Sep 24 2009

How to move large sums of money between banks


First Niagara has lost my banking business. I was a National City customer, and First Niagara and PNC are buying up National City. My accounts split between the two banks, and it was impossible for us to continue on like that.

I was willing to give First Niagara a chance. A pack of checks arrived in the mail and I was promised a debit card soon after. The thing never came. I called and they said they would expedite a new card to me. Still no card.

I couldn’t find any credit unions we’d be eligible to join, so I sought a bank with plenty of branches and ATMs near me, with free banking for my needs and a high interest (by today’s standards) savings account. PNC and their Virtual Wallet will do the trick for us.

Even though our National City accounts would automatically be converted to PNC in November, I wanted to move our accounts now since that’s still a long time.

We set up an account online, and have received checks and debit cards. Time to move our money around!

My pal Mrs Money just happens to be a bank branch manager, and she helped me figure out a few ways to move my savings from First Niagara to PNC.

  • Cash withdraw — Not a recommended method if you’re moving your life savings, but ok if it’s a small amount. While it’s fast, I would be too afraid to withdraw all that money and drive it down the street. If you do choose this method, be sure to deposit it with an actual teller and get a receipt. Don’t ever deposit cash into an ATM. There’s no real record of you doing it.
  • Write a check to yourself — A fun way! Using your old bank’s checks, write a check payable to yourself signed by yourself. No fees, it’s safe and the teller at PNC told me it would take about one business day to process. Bye, FN!
  • Electronic Funds Transfer – or EFT. After opening an account with your new bank, you’ll need to link the accounts electronically (each bank has its own way to do it). You’ll have to enter your routing numbers, and the bank will typically send a test deposit to verify the account. This process takes a few business days. Once confirmed, you can electronically send money from one bank to another. It takes a few business days for the money to clear, so only do this if you can wait for the funds to arrive.
  • Cashier’s checks / money order — Mrs Money told me these only go up to $1,000 each. Fees can range from $3 to $5 per check/money order, unless you have special accounts with your bank. These are guaranteed funds, and helpful if you need access to your money pronto.
  • Wire transfers — These are same-day and cost $17 at Mrs Money’s bank, and there may be a fee on the receiving end as well. Probably better to find another way to send the money.

If you choose a money-moving method with a lag time that spans a few days, you might want to move your money in two batches. That way, if an emergency springs up while your money is in limbo, you’ll still have access to a big portion of it.

Another thing to keep in mind: Mrs Money told me that with some banks if you write a check to cause your account balance to reach $0.00, it’ll close automatically. If it zeros out with an EFT, you can potentially reopen it. In any case, if you have a pending check or automatic bill pay item, it might still be processed and you could be zinged with fees.

Be sure to check with your old bank to find out its specific policies.

And, be sure to link all of your bill pay accounts to your new bank and cancel them out of your old. That’s what I’ve got to do now.

All of this money-moving is a bit of a hassle, but it does have a good side. Since we moved in June, we had yet to order checks with our new address. We don’t write many checks, but we needed some more for the times we do. Instead of buying a new batch, we got some for free from our new bank. Yay!

Sep 23 2009

Making the rounds at area thrift stores


Meredith made an appearance on Frugal Hacks and blogged about Goodwill Outlets. There isn’t one of those near me, and I’m not sure if I have the guts to ever dive into one. I know that some deals can be had by the pound, but I prefer to take my time when thrift shopping. I don’t know that I’d want to fight over any item.

Her post got me to thinking about some of my own thrifting.

I’ve been making the rounds to my area’s thrift stores lately, and wow, do I love it. For awhile, I had gotten away from thrifting, since I hadn’t really needed anything. When I don’t need to buy anything, I find that it’s best for me to just stay out of stores — first and second-hand.

I want to check out all the thrift and consignment stores in my vicinity just to know what types of things they have and at what price. Some stores won’t be worth a second visit, but one thrift store (the St. Vincent de Paul on Rt. 88 in Castle Shannon, if you’re a local) will keep me coming back. I don’t know how many Pittsburgh readers I have (so you’d better comment or e-mail me!) and if there’s enough interest, I’ll blog about my favorite stores (Sue, I already know you’d like a post on this!).

St. Vincents has a special discount each day. Thursdays are half-off ladies’ clothing and Saturdays are $0.99 tag days. They pick a tag color, and the garment is less than a buck. What a deal!

Some of my favorite recent finds:

  • A brown corduroy jacket that had ¬†been on my wish-list. It was marked $9.99 but I picked it up on a dollar day. It was in like-new condition and fit well. I did have to get it dry-cleaned, which set me back about $4.50. It hasn’t been cool enough to wear yet, but those days are a-comin’.
  • Gap dark wash straight-legged jeans — a slim cut jean has been on my list so I can wear them tucked inside my boots. They were size 6L — I need that L! And they were $7. I didn’t want to wait for half-off day, so I snapped them up at full price. A little on the expensive side for thrift store denim, but that’s because this one differentiates between “upscale” and not. Lol!
  • A new-with-tags maternity skirt. It was originally $20, and I got it for $1. No, I’m not pregnant. But my friend is! And I’m about to take her a big ol’ box of maternity clothes for her to borrow. And honestly, the way the skirt is cut, I think a non-preggo can wear it without looking ridiculous.

When you find the right thrift or consignment store for your wardrobe needs, it’s easy to go bananas and buy a lot more than you need. Prices are usually low enough that you can take a risk and buy something you might not buy were it in a department store at regular price.

Remember, it’s not a deal if the item doesn’t fit you (or if you vow to have it tailored, and can do so easily and cheaply). It’s not a deal if you’ll never wear it. Be sure you have at least two to three things you can wear with any particular shirt, pant, skirt, etc. And if it languishes in your closet, unworn all season, send it back to the thrift store. You won’t get your money back, but at least it won’t be taking up valuable space in your closet.

If there’s anything in your closet that you wouldn’t buy (again) at a thrift store, purge it already!

Keep to your budget, your list and overall mission.

I won’t buy secondhand shoes unless they’re new and fit perfectly — and that hasn’t happened yet. It’s rare when I find pants that fit me well (isn’t that the case for everyone?) so when I find some that fit and I like, I get ’em. Mostly, I find skirts, jackets and cardigans at thrift stores. Other things are harder for me to find in the tall size I need, so I head to a regular retailer or go online for those.

If you don’t shop at secondhand stores, tell me why! And if you do, what are some of your favorite finds?

Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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