You have to have money to… October 12, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy.
And never more clear was that statement than the latest news about Bank of Ireland and other banks doing away with ‘free banking’. Funnily enough sonofstan mentioned something along these lines yesterday in comments.
This has been a trend across the last half decade where services which were once free are now creeping back. And it’s fairly sly too. Earlier this year, or late last year, BofI to take an example at random, announced that free banking would only be available for those who according to the Irish Times:
…had €3,000 going through their accounts over a three-month period and made nine online transactions also avoided charges.
An after tax annual income of €12,000 would suffice. A bit trickier on transactions because they couldn’t be direct debits but had to be transfers of money. But again, a little inventiveness and it was doable. Except of course it depended on people having computers and being signed up to internet banking. And for a fair few that’s a significant hurdle.
Under the changes to its fee structure, from the middle of November free banking will only be available to customers who leave €3,000 permanently in their current account. This money will not earn any interest.
Nice. It won’t earn money for the customer, but for the bank – well that’s a different matter.
And it points up a basic truth, that in order to qualify one must firstly have €3,000 in addition to all other monies available to put into the account, and secondly that one is willing to place it there for an extended period of time. In a society where indebtedness is now endemic that’s a considerable ask. But even if that wasn’t the case in a society where large numbers have low wages it is still a considerable ask. It immediately loads extra charges onto those who already have less, and I remember all too well not having
In a way this reminds me of a column in the Guardian at the weekend in its Money section where a 49 year old who wanted to travel asked the following question.
I’m 49, enjoy my job and have the options to take two months unpaid leave. I have not travelled much and am aching to backpack in Asia. The downside is I’ll have to borrow the money. Is it irresponsible, or would I be crazy not to?
Two responses in particular struck me. The first is as follows:
If you’ve managed to get to 49 without accumulating enough money to fund a two-month trip away you either have a very poorly paid job, have very little money or ongoing debts (due to bad luck or poor lifestyle choices) or are generally feckless with money. I would seriously ask yourself whether you have the where withal to pay the debt back upon your return, which given that you need the loan in the first place must be in some doubt.
You are middle-aged with no savings, so you’re going to end up a dependent of the state anyway – why not be as irresponsible as you can?
Happily you live in a socialists country where the rest of us can take care of you. Since you have no savings it’s unlikely you’ll be able to repay the money y9u borrow, so you’ll begin to spiral into uncontrolled debt. Borrow on several credit cards then drink heavily when the stress becomes too great. That’s the British way! I travel for extended periods all the time, but you have to take care of your finances first. Aged 49 with no savings is atrocious.
Let’s note that the original commentor does not actually say they have no savings but that they need to borrow the money for two months. But putting that aside – and the mean spiritedness of the responses (which by the by were atypical in general) this shows how limited the horizons of some are. It’s remarkably easy to reach 49 in this society, and the UK and of course elsewhere, with minimal savings. Again, low wage jobs are also endemic. They’re also insecure with no guarantee that they’ll last for a prolonged period of time. Costs of living are significant and rising. And savings can be something approaching myth.
I’ve mentioned some of this before, how to get certain deals one has to have upfront funds, magazine and newspaper subscriptions are an example of these, but there are many more. Sure, you have the money you can slice ten or twenty per cent off a cost, but again, you have to have the money to save money.
In a way what is as telling is the fact that this seems to be unbelievable or a source of shame to some.
By the way, what of Bank of Ireland in this:
A spokeswoman for Bank of Ireland defended its decision not to issue news releases to the media about the bank charge changes or the mortgage interest rate increase and claimed that improvements to its online operation and the creation of banking apps for smartphones were costly and would have to be paid for by end users.
No word to the media? And note this:
The bank stood over the changes by saying current accounts were “an expensive account to supply”.
Given that so few of us have a choice in these matters, having to have bank accounts, you’d have to wonder whether they taking the proverbial there…