By now you’re probably feeling the gravity of your checking account situation…
The lessons from Parts 1 and 2 dealt heavily with the importance of making sure your money isn’t just sitting in your checking account where it’s neither growing nor working for your future. It’s great if you’re ready to make some positive changes. But before you become too starry-eyed and pull all of your money out of your checking account and chuck it into some new accounts (that may or may not have less than stellar rates of return), ask yourself these 2 questions:
1. Does my bank have a fee attached to a minimum threshold in my checking account? Staying on course to your financial goals can be tough enough, but being hit with a surprise fee from your bank if you withdraw too much can really kill your momentum. Americans paid an average of $53 per person in 2015. These types of penalties can be avoided by learning what your bank requires for each type of account you hold, along with paying attention to the amount of money in your accounts. Following the tips below in concert with your bank’s unique rules can help avoid course-altering fees:
- Maintain any minimum balance requirements
- Enroll in direct deposit
- Open multiple accounts at the same bank
- Find free checking at a different bank if necessary
2. Do you keep enough in your checking account to avoid overdraft fees? Guess how much Americans paid in overdraft fees last year alone… $15 Billion! What portion of that might have been your own personal contribution? Remember the advice in Part 2 to keep accounts for different occasions like emergencies or having some fun? Reserving funds in these separate, designated accounts has the potential to prevent unexpected and/or large withdrawals from your main checking account that could generate a fee or penalty. Additional ways you can protect yourself from overdraft fees are to set up overdraft protection (but watch out for a fee for this service) and to always keep a small cushion in your checking account, just in case.
Moving your money away from the Black Hole of Checking is important. But ignoring the asteroids of unexpected banking fees headed your way could dampen your momentum for building savings and getting your money to work for you.