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My Bank is Worried About Me

I feel loved, in a perverse financial sort of way. I just got off the phone with a representative of my bank who called me to conduct a survey of my thoughts about the bank and what incentives they might provide to increase my use of their services.

I know why they called me. They called me because (1) they need cash and (2) over the last six months I've moved a lot of money out of my accounts with them. They're hoping to learn, by surveying me and people like me, what they could do to convince us to stop drawing down — and ideally to increase — our deposits.

"Unrealistically high interest rates," I told him. I wasn't being flip, and I actually enjoyed the survey. And it was extremely educational!

I learned about the kinds of incentives they're contemplating, and boy are they desperate. (Incidentally, Jacqueline also noticed a case of bank desperation.) Assuming the survey is representative of incentives they might offer — and I don't think they'd ask, if it wasn't — we can look forward to interesting bonuses on Bank of America money market savings accounts.

  • A percentage (of your balance) bonus for having your balance not decrease by more than a certain extent over a period of time.
  • A percentage (of your balance) bonus for maintaining a sufficiently high balance over a period of time.
  • A percentage (of your deposits) bonus for making new deposits into your account.

The amounts contemplated were ½%-1%. This would certainly make their accounts more competitive, and I told the surveyor so, but I don't think it would change my personal behavior. I moved money out in order to earn a higher rate of return, and an extra 1% in the money market account wouldn't have changed my mind.

With my intention to buy a new car soon, I'll likely be reducing my balances even further. Unless I can get too-good-to-be-true financing, which I learned exists last night when I talked to my parents about their last vehicle purchase. They got a 60-month, $0 down, 0% interest, no-fees-of-any-kind loan. If anyone else had told me of such a thing, I wouldn't have believed them. And I made my parents repeat it at least three times, to get over my shock and disbelief.

That was a few years ago, and I don't know if such fantastic deals are still available. I had been anticipating a large down payment in order to reduce financing charges even on a 0% loan… I may have been wrong about the need for that.

Tiny Island