Today I performed a task that thousands of individuals do every day. In fact, I don’t think anything about doing it. I access my “Favorites” at the top of my browser, click, log into my account, and a few clicks later the transaction is done. If you’re a technology user like me, you take advantage of this service offered by every financial institution today – online banking. I have personally found there to be some really nice benefits to using online banking, particularly when it comes to transferring funds between accounts.
● It’s quick and convenient.
● I can conduct a transaction 24/7.
● I don’t have to make a phone call or rely on anyone else to perform the transaction for me.
● I don’t have to worry about someone else making a mistake.
● I have an instant paper trail if I need to print off the action. A reflector message immediately pops up after a transaction is complete.
If you’re wondering why we’re talking about this topic today, it’s because I literally moments ago finished an online transfer of funds between my money market account and checking account. To confess it, I had to pay the piper, so to speak, for the vacation I just completed. [A crowd of us went to Disneyworld and had a fantastic time!] On a separate transaction, I processed a payment for my credit card which a debit will be hitting my checking account soon. Funds had to be moved from my money market account to cover the forthcoming debit.
Now, for those of you who use online banking regularly, this is totally not a big deal. But, there are some folks out there that are not comfortable with the idea of doing online banking. Some of the excuses I’ve heard go something like this—
Online Banking Excuse #1: I’m on the computer all the time for my job, and I don’t want to have to use the computer for my banking business, too!
Online Banking Excuse #2: I have an old computer that runs really slow. It takes too long to sign in to the bank and access my accounts.
Online Banking Excuse #3: Online banking is confusing, and I’m afraid I’ll make a mistake.
Do you have anyone in your sphere of contact who has made similar comments or don’t utilize online banking? Admittedly, I do, which is another reason I wanted to talk about this topic today. Let’s look at a few tips that we can share with individuals to perhaps help them feel more comfortable with the prospect of using online banking.
Comfort Comment #1: Take the time to set up your online account.
Technology is an integral part of our working experience. It’s true that many of us spend much of our day in front of a computer. However, it’s doesn’t mean you have to allocate countless hours taking care of bank business. In fact, if you set up your online banking account correctly and follow these simple tips, you will actually spend just minutes, not hours, taking care of bank business.
Tip #1: Create a “Banks & Bills” folder in your Favorites. Save the websites of all your banks so they are a click away. (Add other websites like your phone, associations, credit card companies, too! But, that’s for another Post.)
Tip #2: Create a “Sign In” folder for your financial institution. On the outside of the folder, write down the account numbers, log in information, and any other facts needed to access the account. In this way, your details are accessible in a one-stop place.
Make certain highly sensitive information such as your account numbers and associated log in instructions are maintained in a secure file area. If necessary, keep your personal finances files locked. (Check out the Post Your Money-Smart Filing System where I talk about creating a filing system for your financial records).
Comfort Comment #2: Budget so you can keep your technology up-to-date.
As a personal finance writer and researcher, keeping my technology up-to-date is the only way I can function at top efficiency. After all, technology is too closely connected to my work. However, I do know quite a few people who let their technology lag behind the times. Put a small amount of funds aside toward upgrading your technology. You don’t have to update it every year to get the next best thing. Just keep your equipment and software maintained so you can function well in an ever-changing tech environment.
I have one other comment regarding your computer equipment. Be cautious about maintaining the proper safeguards and systems to protect your digital world against spyware, malware, and other malicious intruders that cause a computer to run slow.
I suppose the comfort comment here is really self-explanatory, but worth reiterating. If your equipment is running efficiently, transactions are done safely and quickly. All I can say is this – technology is the future. The digital world is here to stay and you must adapt and embrace it. If you don’t, you’ll fall enough behind to a point where you eventually can’t keep yourself as an active participant in the banking system.
Comfort Comment #3: ASK! for help understanding your bank’s online banking system.
As we discussed in my Post yesterday, Are You Smart About Money Issues?, online banking is not as complicated as you’re assuming. You are more than capable of understanding how this bank service works. It’s just taking it one step at a time and, if necessary, asking for help. In terms of asking for help, there are two options.
Help Option #1: ASK! a tech-comfortable family member you trust to walk you through the technology. (They have to be trustworthy because they will see your personal finances. Remember, too, to change your password once they are done working with you!)
Help Option #2: ASK! a personal banker at a local branch of your financial institution for assistance. Most of the time, even with the big banks, if you ask for some guidance in understanding how the online banking system works, a personal banker will help you. ASK! for an appointment and make your list of questions ahead of time.
Technology has also introduced the concept of mobile banking, which makes banking in the digital world even faster and more convenient. Although we will save a conversation on mobile banking for another day when you’ve mastered your comfort zone with online banking using your computer, depending if the service is offered at your financial institution, mobile banking may be your next step.
I hope our conversation today will allay you of some of the fears about online banking. Or, if you’re someone reading this Post who hasn’t used this bank service before, I really encourage you to check it out. Truly, online banking can be a marvelous tool to help you as a money-smart consumer. In the end, it really is more efficient and a much easier way to manage your money matters.
No homework today!