Occupy Wall Street, and the occupy movement, are an attempt to solve the problem of disparity of wealth and political influence between the 99% of people, and the 1%. A lot of the focus is on making corporations accountable, and on keeping mega-banks in their place.
This week, there is a way for you to directly put a crimp in the power of the mega-banks. You can join with the 99% to make a shift from big banks, to smaller, locally-based credit unions. You can celebrate “International Credit Union Day“, an annual event sponsored by the Credit Union National Association [CUNA].
On October 20, 2011, consider closing (or starting the process of closing) any bank accounts you have with big banks, and moving your money to a credit union (or small, local bank.) That is all you have to do to make a big difference, and send a huge message to the mega-banks and to our government.
As CUNA notes:
Credit unions are unique because they
are not-for-profit, democratically controlled,
The idea to boycott or move away from banks, and move towards credit unions is not new. There have been various “Moving Your Money To Main Street” campaigns, including a push from the national Green Party. In addition, Green America (aka Co-op America) has always encouraged people to use smaller banks and to use credit unions. There is some advice from Co-op America at the bottom of this post. You can take control of your personal finances, in a way that will strengthen our democracy.
Below are some links to help you find a credit union near you:
Another group, in the spirit of Occupy Wall Street and the 99%, has declared November 5, 2011 to be “Bank Transfer Day”. (There is a story at CNBC: here.) So, it would be wonderful to start planning, or start moving your money on October 20th, and be ready to say good-bye to your mega-bank altogether on November 5th. Don’t forget to use your local credit union for checking, mortgages, and loans!
[Occupiers in San Diego and Philadelphia have show support for Bank Transfer Day.]
If you want to take “International Credit Union Day” a step further, you could also consider flyering in front of a mega-bank on October 20th, [or choose the date of Nov 5th for Bank Transfer Day] to bring attention to the problems of mega-banks, and to suggest people make the change to credit unions. If you are up for this task, consider the information and links at an Occupy Wall Street “Feed The Protest” post: here.
To follow these movements on Twitter, find the following hashtags: #ows #BankTransferDay #OccupyTheBanks.
Below are some valuable tips from Co-op America on “breaking up with your mega-bank.”
1. Open new checking and savings accounts — Close your old mega-bank accounts, and find a new community development bank or credit union that matches your values better. Find your new community bank or credit union (for either your personal or business accounts) on page 20 of the clickable online version of our Community Investing Guide. Find more options via the Community Development Bankers’ Association (www.cdbanks.org) and the Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (www.cdcu.coop). Remember to tell your old bank why you left.
2. Find a greener credit card — Cut up your mega-bank credit cards and mail them back to the bank with a note about why you’re leaving. Find greener credit card options affiliated with community development banks. The Green America credit card helps support our green economy programs. Other greener credit cards support local permaculture projects, protect thebioregion of the Pacific Northwest, or support carbon offset programs. (Find a list of greener credit cards in this article from the Green American.)
3. Get your faith community involved — If you have influence over how your faith community or other community group does its banking, you can encourage them to also break up with their mega-bank, and shift their institutional banking to a community development institution. Our allies the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investing offer a free downloadable toolkit (scroll down the page to find it).
4. Get your alma mater involved — The Responsible Endowment Coalition’s “Move Your Money” Campaign provides resources and a handbook for shifting your college or university toward community development banking and investing.
5. Find a new financial planner — If you use a financial planner that does not offer socially responsible options, investigate your options from more responsible financial networks like First Affirmative Financial Network or Progressive Asset Management. Or search for a financial planner near you at our GreenPages.org.
6. Invest in responsible mutual funds and loan funds — Find options with a special emphasis on strengthening local communities beginning on page 21 of our clickable online Community Investing Guide, or search for other responsible mutual funds at ourGreenPages.org.
- Royal Book of the Week: July 18, 2011 on Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence
- Fantastic idea for action for Occupy Wall Street; Time to Escalate! “Ariana Huffington had tried to get people to move money out of kleptocratic banks. So, this idea isn’t particularly original. However, the timing and context for doing this sort of action, in a way that has legs, is much better, now.” – Firedoglake
For more ideas about how to use your consumer power for good, see our “Compassionate Shopping Tips” post: here.