Basic banking #Lifeskills 5

Having to manage your own personal finances for the first time can be daunting, but with the right information, the process can be managed without too much stress. Having the right information to hand before you start can make a big difference in how quickly and how smoothly it all takes place.

Below is some information that will help you get started, brought to you from our fabulous book keeper Allison Gardiner from Carbon Group:

Opening a new bank account

Opening a new bank account is the first thing you should do when starting to wade through the new experience of individual finance. You need a bucket for all the bits to land in, and a personal account is that bucket.

The easiest way to open a new bank account is to visit a branch. Take 100 points of identification with you. Below is a list of common types of identification and their point value:

ID Type Point value
Birth Certificate 70
Citizenship certificate 70
Current Passpoart 70
Expired passport (which has not been cancelled and was current within the preceding two years 70
Driver’s Licence 40
Other licence (eg. Boat) 40
Public employee ID card 40
Centrelink card 40
Student card from a tertiary institution 40

There are several different types of account, but you will need a basic savings account. This will give you access to your funds on a daily basis as needed, and comes with an EFTPOS card, and often a visa debit card, meaning you have flexibility with how you spend. You will need funds to put in to the account. This doesn’t have to be much, but it is useful to check with the bank to see how much you will need.

Closing a joint bank account

There are a few things that have to happen to close a joint bank account. The most important one is that both owners have to agree. If this isn’t possible, the bank may be able to put a temporary stop or freeze on the account, but there are no guarantees. With this in mind, getting agreement from the other party to close the account is crucial, and the sooner this is obtained the better.

The account balance must be zero for the account to be closed. If the balance is overdrawn, then this must be paid to the bank to bring it to zero. If there is money in the account, it will all need to be withdrawn, so you and your partner need to decide how that money is to be split. This is why step 1. is opening your personal account. These funds need somewhere to go.

The bank will need to verify the identities of the two owners of the account. Often it is quickest and easiest if you can both go into a branch. This way all the details can be confirmed on the spot, and the process of closing the account can get started more quickly. Ask that both parties be sent confirmation that the account has been closed.

Online banking

If using online banking isn’t something you’ve had to do before, you might need a bit of a run through. When you are in the bank opening your personal account, ask if you can have someone show you through this. It is not difficult, but it is worth having someone step you through it.

Important things to note with online banking:

  1. You can transfer funds directly to other accounts
  2. You can BPay bills
  3. You are not limited by bank hours
  4. You can check your balance at any time

Using online banking does open a security issue. You need to ensure that your user id and password are kept securely and not able to be accessed by other parties. A common error people make is to have their computer “remember” their details when they log in. I would strongly advise against this. If another party gains access to your data, the first thing they will do is check for saved details.

Use sensible caution when transacting online. Always ensure you are using a secure website. The online address should have https:// in front of it. The ‘s’ stands for secure. Always use a third party payment gateway such as Paypal to make payment. If the website you’re buying from doesn’t use a payment gateway, you should reconsider your purchase.

Using an ATM

If you haven’t used an ATM before, it can be a little daunting to step up and take the plunge. It is more simple than you would think, and if you are unsure, the best thing to do is to go into the bank and ask a teller to show you how to use it.

The first thing you need to do is insert your card to the ATM. There will be a picture beneath the slot showing the direction you need to point the card as you insert it.  Then follow the directions below:

  1. The screen will now be requesting that you enter your PIN (personal identification number). Punch in this number and press either “OK” or “Enter”.
  2. Options will now appear. You can choose to display your balance, withdraw funds, and some other options. Choose the option you need
  3. You will now be asked to choose which account you are transacting from (cheque/savings etc.). Select the appropriate one.

Occasionally the order will differ from the above depending on the bank, although you will always be asked to put your PIN in as the first step. Once you have punched in the basic details, the ATM will prompt you for each subsequent step.

Thanks to for this fabulous assistance – and for keeping UFL ticking.