An estimated 9 million American households are “unbanked” — that is, have neither checking nor savings accounts, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
If you’re one of those approximately 17 million people, you may spend more than $1,000 a year just to cash checks. You’re not very likely to start a savings account, let alone an emergency fund — and if you do have an EF, it’s probably under the mattress, uninsured and at risk of theft or fire.
Maybe you think you don’t need a bank account or that you can’t get one. But you do, and you probably can.
That’s the topic of my latest “Living With Less” column over at MSN Money. “Think a bank won’t take you?” discusses options like Bank On and Operation Hope, which will work with even those who’ve had previous financial problems that got them blacklisted.
Just FYI to those who don’t trust banks: Credit unions participate in these programs, too.
Using check-cashing places is, in effect, giving yourself a pay cut. Please find out if you qualify for a bank or credit union account.
For more on personal finance — everything from rent-free living to getting paid to save money — browse through the Living With Less article index.