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Andrew Schrage is the newest guide to take the helm at About.com’s Financial Planning site, and he’s also the co-owner of the popular Money Crashers Personal Finance site. I spoke with Andrew to learn more about his experiences and the discussion is below. After you read the interview, be sure to check out more of Andrew's articles to learn more about managing your money.
What is your favorite article on About.com's Financial Planning site and why?

One of my favorite articles on About.com's Financial Planning website is the one regarding credit scores. Far too many Americans fail to understand how important it is to maintain a high credit score, as it affects many different financial areas.

What is one of your favorite articles on the Money Crashers site and why?

One of my favorite articles on the Money Crashers website is our piece on extreme couponing. It's easily our most "viral" post to date. We received a great deal of positive feedback on it, and it provides a lot of useful information on the topic for our readers.

How did you get interested in personal finance?

My parents instilled in me at a very young age the importance of proper money management. I've been passionate about personal finances since I was a kid, and it carried through into college, where I studied economics.

What do you think has made Money Crashers so popular with readers?

Money Crashers is popular because our readers know that the advice we give is accurate and factual, and contains tips that can be put to use in their everyday lives.

Readers want ideas and strategies that are actionable, and we have focused on that since the beginning.

What do you think banks and credit unions could do to serve their customers better?

Banks and credit unions could serve their customers better by improving customer service and stop charging so many nefarious and oftentimes ridiculous fees. They should treat their customer like real people instead of just account numbers, and look more toward meeting their needs rather than simply focusing on bottom lines. The fees that many banks currently charge are getting out of hand. Plenty of Americans think they'd be better off sticking their money under the mattress rather than getting gouged by financial institutions.

What advice would you give to somebody who's opening their first bank account?

If you're planning to open your first bank account, I'd suggest looking at online banks, as well as at brick and mortar banks. Some online banks feature very low fees and provide a solid level of customer service.

Are you more of a "borrow wisely" person or a "zero debt" person (or something else entirely)?

I am absolutely a zero-debt person. I'm proud of the fact that I've never carried a credit card balance, and even though I consider myself to be well-versed in personal finance, I continue to find more ways to save money to this day.

Do you use the technological tools available from your bank (mobile check deposits and online bill pay) or do you bank on paper?

I try to take advantage of all the technological tools that my bank offers. I use online bill-pay and have deposited a few checks through mobile banking as well.

How do you feel about rate-chasing (switching banks often to get a slightly higher rate on a savings account) vs. just picking a decent bank or credit union and staying put unless things go sour?

I check the competition about once per year to see if a better rate is available. With the interest rates of most bank accounts being so low these days, it just doesn't make sense to me to chase after them every few months. Plus, switching banks involves setting up online bill pay accounts all over again, which is a very time-consuming process.


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