Survey Ranks Memphians On How They Use Their Bank Accounts

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(Memphis) In money matters, Memphis makes another list.

A Washington DC non-profit did a study to determine how people in large cities use, or misuse, their bank accounts. Miami, Florida, was number one, and Memphis was number five.

It's because a large amount of Memphians either don't use bank accounts or don't know how to use them effectively.

Turns out, many use other ways that could dig them deeper into debt.

They fall into two categories - "unbanked" or "under banked."

Ernie Parrish, a consumer credit counselor, says there's a big difference between the two.

"People that are 'unbanked,' literally have no checking or savings account," he said. "It's just paycheck, cash it, go get money orders."

According to the non-profit Corporation for Enterprise Development, 16.7 percent of Memphians are "unbanked" and 28.1 percent are "under banked."

Parrish says people who are considered "under banked" have an account but, "They're really not utilizing their bank. They're going and getting pay-day loans, they're doing check cashing places."

Parrish says pay-day type loans can charge as much as 450 percent interest, causing borrowers to bounce checks.

"They bounced a bunch of checks. Now all of a sudden they owe the bank six hundred, eight hundred dollars. They get taken to court, et cetera. So they just never think of banks again as someone who they need," he said.

Parrish says many people who come to the Family Service Agency in Bartlett don't understand how bank accounts work or don't read the "fine print" when it comes to monthly service fees.

Parrish says he even stresses smart money management to teenagers, hoping they will learn there's a lot more to banking than just opening an account.

Above all, he says you have to get used to banking, to trust a bank or credit union, and not let one mistake ruin your financial life,

"The people I've met who don't have checking accounts, messed one up once," Parrish said. "And it was so devastating for them that they just don't do it anymore. But you need to have a relationship with a bank. You honestly do."