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Bank-Free Survival Guide Part 1

May 19, 2013

*****NOTE***** Going Bank-Free is not easy. If anything, the first few months are a hideous reminder that the system is created to keep you a slave to it. This is how I have survived bank free. I don’t have a mortgage or a car payment so I thankfully don’t have to deal with that, but I do have rent, student loans, and utility bills that need paying so I have laid out how I manage as far as those are concerned. Even if you can’t break out of the banks 100% any little bit you take away from them helps. Remember, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

 

CHECKS: The main issue I hear about when people talk about leaving the financial system is cashing workplace checks. There are a few alternatives to using banks. The first of these alternatives is Party Stores. Many party stores will cash your workplace check in exchange for a few bucks off the top. The store I used the most would take $5 off the top. While I realize the idea of losing $5 isn’t exactly a fun one, it saves a lot in the hassle department. The next alternative is a Pawn Store. Not all Pawn Stores will cash checks, but the ones that do follow the same path as the party stores. Again, if you can spare the extra taken off the top, it is well worth it. The 3rd alternative is going to the bank that issued the check. For instance, if your business goes through Comerica, you can go to Comerica to get it cashed. There are a few issues with this alternative though. The main one being the harassment you get when you go to cash it. You are constantly bombarded with pitches to open accounts. Another issue is that they will also take $ off the top. The bank my work goes through charges $10. Fuck them I’d rather have my check cashed at the local party store.

BILLS: Following the “checks” question, immediately concerns come up about how to pay bills. Most places refuse to take cash so you are forced to get somewhat creative in your approach. For utility bills and stuff like that pre-paid credit cards are great. Most have a limit of $500 but I keep my bills below that so I haven’t had to worry about going over. Basically you can find pre-paid cards (for now) pretty much anywhere. When I have bills that require a bit more (such as rent) I use a money transfer. The prices are different for every place, but I can tell you that Western Union is pretty expensive. That being said, they are also extremely reliable.

ONLINE PURCHASES: If I need to get something online from an online retailer like Amazon or Barnes and Noble, I either use pre-paid cards, or I will actually go out and buy gift cards if it’s a place like Amazon, and I will just use those. Seems silly I know, but if you truly want to be free of using banks, these are the kinds of measures you have to go to. 

95% of the time I use (worthless) Cash. I don’t have credit cards and I refuse to deal with banks and credit unions. It makes life a lot harder at times, but Freedom isn’t free and it sure as fuck isn’t easy. If I come across a place that doesn’t take cash, money transfer, or pre-paid cards, I don’t use them. In fact, I try to limit pre-paid card usage when I can. There are ways to get out of the system but they aren’t easy, and they aren’t fun. What I can tell you though, is that there is a great feeling that comes with being out of the banking system. It’s not for everyone, but if you manage to do it, it pays off in spades.

That’s about it for this particular edition. I will keep updating this as I experience more things. I’m also going to figure out something for you Mortgage and Car payment peeps. This is by no means the be all end all, but it IS a START. Nothing more, nothing less. Good luck with your banking escape. If you have any questions or comments send me an email at cjw9379@yahoo.com and I will answer what I can.

-CJ

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