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Prepaid Debit Cards and Other Banking Alternatives

Prepaid Debit Cards and Other Banking Alternatives

By blowing the whistle on Bank of America/Countrywide, I got blacklisted from the banking and insurance industries. Surviving outside the financial grid isn’t all that difficult though. Your financial options depend on your personal financial situation, needs, and resourcefulness. Some services run credit checks, and others hit you with fees.

Here’s a breakdown of your alternative banking options:

Cashing a Check

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Money Versability Lifehack

    If you need to cash a check, but you don’t have a bank account, you’re going to pay a fee. Places like Walmart and your local grocery store will cash a check for the lowest fees, but they do run background checks. If you owe money to a bank, you will be denied. Check cashing, Pay Day Loan, Title Advance, and other such places can be your only option if you need to cash the check in a pinch. The fees are hefty, though, so avoid these at all costs.

    Your best long term option is to re-enroll in school. Even if it’s just for one class, you can apply for financial aid. Also, your ability to get a student deposit account is much easier because schools partner with smaller lending institutions who are willing to pick up the tab for college students. Yes, you may pick up student loan debt, but it’s better that this money go toward your education than to a loan shark. These deposit accounts tend to have MasterCard and Visa branding. Often, these companies grow into banks and grandfather you into an account.

    If you’re lucky enough to be employed by a company that offers financial options, get an account open through them. Even if you’re blacklisted, you may be able to get an account this way. If you know someone who works at a bank, they’ll often be able to push your account application through, but rules change all the time. You can cash a check through a friend with a bank account, as long as they have enough money in their account to cover it.

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    Securing Direct Deposit

    If you need direct deposit, the above methods of obtaining a backend bank account are great options, but you’re not limited to these. Prepaid debit cards often have routing numbers to allow for deposits. Student loan deposit accounts have these, as well.

    Using Plastic

    money-and-case Versability Lifehack

      These days, a plastic card is easier to get than cash. Aside from the prepaid debit options listed above, you can also purchase prepaid debit cards branded with Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and more. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and it’s recommended to only use them for temporary purposes. If you have it longer than a month, you may be charged fees. There are also purchase fees you must worry about. Traveling internationally only compounds the fees. These cards are easy to use, however.

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      If you’re looking for a simple way to budget, gift cards are a great option. Look for gift cards to places you shop at regularly, and for a variety of needs (i.e Target, any grocery store or gas station, Amazon, etc). This way you can control your budget by loading the cards with specific amounts. Also, by keeping only the cards you need with you, you control impulse spending.

      Shopping Online

      If you’re tech-savvy, there are even more alternative banking options. Bitcoin and Litecoin have emerged as a digital alternative to currency. Both Amazon and PayPal have expanding deposit and spending options (PayPal’s options include a plastic card). Even Fiverr is getting in the game with their branded MasterCard deposit account.

      Google has their own Wallet program, and Facebook is looking for more ways to keep you on their web portal. It’s only a matter of time before both become robust banking alternatives. Apple and Microsoft won’t be far behind. By the time each of these companies rolls out a banking option, it’ll be obvious the “too big to fail” banking industry should have collapsed decades ago.

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      Paying Your Rent or Mortgage

      In order to feel comfortable with alternative banking solutions, you need to be sure it’ll pay your rent. Your landlord or lending institution may require a specific form of payment, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with all of the options above.

      Personally, I use PayPal, Amazon, Google, prepaid debit cards, and I have a student deposit account. Each has a use. You can still store money like a boss without a bank.

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      Published on September 17, 2018

      How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

      How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

      Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

      With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

      So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

      1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

      It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

      You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

      So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

      2. When you want something big, wait

      Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

      It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

      We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

      A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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      So, you get the itch.

      You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

      Here’s where you have to take a step back.

      Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

      Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

      It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

      The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

      3. Live smaller than you can afford

      You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

      You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

      That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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      Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

      Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

      The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

      But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

      4. Practice smart grocery shopping

      Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

      But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

      Create a grocery budget

      Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

      Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

      I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

      Make a list… and never deviate

      Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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      You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

      These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

      Eat before going grocery shopping

      It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

      If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

      After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

      Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

      However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

      This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

      5. Cancel your gym membership

      Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

      The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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      Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

      I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

      Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

      Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

      For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

      Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

      There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

      It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

      I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

      Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

      The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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