If the inescapable headlines and news alerts about the financial crisis still fly over your head, don't feel bad—even some of us in the financial industry need some help understanding why it all happened, what it means, and what the bailout plan intends to do.
I recently stumbled upon American Public Media's Marketplace, Senior Editor Paddy Hirsch has been posting videos online describing the current financial crisis in understandable analogies.
Sitting at my desk this morning, finishing up my normal routine of scanning the blogosphere, I came across a very interesting post about a woman who paid off $14,330 worth of credit card debt in 20 months. No, she didn't win the lottery or sell her car; she simply employed tips and tricks from previous articles on the site. Most of the tips are obvious - like cutting back on unnecessary expenses and paying more than the minimum on your monthly payments - but don't let that fool you into thinking it is not worth the read, there are still many great ideas, tips and a handy spreadsheet or two.
You can read the consumerist.com article here at consumerist.com.
For those who don’t know, the consumerist focuses on - you guessed it - consumer experiences and issues. It is a great resource for the savvy shopper or one who wants to sharpen their purchasing skills.
What do you do if you receive a bank fee for accidentally overdrawing your account? If you are like most people, you call the bank's 800 number and ask to have it refunded. Assuming this is a one-time occurrence, many banks and savings institutions will forgive this type of mistake and refund the fee. Case closed.
However, what about the minor annoyances that get under your skin, like frequent ATM fees or the delayed availability of funds from a check you've deposited? Most people will simply live with them. My suggestion is to get to know your local branch manager.
As the "business owner" of the local branch, they can often provide options to relieve your pain. And in the case of larger issues, like a lost or stolen debit card, they can help you maneuver through the various back office areas to get you a resolution. So, the next time you are around the local branch, take a few minutes to introduce yourself to the branch manager. In these turbulent financial times, you never know when you might need help.