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Faith & Culture: Why I don't bank on the major bank system anymore

“The capitalist economy is intensely competitive and individualistic, and goes out of its way to encourage us to put ourselves first.

“The capitalist economy is intensely competitive and individualistic, and goes out of its way to encourage us to put ourselves first.” – Karen Armstrong in Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life

It’s been 20 years since I bolted Canada’s chartered banks for the comparative sanity of a credit union.

I just got tired of being charged $2.50 for sneezing while on bank property and using one of their personalized, gold-embossed tissues; of being assessed a $2 fee if I had more than two pre-authorized payments a month, etc. I concluded the banks could extend Tubby the Toronto-based CEO his big bonus without my contribution. So, see ya later TD Canada Trust, farewell Scotiabank, au revoir BMO, bye-bye RBC, so long CIBC - “Gonna face the promise of the promised land withoutcha” (to pilfer from one of Bob Seger’s classic tunes).

I was recently reminded of the wisdom of the decision I’ve never regretted upon reading a news item that in March the Bank of Nova Scotia will hike monthly fees for two of its chequing accounts by a few dollars. All customers with a Scotiabank chequing account with transaction limits will also notice a spike in the cost of using Scotiabank ATM if they go over their monthly limit, to $1 from 65 cents. The same nonsense prevails over at TD Canada Trust, which lately instituted similar increases. This, despite a blockbuster three months for Canada’s Big Five banks! For the period ending in November, the banks made a record combined profit of $6.1 billion. Over the year 2011, banks posted earnings of $22.4 billion, a significant jump over 2010. It was also a year-to-smile for bankers. The top five lenders set aside $9.3 billion in bonuses for their best performers. Let’s call it what it is! It’s capitalism run amok, quite possibly one of the most obscene scenarios one will ever witness in life.

“We want to thank our customers for allowing us to use your money by charging you even more for your loyalty,” the Big Five are saying.

Nice! Rocket Science 101, this stuff!

Kerry Taylor, author of 397 Ways to Save Your Money applauds, says more consumers need to follow and “fire” their bank, and use financial institution that offer no-fee banking.

“Consumers need to get smarter about where we’re banking,” he suggests.

He’s talking about good stewardship.

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