*Me to group*
“Hello everyone. My name is Matt and I’m a recovering big bank customer.”
*Group replies in unison*
*Me to group*
“I’m 33 years old, and have been borrowing from big banks ever since they courted me with offers of credit cards and free t-shirts on my University campus back in the 1990s. Ever since the glorious free t-shirt days, I’ve been indebted to these banks at varying levels off and on.”
*Group offers up sounds of compassion*
“Although I’m no longer actively entering into these bad relationships, my ties to the banks remain, and will for quite awhile as I climb out of servitude and work to free myself from bondage. Thank you for listening.”
Good reasons to be angry with big banks
Since deciding to put an end to the cycle of abuse, I’ve been studying the business practices of big banks. During that time, I’ve discovered that they’re not the sort of businesses that I want to associate with on a daily basis. I suppose I entered into all of my relations with them (e.g., mortgage, credit cards, auto loans, etc.) because I was just sheepishly following along with what everyone else was doing. Going forward, I’m just happy to say that I’ll no longer be so ignorant and complacent.
Here are just a few of the recent ways big banks have disappointed and utterly surprised me:
- Bailed out financial institutions post huge Q2 profits. While the American consumer is struggling to pay down debt and build an emergency fund, big banks who just received billions of dollars from US taxpayers are posting $3 billion quarterly profits! Sad but true.
- Banks profit while US home repossessions rise. No, you didn’t read that wrong… While we’re losing our homes and essentially funding the bail out of these bloated and corrupt financial institutions, again… they profit. Our loss is their gain.
- Banks profit but are no longer lending money. One of the main purposes of the bailout was to stimulate the economy. Instead of turning around and lending the taxpayers their money back, however, the banks are sitting on the loot. Banks profit while loans drop.
- Despite record profits, big banks are raising fees. As if they were not already nickel and diming us to death, and despite massive earnings and many of their customers facing financial troubles, big banks are raising fees almost across the board.
As you can clearly see, banks are profiting enormously while the American consumers that have funded their entire existence scrimp, save, and suffer.
The NY Times recently worded it this way:
“The headlines over the last week have reinforced the perception that the country’s financial institutions, or at least some of them, are beginning to rebuild and profit. But resentment and the risk of public backlash against these banks remain, as shown by the recent opinions and editorials complaining about how ungrateful these banks are and suggesting they are once again trying to take advantage of the government and game the system.
As Goldman Sachs earns $3.4 billion in a single quarter, many Americans continue to suffer from the recession, which was triggered by a financial crisis in which the banks played a part. News reports about banks taking a more assertive approach reinforce this perception. So IÃve decided to look at whether the criticism rings true: Are banks getting too cheeky?”
For their part, CNN/Money said “Big banks have some nerve!” and that:
“…you have some big banks putting out press releases that essentially are saying, ‘Hey. Look at us! We’re still lending! Honestly!’ But the data from the Fed paints another picture entirely. I am not suggesting that banks go back to the days of approving anything with a pulse for a no-money-down option ARM that’s destined for default. But until banks start to lend more freely to responsible individuals and businesses that deserve credit, we will remain in this recession.”
Finally, Pro Publica, a site dedicated to delivering journalism in the public interest, shows us exactly where all of that $1.1 trillion in taxpayer money is going on their Eye On The Bailout page.
So what’s the answer?
I am working tirelessly to get out of debt, and rid myself of all relationships with any of these big banks. I currently have the following relationships that I am working to terminate for good:
- 1st Mortgage – Wells Fargo
- 2nd Mortgage – JP Morgan Chase
- Auto Loan – Capital One
- Credit Card 1 – JP Morgan Chase
- Credit Card 2 – Capital One
- Credit Card 3 – Citigroup
Looks like a heavy burden to bare, and a seemingly insurmountable task, but let me remind you dear reader… “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” –Lao Tzu.
I plan to rid myself of these “toxic money relationships” one dollar at a time! And I will not stop until I am free!
Moving forward, I intend to continue and increase my banking relationship with ING Direct, where I currently have an online savings account, as well as with my local credit union.
And so I ask you…
Is the decision to do business with big banks a moral issue? For me, the answer is a most certain and resounding “YES”! Of course, this won’t be the case for everyone, but I sure would like to hear your point-of-view. Please let us know how you feel by leaving a comment below.