Remember when banks were happy to hold on to your money for you? The process was simple and oddly satisfying. You would get your paycheck (There was no automatic deposit) which you would take to the bank on certain days of the month. The teller knew you by name as a regular and you would watch your bank account slowly rise with each deposited check.
OK, maybe the rising bank account balance part wasn’t always entirely accurate but it wasn’t too long ago when banks weren’t charging all of these fees. There’s a fee for everything you do and everything you don’t do. There’s a fee if you DO use an ATM but there’s a fee if you DON’T make a deposit at least once each month.
The self-help gurus say that when we have a problem we should first look within ourselves so in the case of the banks, that’s what we did. We found five bad habits that are causing us to pay undue bank fees.
Cashing our Paycheck
If you have an account at a bank, they will cash your paycheck for you but that may be costing you even if they don’t charge a fee for the actual cashing of the check. More and more banks are charging inactivity fees if you don’t make at least one deposit each month. You can avoid that fee by depositing you paycheck and withdrawing funds the next day or having your check automatically deposited in to your account, which usually makes the funds immediately available.
Lack of Cash Planning
We live in a world full of credit cards, debit cards, and automatic funds transfers but there are still plenty of times where we need cash. The problem is that we don’t plan for those cash needs so we end up stopping at an out of network ATM and paying big fees. Keep some emergency cash on hand for those unplanned events. Keep some at home and some hidden in your car just in case.
Lack of Reconciliation
In this technological world, it’s easy to keep a not-so-close eye on our account balance on our cell phone or a quick passing glance online. If you don’t keep a significant balance, you may be setting yourself up for overdraft fees. Using a money management program to better keep track of when money will leave your account is the best way to avoid those hefty fees. Some people subtract their known withdraws from their money management program at the beginning of the month to avoid those overdraft fees.
We Don’t Know the Fees
Have you taken time to take a detailed look at your bank’s fee schedule? Not only do they describe the fees, they also describe the ways to avoid those fees. Some banks, for example, allow you to avoid minimum balance requirements if you transfer money in to your savings account each month. Even if you can’t afford to save, you can transfer it back to your checking account the next day. If you haven’t read the fee schedule, ask for one next time you’re at your bank.
Lack of Communication
Do you think you were charged one of those fees unfairly? Are you normally a good customer who had a mistake just this once? Go to the bank and ask them to waive the fee. If you truly have been a good customer, they will often waive the fee for you. It also helps if you are known by name and face in your bank. Form relationships in your bank. You may need them one day.
Fees are here to stay but you don’t have to pay them. A recent study showed that 71% of respondents report paying no fees. With a few lifestyle changes, you can be one of the 71%.