Friday, October 2, 2009

The Checkbook Balancing Act

Today I had the lovely task of balancing the checkbook and paying the bills. It got me to thinking on ways that people needlessly lose money at the bank. Some of the fees that banks charge are absolutely outrageous, and most of them are entirely avoidable. With the average fee for an overdraft at $30 and up (and that is per check/transaction!), it is something that should be avoided for sure. Before you plan to go shopping, make sure you have the money in your account first - and if you don't - don't go shopping! Online banking makes it so much easier to keep track of and manage your account. I know I have found it to be a blessing, as I can take care of banking issues and transfer money from the comfort of my home without ever stepping foot in the bank, which also saves on time and gas money.

Another way banks collect up people's hard earned money is through fees at the ATM. If you need cash, stop at the bank during bank hours, or go to an ATM affiliated with your bank. Many times, if you go to an ATM not affiliated with your bank, there will be a $2 - $3 charge per transaction, sometimes more. If you use ATMs very often, those costs can add up quickly.

A major bank I used to do business with started charging a fee if your account went below a certain balance, particularly savings accounts. If a bank is just making things up to charge you for, it may be time to find a new bank. I have found that credit unions tend to be less "fee happy", have better customer service, as well as lower interest rates on loans if you should need one.

These are just a few ways banks find to charge you an arm and a leg. It's your hard-earned money, manage it well and avoid unnecessary fees.


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