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See I told you, this would help!

Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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Learn to cut out all the unnecessary banking fees.

A few weeks ago I wrote about how to get the best savings rates for your emergency fund (that you should definitely have).  Writing that made me realize that many folks don’t even think about the cost of keeping their money in a bank in general.  Remember that keeping $1000 in a normal bank would make you a whopping 10¢ a year in interest.  Because of low returns on your money you need to be working hard to not be paying the bank to keep your money!!  Even one ATM fee a year and you’ve lost money on this deal…

What are some banking fees that you can avoid?

Monthly Account Fees
This is very 1980.  Most banks/credit unions offer free checking and savings accounts and you need to make sure you are in one.  Most of these do not have minimum balance requirements.  If your bank doesn’t offer free accounts, then it may be time to look elsewhere…  Pulling up a few different major banks I found that many don’t offer “free” checking but if you have at least one direct deposit a month your fee is waived.  Make sure if you are in this type of account that you remember what is required.  Changing jobs and not immediately setting up your direct deposit could be costly.

Things that may be required to maintain free checking: balance requirements, minimum transactions per month,  or direct deposit per month.

Bounced Check Fees
Also called Non-Sufficient Fund Fees (NFS), this is a huge $25-$35 fee every time a check bounces.  The simple solution here… balance your check book regularly!  If you use your debit card a lot make sure to pull out your bank register and enter those items as soon as you make them so you don’t forget.

ATM Fees
As long as you stay at your banks ATMs you should always be fine, but the minute you use a machine that isn’t with your bank (or your network for credit unions) the fees start adding in.  Most ATM fees are $2.50 to $3 per transaction.  This doesn’t include a fee that the actual ATM may charge you as well!  To avoid these fees all together select cash back when you make in-store purchases at grocery stores etc.  There are no fees associated with cash bank when the transaction is already being processed.

Lost Card Fee
You may not realize that losing your wallet means fees too.  Most major banks have a card replacement fee starting at $5.  If you need the card rushed to you that could be up to $20 in fees.  This one fee most banks will waive though if you complain.  If your wallet was stolen definitely refuse to pay any fees for new cards.  The banks tend to waive this without much fuss.  If you lose your card monthly, that may not be as easy for you.

Paper Statement Fee
This one may not get most folks, but if you are particularly bad at balancing accounts or wait to big things till tax time, asking for statements past a few months back will have added fees.  If you have selected the long touted “paperless statements” then you are at the whim of the bank on how long you have access to statements.  While I’m all for saving the world, having a paper statement a year or two from now when you are being audited for something will be a blessing.  Grab a three ring binder and put all statements in their each month.  You only need 3 years of records, but you do need them and want them without added fees!

Note: Some banks now are trying to charge fees monthly if you don’t choose the paperless option.  If your bank refuses to waive this fee, then you can decide to either leave or make a habit of printing your monthly statement offline yourself.

Returned Mail Fee
If you move, by all means please tell your bank first!  You may not be charged to send paper statements but if any of them get sent to the bank unable to deliver then many will charge $5-$6 as a return mail fee.  They blame this on potential identify theft issues that can happen with return mail and that they have to work harder because of it.

Ordering Checks
When you run out of checks you will have to pay something to get more, but you should never pay the banks rates.  Banks charge insane amounts for checks!!  Head online and find deals on checks that will come out to $7-$10 for 200-400 checks shipped.  The bank would have cost over $30-$40 for that many checks.

Are there any fees that you’ve been hit with that I missed?

Trying to avoid any fees at all could mean a chunk of savings for some folks, but we definitely don’t want to be paying the bank to hold our money.  If you want to take out a loan, then you can pay them… but not until then!

    • Holly

      I started using the Bluebird account as a checking account. It is totally free, and it won’t allow you to bounce checks. No fees ever!! The only drawback I have found is that it takes 6 days for a check to go into your account when you snap a pic of it. You can direct deposit to it and add cash at walmart tho and get money out of pulse machines with it. so for people that don’t regularly deposit checks via pic it is great!

    • Stacey Chale

      We’ve been with Ally bank for a couple of years now and are quite happy. No monthly fees, free checks, interest checking, and they refund any ATM fees incurred so you can use any ATM you like. Deposit checks using the app on my phone.

    • Banker

      As a banker of thirty years….and an avid supporter of your blog, i would agree about not paying uneccessary charges when at all possible!!!! We try to educate the public of these special fees to hold their money… Some uneccessary but some do actually require special handling. I agree it is your money and no one should be paying fees to handle your money. However, when you provide a service, from any other business…. Are you not required to pay a fee for services rendered???

      On the other hand, What most people do not realize is… Banks are a business and business are in the business to make money! I am an avid supporter of the middle man, believe me, i am one. But, my job is supplied from that business/bank, Who yes, the higher ups, make much more in salaries, pensions, and bonuses, At age 56 i am very hardpressed to find another line of work because it is all I know. And, it is much harder to keep a job anywhere the older you get. So even though I disagree wth many Banking fees, they do pay my income, insurance, 401k, sick time…. Etc … Just like any other business that charges fees for services rendered. Smaller Community banks are the best to deal with when an issue arises that is not the customers fault. Sometimes there are people in charge who do not care whoes fault the issues is however and THEY give banks a bad name.

      Transactions for savings accounts (reg dd) are regulated by the Federal Government which the average person has no concept of! And although most fees are set by the bank itself….we are still somewhat regulated…… I had rather have the higher ups who can assure me of my job…. Even with lesser income, operate the bank, than if it were run by our government.

      Fraud is the number one cost in banking fees, yet people give their information freely! The security breeches alone the past two years for reprinted bank cards have been uncharted waters for bank with millions of losses that banks absorb, not to mention, the g
      Free debit/credit cards that were reissued and reissued again! Third party check vendors expose info to fraud, checks that will not run through bank systems nor through Federal Reserve.

      I love to save….banks choices should be made wisely… And i will pay 50.00 for an ATM fee if I were stranded with no money. People should ALWAYS carry additional options, especially when out of area or the country!

      I hope this sheds some better light on the downside of bank fees….. We here it all the time! The bank choice is key!

      Love your ideas for saving….btw! People should be educated on all aspects in todays economy and technology!

    • rubina

      Jenny, You missed overdraft fees.

    • Tfitz

      Overdraft protection fees. With Citibank, if you don’t transfer the money yourself, they charge you $10 to automatically transfer it!!!

    • Susie

      i agree with all the unnecessary fees above that can be avoided due to our own mistakes. However, we live in a very rural area with only 2 small local banks available. Both banks, even though not big name brands, offered free checking in the past until the “big bust” and now they both charge $8 a month for a checking account, regardless of balance. I absolutely hate paying that, but do somewhat understand since both banks used to be major employers in our small town, but have now reduced their staff size by about 75%. I would love free checking, as I’m cheap, but it’s just not available here anymore. The closest big name bank is over the mountain, about an hours drive. I know everything is done electronically and we almost never go to the bank, but I like knowing a live person who I know is available if I need them.

    • Carmen O

      Check out credit unions! We were able to join ours because my MIL was a member.