From the Blog

Bizarre Collections


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Again, on the topic of downsizing. I’m going to be writing about this a lot.

It feels like with the economy tanking in the past few years, we all got a collective slap in the face from the manic consumerist orgy we were all living. I mean, at the height, it was considered Un-Goddamned-American to not spend your money and go shopping. After 9/11, it was a civic duty to defend the country against terrorists. If you didn’t spend your money, the terrorists win.

In the heyday, we used to wrinkle our nose at being thrifty. Now everything has changed, and we wrinkle our nose at overt consumption. Now it’s at least a consideration that some people attempt to live with less. For others, it’s a necessity and not really a choice. Some lost in the race. Others see where the race is going, and choose to turn away. It’s now more mainstream to NOT spend a lot of money. It’s not just hippies or smelly people.

I count myself among the fresh-smelling citizens who choose to live smaller. I am very lucky that my job is stable and I’m not in a position to be forced into living with less. I didn’t lose property, assets or (many) investments when the economy tanked, like many people did. So I am grateful that I get to choose to live with less. Not everyone is so lucky.

So, spending less is now fabulously virtuous, and it gives me another reason to be insufferably self righteous. But I still have a lot of stuff. I want to get rid of some of it. And some of the stuff I still have is a bizarre number of credit union accounts. I have more than most people, and probably more than I need. The good thing is that in the past few years, I’ve reduced my various banks accounts by half. But I still have three left. And for some reason, I am having a hard time letting some of them go.

Get ready for your eyes to gaze.

I have an account at a local credit union with a 2.5% checking that I use as my daily account. That rate is relatively high, considering most savings rates are fractions of digits. I have the majority of my meager savings in this account, because it has the highest rate of all my accounts. But it’s hard to think of it as “deep savings” when the balance fluctuates daily, and it’s hard to measure saving progress over time. I think that must be their ploy. But really, it’s the bast rate out there.

I still have two credit union accounts from my past lives. One was from my college in Boston, and one was from working in the movie business in California. Each of these accounts used to be my primary banking account, but then I moved. And the accounts were forgotten with a few dollars left in them.

As my finances have stabilized in the past few years, I’ve been making small deposits into each of these accounts. One is just $25 a week, another is $10 a week. Just slow drip savings. I don’t even know what I’m saving for. But I just want to have a little money separate from my regular, every day money. The rates are a pittance in both of these accounts, so there’s no advantage in sending money there. But I just want it to be separate. And though it makes no difference, the actual physical distance of these credit unions make my money seem further away. I have a hard time with physics.

I have been considering closing these accounts and getting an online high yield account. “High yield” meaning 1.09% these days. If I were smart, that is what I would probably do. But closing those old accounts…for some reason, I’m having a hard time coming to terms with closing those accounts forever. There’s some history and heritage with each of them. They both originated during some formative and wildly disparate years of my life. That history is receding further and further back into my memory, and it feels more and more like those years happened to someone else. Which isn’t a big deal, it’s just the way it is.

Isn’t it rather odd to feel sentimental about a bank account? I mean, I’m not weepy about it. I bet I could close those accounts, sever those ties, and it would feel pretty good. A few less encumberments. I’d probably forget about them pretty quickly. And keeping these accounts makes me resistant to opening yet another high yield or online account. Because I’m trying to goddamned consolidate over here.

It’s not really sensible to keep the accounts open. But it feels so against my character to NOT hold onto something that has some vague, ill-defined, and probably misdirected sentimentality. But why hold on?

I think I must not have had enough teddy bears as a child.

Comments

  1. Oh, girl, you’re talking my language!

    INGDirect is 1.10% for the savings accounts, and their CD rates have FINALLY gone up to 1.25% for a 12 month. My Emergency Fund is in CDs at ING because

    1) I can open a CD there with $5 and I like the ability to open a new one every pay period, it keeps me from going, “Oh, that money is supposed to be for emergencies, THIS SHINY OBJECT ACQUISITION IS AN EMERGENCY” and
    2) If there is a real emergency (like, oh, say, having to scrounge first last and deposit so I can move out of a 1400 sqft house with two adults and between three and seven yappydogs to save my sanity), the penalty to close is a couple months’ interest. Pennies, really.

    But yeah, don’t feel too bad about not closing those old accounts. I still carry in my wallet an ATM card for an account I closed seven years ago.

  2. I got a “remote” account clear across the country about 25 years ago. Somehow I felt my money was safer the further away from me it was. I have since moved close to that account. It’s doomed!

  3. I have been thinking of opening an account at Smarty Pig, and sharing my savings goals with THE WHOLE INTERNET. Still doing research though. Looking at ING also. But right now, nothing is as good as my local credit union at 2.5%.

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