Location, Location, Location
Once you've made a plan for your financial needs, it's time to think about your bank's location. Do you spend time all over town or traveling? Most of us these days use direct deposit, checks and online payments to keep our day-to-day finances in order. How often do you currently visit your bank's physical location?
Likewise, nobody likes paying extra fees at the ATM. They really stack up, as you'll see when you comb through your statements. If you find yourself pulling cash often -- and handing over money for the privilege -- you'll want a bank with a large ATM network so you can avoid paying those fees.
Most grocery chains have agreements with larger banks, and some even have in-store branches for smaller local banks or credit unions. This can be convenient for one-stop shopping and banking, but only if the hours are a good fit. Keep your eyes open next time you're shopping, and look for branches between home and work. You could be saving time and money by combining trips.
Just remember, convenience is often something you pay for. Larger, more accessible banks can mean larger fees and less competitive interest rates. Don't let location substitute for your research into all the areas we're talking about: It's important, but not the only thing that matters. A lot of us can let the convenience of location -- or smart marketing, billboards and ads -- do that work for us. Banks count on that.