April 5, 2022

31. Banking till death do us part


Here’s today’s listener letter: A few recent episodes of the show have made it clear to me that I want my money to be put into banks with community minded values, however, I am stuck. My money is currently at a very large and very shady national bank along with my wife’s money and she does not agree that we should move it to a values aligned bank. How can I convince her to move our money?

Links from today's conversation:
mightydeposits.com
renegadecapitalpodcast.com

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Transcript

Here’s today’s listener letter: A few recent episodes of the show have made it clear to me that I want my money to be put into banks with community minded values, however, I am stuck. My money is currently at a very large and very shady national bank along with my wife’s money and she does not agree that we should move it to a values aligned bank. How can I convince her to move our money? 

This show is generally about how to align our personal values and our money, but lately there have been lots of questions about banking, so let’s go there again this week. How to talk to a hesitant spouse about moving your money to a values aligned bank. That is a tough one, but I think there are steps you can take.

This show offers a lot of gentle suggestions, so I am going to provide some ideas for gentle actions you can take with your spouse. I don’t think you’ll get far if you approach your spouse and say that every single dollar of your assets needs to be moved immediately. And there are a lot of reasons for that, for one thing, we really need institutional changes at the policy level to change what is causing a lot of the things you are probably worried about whether that is poverty or climate change or gender inequality or whatever it is that keeps you up at night. Also, even if you are committed to completely taking all individual actions that you can, it is unrealistic for most people to do it all right away.

So how to talk to your spouse who is hesitant about switching banks? Probably the first thing to do is to try to understand what’s behind the hesitation? What exactly is keeping her from being on the same page as you? Is it that she is worried about the logistical hassle of moving your accounts to a new bank? Is she worried that there won’t be the same access to physical bank branches? These sorts of administrative type of concerns I think you can address by picking up more of the slack. 

Maybe she’s afraid that your money won’t be as safe at a values bank rather than a traditional bank. We’ve talked about CDFIs on the show before, that stands for community development financial institution and they are literally created with the purpose of providing financial services to low income communities and people who lack access to financing. That is their whole mission. You could think of them as a mission driven bank. If your wife is afraid of putting money into a CDFI because she thinks it isn’t as secure as putting your money at a traditional bank, you can choose one of the really big CDFIs. Like Amalgamated Bank. It is almost a hundred years old, they have $57 Billion in assets. It is a bank that is committed to social and environmental responsibility. It is a B Corp (download episode #10 for more about B Corps). They are net zero and powered by 100% renewable energy and they have a long history of supporting worker’s rights, immigrants, affordable housing, etc. Fun fact, they created the first foreign-exchange transfer service to allow immigrants to safely send remittances to relatives abroad. Anyway Amalgamated is an example of a big old values aligned bank if that is something that addresses your spouse’s hesitation.

Maybe your spouse will say that she just does not want the disruption in the day to day money logistics of your lives. 

A solution that can help with a lot of these hesitations is to think about a specific bundle of cash that you can start with. Instead of approaching her with the proposal that you move all of your money, think about a bundle of cash that she might be willing to entertain. So, maybe you are setting up a first checking account for a child. Or, maybe you are saving up to buy a home. I’m trying to suggest discrete pots of money that you don’t typically need to touch that often. Think about whether you need constant access to that money or it can sit for a set amount of time before you’re going to need it. So the first piece of homework was to ask your spouse to articulate the deeper reasons behind her hesitation and your second homework is to identify a bundle of cash that you can start with.

Third thing to do is to think about your shared values. What is something that fires you both up? What’s the thing that you find yourselves amped up about at 2am? Climate change? Worker’s rights? What is it? Starting from a value that you both feel passionate about is going to be helpful.

Fourth thing to do is your research. The internet is a gold mine of information about the various banks that are out there. In episode 30 we talked about a new tool that you can use to compare banks and how they are using our cash. If you have more capacity, pick up the phone and call the banks you are considering. Especially for the CDFIs, you are going to get an enthusiastic person on the line to tell you about the work they are doing in their communities and answer your questions- how big their assets are, how well they fared during the 2008 recession or during covid, what percent of loans that they give out end up defaulting. Whatever you want to know, or even better if you have the list of concerns from your spouse, you can literally call one of these banks and just ask.

Now I think you’ll be in a better position to resume the conversation with your spouse. Hopefully, after seeing that there were no issues with that bundle of cash, your spouse will be more open to moving more of your money to that bank in the future.

Before wrapping up this episode, I do want to give a shout out to Ebony Perkins, the former VP and Director of Investor Relations at Self-Help Credit Union. She has a podcast called Renegade Capital and many of her insights from her work there as well as in various interviews and lectures were inspirations to the suggestions today.