For me, Valentine's Day is a time to wax nostalgic, remembering the time when I first met my wife and did all sorts of wacky things to try to get her attention. But even though it's easy to look back fondly on the past, the financial world has come up with some innovations so great that you probably can't imagine going back to a time when you lived without them.
Take moving money. It used to be that when I wanted to make an investment, I'd have to take my old paper paycheck to the bank to deposit it and wait a few days for the check to clear. Then I'd write another check to my broker or mutual fund company, wait a few days for the mail to deliver it, and then wait another few days until my check cleared. All told, it used to take as long as a couple of weeks for money to get credited to my account.
With electronic transfers, however, none of us has to worry about that anymore. If you've got direct deposit, your paycheck shows up in your account right on time, payday after payday. Once it's there, you can shoot it through to the financial institution of your choice without further delay. What used to take weeks now takes just a day or two. And it's absolutely free.
What's more, electronic transfers are more secure. You don't have to worry about losing that paper check anymore. If you pay your bills by electronic transfer, you'll never end up making a late payment because the mail took longer than you expected. By scheduling your payments to take full advantage of grace periods, you can keep money in your account longer, earning more interest for you.
Electronic transfers also open up a universe of new alternatives for your money. No longer does your bank or broker need to be close by; you can send your money wherever it will work the hardest for you, with confidence that if you ever need it, you can move it back to your hometown bank or grab it from your nearby ATM.
So take a moment this Valentine's Day and thank whoever came up with the system for moving money electronically.
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