Banking savvy that will help you sleep

Bank failures! Stock market plunges! Mega-bailouts! The news is enough to make the financially challenged wonder if it might be time to stash cash under the mattress.

"If I hear a bad rap on a bank and have my money in there, my first thought is to get it out,'' said Judy Schwam, of North Miami. Although she knows deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., she added: "I want my money in a bank that appears to have a better reputation."

Consumers such as Schwam who are trying to decide whether to leave deposits in a shaky bank or shop for a new one can take two steps to avoid problems, said Karen Dorway, president of BauerFinancial, a Coral Gables bank rating agency:

Pick a well-rated bank. Ratings are listed each week in Jumbo Rate News, a BauerFinancial publication, or

Despite the failure of several large banks, more than 65 percent of banks still receive four- or five-star ratings from BauerFinancial, which also rates credit unions.

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