Tired of your banking fees? Here’s how to eliminate them…

SFL FEES

 

Are you tired of those monthly banking service fees? Do you dread seeing that monthly service charge on your bank statement? Do you ask yourself why do I have to pay a fee to keep my money in the bank? Don’t you wish you could get your banking for free or deserve free banking for being a long time customer. Here is how you can make that wish come true of completely free banking or at least reduced fee banking:

Eliminate the ATM fees

Tired of those non-bank ATM charges showing up on your monthly statement. Review your ATM usage. Are you using the first ATM that you see or the most convenient one which unfortunately is not your bank’s ATM? To eliminate the non-bank ATM fee only use your bank’s ATM or ATM network. You could also withdraw money from your local store that accepts debit cards. No fees associated with cash back when you make a purchase.

Prevent overdraft fees

Do you have a tendency to overdraft your account every once in awhile which result in overdraft fees? Establish overdraft protection for your primary account by linking it to a saving account or a credit card. Some banks may still charge you for using the overdraft protection but it will be less expensive than the NSF charge by your bank as well as the merchant. The best way to eliminate those pesky overdraft charges is to set up an alert on your account bank account to alert you that your account has reached a minimum balance that you have established. For example you may want to keep a couple hundred dollars as cushion in your account so you do not overdraw your account. Then set up an alert to notify you when your account has reached your predetermined cushion level.  This post may also help Bank Overdraft UGH!! How to Avoid Bank Overdraft Fees with these 7 Tips

Avoid those monthly service fees

Service fees can usually be avoided if you keep the minimum account balance in your account. To do this you want to know up front what the minimum account balance is so you can maintain this balance to avoid incurring the monthly service charge. If you have multiple bank accounts consider consolidating your account to your main banking relationship.  This way you can maintain the minimum balance to avoid the monthly service charge.

Avoid check fees

Are you tired of paying for checks? Stop writing them. You ask how will I pay my bills if I can’t write checks? Easy either have all of your bills paid by credit card or sign up for online banking bill pay service with your bank. Using either of these methods to pay your bills will not only eliminate the need for checks it will also simplify your personal finances.
So the next time you open your monthly bank statement and see if one of these fees on your statement.

If you have done the above but still are seeing bank fees, it maybe time to look for another bank but before you make the switch here are a few questions to ask yourself:

Reputation

What have you heard from others who have used this bank?  We are not hearing about bank failures as we did during the financial crisis but it can still happen.  If you’re opening a new account, you want to be able to sleep at night knowing your money will be safe.

Convenience

How convenient are the bank branches and ATMs for this bank? How often will you use this bank’s ATMs or branches?

Online capabilities

Will you be able to view your account online and are there other online services available such as bill pay services or account alerts.

Fees

Will there be a monthly service charge for this account? If waived initially how long of a period will the fee be waived? Will you have to maintain a specific amount in this new account to avoid fees or to receive priority services or better rate?

Rate

What interest rate will this account pay? Is the interest rate on your account an introduction rate if so how long will you receive this initial rate? What will the rate be after introduction rate expires?

Other banking services

What type of service are you looking for? Are you just looking to use the deposit services of this bank or you looking to us other banking services such as safety deposit or bill pay services. What services are provide at this bank that are not provided at your current bank? Are does this bank provide better customer service than your existing banking?

Reducing your banking fees and asking yourself why you are banking here, you will be able to simplify your banking.

What have you done to reduce your banking fee?

How many banks do you currently bank with? 

Til next time, take one step at a time to simplify your finances.

Bank Overdraft UGH!! How to Avoid Bank Overdraft Fees with These 7 Tips

Simple Financial Lifestyle - Bank Overdraft

 

I am sure you have had at least one overdraft in your life some maybe more than they wish to count.  But now it is so costly when an overdraft occurs you want to do everything possible to not have them.

What is an overdraft?

How can I avoid an overdraft?

Overdraft occurs when your bank account balance goes negative which is caused when you draw more money  than your account holds.  This can occur then you make write a check, try to process a automatic payment, withdrawal from ATM, or make a purchase with your debit card.

When an overdraft does occur  it can be very costly to you.  According to recent surveys – Overdraft Fees Surge & Data Point  the average overdraft fee is $32.74.  That’s not cheap.  Think about that you can probably buy dinner for a family of four at a fast food restaurant plus dessert for the cost of one overdraft fee.

Here are several ways to help you avoid those overdraft fees which will help you simplify your finance as well as avoid that frustration.

Maintain one transaction account

Use only one account for all your transactions such as paying bills and depositing checks.  Managing your transactions in one account makes it easier since you only have to monitor one account instead of multiple accounts.

Auto deposit

As you know I like to simplify things so make sure your pay check is deposited into your primary account automatically.  This is one step can help prevent overdraft since you will not have to remember to deposit your pay check.   By doing this you will not forget to make that deposit which may cause your account to be overdrawn.  If you receive other regular income see if those checks can automatically deposited into your account.

Link accounts

Link your checking accountto your savings account.   This will enable you to have funds in your savings account automatically transferred  to your checking account to cover any overdraft.  Some banks may charge a fee to have this service in place but this fee will be less than the cost of an overdraft.  But check with your bank to see if this service is offered and if there is a cost. .   If you are able to link your savings account to your checking account make sure you limit the transfers to six per month so you do not violate Reg D.  This regulation limits you to six per month.  Also want to confirm you have enough funds in your savings account to cover any transfers.

Use your bank’s app

Consider downloading your bank’s online banking app to your phone.  Having your bank’s app will help you avoid overdrafts by enabling you to deposit checks to your account without going to an ATM or branch (if your bank has this feature).  Having the app gives you access to your account balance on the go.  The balance will not take into consideration any outstanding checks you have written but will show your balance as well as recent ATM withdrawals and debit card transactions.  This help you keep track of your spending as well as your account balance which will provide you a some peace of mind.

Keep a cushion

Simple way to avoid those pesky overdrafts is to maintain a cushion in your account.  Keeping a predetermined cushion in your account will help you avoid those overdraft when you forget to record a ATM withdrawal, debit purchases or forget about an outstanding check that usually causes those unexpected overdrafts.   Once you place a cushion in your account don’t record it in your account balance just know it is there if you need it.

Set up online alerts or text

Establish account alerts to help you keep track of your  account balance.   Most banks through their online banking service will enable you can set up alerts which can be sent you by text or email.  These alerts are sent when your account balance reaches a predetermined balance.  If you have a cushion in your account, you can set up an alert to send you a text or email once you reach your cushion amount or before.  These are good to have so you know when a transfer or deposit needs to be made.

Set up overdraft protection

Banks will offer some type of overdraft protection.  That sounds great and can easily help me avoid over drafting my account. Well before you get excited and believe that is the best solution for you, learn a little more about the overdraft protection that you bank is offering.   It’s possible to you may avoid the overdraft fee of $35.00 but your bank may charge you a fee for transferring funds from another account to cover the overdraft or your account could be linked to a overdraft line of credit which will charge you interest for any outstanding balance on the line.  The interest on an overdraft line of credit can be quite expensive.  Before you sign up for overdraft protection hide out all of the details of the overdraft protect so you are aware of fees and how it works.

If you are charge one of those pesky overdraft fees, consider calling you bank and ask if it can be waived.  You never know they just may waive it for you.

Action Step:

Have not implemented any of these tips, put at least one in place now to help you avoid those pesky overdrafts.

Which of these tips will you put in place to avoid those pesky overdraft and help you simplify your finances?

How do you avoid overdrafts?  Any other thoughts?

Have more questions about overdrafts here is a resource that can provide some additional answers helpwithmybank.gov.

Ask Before You Make a Switch

SFL Ask Before Switch

 

In my recent post  Is Rate the Only Thing That Matters, I discussed how if you are looking to simplify your finances you can not just look at the rate you will receive.  You have to ask yourself a few questions before you open the new account.  If you open a new account just to receive a better rate you may end up with more accounts then you really need.  This could lead to your finances getting out of control because you have more accounts than you can realistically manage.

Every so often I will receive offers from various service providers that offer services at a lower rate than I am currently paying.  I am sure you receive these offers as well.  When you receive a better rate from another provider why not do a little comparison shopping to see if the services are similar to what you are currently receiving.  Instead of going through the hassle to make the switch to another provider reach out to your current bank, credit card company, mortgage company or other provider to see if they are willing to match or improve the offer you received from competitor.  Its unlikely that your current provider would reach out to you to inform you about a better rate or offer they are currently offering.  Since you are a current customer there is no incentive for them to improve or change your current pricing or offering.  But if you reach out to inform them you have received a better offer, they now have an incentive and reason to possibly match or improve your rate or services.  They may not want to lose you as a customer.  If they are willing to match the rate or improve your current service, it will save you the hassle of changing providers as well as saves you some money.

I recently experienced this when I changed internet and security system providers to save money.  I checked with former providers prior to switching services and they gave me their standard pricing.  However when I called to  cancel my services both were willing to offer better or matching deals.  However, it was to late then the new company had already installed the new equipment and was providing service.  Pricing was not my only reason for changing the services.  I also was looking to consolidate providers which means instead of two bills to pay and keep track only have one now.  I was also able to save on my monthly bill and upgrade my services by doing this.

Instead of waiting for an offer consider doing a little research on your own to improve pricing or services.  Here are a few providers that may consider matching an offer from another provider:

Insurance Provider

Maybe month or two before your home and car insurance policies come up for annual renewal why not reach out to one or two other providers to obtain quote for similar coverage.  This way when you receive your renewal notice you will know what other providers are quoting for a similar coverage.  If the renewal is higher than what you have received from other providers, you can always go back to current provider to see if they would match the rate you received from other insurance agencies. Being a little proactive is always good.

 

Mortgage

If you are considering buying a new home or refinancing existing mortgage, call other mortgage companies to receive a few mortgage quotes.  Then you can reach out to your current mortgage company to see if their rates are in line with the other companies are offering.  They probably would not want to lose the mortgage so why not see if they can improve rate on a new mortgage or refinance.

Here are a few other providers who may consider matching a competitors rate if you ask:

  • Phone services
  • Cable
  • Electric
  • Security system
  • Internet provider
  • Gym membership

Can you think of any other providers that may consider matching the rate of another provider?

Asking current provider to match competitors rate or offer is great way you can simplify.  Instead of spending time making the change you can ask for match and receive it then your existing provider must make the adjustment to the bill.  You only have to make sure the adjustment was made.  If you have to switch you probably have to complete new paperwork, schedule time for service to be installed.  It never hurts to ask.  You never know they may say yes but you have to take action by asking.

Til next time take one step at a time to simplify your finances.

Copyright: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo
 

Is Rate the Only Thing That Matters?

SFL rate question

 

We make financial decisions all of the time.  Are you making your financial decision solely on the rate that you will receive? Are you considering other factors when making financial decisions?  If you are trying to simplify your finances, don’t let the interest rate be the determining factor in your decision:

New Deposit Account

You see an offer for a higher yielding account.  Before you decide to open the new account because of the interest rate you will receive ask yourself a few questions:

What other services or benefits will I receive from this new account?

Do I need another account?

If I open this account should I consider closing one of my other accounts?

Is this rate just a teaser rate to get me to open a new account with this institution?

How long will I receive this rate?  Six months, One year, or longer.

Why do I need this account?

Is the rate worth the time and effort to manage this account?

How much more is the rate compared to my existing accounts?

Should I consider consolidating my other accounts with this bank?

Why is the bank offering a better rate than all of the other banks?

Consider these factors before you decide to open a new account which tempts with a better rate.  You may thank yourself later because if you decide not open the account that will be one less account you will have to keep track of as well as one less statement.   If its a good rate see if your existing bank will match the offer for you or if they have similar type of account.  This way you do not have to move your relationship and still benefit with the better rate.

New Credit Card

You receive a credit card offer in the mail that looks very enticing. The new card offers a lower than you are currently receiving.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you apply for the new card:

How long will I receive this lower rate?

How much will I really save by having a lower rate?

If I do not carry a balance what other benefits will I receive from the new card?

Could I receive this rate from one of my existing cards?

Should I close an existing card to replace the new card?

How will this card impact my credit score?

What will I use the card to purchase?

Do I really need another credit card?

New Mortgage

You are looking to purchase a new home or considering refinancing your existing mortgage.  Will you chose the mortgage provider who offers the lowest interest rate? Remember this decision will be a long term one since you will have at least a 10 year relationship with your mortgage company.  All rates are not the same.  Ask yourself these questions before accepting the lower rate:

Am I paying other fees to make up for the lower rate? Some mortgage providers will offer lower mortgage rate but will charge other fees such as orgination, application fee or lender fees

What is the reputation of the mortgage provider? You want to work with provider that will be able to close your mortgage in a timely manner. If not that lower rate will not be worth it if not able to close on time.

Does the rate come with prepayment penalty?  You may have to pay a penalty if you pay the loan off early.

What are their underwriting standards?  Are they the same as other lenders.

Will my mortgage be sold to another mortgage company?

Doing a little research on rate on the front end will simplify the process on the back end.

New Investment

Did you just see an advertisement to receive a set rate of return which is great rate and sounds like a good deal.  Here are some questions to ask yourself before you make this invest:

How risky is this investment?

Is the expected return higher than other similar investments?

How long is my money locked up?

How quickly can I liquidate the investment if needed?

Does this investment fit within my current investment goals and objectives?

What fees do I have to pay for this investment and what commission does the sales person receive?

Asking yourself these questions will help you save some future headaches and prevents you from investing in some investment just for the rate.

As you can see taking a minute and asking yourself a few questions may prevent you from opening a deposit account that you really did not need, obtaining a new credit card that you did not need, find the right mortgage provider, or make the right investment that meets your investment objectives.   Doing this will also help you simplify your finances because that will be one less deposit account, credit card, or investment you have to manage.

Which of these questions will you ask yourself next time  you see that higher interest deposit account, lower rate credit card or low rate mortgage offer?

Til next time take one step at a time to simplify your finances.

If you enjoyed this post and would like a simple checklist of questions to ask before you open that next account, sign up for my newsletter and you will receive a free eBook as well as an easy checklist of questions to ask before you open that next account.

 

 

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