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You Can Bank On It

Following up on last’s week’s blog about scrutinizing your finances, I received a little more proof that if you aren’t looking out for your money, no one else is.

Recently I opened a new checking account. Sitting at a fancy desk in an enormous modern bank on Broadway, I asked the banker, a woman in her thirties, tips for balancing my current account. “I usually balance it every month, but lately it’s been off. What do you suggest I do to reconcile it?”

She looked at me strangely.  “What do you mean reconcile?”

Now it was I with the strange look. “You know, balance it against my check register so it matches the ending balance on the statement.”

“You do what?”

I understand the reason for not balancing your checkbook. It can be time consuming, you’re afraid of the reality of the balance, or maybe you didn’t do well in grade school math, but this “banker” had absolutely no clue what I was talking about. Her advice? “Just look at the balance on your phone and go by that amount.” Is it me or is this cause for alarm?

After opening my first checking account in college, the banker advised me to balance my account every month. “Banks make mistakes,” he said. “Don’t trust them.” And while I’ve been heeding his warning ever since, I may be one of the few.

This morning I went into a different branch to deposit a check that had been endorsed over to me. It’s been years since I deposited an endorsed check so I Googled how to do it. My colleague then signed the back of the check and wrote, “Pay to the Order of Felice Cohen.” Wanting to confirm before I approached the ATM, I double-checked with a banker.

“You can’t endorse checks to other people,” said the banker, a woman in her 20s, with eyebrows entirely made of pencil.

“Really?” I said. “Checks can’t be endorsed over anymore?”

“Of course not,” she said. “Then anyone could sign someone’s name. No, the person has to deposit the check, then write another check to you.”

I stood there, slightly dazed. “Wait a minute,” I thought to myself, “this can’t be right.” I found a bank manager who assured me I could deposit the check as I’d prepared. I left feeling slightly better, but still not confident the advice I’m getting from bankers is advice that should be counted on.

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