Minimum Balance At All Times

Interest Paying Checking; you earn a wee interest rate on your idle balances at this writing, around 1 to 1.5 percent. That might be a fixed rate or a variable rate set by the bank. But there are usually no check processing charges or monthly fees. Average minimum balances run in the area of $1,000 to $5,000. If you fall below the minimum or, in some cases, write more than a specified number of checks, fees start to mount.

Some banks “tier” these accounts. The interest you earn, and the fees you pay, vary from month to month, depending on how much money you keep in the bank or how much business you do there.

Bundle Accounts; Your checking account may be “bundled” with other banking services, like free travelers checks, a line of credit at no annual fee, a credit card with a one-year waiver on the fee, discounts on loans, and a quarter-point interest bonus on various savings deposits. You get the whole package for a single low fee or no fee at all.

Asset Management Accounts; these are for the active investor who wants an easy way to keep track of their cash. They generally combine a money market account (which doubles as an interest paying checking account) with a brokerage account and a credit or debit card. With asset management:

Your cash earns a higher interest rate than you’d get from regular interest paying checking. Usually it’s a money market rate, although some institutions pay less.

You can draw on your money with a special checkbook or a debit card (checks may have to be written for a minimum of $250 or more).

You may get a credit card, which can trigger a loan against any stocks you own.

A single monthly statement shows all your investment and banking transactions.

All dividends and interest are automatically reinvested.

You may get access to your funds through and ATM network.

Some accounts offer and automatic bill paying service and let you arrange to have your paycheck deposited electronically.

The minimum deposit for asset management accounts (including the value of your stocks and bonds): $1,000 to as much as $25,000. Annual fees run from zero to $125. Asset management accounts are offered by a few big banks, brokerage houses, some mutual funds, and a few insurance companies. When you’re not with a bank, you may have to wait up to 15 days for the checks to clear.


Check Facts

To cash checks at a branch other than your own, get a signature card. When you endorse a check (that is, sign your name on the back) it becomes as good as money and can be cashed by anyone who finds it. To prevent that, endorse it with instructions: “Pay to the order of Sarah May” or “For deposit only.” When accepting an endorsed check from someone else, ask him or her to write “pay to the order of (you)” so that if you lose it neither of you will be out the money.

Endorse checks on the back, at the left-hand end, in the first inch and half of space. If you signature is anywhere else, the bank may ask you to sign again. Most checks now carry a line to show where your signature goes.

Technically, a check may be good for years. But in practice, the bank might refuse any check that is more than one year old. That is if the bank notices.

If you write a check and wish you had not, call your bank and ask it to stop payment. Your account should be flagged right away, but you have to follow up with written authorization, usually by filing stop check form. The cost: $15, on average, but sometimes as much as $30. A stop payment lasts for a limited period of time but can be renewed. If the check slips through, the bank takes responsibility for it. The stop check form should spell out the rules.

You can arrange for regular, automatic transfers from your checking to your savings account. Interest earned on your certificates of deposit can be deposited into either account.

If someone forges your signature on a check and the bank cashes it, you are entitled to a 100 percent reimbursement. It does not matter that you failed to report that your checkbook was stolen (although you should have). It does not matter that you kept your checks with your credit cards, which carry your signature. In most cases, it is the bank’s absolute responsibility to guard against forgery. Some banks blame you and refuse to pay, in which case you should write directly to the bank’s president and to its state of a federal regulator.You have a responsibility, too. If you do not report a forgery within 14 days after the bank mailed your statement, and fraudulent checks continue to be cashed by the same person, the later losses are all yours.

Singleness Defines Rules

Whether never married or formerly married, your singleness defines the rules. You are a keeper because you can own everything yourself, no fuss, no muss. All you need is a reliable friend or relative to hold your durable (or springing) power of attorney and your health care proxy. That person could write checks on your bank account, manage your investments, and deal with your doctors if you were incapable (say, in a coma after the auto accident, God forbid).

That’s when you are young. When you age, you may not be quite so independent and sometimes ownership enters in. For example, you might give half of your house to your son and his family if they will live there with you. Or you might put your niece’s name on your bank account if she helps you do your taxes and pay your bills. If your son is a good egg and your niece is a doll, co-ownership can work.

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But what if your son gets a new job and moves? The house might have to be sold to give him the money to buy a new one. What if he gets divorced? His have of your house might have to be divided with his ex-wife. What if your nice niece falls for a bounder who persuades her to nip a bit of your money? A co-owner of a bank account can take every penny unless you specifically require both signatures for withdrawal, which, for daily bills, gets tiresome. You can sue a co-owner for withdrawing more than he or she deposited but the last thing you want, late in life, is to get tangled up in lawsuits with your relatives.

You can escape from a co-owned bank account that you have come to regret just by taking your money out. But it is a lot harder to get back your house once you have given half of it away. With a house, you might also get into a fight over who should live there or how much to spend on repairs to get more information read more. Then there is the fairness issue. A joint owner with right of survivorship gets the property, regardless of what it says in your will or trust. Say, for example, that your will leaves everything equally to your daughter, Tammis, and son, David. Then you add David to your bank account. He gets every penny of it when you die.

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Bank Products

Bank Products

Bank Products

Banks are now urging their customers to buy mutual funds, tax-deferred annuities and car title loan. They note when your CDs are coming due and call you with a sales pitch. You might visit with someone you think is a banker and never learn that he or she is actually a broker angling to sell you a product and earn a commission. Your friendly teller may have to refer you to these brokers in order to keep his or her job. At some banks, you will get a full and fair explanation of annuities and mutual funds. But don’t count on it. All too often, the operation reeks of deceptive sales. How bad is it? The American Banker, an industry trade paper, once sent reporters posing as mutual fund customers into ten banks. Reps at eight of those banks “forgot” to mention that mutual funds aren’t federally insured; only a few of them disclosed fees; most downplayed the investment risk; some illegally forecast specific (and double digit) gains; one even suggested that mutual funds were like CDs but with higher yields.

Similar surveys using “mystery shoppers” keep turning up similar results. Some customers don’t realize they’ve bought mutual funds or annuities, don’t understand the risks, and find out too late that there is a stiff penalty for withdrawing money before several years have passed. In one case I am familiar with, a 92 year old man was sold an annuity with withdrawal fees lasting until he was 99. He thought he was buying a high rate CD.

According to federal guidelines, banks are supposed to:

Tell you that mutual funds and annuities are not backed by the bank or by the federal deposit insurance.

Tell you that the performance of mutual funds and annuities is not guaranteed.

Tell you that your interest and principal may be at risk.

Sell in an area clearly separate from the rest of the bank, with no FDIC signs anywhere near.

Sell you investments appropriate to your age and financial circumstances.

Industry guidelines add that all sales commissions, surrender charges, and other fees should be fully disclosed.

Your banker’s IQ

How often does interest compound? “Compounding” means that the bank adds the interest you earn to your account and then pays interest on the combined interest and principal. The more often your interest is compounded, the more money you make at car title loan.

Test Your Banker’s IQ

A good banker should be able to answer all seven of the following questions. If you get a blank look or a gentle drift of oral fog asks again. You’re entitled to a clear and simple statement that makes sense. If you don’t understand what the banker is saying, don’t blame yourself. Blame the banker, who probably doesn’t have all the facts and is covering up. If you had $10 for every “expert” who wasn’t, you would be rich.

Ask: With interest paying checking, what does the banking institution pay interest on? By law, it must pay on the money that is in your account at the end of each day. That is “day of deposit to day of withdrawal.” But some truly pay on each check from the day you put it in. Others pay only on the collected balance or on the Atlanta car title loans, which means you get no interest until the check has provisionally cleared. That usually takes one or two days but sometimes more.

Some banks advertise more than one rate, depending on the size of your deposit. They might pay 1.5 percent on balances up to $1,000 and 2.7 percent on larger amounts. But what exactly does that mean? There is a good way and a bad way to figure it.

Say, for example, that you deposit $2,500. You might get 2.7 percent on the whole amount, usually called a tiered rate. That is good. Or you might get 1.5 percent on the first $1,000 and 2.7 percent only on the remaining $1,500, usually called a blended rate. That is bad. In fact, it is a clip job. Avoid blended rates.

Ask: What is the penalty for falling below the minimum balance? The fee might exceed the interest that your account is likely to earn. If you cannot be sure of maintaining the minimum balance, switch to an account with a lower minimum, for example, a no interest paying account.

Ask: Can the bank truncate your checking account? With truncation, you get a monthly list of the checks you wrote but not the canceled checks themselves. If you need a copy of a check to prove that you made a particular payment, the bank might send it to you for free or might charge $1 to $5. Most customers like to get canceled checks, but you rarely need them. Truncated accounts are often cheaper; the bank may waive the monthly fee and minimum balance at title loans in Atlanta.

Ways To Own Property Together

Joint ownership with right of survivorship; the owners (there can be more than two) hold the property together. If one dies, his or her share passes automatically to the other owner (or other owners, usually in equal parts). This form of ownership is for married couples, for any two people who live together and need a convenient household account, and for truly committed unmarried couples. It protects gay couples whose relatives might attack a will. Your contribution to the joint account can be attached by your creditors, but your partner’s share can’t.

To put something in joint ownership, you list it as such on the deed, title, or other ownership document, specifying “with right of survivorship.” That is important. Otherwise, it might be argued that you held the property only as tenants in common.

Joint ownership is not an inescapable trap. You can generally get out of it although not always easily even if the other owner objects. The ways of doing this vary, depending on your state’s laws. When a jointly owned property is sold, the proceeds are normally divided equally. If you all agree, however, you can make an unequal division (gift taxes might be due if one owner gives the others part or all of his share).

Tenancy in common; this is a good way to own a beach house or snow blower with a friend. Married couples use this method when they want to leave their share of a co-owned property in trust. So do unmarried couples who can imagine an end to their relationship.

Each tenant in common has a share in the property, although not necessarily an equal share. You can sell or give away your share at any time. In the case of a house owned in common, for example, your partner could sell his piece to his brother and suddenly you would have a new roommate. If the owners fall out, one might buy the other’s share. Or one could file a partition lawsuit that might force the property to be sold.

You can pass your share to anyone at death; it doesn’t automatically go to the other owners. If you die without a will, your share of the property will be distributed to your relatives, according to state law.

Tenancy by the entirety; this arrangement, for married couples only, must be established in writing (a properly worded deed will do it) and is recognized by twenty states.

When Couples Have Paychecks

When Couples Have Paychecks

When Couples Have Paychecks

Poolers put all the money into a common pot. Splitters keep their own separate accounts. Which you choose is a matter of soul, not finance. Poolers think that sharing, including financial sharing is what marriage is all about. Splitters hold to their own independence within the marriage. The previously married often split but sometimes pool. The first time married often pool but sometimes split. It is so unpredictable that even your best friend might surprise you. Over time, and if the marriage goes well, splitters usually turn into spoilers splitting some, pooling some, and growing some less antsy about who pays for what.

The challenge for poor is the checkbook and the bank ATM cards. How do you know what is in the bank when both of you draw from the same account? To keep your finances organized you can: Write no checks away from the checkbook. Use credit cards instead, the pay bills by check at the end of the month.

Use checks backed by carbons. Return all copies to the central checkbook. Use only ATL cards to get cash. Return the receipts to the central check book and enter your withdrawal.

Faithfully bring back every debit card receipt, if you use the card to make purchases and enter the withdrawal.

Take two or three checks to walk around with. When you use one, enter it into the check register.

Keep a big balance in the checking account to prevent overdrafts. Or sign up for overdraft checking.

Let just one of you handle the bills. The other hangs onto two or three checks and reports whenever one is used. As in She: “Honey, I need more checks. “ He: “How is that? You still have two.” She: “No, I’m out.” He: “What did you write the last two for?” She: “Didn’t I tell you?” He: “No.” She: “Oh.” It is the only truly romantic system. Once a month you kiss and make up.

Poolers usually have some separate money, probably in pension accounts. There is also something about an inheritance that often resists the impulse to share. But the house, the savings, and the investments are kept routinely in joint names, even if just one of you makes all the investment decisions.

The challenge for splitters lies in keeping track of who pays for what. As in She: “I bought the groceries for two weeks running.”

Saving Accounts

Where you put savings depends on how much you have and what you plan to do with it.

For only a small amount of money; with less than $200 to $500 or so, you have got problems. Hardly anyone wants your money. Banks might let kids have a small, free savings account. But as an adult, you will probably pay service charges, and they might exceed the interest you earn. Some banks will not pay any interest at all. So instead of growing, your savings account would gradually shrink. One solution: Add that money to your checking account and do not spend it. The extra $500 might give you enough to qualify for interest paying checking. Another solution: try a credit union, which is more likely to accept small savings account without charge.

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A statement savings account might pay interest on small deposits ($100 to $500) and still charge no fees. You do not get a passbook. Instead, you get a statement every month. I like the convenience of statement savings. You do not have to remember where you put the passbook and can usually handle the account through an ATM. At this writing, you earn around 2.5 percent instead. You can take out your money at any time.

A passbook account might require a higher minimum balance. Then again, it might not. Everything depends on the bank. Deposits and withdrawals are recorded in the passbook; interest rates run in the area of 2.5 percent.

For larger amounts of money; a money market deposit account pays a variable rate of interest and I do mean variable. The bank has the right to change it at will. In high rate periods, it pays about the same. You get unlimited deposits and withdrawals, although withdrawals might have to exceed a certain minimum amount. You are allowed up to 6 pre-authorized transactions a month, only 3 of which can be checks to third parties (the others can be automatic bill paying or checks written to yourself). You will be charged monthly fees if your deposit falls too low. Money market accounts are a good place for money you are likely to need pretty soon, like rainy day money, money waiting to be invested somewhere else, money you will need to live on for the next 6 months and earmarked money, like a tuition payment due in a few weeks.

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Why Most Marrieds Share Alike

It makes marriage a partnership, share and share alike.

When one of you dies, the other automatically gets the goods. No doubts, no tears, no probate.

The other owner can’t wheel and deal the money away. As a practical matter, most joint property including in Atlanta car title pawn cannot be sold or borrowed against unless both of you sign.

This applies especially to real estate and securities registered in your personal names. Securities held in the name of a brokerage house (“street names”) are another story. It normally takes only one of you to buy and sell, even if the account is jointly owned. Similarly, mutual funds usually allow either of you to make telephone switches. But be it a mutual fund or a brokerage account, neither of you should be able to take the money and run. A check for the proceeds of any sale will be issued in joint names.

If one of you splits, he or she can clean out the bank accounts and safe deposit box. You can file a lawsuit to get back what is yours, but the effort might cost more than it is worth.

Some investments can’t be sold if one of you is too sick or senile to sign the papers, or too sore to cooperate. A durable power of attorney solves the first two problems. The third is all yours.

You can’t set up a bypass trust to reduce your estate taxes if your property is jointly owned with a right of survivorship. So if you are wealthy, this form of ownership costs the money. (However, joint property can be “disclaimed” into a bypass trust. You disclaim an inheritance when you refuse to accept it. If you are disclaiming for tax purposes, federal law gives you nine months to decide. The inheritance then passes to the next person or people in line, perhaps in trust.)

Your kids might lose money if you marry more than once. Say you put all your property in joint names with a new spouse, and die. That spouse gets everything, and you can cut out the children of your previous marriage. Not that such an awful thing will actually happen, but it could.

Joint property can be tied up for a long time in divorce because it often can’t be sold until both spouses agree to sign. Separate property can be sold anytime you want unless a judge ties it up during divorce after you pay at Atlanta car  title pawn.

Types of CDs

Types of CDs

Types of CDs

Hungry bankers respond to every fresh scent on the wind. Show them a new market, a new worry, a change in the economic outlook, and they will design a certificate of deposit to match at Atlanta title pawn. Not all banks and S&Ls offer exotic CDs; those that do may call them by different names than I have used. But if these ideas interest you, watch for them in the newspaper ads. The better the deal, the larger the minimum deposit the institution may want. Always compare the annual percentage yield (APY) with that being offered by standard CDs of the same term. Sometimes the designer CDs pay less.

No penalty CD; if you think you might need some of the money before maturity. You are charged no penalty for early withdrawal of some or all of your funds.

Bump Up CD; if you expect interest rates to rise. If that indeed happens, the bank will at your direction raise the rate you are earning on your CD once or twice during its term.

Step Up CD; also for people who expect higher rates. This CD pays less now but guarantees higher rate in the future. It is especially important to compare a step up’s APY with that for fixed rate CDs of the same term. Step ups offer dazzlingly high yields in, say, their final three months. But on average they may pay less than a plain vanilla CD.

Variable Rate CD; again, for people who expect higher rates. Your interest rate rises and falls with the general level rates. Buy it only if there is a guaranteed floor below which the interest rate cannot go.

Anytime CD; if you want your money back on a specific date. The bank will construct a CD that exactly matches the maturity you want.

Relationship CD; if you are trying to lower your banking costs. Buying a CD may entitle you to a lower interest rate on a loan at the same institution, or fewer fees on your checking account.

Tiered CD; if you have substantial savings. The larger your deposit, the higher your interest rate.

Bitter End CD; if you know you can last for the full term. You get a bonus for keeping your money in the CD for a full five years.

Zero Coupon CD; if you want to make a gift of money look extra good. You put a small sum now, at a guaranteed interest rate. It will grow to equal the CD’s face value in a given number of years established by Atlanta title pawn.