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Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Community Investing

Economic action to build sustainable communities worldwide

October 2011

6 Ways to Break Up With Your Bank

As the Occupy Wall Street protests spread across the country, the mega-banks just don't seem to get it.

Against the backdrop of an economy that has rebounded only for those at the very top, comes news of steeply increasing services charges, and new fees for services that used to be free. Among the most recent outrageous consumer gouging: the new $5 monthly debit card fee at Bank of America (that's $60 a year to use your own money!), and Citi charging up to $20 per month for not maintaining a minimum balance in checking accounts.

One Green America member said it best when she said her decision to break up with her bank was motivated simply by wanting to "find a bank that isn't mean." She moved her money to New Resource Bank, a member of our Green Business Network™. Green America has profiled New Resource's work to support a growing Fair Trade quinoa business, along with other green banks that are financing projects like affordable housing, inner-city food security, energy-efficiency retrofits, and solar energy for small businesses.

That's the power of breaking up with your mega-bank. First, you take money out of the old, corrupt economy. Then, when you shift your money into a community development bank or credit union, your money goes to work building the new economy.

Join our "Break up with Your Mega-Bank" Campaign today, and grow the green economy. When you decide to break up, we'd love to hear about it. Please tell us about it on our blog. Here are the top six ways to break up:

1. Open new checking and savings accounts -- Close your old mega-bank accounts, and find a new community development bank or credit union that matches your values better. Find your new community bank or credit union (for either your personal or business accounts) on page 20 of the clickable online version of our Community Investing Guide. Find more options via the Community Development Bankers' Association (www.cdbanks.org) and the Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (www.cdcu.coop). Remember to tell your old bank why you left.

2. Find a greener credit card -- Cut up your mega-bank credit cards and mail them back to the bank with a note about why you're leaving. Find greener credit card options affiliated with community development banks. The Green America credit card helps support our green economy programs. Other greener credit cards support local permaculture projects, protect the bioregion of the Pacific Northwest, or support carbon offset programs. (Find a list of greener credit cards in this article from the Green American.)

3. Get your faith community involved -- If you have influence over how your faith community or other community group does its banking, you can encourage them to also break up with their mega-bank, and shift their institutional banking to a community development institution. Our allies the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investing offer a free downloadable toolkit (scroll down the page to find it).

4. Get your alma mater involved -- The Responsible Endowment Coalition's "Move Your Money" Campaign provides resources and a handbook for shifting your college or university toward community development banking and investing.

5. Find a new financial planner -- If you use a financial planner from a corporate bank, investigate your options from more responsible financial networks like First Affirmative Financial Network or Progressive Asset Management. Or search for a financial planner near you at our GreenPages.org.

6. Invest in responsible mutual funds and loan funds -- Find options with a special emphasis on strengthening local communities beginning on page 21 of our clickable online Community Investing Guide, or search for other responsible mutual funds at our GreenPages.org.

Breaking up with your mega-bank sends a message as loud and clear as a bullhorn in the middle of Wall Street itself. You're shifting power and money away from Wall Street to Main Street -- to the green economy.

When you break up, please tell us your story on our blog or Facebook page.

 


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