General Advice Warning. The information on Dad Mode is intended to be general in nature and is not personal financial or product advice.
I’m a personal finance nerd and everyone knows it.
I’ve spent hundreds of hours reading every book under the sun written to help you increase your bank balance.
Some of it has worked, most hasn’t.
Among the endless tactics, strategies, and spreadsheet templates you can use to supposedly ‘get rich quick’. There are very few that actually make sense, and even less that are useful.
Most of these books were written by ‘financial gurus’ that made all of their money not by following the own advice, but by selling their advice to you. It’s hard to know what to believe. You have to take it all with a grain of salt, take in what’s useful and discard the rest.
That’s what I did anyway, and it took years.
I want to share what I’ve learnt in a no nonsense, relatable way, so you don’t have to spend your life savings at the bookshop, only to read about how you shouldn’t spend your life savings.
I’ve waded through the rubbish, so you don’t have to, and I’ll be sharing everything I’ve learnt to build a financially secure family.
Let’s start with the basics.
How do I choose a bank?
With personal finance, it’s usually the simple things that make the biggest impact. Having a good foundation is the key to building a strong financial house for your family. You can rest assured that when it rains, and it will, your house won’t wash away and take all of your financial security with it.
To continue the house analogy, your bank is the concrete slab everything else rests on. Get It right, and you will have the tools and support you need to succeed. You need to select your bank carefully.
Sounds obvious right?
I’ve spoken to countless people that have been with the same bank since they were teenagers. Their reasoning is always, “I can’t be bothered to change it” or my parents told me to go with them so why would I change?”
This makes my blood boil! I know it's none of my business, but with a bit of effort they could make their financial life so much better. All you have to do is put the effort in.
At this point, the people I talk to usually tell me to bugger off and mind my own business. Rude…
Don’t you dare hit that exit button.
Let's talk about banks.
The one thing that has helped my family get ahead the most is our bank. I know, banks are evil yada yada yada. We can talk about that until the decentralised cows come home, but the reality is, we need them.
They store our money and make it easy for us to spend it on the things we need. It’s impossible to function in the modern world without them.
So, we can’t avoid banks, what we can do however is choose the right one. This is easy, right? Just pick the one with the best savings interest rate and call it a day?
First, interest rates are crap everywhere currently (2022) so selecting based on that is silly. There are more important things to look at.
You know how this works…
I won’t spend much time on this because If you’re paying account keeping fees in 2022 you’re crazy. Big banks like ANZ and CBA still charge a fee for using their basic transaction accounts.
You don’t have to pay them.
Smaller banks like ME Bank, UP and Ubank have zero fees on their transaction and savings accounts. Plus, they are usually backed by the big banks anyway, so you’re getting all the benefit and none of the fees.
Before you keep reading, go to your bank's website and check If they charge fees. I’ll wait….
Something critical to us as a family is making sure our money is supporting things that are ethical or, at the very least, not supporting things that aren’t.
Side note, if you didn’t know, banks invest your money when you deposit it into your savings account. They get a return on that money, give you some of it (very little) and keep the rest. This is basically how banks make their money. What they invest in is important because it may be something you’re not comfortable with. Fossil fuels, tobacco, guns etc…
Now that I think about it, they definitely are evil.
It’s often hard to get clear information on what banks do with your money.
If they do unsavoury things with it, they will try to bury the info deep in their website. Dirty dogs! But if they’re ethical, they are proud of it and put it front and Center. So if you can’t tell straight away, it’s probably not good news.
This is something that’s often overlooked when choosing a bank. And for good reason. Traditionally, all you got was a transaction account, a savings account, debit card and if you’re lucky, a mobile app.
Things are different these days, and you can do some truly cool things with your bank. From setting up automations to auto-covers and bill splitting. Banks aren’t what they used to be!
I’m going to go into detail about how we use our banks to make our financial lives stress-free in a future post.
I know it’s hard to think about changing banks. There are all the direct debits you have to change, the Netflix subscriptions and the pass words. Trust me, (a random guy on the internet) it’s worth it to shop around.
The ideal bank for you is out there, you might just have to break up with that old one you’ve been with since you were 15.
I’ll get the ice cream tub.