Local banks invest more in their community, are more likely to give loans to small businesses, and often act as personal advisors to their customers. Despite common myths around banking locally, local banks have just as much security, monetary insurance, and online access as their competitors do. Not to mention – they have the most delightful representatives!
This begs the question, then: why aren’t more people banking locally? Currently, depositing your dollars within a big bank is the norm and might be the more “reassuring” option for many Americans. Hundreds of citizens are opening new bank accounts with big banks every day and encouraging their children and their children’s children to do the same. Where you bank, however, makes a real difference.
We recognize that switching banks can sound intimidating to many and unnecessary for some. But you’ll find that it is simple and well worth the effort to support your community. Here are five things that you can do to become more thoughtful about the impact of your deposits – and eventually make the move to a local bank!
1. Research what your bank does with your dollars.
This first step is easy – just look up your current bank and investigate how they reinvest your deposits. For example, where is the majority of their money based? The higher the amount based in your immediate market area, the more likely a bank is to reinvest it locally. And, where does the bank concentrate its community lending? There are several resources online (MightyDeposits and Bank Local) where you can explore data on how banks compare in their community investments, small business investments, and more. Banking locally helps money recirculate within our local economy – as opposed to outside of it – and ensures those close to us can reap the economic benefits of our deposits.
2. Explore how your current bank stacks up against local banks.
If you are considering making the switch from a big bank to a community bank or credit union, you can start here. First, make a note of where your current bank falls short and where a local bank aligns better with your values. Next, explore whether there’s a specific local bank or credit union that might be the best fit for you. Typically, you’ll find that local banks and credit unions offer the exact same resources and technical capabilities as big banks, with the added benefit of one on one, personalized service. To help you here, here is a list of some of the local banks and credit unions currently serving the Cambridge area:
- Cambridge Firefighters Credit Union
- Cambridge Municipal Employees Credit Union
- Cambridge Savings Bank
- Cambridge Teachers Credit Union
- Cambridge Trust Company
- East Cambridge Savings Bank
- Hanscom Credit Union
- Harvard University Employees Credit Union
- Leader Bank, National Association
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology Credit Union
- Naveo Credit Union
- North Cambridge Co-Operative Bank
- Transportation Credit Union
- USAlliance Credit Union
3. Reach out to a representative and make the switch
After finding a local bank that offers the services you need and is a proven community investor, you can contact a representative in person or online to create an account. Many representatives will even help you through making the switch.
4. Think local…even outside of banking!
If you already have an account with a local bank and wish to broaden how you invest in your community, there are many other ways you can support your local economy. Whether you are a die-hard lover of Cambridge or relatively new to the area, you can make a positive impact on your local community by shopping at locally- and independently-owned businesses.
You may ask yourself, “Why should I shop locally when it’s faster and easier to buy from Amazon online?” Similar to banking locally, keeping your purchasing power within the city supports your local economy by recirculating your dollars. Your neighbors, friends, and perhaps even family members have worked tirelessly to own that cupcake store, coffee shop, or local diner- it is important to help these businesses – and others like theirs – thrive.
We wish you the best of luck embarking on a more meaningful monetary voyage. To learn more, visit cambridgelocalfirst.org/moveyourmoney. You can also explore other ways to invest your dollars locally with our partners at the American Independent Business Alliance.