(News & Editorial/ Underbank, unbank, or go for the gold?)
A. Unbanking vs. Underbanking: How to Break Up with the Financial System
25 Mar 2013, SHTFplan.com, by Daisy Luther
Pasted from; http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/unbanking-vs-underbanking-how-to-break-up-with-the-financial-system_03252013
The US government actually has a name for people who have no bank accounts – they call these folks “the unbanked”. The FDIC defines the unbanked as “those without an account at a bank or other financial institution and are considered to be outside the mainstream for one reason or another.” Another term is “the underbanked” – “people or businesses that have poor access to mainstream financial services normally offered by retail banks. The underbanked can be characterized by a strong reliance on non-traditional forms of finance and micro-finance often associated with disadvantaged and the poor, such as check cashers, loan sharks and pawnbrokers.”
According to the government, the above scenarios are crisis situations which must be rectified for “your own good”. There is legislation on the table in many states to set up banking facilities for the unbanked and underbanked. The assumption is that most folks who do not deal with a bank are too poor to do so. This could be true in many cases: high minimum balances, bad credit history, NSFs, and account fees can all preclude having a bank account for those in difficult financial straits.
However, the government has a couple more reasons to insist that everyone should have a bank account:
1) Ease of confiscation
We need only to look at the horrible situation in Cyprus to see how bank accounts are like all you-can-steal-buffets for the powers that be. A suggested
theft TAX of up to 20% of the money in Cypriot bank accounts may be levied in order for the country to meet its staggering debts in the terms of the proposed EU bailout. The banks of Cyprus are loaded with the money of residents and businesses of other countries that have used them as a tax haven. The banks have been closed for several days and frantic customers are left to withdraw the maximum daily balances from ATM machines in an attempt to salvage what they can. Many people fear the banks will never reopen their doors.
Think it can’t happen here? I wonder if the people of Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Hungary, Argentina, Spain, and Portugal thought that too.
The second reason that “everyone should have access to banking services” is the digital trail that it leaves. Every dime you receive and spend out of these accounts is part of an intricate system of surveillance. When your money goes into a bank – any bank – Big Brother knows about it. It’s a simple matter of compiling information via your social security number (or other federally- assigned number) to find out how much you make, how much you have, and where it comes from. This can be used to prosecute you for tax purposes, to locate you through where your pay comes from, and to follow your personal money trail for a variety of different reasons.
It can also be used to track your spending – Big Brother can find out that you spent $2,000 at a gun store, that you purchased online from a prepper supply website or that you bought some books with “questionable” content in order to paint you as a threat.
So, in this day and age, is it possible to get by completely without a bank account?
It’s tough. Most work places prefer to pay through direct deposit. Many landlords, mortgage companies and finance companies do business through direct debit. You’re going to pay some steep fees if this is the route that you choose to go. For some, it might be worth it, particularly if you only have a few transactions in a month.
Here are some places you can cash checks for a fee:
- Check cashing depots
- Some retailers like Wal-Mart, 7-11, and some grocery stores (the number of these is dropping rapidly)
- Pawn shops
- The issuing bank will sometimes cash a check drawn from one of their accounts for a non-account holder
- Some prepaid credit card accounts will accept a direct deposit (in my opinion, this is nearly as unsafe as having your money in a bank account)
- Through a friend or family member’s account (also risky – for both you and the account holder)
Here are some ways you can pay bills without a bank account:
- In person, with cash, cashier’s checks, or money orders
- Through the mail, with cashier’s checks or money orders
- Online, with prepaid credit cards
- Through a kiosk using a prepaid credit card
- At a check-cashing depot or retailer
Your next option is underbanking. For some people this may be the most realistic way to break up with their bank – it’s the “just friends” version. If you have a lot of transactions that go through your account every month, it isn’t necessarily practical to get rid of your account. Keep in mind that all of the above methods of unbanking still have a component of financial tracking. The checks and bills still have your personal information tied to them in most cases.
When you underbank, you still have an account. Set this up with the lowest possible fee and the lowest possible required balance. Shop around to find the best deal. Consider a credit union or community bank instead of one of the big mega-banks. They are slightly safer, emphasis on slightly.
Your paychecks from work can be directly deposited, which will make your employer happy. Employers rarely want to do something outside the norm, and if everyone else gets their pay directly deposited, writing a check for you will make you stand out – the opposite of what you want to do. As well, any other checks you receive, like refunds, tax returns, etc., can be processed through this account.
The goal here is to keep as little money as possible in this account. Banks are no longer the safest place to keep your money, and the .00001% of interest you will accrue is just not worthwhile.
Immediately upon payday:
- Pay all your bills online or through a kiosk out of this account – rent, utilities, credit card payments (hopefully you don’t have those)
- Buy necessities like groceries if you need to reduce the amount in the account for withdrawal purposes
- Calculate the amount of payments that will be coming out of your account between now and your next pay (rent/mortgage, car payment, insurance)
- Remove all money except that required for impending debits and your minimum balance. Get it in cash.
Avoid Financial Surveillance
The government wants everyone to have a bank account for another reason besides quick accessibility for the purpose of thievery. Big Brother wants to know what you earn, what you spend, and where you spend it. Every penny you spend could one day be used against you, as more and more things become illegal in the police state that is taking over the western world.
Use your bank account as little as possible if you’ve chosen to underbank:
- Buy stuff with cash
- Skip registering your belongings by serial number for warranty purposes
- For heaven’s sakes, don’t get one of those “customer loyalty” cards that track every purchase you make and provide you with “rewards” or “points”
- Buy from places that don’t track you, like yard sales, Craigslist, farmer’s markets, roadside stands, your brother’s friend’s sister’s boyfriend
- Work for cash: this is another suggestion that won’t work for everybody, but if you can do some odd jobs for cash, even if you make slightly less money doing so, this is money that can’t be tracked.
Think about how your purchases tell a story about you that you might rather keep to yourself. Are you buying lots of farm equipment, soil amendments and seeds? Are you buying ammo every week? Are you stocking away large quantities of food or medical supplies? Have you recently purchased 2,347 books on different guerrilla warfare tactics? OPSEC is more than just keeping your mouth shut about your prepperly ways.
Ditch the Dollar
Although you require some fiat currency to function in today’s society, as well as some in an emergency fund, consider using other forms of currency whenever possible. The following suggestions won’t work for everyone, but some folks may be able to ditch the dollar in the following ways:
- Engage in the barter system: trade goods and services with like-minded people.
- Keep precious metals like gold and silver in a fireproof safe for your “savings account”
- Immediately convert fiat currency into tangible goods: food, ammo, home defense items, tools, etc.
- Work towards self-sufficiency – if you buy less, you can earn less: grow your food, repair your own home or vehicle, do things manually instead of using expensive equipment, lessen your dependency on the grid
- Simplify – this goes hand in hand with self sufficiency: find your entertainment from library books and online resources, skip eating out, take a walk instead of joining a gym – the less you feel you need, the less money you will have to earn.
The decision to unbank or underbank is unique to every individual. The further away you can get from “the system” the more privacy and security you will have. The suggestions above are not meant to be comprehensive – they’re meant to get you thinking about how you can disengage.
B. 3 Simple Steps To Surviving Without A Bank Account
7 May 2013, OffTheGridNews.com, By Mike
Pasted from: http://www.offthegridnews.com/2013/05/07/3-simple-steps-to-surviving-without-a-bank-account/
One basic economic survival skill that everybody needs to master in today’s world is the ability to function in today’s economy without a bank account. Everybody needs to do this because it is entirely possible that you will find yourself without a bank account in the near future.
There are several reasons why you need to seriously consider the possibility of not having a bank account. Changes in the banking industry make it harder for working people to get or keep bank accounts.
- The growing number of fees attached to bank accounts often makes it difficult for average people to maintain one. To make matters worse, it is getting easier for governments and creditors to seize money from a bank account.
- Another growing problem is credit scores, which are difficult to improve. Even a minor financial crisis can destroy your credit score and leave you without the ability to open a bank account.
Even many middle class families might find themselves without bank accounts in the near future. This situation isn’t as desperate as it sounds because it is still possible to pay bills, buy and sell online, and to receive your salary in the form of a direct deposit to preloaded credit and debit cards without a bank account or a checking account. It is even possible to get and use a debit card without a bank account.
Alternatives to Bank Accounts
Fortunately there are a number of alternatives that allow you to receive your salary or government benefit even without a bank account. You can use most of these online and at any store that has an electronic card reader. You can also use them to get cash from ATMs and from stores such as supermarkets.
Three excellent cards you can get without a good credit score include:
- AccountNow is a Visa debit card. It has an $8 a month fee, which is cheaper than most bank accounts. You can direct deposit your salary with it and even pay bills. It will actually send out checks to credit card companies, utilities, etc., and make some electronic payments. You can deposit cash in it electronically from any bank account. A big advantage to this card is that you can use it at almost any retail store. Money can also be wired to it. [A Google search shows the card has high fees. Mr. Larry]
- Bluebird is a similar product to AccountNow that is offered by American Express and Wal-Mart. Money can be loaded to it at any Wal-Mart store, and electronic bill payment is available. Funds can also be deposited from any bank account. It offers many features similar to bank accounts, including online account management and bill payment. A disadvantage is that it is an American Express card, so many merchants don’t take it. Another drawback for rural residents is that American Express will not ship it to P.O. boxes. You will need to have a street address as your mailing address. The fact that Wal-Mart is offering this product is pretty frightening. The retail giant has obviously concluded that large numbers of Americans are going to be without bank accounts in the near future and is moving to take advantage.
- PayPal Debit cards. If you have a PayPal account, there is a debit card available. No credit check is needed. You will only be able to spend the funds in your PayPal account with it. One advantage to this is that you can use funds generated by your online business at stores and get cash. PayPal and Discover are also developing a more sophisticated variety.
These cards will allow you to take advantage of services normally associated with bank accounts without needing to have a bank account. You will need these if you want to do things like pay utility, insurance, or mortgage bills. These services are cheaper than money orders and wiring money.
Another advantage to these cards is that you can avoid check-cashing outlets, which often charge high fees. Instead, you can get the funds directly deposited.
Some Other Hints for Living without a Bank Account
You will have to learn how to do some basic day-to-day activities in a different way without a bank account. A perfect example is cashing a check.
There are ways to avoid paying a high fee when you cash a check. A good one is to simply sign the check over to a friend or relative who has a bank account. Another is to talk to business owners; some business owners, especially mom-and-pop convenience store owners, will cash payroll checks for a person that they know and trust. They’ll sometimes do this for a smaller fee than check-cashing chains will charge.
Many supermarkets will cash checks at a lower rate than the check cashing chains. Simply go to the service desk at the market and ask. You can also take the check to the bank that issued it; a bank will have to honor a check issued by its depositors. However, they will probably charge a fee if you don’t have an account there.
Another is paying bills. The cheapest and easiest way to do this is to take advantage of cards like Bluebird or AccountNow. See above for details on these; you can set them up without a bank
account even if you have a poor credit score. Another advantage to these cards is that you can get your salary direct-deposited and avoid the hassle of check cashing.
Living on a Cash Basis
Some people will wonder why not to just use cash. There are several reasons for this: the first is that if physical cash is destroyed or stolen, it is gone. If somebody picks your pocket or a burglar finds the cash under the mattress, any cash swiped is gone. If that’s all you have, you’re in trouble.
Another drawback that many people don’t think about is that carrying around a lot of cash is putting out an open invitation to the criminal element. Crooks notice who has cash and who doesn’t. If you carry a lot of cash on the street, you’re sending an invitation to muggers and drug addicts.
Storing a lot of cash at home is dangerous because it is an invitation to a home invasion robbery. Even if you have guns, this isn’t a very pleasant thing to experience. Something to think about is do you really want your children caught in the cross fire between you and an armed bandit?
Criminals that see you with a lot of cash might conclude that you have drugs or stolen property in your home. That will make you a potential target for armed robbery. Armed robbers like to target other crooks because they cannot call the police for help.
If you keep a lot of cash at home, store it in a well-hidden safe and only tell a few people who you really trust about the cash and where it is. Don’t tell young children or teenagers about the safe and the cash because they may inadvertently talk about it.
Try and Get a Bank Account
One final thought here: Try to get and keep a bank account if you can. Although there are some risks associated with bank accounts (such a possible government seizure), there are also some big advantages. You can electronically deposit money in them, and they are insured by the FDIC. If you can open a bank account right now, open one or two extra accounts so that you can have options if you have to close one.
A good way to get an extra bank account is to open an online account through Capital One or American Express. These can give you a basic savings account that offers such features as FDIC deposit insurance. Something to remember is that you can always transfer money from such an account to a product like AccountNow or Bluebird if you have to.
[Capital One recently bought ING Direct which was an online retail bank, goto: https://home.capitalone360.com/ Mr. Larry]
If you cannot open a bank account, keep trying; there are some banks that let persons with low credit scores open accounts. These often charge higher fees, but it can be worth it.
Everybody, whether you are a prepper or not, needs to think about living without a bank account because it’s a nightmare that almost anyone can face in today’s world. The best way to face this problem is to think about it before it occurs.
C. Chase Liquid Prepaid Card Review: Is It Really Legit?
Written or last updated in 2013, CreditCardForum.com, by Michael Dolen
Pasted from: http://creditcardforum.com/blog/chase-liquid-prepaid-card-review-is-it-really-legit/
Everyone knows the prepaid debit card industry is full of scams and rip-offs. Many of these cards are infamous for bilking consumers with a laundry list of excessive fees.
So is the new prepaid card from Chase any different?
The answer is yes. Unlike the other guys who disguise a card’s true cost with a complex fee structure, what Chase does is something very transparent – they charge a single fee which covers just about everything you can think of. It’s not quite as good of a deal as the AmEx Prepaid Card, but it probably deserves the title of being 2nd best.
Here’s a quick rundown of what the prepaid Chase Liquid card will cost…
So as you see, the $4.95 monthly fee isn’t always going to be cheaper. However, when you consider the fact that you can avoid paying reload fees, ATM fees, etc… the amount you pay at the end of the month will likely be cheaper.
That being said, it may (or may not) be the best prepaid card, depending on your specific circumstances. Here’s a review of the pros and cons:
- You can load cash for free – With most prepaid debit cards (incl. the AmEx Prepaid) in order to reload with cash, you have to buy a GreenDot MoneyPak. Those cost up to $4.95 each and can only be used once, to load up to $500 (so basically, you’re forking over 1% or more in fees). The nice thing about the Chase prepaid card is that you can load it up with cash for free at Chase ATMs and bank branches.
- Chase has tons of locations – A lot of people say being “too big to fail” is a bad thing. Well I beg to differ. If you have a prepaid card, you actually want a national bank with a bazillion locations. There are more than 17,500 Chase ATMs and 5,000 branches. Translation? Plenty of places to load your card or withdraw cash.
- Use for purchases anywhere Visa is accepted – As much as I love American Express, it is true that Visa is accepted at more places.
- No charge for customer service – The fact that I even have to mention this as a noteworthy benefit doesn’t even feel right, because it’s something everyone should offer. But unfortunately they don’t, at least when it comes to prepaid. However the Chase Liquid card provides unlimited calls to customer service for free.
- $59 per year is less, but not cheap – It’s like having the best house in a bad neighborhood. Sure, $59 is good on a relative basis, but when you consider that there are secured cards for bad credit that cost about half that amount, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to go the prepaid route.
- It’s worthless for building credit – Another reason that secured cards are a better idea is because they can help you build credit. I mean let’s be honest here… do you want to continue paying $59/year for the rest of your life just to have a Chase prepaid debit card? Or would you rather build your history and get a no annual fee Chase credit card?
- A few cards are close competitors – Going back to the prepaid from American Express, it offers free valuable benefits like purchase protection (qualifying purchases are protected for 90 days from theft or accidental damage). Another competitor is the US Bank Convenient Cash Card – if their banks are in your area, that card will be about $20 cheaper per year than Liquid from Chase. Last but not least, PNC and Regions both offer prepaid Visa cards for around $60/year, but since they’re regionally focused, they’re not always a viable alternative.
At the end of the day, Chase has created a very good product here. Even though it may not always be the cheapest, at least it’s one of the most transparent… that’s a word you rarely hear associated with these types of cards! However the one from AmEx is obviously still a cut above…
D. 10 Signs The Takedown Of Paper Gold Has Unleashed An Unprecedented Global Run On Physical Gold And Silver
18 April 2013, TheEconomicCollapse.com, by Michael
Pasted from: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/10-signs-the-takedown-of-paper-gold-has-unleashed-an-unprecedented-global-run-on-physical-gold-and-silver
The crash of the price of paper gold on Monday has unleashed an unprecedented global frenzy to buy physical gold and silver. All over the planet, people are recognizing that this is a unique opportunity to be able to acquire large amounts of gold and silver at a bargain price. So precious metals dealers now find themselves being overwhelmed with orders in the United States, in Canada, in Europe and over in Asia. Will this massive run on physical gold and silver soon lead to widespread shortages of those metals? Instead of frightening people away from gold and silver, the takedown of paper gold seems to have had just the opposite effect. People just can’t seem to get enough physical gold and silver right now. Those that wish that they had gotten into gold when it was less than $1,400 an ounce are able to do so now, and it is absolutely insane that silver is sitting at about $23 an ounce. If the big banks continue to play games with the price of gold, we are going to see existing supplies of physical gold and silver dry up very quickly. And once reports of physical shortages of gold and silver become widespread, it is going to absolutely rock the financial world. But this is what happens when you manipulate free markets – it often has unintended consequences far beyond anything that you ever imagined.
US minted 1 ounce Gold Eagle bullion coins
#1 According to Zero Hedge, the U.S. Mint set a new all-time record for the number of gold ounces sold on Wednesday…
According to today’s data from the US Mint, a record 63,500 ounces, or a whopping 2 tons, of gold were reported sold on April 17th alone, bringing the total sales for the month to a whopping 147,000 ounces or more than the previous two months combined with just half of the month gone.
#2 Precious metals dealers all over the United States are having a really hard time keeping up with demand right now. According to Chris Martenson, many are warning customers to expect waiting times of five to six weeks at this point…
In the U.S., all of the dealers I talk to are reporting huge demand and brisk buying. Silver in any form is quite hard to come by unless you want to pay premiums of 20%+ per ounce above spot price. Delivery times are 5 to 6 weeks out now – that’s an unusual situation. If this recent slam was designed to scare people away from gold, it did not have that desired outcome; in fact, just the opposite.
#3 Individual dealers all over the country are confirming that we are seeing a voracious appetite for precious metals at the moment. For example, the following is what a spokesperson for JM Bullion had to say…
We still have certain things in stock, like 10 oz bars, while others, like Silver Eagles, are a bit of revolving inventory.
The shipments are going out as soon as inventory comes in.
Our main challenge right now is actually getting the silver into the boxes and shipped out – we have been experiencing astounding volume.
This appears to be a widespread phenomenon. Just check out what other dealers are reporting…
“There has been a marked increase in demand since the plunge,” said Mark O’Byrne, executive director at Dublin-based investment and bullion specialist GoldCore, referring to the drop in gold prices seen Friday and Monday. Gold futures lost more than $200 an ounce, or over 13%, on those two days. They were at $1,392 an ounce, moving higher ahead of the close on Thursday.
GoldCore has seen more buying than selling on Wednesday and Thursday, with buy orders “lumpier and from high net worth clients, and with most of the selling in small orders of less than 50 ounces, said O’Byrne.
On Wednesday, David Beahm, executive vice president at Blanchard & Co., said his precious-metals investment firm has seen “2008-like demand” for gold since Monday.
#4 Large international banks are also experiencing tremendous demand for physical gold and silver by customers right now. The following is what Keith Barron told King World News about what he is hearing…
At the Bank of Nova Scotia in Toronto the gold window has been absolutely swamped. I have confirmed there were people lined up in droves recently for multiple-hours at a time to buy gold and silver bars and coins….
I then confirmed with UBS today in Zurich, Switzerland, that they are experiencing exactly the same thing. They told me people are waiting in long lines for bullion related bars and coins. The physical market is incredibly tight, and there is a huge buying opportunity right here.
The damage in gold will not be long-term because physical supply is already drying up. Asian countries have been aggressively buying gold. This really is an unprecedented opportunity for investors. This takedown in the metals has created incredible demand for both gold and silver, and anyone who wants to unload dollars or euros and put them into gold because they don’t trust the currency, now is the time to do it.
One ounce Silver and Gold Eagle coins
#5 The demand for physical gold and silver is heating up over in Europe as well. For example, the following is from an emergency message posted on the website of a precious metals dealer in the UK…
Due to the unprecedented demand triggered by the recent fall in the Gold Price we are currently not able to guarantee Next Day Delivery of orders.
We anticipate that all orders will be delivered within 7 days of receipt by us.
Whilst we appreciate that these delays are frustrating for our customers we would like to stress that all accepted orders are guaranteed at the order price and will be dispatched as soon as possible.
It is necessary for all of our staff to be utilised in fulfilling orders and we ask for your cooperation by not calling us to query delivery times. If you do need to contact us, please do so by e-mail and we will endeavour to respond within 48hrs.
#6 On the other side of the globe, demand for precious metals is skyrocketing as well. According to Bloomberg, people are “running through the gate” to get gold in Australia…
Gold sales from Australia’s Perth Mint, which refines nearly all of the nation’s bullion, surged after prices plunged, adding to signs that the metal’s slump to a two-year low is spurring increased demand.
“The volume of business that we’re putting through is way in excess of double what we did last week,” Treasurer Nigel Moffatt said by phone, without giving precise figures. “There’s been people running through the gate.”
#7 Reuters is reporting that customers are waiting for up to three hours to buy gold in Japan…
A week ago, as the yen-denominated price neared a new peak, jewelry stores and gold merchants across Japan saw long lines of mostly older Japanese looking to cash in on unwanted jewelry and other items that they had held for years.
But on Tuesday, buyers outnumbered sellers by a wide margin. At Ginza Tanaka, the headquarters shop of Tanaka Holdings, gold buyers waited for as long as three hours for a chance to complete a transaction.
#8 According to a Chinese article quoted by the Blaze, there is a mad rush to buy gold in China right now…
People have to rush to buy gold … gold bullion out of stock yesterday, investors yesterday to spend as much as 600 million yuan to buy 20 kilograms of gold bars
The mad pursuit gold insufficiency is not just a game for the rich. Yesterday, the Yangcheng Evening News reporter learned from the East flowers to Bay store, many growers, pork traffickers, fishmonger recently put down his job went straight to the mall to buy gold.
#9 According to Reuters, dealers in Singapore are having significant trouble finding enough of a supply to keep up with the intense demand for gold that has erupted this week…
“People are actually buying everything, gold bars, gold coins. People are rushing to get a hand on it. We have a problem meeting the demand because we are unable to get new supply,” said Brian Lan, managing director of GoldSilver Central Pte Ltd in Singapore.
#10 Bloomberg is reporting that over in India people are “flocking to stores” to purchase gold jewelry and coins…
Gold buyers in India, the world’s biggest consumer, are flocking to stores to buy jewelry and coins, betting a selloff that plunged bullion to a two-year low may be overdone.
“My daughter is just six months old, but I think it is never too early to buy gold,” said Sharmila Shirodkar, a 28- year-old housewife, while displaying a new pair of earrings she bought from a store in Mumbai’s Zaveri Bazaar. “I had been asking my husband every day if prices will go down more. I couldn’t wait anymore.”
US minted 1 ounce Silver Eagle bullion coins
If the big banks were trying to scare people away from gold and silver by crashing paper prices for those metals then they have utterly failed.
Instead of being frightened away, the global appetite for physical gold and silver is now more voracious than ever.
If the prices for gold and silver stay this low, we are eventually going to start seeing some very serious shortages in the marketplace.
And once reports of shortages of the actual physical metals become widely circulated, it will cause an “adjustment” in the marketplace that will shock everyone.
So hold on to your hats. We are entering a period of time when there will be unprecedented volatility for the prices of precious metals. It will be quite a roller coaster ride, but if you can handle the ups and downs it will be worth it in the end.