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Voices of MainStreet: April Lee

Banks: The Big, Bad Wolf

Jan. 28, 2011

When thought of simply, loans are a win-win for both consumers and banks. The individual gets what he wants or needs quickly and the bank makes money in the meantime. If getting the cash fast is more important than costs, then this isn't a terrible trade-off. At the most fundamental level, this is how a loan works. Pay your bills on time, and if you can’t, for whatever reason, then the banks are willing to work with you. After all, they’d rather not lose the money that's flowing freely into their hands.

With banks there is theory, what happens and the way of the world to consider.

The older I get, the more I realize how futile loans can be for the consumer. I can’t imagine saving up enough money to purchase a house outright but certainly I can save to purchase other things like used cars and the like.

Seattle has a steady flux of people arriving from all over the world. Many foreigners are astounded by the amount of loans Americans take and after learning how they simply saved, spent wisely and sacrificed their immediate wants for something they’ll need later, I think they're onto something. I don’t think loans are evil, but I do think they should be used as a last resort.

Anyone who has remotely paid attention to the news has heard much about the disasters they encountered with banks during the recession. There were horror stories with Bank of America, the current bank I use. Personally, I have not encountered any issues as a result of their actions, only mine.

I started banking with Bank of America because I was traveling for work and it was the most convenient bank to use. Now that I've settled in Seattle, I’m considering switching to a local credit union.

As a general rule of thumb, I disagree with the State of Texas that “bigger is better" and this is why the credit union is so appealing. Most everyone I meet here recommends a local option.

Seattle seems to agree with the rest of the country that banks simply suck. I don’t agree with the “hippy” view that anything bigger than a tiny mom & pop store is bad. After all, business by itself is not bad, it's just business (except when people become greedy or plain irresponsible). Unfortunately, the stories about banks have been fairly damaging to their image and, for lack of a better term, business. The banks don't see what we see when they look in the mirror.

—April is a well-traveled young woman planting her roots in sunny Seattle, or well, just Seattle. Her writing covers whatever piques her interest and curiousity. Check out her blog here.

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