Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Broke Up With My Bank

Ever since the global financial system almost collapsed, the good folks at Green America have been reminding us of the merits of investing in community banks and credit unions. I have been a credit union member for awhile, but had found some of their services inconvenient so just kept a small account as an act of solidarity. But I did my daily transactions with Bank of America. Green America's "Break Up With Your Bank" campaign convinced me not to put my resources in the hands of businesses who are making the most of Wall Street bailouts and legitimizing mind-boggling corporate bonuses. For the record the Dupont Circle tellers in DC are very nice and professional. But I want my money to help non-profits that share my values and vision of economic justice. It seems worth it to walk a little farther to find an ATM now.

I got help identifying a credit union in my new neighborhood through the Move Your Money website. I learned of their resources from their great You Tube Video at the holiday season where they used the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" to depict how banking can help or harm communities. Just in time for St. Valentine's day they have a new video and if you are the creative type, a contest to go with it. Check it out.

The tune is catchy, for sure, and the over-riding message even more compelling: "Community banks [and credit unions] are typically more conservative about how they manage their money, they’re more closely connected to the people and businesses who live near them, and they’re more inclined to make loans they know will get paid back. In other words, they have the values that more people would want banks to have."

Maybe Valentine's Day is time to shift your financial resources, just as you do with fair trade purchases, to institutions you love. I did it this weekend, and it took about an hour in all. And I still have time for a romantic dinner!

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