For many, savings accounts are just a dream. Breaking even at the end of the month has been the norm; they find it difficult to put away (even a penny) for the future. The easiest way to build savings is to start by spending less money. OHC would like to make you aware of fees that might be robbing you of a better future. Read through the list and see if there are any ways you can stop paying those stupid fees.
ACCOUNT MAINTENANCE Many banks charge fees for maintaining checking or savings accounts. $5 to $25 per month—accounts with more bells and whistles, like rewards accounts, may charge more. Banks often waive their fee if you keep a minimum amount in your account or meet other requirements such as linking checking and savings accounts. Some banks may require a minimum balance and may charge a fee if you drop below it.[i] UNDERUSED SUBSCRIPTIONS “Nothing makes a company happier than getting its customers to sign up for subscriptions,” writes Yahoo tech columnist David Pogue in his 2016 book, “Pogue’s Basics: Money.”
“Millions of people sign up for 30-day free trials of things, intending to cancel within 30 days — and then they forget. Or they sign up for certain services but have long since stopped using them.” Look over your last couple of credit card statements and figure out exactly what you’re paying for, whether it be subscriptions to magazines, software, or online services. Next, ask yourself which you can eliminate, and cancel them on the spot to save a couple hundred dollars a year. You could also use Trim, which automatically finds and cancels your subscriptions with a text.[ii] ATM Using ATMs that aren’t affiliated with your bank can lead to charges from the ATM provider and your bank. For a single transaction, you could pay as much as $4 to the ATM provider and $4 to your bank. Many banks offer apps that tell you where to find a fee-free ATM. Or you could withdraw cash in advance when you’re near your bank’s ATM.[iii] CABLE BOX AND MODEM If you decide you simply can’t live without your cable, at least buy your own cable box and modem. “As though the cable companies weren’t already milking you dry with the cost of the TV service, they’re also charging you about $235 a year to rent the cable box,” writes Pogue. “You can buy your own replacement cable box for $120 (pays for itself in eight months).” The same goes for the cable modem. “The damage is about $10 a month, forever,” Pogue says, of the renting option. “Buy your own cable modem for $100, return the one you’ve been renting, and boom: a $120-a-year savings.”[iv] OVERDRAFT When I was younger, I wasn’t particularly good at keeping an eye on my checking account. I would forget to account for money I withdrew from ATM’s. If I did account for it, I would often forget to account for any transaction fees that may have been charged. At the time, I was living on a shoestring budget, so these mistakes inevitably led to me overdrawing my account; in turn, I was being charged additional fees by my bank time and time again. Because I was living on such a tight budget, these overdraft fees set me even more behind on my savings goals. Regardless of the amount of wiggle room you have in your budget, incurring overdraft fees is like throwing money out the window. You wouldn’t you tear up a $20 bill because you didn’t feel like walking into your kitchen and grabbing a calculator, would you? Paper money or virtual, in essence, this is what you are doing when you overdraw your accounts. Stop being so lazy and balance your bloody checkbook already![v] BRAND-NAME PRODUCTS Going generic — for groceries, toiletries, or pet supplies — is an easy way to save money over time. As Pogue reports, “store brands cost around 30 percent less than national brands.” You don’t have to buy generic for everything. Identify what’s really important to you and what you’re willing to sacrifice — then, buy brand-name for the stuff you care about and go generic for everything else.[vi]
[i] Better Money Habits, 7 Common Bank Fees Explained, Editorial Staff at Better Money Habits, accessed 10 January 2020, < https://bettermoneyhabits.bankofamerica.com/en/personal-banking/avoid-bank-fees> [ii] Make It, Thirteen Useless Things to Stop Spending Money On, Kathleen Elkins, accessed 10 January 2020, <https://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/28/useless-things-to-stop-wasting-your-money-on.html> [iii] Better Money Habits, 7 Common Bank Fees Explained, Editorial Staff at Better Money Habits, accessed 10 January 2020, < https://bettermoneyhabits.bankofamerica.com/en/personal-banking/avoid-bank-fees> [iv] Make It, Thirteen Useless Things to Stop Spending Money On, Kathleen Elkins, accessed 10 January 2020, <https://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/28/useless-things-to-stop-wasting-your-money-on.html> [v] Club Thrifty, The Stupid Tas: Are You Paying It?, Greg Johnson, accessed 10 January 2020, < https://clubthrifty.com/the-stupid-tax-are-you-paying-it/> [vi] Make It, Thirteen Useless Things to Stop Spending Money On, Kathleen Elkins, accessed 10 January 2020, <https://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/28/useless-things-to-stop-wasting-your-money-on.html>