I am what you might call a cheapskate. Actually, no might about it. I am cheap. Definitely. It’s not that I won’t spend money. I just won’t spend much money. I am just absolutely sure that nothing should cost more than a dime.
I can never get over how much the electric utility charge me. Gasoline isn’t too far behind on my hit parade of things that cost too darned much. Never mind that I use, and rely on, these products and services daily — when push comes to shove I get so annoyed at the cost of things.
That said the national anguish over the recent move by a few national banks to begin charging up to five dollars per month to use debit cards caught me off guard.
As a nation we have bought the idea that a cup of coffee should cost three dollars but an entire month of banking for five is beyond the pale? I suspect we have become so comfortable with the ease of modern banking that we are not thinking of what goes on behind the banking scenes to make that possible.
I admit I have no idea what makes modern banking work, anymore than I truly understand how the electric company gets the power to my light bulbs or the cellular telephone industry turns invisible airwaves into words. It’s all Greek to me.
What I do know is, despite all my complaining, I’m a thoroughly modern girl. I love that I can easily go weeks without having to stop by a bank. I remember my mother’s panicked “got to beat the bank closing!” rush from the house to beat the proverbial banker’s hours or risk being without cash all weekend.
Today, at any hour of the day or night I can have access to what little money I have without recreating Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride to get it. I call that progress.
I can drive to the corner gas station and stick my card in the pump. Somehow, magical banking fairies will immediately read my unique code, access my account, ascertain that I am good (ahead of time) for an undetermined amount of gasoline as yet to be pumped and allow the purchase to go through.
This will happen in seconds while I tap my foot and begin to already become impatient because “it’s taking so darned long.” After I have pumped the gas a receipt spits out, I grab my card, I go. Meanwhile, those magical banking fairies are already applying that charge to my designated account.
Within minutes I can go online (to a website that they design, maintain and implement in up-to-the-last-five-minutes real time — and it darned well better be available at midnight and holidays too skippy.) This website will need to be very secure.
I can continue my day shopping — and hopping — all over hill and dale without a care in the world (presuming I have funds in the account of course). By the time I arrive home the charges will have already been applied, and deducted, from our account. I can actually track our day, and our needs, by what we spend where.
Mr. Wonderful calls this a financial low-jack — like a GPS for your money — and sometimes, your spouse. Bills. Better yet that same “evil bank” will automatically pay many of my bills for me so I don’t have to think “did I pay the cable bill?” or, worse yet, be greeted with the blank screen that tells me that no, I did not.
I suspect if someone said to one of us “I want you to take full responsibility for my money, dole it out to me on demand as needed, and cover me if I lose it or just don’t feel like handling my bills and for this I will pay you the princely sum of $5 dollars per month” few, if any of us, would jump on that.
I mention this not to become a champion of corporate banking. No. I do it to be the champion of the little guy. The frugalista. The person who realizes that sometimes having a little magic in the palm of your hand (or purse) is well worth a few dollars a month.
Honestly, my only beef is that the magical banking fairies are so selfish. I wish they could convince the magical electrical fairies to work for as little as five bucks a month.