There’s nothing too small to be included here in the askyermom answers section, ya know.

When I was your age, I was savagely subject to countless grown-ups tisking at me with comments like, “How could you NOT know that?”

They apparently forgot that there were many things that they did not know at one time. Or they remembered, but giving the younguns a hard time was their twisted way of coping with the vastness of the unknown. Jerks.

In the spirit of answering even those things you kids may feel are “Dumb Questions” we’ll tackle the very basics of banking.

memnativ on flickr

The first thing to know about banks is that they are interested in making money with your money. Sure, they may pretend to be your neighbors or they may seem like some mildly depressed people who only play with rubber bands when you aren’t there, but don’t be fooled. Without your money, the relationship does not exist.

They will use vocabulary that is alien and yet familiar enough that you may be embarrassed to ask for clarification, such as “minimum balance” and “annual percentage rate.” When in doubt, ask.

There are going to be things you learn the hard way unless you are some natural at finance, but ask lots of questions. You don’t want to be that person who thinks “balloon payment” sounds like fun, only to find out what it really is too late. (It is not fun).

Also, be aware that they use the word “free” a lot in banking brochures, but it’s a fake-out. It’s “free” money that already belongs to you. Be careful that you can afford whatever they are selling you for “free.”

Bankers love forms. Even online you will have to fill out forms to move money around. Be prepared to know your numbers: social security, bank account, loan account, bank routing, maybe even your drivers license number. You may need the mailing address of the person or company to which you are trying to give money.

You will always have to know what day it is, although knowing the date is the Foremost Infallible Power of bank tellers, so don’t worry.

If you find that you are missing some magic piece of information, just take a deep breath and prepare to start over later when you have it. The first rule of paperwork is do not let the paperwork rule you. You got this, good-lookin’!!

When you fill out a check, you can use this guide until it’s familiar. If you need to send a money order, it costs a small fee, but it may be required for some transactions.

And don’t forget: you have to save it to spend it.

We’ll cover saving in the next installment, so go floss your teeth or do something productive.


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