consumers are creatures of habit; slaves to our own laziness. Just think about the fees you “agree” to pay when you use an ATM outside of your banks network. Ever paid $4.50 to get $20 out of the machine? Hurts, doesn’t it? And yet, you do it again and again anyway!

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I know the thought of trying to move your money and automatically scheduled bill payments from one checking account to another is often enough for most people to drop the idea before they even get started. But what’s the point in being mad at your big abusive bank and all of the excessive fees you despise, if you’re going to let a little leg work and advance planning keep you from ditching and switching?

The most important part of walking away is doing it strategically. If you don’t want the revolution against big banks to ruin your own personal economy (bounced checks and missed payments), then follow these steps to fire your bank the right way.

Step 1 – Open Your New Checking Account: For some of you I understand that this is terribly obvious, but believe me, a light bulb has gone on for someone. All smarty pants, feel free to move on to the next step. . . . Open your new account with the largest deposit you can handle so that you can begin to wean yourself off of the old account much more quickly. (This does not mean empty out your old bank account. This means use money that is not immediately needed to pay bills.) Get your checks and debit card ordered right away and remember to keep your new account and routing numbers handy to assist with subsequent steps.

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Step 2 – Stop Using Your Old Checking Account: As much as it’s humanly possible, I suggest limiting the amount of transactions you run through the old account. Debit card transactions are obviously easier to semi-control than checks since you can’t force anyone to deposit a check immediately. Stop writing checks from the account at least two weeks before you formally shut it down. Really longer, if possible.

Step 3 – List ALL of Your Automatic Transactions : Online banking will be a great help for this step. Log in and check out all of the automatic credits, such as direct deposit and automatic debits, such as your bill pay or electronic fund transfers (EFTs) which are more than likely set up individually on your payees’ websites. If you don’t have online banking set up, use two of your most recent paper statements. Make a list of any payments that are automatically deducted from your checking account (meaning you do not physically write and send a check or initiate the online payment yourself). Don’t forget to consider automatic payments that are quarterly, as well.


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