NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Here is what you could do on today: go to a nearby bank, stand in line, deposit your paycheck, and ask the teller to give you $100 cash back, in a mix of 20s, 10, and 5s.
That may be what your father does. It definitely is what your grandfather did, and he, by the way, may carry just one credit card, possibly still carries around a checkbook, and definitely has a money clip with maybe $100 in assorted bills. Wake up: this is 2015. You are not your grandfather. You are not your father. You don’t have 15 minutes to waste in line at a bank and who knows how many minutes it takes to get there. Besides, there now are better, smarter ways to handle your money that will save you time, may even save you money, but mainly you won’t seem as though you are stuck in repeating a Groundhog Day reprise of banking circa 1980.
Step one: Always use mobile remote deposit capture. The phrasing is inelegant; the tool isn’t. This is the app that lets you snap a photo of the front and back of your check and deposit it in your bank. Stick the paper check in a drawer in case something comes up (though that almost never happens). Presto, you just put money in your account without moving from your chair. Your bank doesn’t offer MRDC? Switch banks. Note: many banks and credit unions set ridiculously low MRDC limits, such as $1,000 per day. Call and ask for an increase. Good customers - no bounced checks, a decent balance - will almost always be obliged.
Step two: Get cash out of ATM machines, not from tellers. I use fee free machines at CVS and Safeway, stores I will be in anyway. Or I get cash when using a debit card to purchase at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, wherever you shop. Most stores let you add $60 to $100 or higher in cash to a purchase. Never go out of your way to get cash from a bank, not even from its ATMs. Never.
Step three: Never again pay an overdraft fee, urged financial expert Harrine Freeman. A dirty secret of banking is that many of them have gotten fat and happy slapping $29 and higher overdraft fees on the smallest miscalculations. Freeman’s advice: set up balance alerts - sent via SMS to your cellphone - when accounts are perilously low.