Sunday, January 6, 2008

Virtual Money

Firstly, a note to all of you who were smitten by Spoon Guy. He has relatives available for adoption! They are officially called Tater Pots. If you simply must have one, click here.

Alright. On to today's topic.

Today I am musing about banks. I try not to think too hard about what it really means to keep my money in a bank, because it makes me nervous. I don't like that all I have to show for my life's savings is some numbers on slips of paper. If it wasn't completely inconvenient, I would convert all my savings into gold and keep it stuffed in my mattress.

The first time I encountered the fallibility of banks was when I was 12. I had an account with a trust company that had been slowly filling up with birthday cheques from relatives. I was well on my way to saving for university, when the trust company went bankrupt. The trust company was not covered by the Canadian Government's deposit insurance plan. Luckily some other company came in and bought all their assets, so I didn't lose my dough, but... I lost some of my trust in financial institutions.

The second time I ran into trouble with a bank involved a GIC. A banking representative had sold me the investment. I had sat in her office, explaining to her that I might need the money back again for a down payment on a house, but I wasn't sure how soon. She told me that this wasn't a problem - if necessary I could get my money out without a penalty.

Around 1.5 years later, I wanted my down payment money before the investment matured. I went back to the bank. I spoke the very same banking representative who had sold me the GIC. When I said that I was ready to withdraw the funds, she frowned and told me off. She was all "Well, you signed the contract, and you should have read the small print. No, you can't have the money unless you're willing to pay $X [insert giant penalty fee here]. Too bad, so sad."

Of course I didn't let that be the end of it. I stood my ground and fought her until she got her manager, who let me have my money and apologized profusely. But still. It shouldn't have come to that. I was shocked that she would have first sat there and lied to my face about the contract, and then gotten all pissy with me when I wanted my money. Unbelievable!

At least that bank has branches, so I can show up in person and yell if I need to. I am even more nervous about my account with ING, the branchless bank. They have that high-interest savings account that I can't resist, but I always feel like I'm sending my money into an unstable wormhole to another dimension. It could collapse at any time and then I'd be truly S.O.L. I've never had any trouble with ING... yet.

Excuse me now, I'm going to go pull some twenties out of my wallet and rub them until I feel better.


jameil1922 said...

one of my friends works for ING. i'm like huh?? internet money??? i, too, need actual people i can call and yell at.

honestyrain said...

here's what you do: spend all your money. my bank doesn't make me nervous one little bit with the whole twenty two dollars i've got stashed there....

R.E.H. said...

Yeah I had a bust-up with a bank that lasted 10 years... in the end I owed them five times the money I had originally loaned.

Don't try to pick a fight with a bank... you can't win ;)

Jenski said...

I'm not sure a mattress filled with gold bars is all that conducive to a good nights sleep. If you're a grad student, you have no money or assets. It really simplifies life, let me tell you! :)

Tink said...

That's funny. I trust my bank with my money more than I do myself! If I have it in hand, it's going to get spent. :)

Sparkling Red said...

The general consensus seems to be that banks are not well-loved, and that the best way to get good value for your money is to go out and spend it on good stuff and good times.

That works for me. Now I'll be able to cash in those gold bars from my mattress and get a good night's sleep for once.