When I was about thirteen or so, my mom brought me down to the local branch of the regional bank and helped me set up my first checking account. I had diligently saved $100 of my babysitting money, which I deposited in my brand new checking account.
And suddenly, I was an individual with a bank! I had the ability to deposit and withdraw cash from that account. I could use my debit card to buy things with the money in that account. And I could transfer money from that account to others as I grew older and my financial needs expanded. When I got my first jobs, my employers could automatically deposit my paychecks directly into that account. Heckin’ magical.
I thought this was a pretty damn normal step toward adulthood. So imagine my surprise when I learned, years later, that not everyone goes through the rite of passage of opening a bank account when they’re young. Or at all.
There are, in fact, 17 million American adults who do not have a bank account of any kind. These individuals are known as the unbanked. The unbanked or underbanked represent 25% of U.S. households. And while many of them choose to be unbanked for various legitimate reasons (a distrust of financial institutions, for example), many of them are unbanked because of circumstances beyond their control (an inability to open an account due to legal status, or an inability to maintain minimum balances due to long-term poverty, for example).
Having a bank account is important and useful. So allow your beloved Internet auntie to take you under her downy, cloud-like snow goose wing and walk you through everything you need to know about how and why to open your very first bank account! Read More