Hey everyone it’s Financial Fitness Phoebe here! Forget about those (possibly failed) New Year’s resolutions; it’s springtime, and a new chance for self-improvement. When it comes to spring-cleaning your finances, consider a host of paperless, earth-friendly account management programs. The days of printed and mailed bank statements, mailed account alerts and newsletters are quickly coming to an end, and more people are choosing to automate their finances with online, mobile and e-mail features. Here are four things I do to “go green” and these things might make you consider ditching the paper trail, too.
1) PAPERLESS ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT IS QUICKEROne pitfall of paper is that it’s not very speedy. So, most credit unions and banks now offer completely safe, reliable and free ways to keep tabs on your money, without ever opening an envelope.
Online statements: you can check up on your current account balances any time you like; it’s also a great daily tool for seeing where your money’s going, and using that info to build or maintain a responsible budget.
With electronic account alerts, you’ll hear via e-mail or phone about any transactions or other events attached to your accounts.
Scheduled transfers cut out the bill-paying middle man; just choose what day you need to have money leave your account in order to pay a recurring bill, and then forget about it. You can also hook up a series of money-management reminders - email or text - to keep you on your toes, too.
2) DON’T HAVE TIME TO HIT THE CREDIT UNION? NO PROBLEM.Apps. They’re not just before dinner anymore. They’re key pieces of keeping tabs on your finances and mobile deposits. Mobile banking allows any smartphone or tablet user can take their bank anywhere, and access their accounts anywhere, anytime.
Why choose mobile banking? It’s ultra current. By relying only on online statements, you are seeing just the transactions and balances as of a particular cut-off date. Through Online Banking or Mobile Banking, you will see your transactions reflected on your account as soon as they occur, which gives you the most recent balance available.
One of the newer mobile device features - mobile deposits. It’s pretty much exactly what you’re picturing; with the app, you can select “make a deposit,” enter the amount, and then use your device to take photos - front and back - of the check you wish to deposit and then send away.
And in case you were going to cheekily inquire, no - this deposit feature DOESN’T work with cash. :)
You can also take advantage of person-to-person transactions through the Online Banking login – for example, our members can send money electronically to people, even if they bank elsewhere.
Additionally, through an Account to Account payment system (also in Online Banking) members who have bank accounts elsewhere can access their money at those other financial institutions to - for example, make payments electronically on their credit union loans.
These two services traditionally would have required sending checks through the mail, paying cash in person, etc.
3) EMAILS > SNAIL-MAILA good financial institution doesn’t have time to spam you with unnecessary information - they’ll simply keep you up to date on banking changes, security topics and other important information for members. And, you’ll get that information much more efficiently than through snail-mail.
4) WEBSITES AND SOCIAL MEDIA KEEP YOU CONNECTEDWebsites - like ours - are now quite intricate, and thanks to the juggernaut that is the world of social media, you have lots of ways to keep up with everything happening at your credit union. Check out the top of the home page to see how many platforms we’re using, and find the ones you’re most comfortable with. Note: St. Cloud Federal Credit Union is updating its website, and it should be completed by mid May.
5) IT SAVES TREES. LOTS OF TREES.Mother nature smiles every time a customer goes paperless. And, considering Earth Day is just a few weeks away, it’s a great time to make the leap.
Of course, a credit union’s website is always a great place to learn about paperless/mobile features - and we’re here to help you anytime you like!