Bringing back banking services to the U.S. Post Office would be, in the words of a Midwest newspaper columnist, a spectacular idea. It is a win-win situation.
While generating a new revenue stream for Postal Service operations, it would also provide a convenient, less-costly way for Americans to conduct routine financial transactions such as paying bills, maintaining a checking account and financing small loans. For those who live in rural areas, where there are not many bricks-and-mortar banks available, only predatory check cashing and payday loan operations are available today for basic financial services.
Somehow the notion of family thrift, building a nest egg and saving for a rainy day has lost relevance for Americans. Today, the U.S. has one of the lowest savings rates amongst the major industrialized nations in the world. Access to easy credit has made too many families captive to mismanaging their finances, wanting it all right now and seeing the dream of retirement too many years into the future. Reopening banking services at post offices will also provide an opportunity for Americans to learn an important part of family finances — saving money.
Taking care of family finances can be part of the everyday trip to the post office, picking up the mail and stopping by the coffee shop to say hello. Banking at the post office can also appeal to many by eliminating excessive fees and charges charged by predatory money lenders and providing opportunities for Americans to learn about thrift and saving for the future.
At present, you can purchase money orders at the post office. By providing savings and checking accounts, and safe and low-cost ways to finance small loans, modest family incomes can be stretched by reducing banking costs.
Many believe that saving money is a thing of the past. But, having good credit is the key to family finances. The ability to put money to work in savings and conservative investments is a path to building wealth in America. It’s a financial plan that could be realized by simply visiting your local post office.
John F. Zipeto
14 Canterbury St.