Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ask, and you shall receive

In most situations in life, if we want something, we have to ask for it. Just like being in a relationship with someone. If you're unhappy about something, you have to talk about it. No-one can read your mind so you have to express yourself or ask for it.

A few years ago, a friend of a friend told me that at her jewellery shop, if a shopper didn't ask for a discount, they never offered it. However, if any shoppers ask for a discount, they will always get some sort of discount. I've always used her very sagacious advice and applied it to a lot of my shopping expeditions and it really works. In terms of personal finance, it also works in the financial banking sphere.

So what am I rambling about? I know that you can negotiate with banks for higher interest rates. In the past, they have increased the interest on my savings however it wasn't always the case. But there is a trick to it. If you just ask for a random interest rate increase, chances are you won't receive the increase. However, if you ask them to match the 'introductory rates' that are offered for new depositors or for 'introductory periods' then there's a 99% chance that they will match the rates. Especially if you've done a bit of research and ask for the specific rate that they are offering to other depositors.

If you're dealing with with a teller or a customer service representative on the phone and they're being stubborn, you can get what you want if you ask to speak to their manager or mention that you'll be transferring your savings to their competitor...the one with the higher rates of course.

Previously, I wrote about opening up my uBank account for their 6.01%-6.51% interest, compounded monthly. My other bank increased my rates, but uBank is a really well-thought out banking subsidiary of NAB's so I'll transfer some savings into their account. May as well keep my deposits diversified... until I find a new acquisition or a stock I want to buy.

It's not like Australian banks will collapse like US banks did in the 1930s. Off the top of my head, I think it was something like 500 banks and financial institutions failed in the US during that period. That's why the governments were so keen to guarantee banking deposits during the financial crisis. There are no banks that can survive a deposit run. They don't hold much in cash (just like most of us), they have loaned out their deposits in order to maximise their returns for shareholders.

There are so many Aussies who hate banks. Don't hate them, join 'em! Buy shares in them. Be a shareholder. Earn dividends. The major class action against the major banks is a bit of a joke. Most people who are constantly incurring late fees, interest and charges can't really blame anyone but themselves and their financial practices.

I'm not defending the banks or anything, but if you're a good steward of your funds, you probably wouldn't have incurred any of those charges. And if you forget occasionally, most of the time, call them up and ask for the fees to be reversed. They will usually reverse the charges.

Ask for it, and you will get it. Simple.

This being a personal finance blog, I guess I should stick to financial topics but... it's so tempting to write about things other than personal finance every now and then. On the weekend, we had gorgeous weather and it's spring :) Gardens are in bloom and of course, I had to go shopping for some new plants since our pot plants died while we were holidaying. Here are some shots that I took over the weekend revealing our Spring in its full glory :)

Beautiful daisies all over the farm in wild abundance:

I bought two Camellia trees and received two as a gift so I've got four trees:

Peach blossoms will always be one of my favourite:

Beautiful posy of blossoms:

As you can see from all those tempting blooms, I went a bit nuts and bought about $313 bucks worth of gardening materials and plants. Not to mention my photo frenzy!

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