6 Simple Ways to Safeguard Against Bank Bullying

By David Ning on 2 December 2010 (Updated 4 June 2014) 1 comment
Photo: neoliminal

Reports showed that banks made $38 billion last year, which sounds beyond ridiculous. But there also hasn't been an easier time for us to eliminate all these fees either. Instead of being upset about an overdraft fee, why not just try to avoid the fees all together? After all, not losing money to a corporate giant is even better than making that same amount when you consider taxes and everything. And the joy of using the system against the banks? Priceless. Here are a six suggestions:

Make Everything Electronic

One of the reasons people get dinged with fees is because they try to manage their finances in their heads. All the bills, income, cash flow, charges, budgeting, and savings are done as they come. If you can make everything electronic, where you can schedule all payments via online bill pay (or better yet, pay them as soon as they come in). Then there's a much smaller chance that you will forget and incur late fees. (See also: How to Set Up Automatic Payments)

Simplify Your Accounts

Another gotcha is all the accounts that people have. If you have one account where every payment originates, and if that account is also where your paycheck is going, then it's much easier to keep track of. If you want to be even more on top of your finances, try to use the same method to pay all your bills. If you like to use your credit card, then use it to pay all your bills. If you like the online bill pay method, then use that. You might lose out on some credit card rewards if some of your bills don't accept credit cards as a payment method and you have to switch everything to bill pay, but if you can't keep track of your expenses, any benefits from those rewards are lost anyway.

Keep More Money in Your Checking Account

Or to put another way, know how much money you have and don't spend money you don't. No matter how much money you have (or want to keep in that account), you need to be aware of your balance when you make a withdrawal. It sounds obvious, but the only way someone gets charged an overdraft fee is if a withdrawal is made for money they don't have in the account. Many people actually get charged these fees not because they don't have enough money, but because they move too much to other accounts. If this is you, consider that the 1.5% interest you most likely get from that $1,000 in your savings account is only $15 a year, and after taxes, it is even less. Is it really worth the hassle? 

Avoid Monthly (or Maintenance) Fees

I truly believe that the reason why banks have so many different types of accounts is to confuse us and make more money. If you are still paying monthly fees for just having an account, you can go to your branch and ask them for ways to eliminate them. It might require a different account or getting your statement electronically. If you are told there is no way to eliminate your fees, just find another bank! (Here are 3 more reasons to switch banks.)

Schedule Your ATM Withdraws

I would tell you to use your credit card for everything, but as statistics show, most people can't be trusted with one! If you are the cash type, a little planning ahead can help you avoid withdrawing from an ATM that's out of network, incurring charges. Doing so might even help you manage your money better and help you save. But if you are adamant about getting cash anytime and anywhere, why not find one of the checking accounts out there that will refund your ATM fees? ING, Charles Schwab and E*Trade all have one. 

Seriously Consider an Online Savings Account

You won't be reducing your fees with this one, but you are probably wasting too much money by having your money sitting in your traditional saving account. If you haven't looked into savings accounts that are available only online, you are missing out on some guaranteed higher interest rates. Here are some of the best high-yield online savings account rates.

Smack yourself on the head if you don't add any of these five bank-related items to your to-do list today.

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Rob

Please, another article written by somebody who thinks banks are non-profits. Do you ask other retail stores to give you free things, because why, you're owed it?? It's a bank, they provide you with convenience, they provide you with security, they provide you with the ability to manage your money away from your matress. Six ways to safeguard bullying?

1. Make everything electronic, another convenience which you should pay for not have free because you're "you"

2. One account? If you know anything about shopping online or "being electronic" as you just said, more than one account protects you from having every penny drained because you put your information on an unsafe website

3. Keep money in checking? Or maybe you could just have your bank link your savings as overdraft protection to avoid both fees and to earn a little more. Truth be told, even 15 dollars in interest is more than zero in your checking.

4. Monthly maintenance fees - you pay every month for your magazine subscriptions, gym memberships, and movies, but somehow being charged a monthly fee to protect your money in a bank rather than under your matress is unfair? the last thing i'd cancel is the bank account , but according to your logic they don't "provide" you anything.

5. Schedule your withdrawals - If your life is as busy as everyone elses, you'd know that's impossible with children, work, and school. How about you just use a national bank that has 3,600 ATM's from coast to coast that doesnt charge you rather than waiting for your banks to refund you the fees

6. Online savings accounts? Takes two business days to get your cash from an online savings account that offer the same low rates or request you tie up your money. Emergencies don't get put on hold for two days.