By Heather C.
Gas prices are up, inflation is high, and most of America seem to be missing that 10% raise in income to make up for all the changes so what are you wasting money on? Sure I could tell you all about how eating at home is cheaper and getting movies from the library instead of paying to rent them will save you money, but what if you are already doing those things?
Many times consumers are paying fees to their banks that are literally costing them hundreds of dollars a year. Here are three fees that you can easily avoid.
Maintenance fees. The large majority of banks have done away with “free checking.” This does not mean that you need to be paying for it though. If you are paying a maintenance fee, stop by your local bank and find out how to avoid it. These waivers typically include having a direct deposit into your account, maintaining a certain balance, using your debit card a certain amount of times per month, etc.
If you do not qualify for the waiver, see if there is a different product for you and if there isn’t, GO TO A DIFFERENT BANK. I know I shouldn’t be preaching this as customer retention is a huge part of my job but you are not required to keep the same checking account your entire life. If you are paying a maintenance fee, you need to make changes. Yes, switching your account may give you a headache for a couple of months, but a bottle of Tylenol is still cheaper than the maintenance fees you may be paying. According to Money Rates, the average maintenance fee is over $11 per month. Seriously, for nothing other than having your account at that bank.
Overdraft fees. This fee is a little bit trickier. To say you should never HAVE to pay an overdraft fee would not be right. If you truly overdraft your account, you should pay the fee. My point with this fee is well, don’t overdraft your account! I am not talking about bank errors or fraud because that is not the same. I am talking about not keeping a record of your account. How many times have you forgotten about a check you had outstanding? You swiped your debit card 6 times over the weekend. Monday morning hits, the check comes through and suddenly you are overdrawn $100 and are accessed 3 fees of $30 each. Sound familiar? I see it Every. Single. Day. $90 out of your pocket just because you did not take the time to keep an accurate record of your account. I PROMISE you, it is worth your time to make changes so that you never overdraft your account again. Look into overdraft protection or keep your balance high enough that it is not an issue. Whatever you do, know your actual balance at all times, before you swipe your card or write that check.
2 ATM fees. In today’s fast paced environment, most people swipe, swipe, swipe and don’t think twice about not having cash on them so when they all the sudden need it, they don’t think about the consequences of getting it. Avoiding ATM fees is easy. Try to plan ahead by keeping $20 or so in your wallet or purse. If you need to withdraw from an ATM, use one that your bank does not charge you to use. A lot of banks have networks of free ATM’s for customers to use, a lot of times the network includes not having to visit the bank to find an ATM. If you have no choice, avoid the ATM’s at malls and casinos as well as concerts or fairgrounds. The surcharge on these transactions is higher because the bank is charging for convenience.
I’ve been in banking for almost a decade now. I have seen a lot of changes. Make sure you look at your statements and the mailings that come on your bank’s letterhead. Sure, most of it will be marketing material but what if you throw away that one piece of information about changes going on with your account.
Don’t assume that just because your account is free now that it will stay free next month. By keeping yourself knowledgeable about these things, you will save yourself not only money, but the hassle of being surprised!
You can contact Heather by emailing her at email@example.com.
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