One thing that's somewhat rare and useful is getting a look at how other people write letters to get stuff done.
Backstory here: I had about $1,000 in a CD for a few years now. I originally deposited it in order to get a secured loan against the CD to improve my credit score (it worked, I can discuss that another time). But now whenever I call on the phone they're being a big pain in the ass about not letting me get my money out of the CD, which is just sitting there at a pathetic 0.15% interest. It was never a top priority for me so I didn't pursue it, but then I had an idea.
I wrote this letter up, asked a friend to go visit the bank, and it was finished within a day (after them being unable to help after numerous calls) -
This letter grants John Doe power of attorney for a duration of one week in order to perform the following transaction at Bank:
Please break the CD in account 1234-56789, "13 Month CD," which is in the amount of $1,232.50.
Those funds should be withdrawn from that account and placed into account 97865-4321, "Premium Checking With Interest," most recently at a balance of $1. Please then close the 13 Month CD permanently.
I am aware that there is a nominal penalty fee for breaking the CD early. That is acceptable, I accept the fee.
Mr. Doe may sign all relevant documents related to breaking the CD and depositing it into the Premium Checking With Interest account.
Please promptly execute this transaction. I've called customer service a number of times and they've been unable to resolve it without a signature physically inside the bank. Any further delay or inability to process this transaction will cause unnecessary hardship and inconvenience.
Please email me at email@example.com - my email on file - if there's any questions. Thank you for your prompt resolution of this matter.
123 Sunny Avenue
New York, NY 01234
Feel free to adapt this for your own communications - I suspect this could help in a lot of similar situations.
Oh, here's something that I could use some advice on: after I get paid, I'll probably have around 3K USD in a bank account doing pretty much nothing. Should I invest it in a Vanguard index fund or something similar for now? Also, I'm probably going to need to buy a car eventually (my guess is in 2-3 years), which can create a lot of nasty compounded interest. Would I want to use any money that I have saved up to pay a big expense like that off immediately, or would I want to keep some invested?
If you've only got $3k you want to keep most of that liquid as an emergency fund. You probably don't want to buy stocks unless you can go long on the stocks and ignore market movements, and you want to study investing before investing ESPECIALLY investor psychology so you don't panic and act rashly if (when) there's a crash. You probably want to read "The Intelligent Investor" by Ben Graham before buying any equities, which Warren Buffet says is the best book on finance ever written. I agree, btw - I've never found better. Excellent book.
If you did want to deploy some of your cash, here's a couple things:
*It'll cost you around $20 to $100 to develop a credit score, assuming you're American and don't have one. Go to the bank, throw $100 in a CD, and get a secured loan against it that reports on your credit. That'll give you a revolving line of credit on your credit history, which helps. Get a credit card a few months after that, and ALWAYS pay it off in full each month. Good credit will make/save you thousands later, so do it now.
*Buy small gifts for people you admire as a show of respect. Do this for particularly good professors, bosses, teachers, friends of family, acquaintances, etc. Go $20 to $100 per gift to start, $100 is even too high unless someone has been really great to you. Buying 50 gifts at $20 each for people who have treated you REALLY well probably pays for itself. Write a note of gratitude when you do it, just buy chocolate or protein bars or a great DVD or something small. Don't do it all at once, spread it out, but I've never regretted spending money to say thanks for someone who helped me.
A good checking account will have (ranked in order of subjective importance):
No fees, particularly monthly maintenance, incoming wire, etc
ATM Fee Reimbursement: ATM fees from other banks are reimbursed