That Sneaky Bank Almost Got Me
It was as much luck as anything else, but I just managed to avoid $30 in bank charges. It's a good example of rule number one for avoiding bank fees: pay attention.
I'd actually gotten the document with the details I needed to know a month ago. I'd even looked at it. Unfortunately, I missed one little detail that was tucked away in a large-format, eight-page, full-color, glossy brochure filled almost completely with details I didn't need to know — all the fees for all the services my bank provides, along with all the kinds of accounts they offer and the rules for all those accounts.
In a little box on page three was a little change: The minimum balance for money market accounts was now going to be $2,500 instead of the $1,500 it used to be. Fall below the minimum balance for even one day, and you get hit with a $15 change for the month. We have two of those accounts.
As I say, having missed this change when I got the brochure, it was mainly luck that I noticed it this morning. I was logging into my bank's website to transfer some money and clicked a link for "changes taking effect today." Clicking that link downloaded a PDF of the same brochure I'd already looked at.
Since the transfers I was going to make this morning were to our money market accounts, I had money market accounts on my mind. So I took a minute to check the entry for money market accounts and noticed the change.
I spent several flustered minutes verifying that I could boost both accounts over $2,500 and still have enough cash to pay the bills that needed paying. I also transferred some money from elsewhere into our checking account, although it'll be a couple of days until it arrives.
As I said, it was as much luck as anything. I was lucky that I happened to log into our bank today, lucky that I noticed the link, lucky that I checked the entry on money market accounts, lucky that I noticed the change, and lucky that we had enough money on hand to cover the higher minimum.
But it was more than just luck. I run our finances with a certain amount of slack — I keep cash on hand specifically to handle situations like this. And, of course, I make a point of paying attention to that sort of thing, because paying attention is rule number one for avoiding bank fees.