Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Nothing but praise for Bank of America

While all the other bloggers are complaining about Bank of America’s newly raised ATM fees, I have to say I have nothing but good things to say about them (the bank, not the fees). As a Bank of America customer, the new ATM fees don’t affect me, while some of their other policies do. Luckily, they all affect me in a good way.

I love BoA for their high yield money market accounts. The PF community seems to swear by HSBC or ING or even Emigrant Direct, but they all pale in comparison to the yield you can get from the Bank of America accounts. 5.2% or 5.3% doesn’t seem like much more than the 5.05% APY that the others are offering, but it can add up. That $10,000 emergency fund could have an extra $25 interest at the end of the year with those kinds of rates. $25 isn’t a lot of money, but I’ll be happy to treat myself to a night out or a used textbook with it during my upcoming starving grad student days. Even better, being a BoA customer, there’s no holding my money for ransom. If I want to transfer it to my (free) checking account, it appears instantly, helping me avoid overdraft fees while gaining the maximum interest from my money.

The second reason I love BoA is their MyPortfolio tool. Bank of America isn’t afraid to play nice with other financial institutions and understands that they may not fulfill all your financial needs. On the other hand, they recognize that you want everything in one place; there’s a reason Quicken is so popular. Using the MyPortfolio tool, you can track all your accounts; that Roth-IRA at E-trade will show up nicely right alongside your company’s 401k plan, your American Express Rewards card and your account at the local credit union. If you spend the time to quickly register all your financial accounts, you end up with a very accurate depiction of your assets and liabilities, or ultimately your net worth. It’s remarkably easy to track where your money is going when it’s all on one page.

The third reason I love BoA is their shiny, new, high-tech ATMs. There have been too many times that there aren’t any envelopes for deposits, or the ATM has started to make angry noises at me because I’m simply not fast enough getting things ready for deposit. The new ATMs that they’re rolling out (but haven’t reached everywhere yet) eliminate the pesky deposit problems. You can just insert checks directly in the maw of the machine and it scans them and automatically knows how much you’re depositing. If you’re depositing cash, it will take that, too, count it, and ask you to confirm your deposit. Although this system is a little intimidating at first, it saves the people behind me a lot of sighing and tapping of feet.

The final reason for my love affair with a bank highly regarded as evil has to be the convenience. As BoA becomes the massive conglomerate bank of tomorrow it’s appearing in more and more places. Unless you live in Kentucky (like I did) or rural Pennsylvania (like I do until the end of September), a Bank of America ATM is likely on your way to the office, near your grocery store, or a block or two from the gym. This is great for all those Bank of America customers who want easy access to their money, but sad for those of you who will be paying $3 every time you use that nearby ATM.

I’m not saying you should switch to Bank of America or that it will fit your needs, but for some of us, it really works.

Monday, September 3, 2007

In with September

Being a few days into September, I thought I would post my predictions for the month, although I’m not very confident in them. I’m moving at the end of September, which makes a budget hard to set. I know I’ll be using extra gas and probably eating out while on the road, but will there be miscellaneous expenses that I don’t know about? I plan on getting my prescription filled a few times here to avoid needing the transfer it to another pharmacy, but I don’t know if the pharmacy here will do that. My mother’s birthday is this month, but fear that I might be missing someone else’s. I have to do all my dry cleaning before I move, and may need to do extra cleaning. What am I missing?

Category Budget
food $250.00
housing $450.00
entertainment $150.00
transport $150.00
clothing $65.00
travel $0.00
health $175.00
beauty $10.00
education $7.00
misc $200.00

total $1,457.00

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Out with August

I’m actually quite surprised that August went as well as it did. When there’s no traveling it makes it a lot easier to spend less money. I ate down my kitchen reserves and utilized my library to end up spending substantially less than the $1000 goal. Unfortunately, September is likely to more than make up for my frugality this month.

Category Budget Actual Difference
food $200.00 $90.91 $109.09
housing $450.00 $450.00 $0.00
entertainment $150.00 $68.69 $81.31
transport $100.00 $31.63 $68.37
clothing $15.00 $4.00 $11.00
travel $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
health $20.00 $0.00 $20.00
beauty $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
education $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
misc $65.00 $34.00 $31.00

total $1,000.00 $679.23 $320.77