Living without a bank doesn’t have to cost THAT much!
Especially if you live near a Wal-Mart
I read an article about a woman who tried living without her bank and credit cards for one month, relying on prepaid cards and other places for financial services. Her total of fees was far more than I pay myself.
I read an article where the writer recounted her experiment of living without a bank. She set her bank cards and credit cards aside and for one month used other services to cash her checks, pay bills and etc.
To me, it was shocking to see how much she ended up spending in fees. More than likely, she did not have a Wal-Mart in her area, because I got the impression that she is a frugal lady and would have investigated their services. Instead, she had to use such services such as Cash Checking Stores and Western Union. Because of this she racked up quite a bit in fees.
Personally, I have a Wal-Mart around every corner, near my home and near my work, therefore I have easy access to their services. The Wal-Mart Customer Service Desk employees know my face well.
Cash my paycheck twice a month: $3 x 2 = $6
Get money orders to send to my bank approx 1-2 times a month: $0.68 x 2 = $1.36
Send the money orders to my bank: $6.00 x 2 = $12.00
Load extra $ onto prepaid card 2-3 times a month: $3 x 2 = $6
Monthly fees: $25.36
My monthly total came out about $65 less than hers.
Sometimes when I can’t plan far enough ahead, I have to overnight the deposits to my bank which then costs me $15 rather than $6. But even with the higher fee I’d still only be paying $43.36 which is almost $50 less than her total.
I use my Wal-Mart Prepaid Visa Debit card for just about everything. Basically it IS my main bank account. It doesn’t cost me to pay for purchases, whether processed as debit or credit, and to save on ATM fees I do cash advances during debit purchases. Again, that does not cost me anything. Really the only fees I have associated directly with the card are the load fee ($3) and a monthly charge of about $4 which I haven’t had for quite some time because it is waived if you load $1000 or more to the card in a month. Being that I tend to put most of my paycheck on the card each time I cash it, I meet this requirement consistently.
There is a reason why I load the card when I cash my paychecks – you avoid the load fee of $3 if you cash your check and during that same transaction, load funds onto your Wal-Mart prepaid card. You do not have to load the total check, but can keep however much you’d like in cash, just like depositing your paycheck at a regular bank. (If you cashed your check and then loaded your card in a separate transaction you would incur the $3 check cashing fee as well as the $3 load fee. Doing it all at once saves $3.)
Hopefully, anyone who has been forced into long-distance banking will have a Wal-Mart within easy access. Their services are far cheaper than those of check-cashing stores, currency exchanges or Western Union. (If you need to send a wire, try Moneygram – another service offered at Wal-Mart as well as other locations. Moneygram tends to be a lot cheaper than Western Union.)
If you don’t live near a Wal-Mart, be sure to research all the available options by calling each check-cashing store and currency exchange to get their rates. Also check out your local grocery and drug store customer service counters. Many stores offer financial services similar to Wal-Mart’s.