Banking fees drive me nuts. They drive me nuts for two reasons: 1) because it's basically a fee to USE YOUR OWN MONEY

 

2) these (AVOIDABLE) fees have become such a normal part of our society that many people don't even second guess them!

 

What do I mean by "banking fees"? And how can you avoid them?

 

ATM withdrawal fees-- Go to your own bank's ATM or get cash back from a grocery store purchase- and plan ahead so that you have enough cash on hand for the whole week.  There is almost no reason nowadays to need to pay an ATM fee.

 

Overdraft or insufficient funds charges-- keep track of your money! The only reason these happen is if you haven't checked on your accounts in awhile. You should know (at least ballpark) how much you have in your accounts at any given time. Never let your accounts get low enough where you woud run into the possibility of an overdraft! (full disclosure: I was dumb and overdrafted my account once! But it's never happening again, I pinky promise)

 

Excessive transfer penalties-- These normally apply to online savings accounts- at least that's where I've encountered it. You might be told that you can only make 6 transfers during the month or else you'll be charged a certain penalty. So plan ahead-- figure out how many transfers or withdrawals you'll need to make during the month and be sure to keep it below your max!

 

Monthly account fees-- many checking accounts will charge you a monthly maintenance fee if you don't keep at least $1,500 in your account or have direct deposit set up for your paycheck. If you are like me- no paycheck to be direct deposited- be sure you keep your account balance high enough so that you avoid the fees!

 

Paper statement fees-- Vanguard is the only company I've run into that does this- you have to elect to NOT receive paper communications or else you'll be charged a $20 (annual?) fee on your account. It's an easy selection but can be costly if you just happen to forget to select "electronic statements".

 

Online payment fees-- Sometimes there are fees associated with paying online in certain ways. For example, my Virginia personal property bill could be paid online with credit card or online with e-check. The credit card option charged somewhere around 2%, but the e-check was free! Search to see if you can avoid online payment fees.

 

 

So here's what I challenge you to do: if you track your money, (which you absolutely should be doing!) create a specific category for these "banking fees" so that you can ALWAYS keep an eye on how much you're spending. Try your absolute hardest to keep that category at $0 and cut these fees out of your life forever!

 

 

 

Are you guilty of any of these avoidable fees? Got any more to add to the list?

Other than overdrafting my account, I also know that I've frequented a few ATMs in my day, often with a $2-$3 service fee. I used to not really care about that (I mean, what's $3 in the grand scheme of life? That can't even buy a fancy drink at Starbucks!) but now I see how silly it is... $3 once or twice a month adds up!