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Bank local, anyone?

Picture 1 I've never put much thought into picking a bank before. Usually I go for the convenience factor. Is it close to my home, work, or where I shop? Free-ish checking? OK, sold! When we moved to Oregon nine years ago, we picked Washington Mutual because it was close to us and had a branch in the place we figured we'd do most of our grocery shopping.

Flash forward 9 years. Perhaps you've heard of this global financial meltdown crisis thingy? With no effort on my part, my bank accounts at Washington Mutual have now become part of JPMorgan/Chase. Similarly, our Countrywide 30-year fixed rate mortgage is now being serviced by Bank of America. Has something like this happened to you too? I'm less bugged by the mortgage. You get used to the mortgages being sold between banks. But the regular bank accounts? I don't know. I'm starting to think if we spend time and effort supporting local businesses, shouldn't we also support local banks? Yet, does that even exist any more? Long gone are the days where you could walk down to the Main Street bank and get a loan from George Bailey based on a hand-shake because he knew you were good for paying it back. I have used a credit union in the past -- again, because it was right where I worked, so it made more sense than a bank at that time in my life. Truthfully, I don't know if credit unions are very different from banks, and right now I'm feeling too uninspired to do much research into it. Are they more local? Does it make a difference? Sadly, with economics and me, after a while it's all just blah-blah-blah-global crisis. Blah-blah-blah-blah-blah recession. I'm not pooh-poohing that it's a real thing, seriously screwing up the lives and security of many people. I get that. But back to banks. There's a part of me that thinks we should just stick with the big guys. The ones who ate the little fish that we used to have. Aren't they like the knights in shining armor? They've passed their stress tests, right? Blah-blah-blah. I don't know.

Regardless of my lack of real understanding here, I do plan to find a new bank for our families' savings and checking accounts. And I'm leaning toward Umpqua. Why? Well, they started in Oregon, so that's local. And Heather's husband works there. We switched dentists a few years back, picking a neighbor who was starting his own office. It seemed a bit weird at first. Having my neighbor stick his hands in my mouth? But I got over it. Ultimately, it felt right to support a friend and neighbor in small business. I'm just thankful I don't have any neighbors who are OB/GYNs (and if there are any, puh-leeeze people, keep me in the dark, ok?). Now Umpqua Bank isn't exactly small, yet it's smaller, and seems to have its heart in the right place: here. Where I live. And it is different. Perhaps best, our choice to bank there supports real people we know.

Does this have any connection at all to the environment or raising green kids? I think I'm really stretching it today. But I like the idea of expanding my concept of 'shop local.'  Has the climate crisis or global financial mess caused you to rethink how you bank or invest?

(Image created at Wordle.net)


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