If you're getting tired of smashing piggy banks every time you want to get your hands on some dough, we're here to help you find more economical ways of stashing your money. You'll save on the cost of replacing your poor smashed piggies, and you can even opt to make money, simply by keeping the money you already have in a bank.

A bank. Duh. It's not the 1930s - where else are you going to keep your money? In a sock under your mattress? But opening a bank account is not as simple as walking up to a bank teller and handing over crumpled wads of cash; there are lots of decisions to make and confusing banking jargon to wade through. We'll teach you everything you need to know about making smart decisions when opening a new bank account. Or, if you prefer, you can just turn your money over to us for safekeeping. You can trust us. We used to be lawyers.


Let's begin with a practical question: do you have any money? Coins don't count (unless they're valuable collector's coins). You don't have to be loaded to start a bank account, but it's tough to open a bank account with $0.23 in your wallet. Here's why:

  1. Minimum Balances: Certain types of accounts require you to maintain a minimum balance - that means that you must have at least a certain amount of money in the bank at all times. If your account ever dips below that minimum balance, then you'll get charged a fine. The reason why banks like to hold onto at least some of your hard-earned cash is because they need it to lend to other people who want to take out loans for houses, cars, college tuitions - y'know, grown-up stuff.

  2. Service Charges: Some accounts charge you a monthly fee for the privilege of using their services; so if you have no money to give to them, why bother paying that service charge every month? We should add, however, that the service fees at most banks are usually fairly low, so it might be worth it for you to just keep an account open if you know that you'll at least have some money to put away some time. But it's still an expense to plan for.

  3. Self-Esteem: It'll be depressing for you to get your bank statement in the mail every month if it's always going to tell you the same thing: "You have $0.00 in your account. Get a job. Loser."

  4. ATM Services: Your bank will most likely charge you a fee for using automated teller machines (ATMs) that don't belong to them, and some will limit you to a certain number of ATM transactions per month on your bank's ATMs (if you exceed that number, you'll have to pay an additional fee at some banks). So although they're convenient, ATMs can be an expensive service.