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10 Practical Tips To Lower Your Banking Costs

10 Practical Tips To Lower Your Banking Costs

Recently, I was going over the details of my budget with a friend. When I got to the estimated expenses, he seemed to have a puzzled look on his face and asked me if I had forgotten to include banking costs. I was surprised by this question, but not as surprised as he was by my answer: “I don’t really have any banking expenses.”

“What about service charges, accidental overdrafts, minimum account balances etc.?” he asked. I shrugged. I don’t pay my bank to hold my money, they pay me for the privilege. Here’s how:

1. Set up overdraft protection … now!

Accidents happen. No one usually intends to overdraw their bank account, but sometimes a debit transaction comes through before a check clears and there you are with one or several charges applied to your already hurting bank account.

The first thing you should do after setting up a bank account is inquire about available overdraft protection. Sometimes referred to as cash reserve checking, this is a line of credit that the bank extends to its customers that kicks in when your debits exceed the balance in your account. Basically, you are pre-approved for a loan that is used to cover your negative balance.

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While this protection virtually eliminates overdraft fees, there are two small caveats. Firstly, you must be approved for such a line of credit, which is dependent on several factors including your credit score and history with the bank. Secondly, banks are not in the business of loaning out money for free, you will be charged interest on the overdrawn amount, though this is almost always going to be less than the fees that would be applied without overdraft protection.

2. Establish a good relationship with the tellers at your bank.

We often tend to view banks as large, faceless megacorporations, and save for the local credit unions, most of them are. That said, the people who work at your local branch are just that, people, and they often possess more power to help you out than you may realize. Knowing your teller by name, asking them about their family and what they are doing this weekend are, other than being generally polite things to do, great ways to ensure that you are treated fairly by your bank. I cannot tell you how many times my teller has pushed a deposit through to clear immediately or removed a fee for me: services that I doubt would have ever been extended to someone they didn’t know.

3. Prepare ahead for traveling abroad.

Oftentimes travelers run into additional banking fees and inconveniences, simply because they didn’t plan ahead. Be sure to tell your bank that you are traveling. Will you need to use ATMs while you are abroad? Check to see if your bank has any arrangements with banks in the countries to which you are traveling. If they do, using these banks can significantly cut down on fees and you can be assured that your money will be readily available when away from home. If you travel frequently, consider opening a Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account, which automatically reimburses all foreign ATM fees.

4. Use online banking but don’t rely on it.

Online banking is a godsend for most people. It allows you to keep an eye on your balance, transfer money from one account to another, and more. Many banks allow you configure alerts so that you are notified via email or text message when your balance drops below a certain threshold. Get to know what your online banking offers and leverage these tools to stay in control of your account. While this can be an extremely useful tool, bear in mind that it does not replace the need to balance your checkbook.

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5. Balance your check book.

Every time you swipe your debit card or write out a check, add the transaction to your ledger immediately. For all intents and purposes, view that money as no longer being in your account. If you get into this habit and quit relying on the available balance reported by your online banking, you will save yourself a lot of trouble, fees and embarrassment.

Remember that transactions can often take days to show up on your online ledger. Always know what it really in your account. Maintaining a balanced check book will also enable you to more easily spot potential bank errors, such as double charges. While there are a wide variety of apps available to make this age-old act easier, I personally prefer Toshl, which is available on all the major mobile platforms and can also be used to set up budgets and generate helpful graphs about your spending habits.

6. Shop around for better accounts.

Before looking elsewhere, go into your bank and ask to talk to someone about your account. Let them know that you are concerned about avoiding fees and would like to know what types of accounts are available. Answer any questions they ask you with complete honesty. Do not say that you can maintain a higher minimum balance than you realistically can. Oftentimes, you can forgo interest (which is often quite meager to begin with) for a totally free account with no restrictions. After a simple five-minute conversation with my banker, I was switched into an account that is typically just for college students (which I am not) that offered some built-in overdraft forgiveness with no fees and no minimum balance. While your mileage may vary, it never hurts to see what is available. If it seems that your bank has nothing to offer, look elsewhere.

7. Be careful when writing checks.

Checks can be tricky as you never know when their recipient will cash them and if there isn’t enough money in our account when they do, they will bounce, which is costly and very embarrassing. Bounce enough checks around town and you might even find yourself in jail. If we are following tip #5 and balancing our check book, this should never happen. That said, sometimes we make mistakes. So, if you do bounce a check, and you happen to catch it right away (it shows up in your online banking, but the transaction is still “pending”), then immediately deposit enough funds in your account to cover the check and call your bank. There is a chance that they might be willing to manually approve the transaction and prevent the check from bouncing.

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8. Read every notice that your bank mails you.

Regulations require that your bank notify you of any new fees. Be sure to open and read every piece of mail that your bank sends you. If they are introducing a new fee of some type, contact them immediately and see what can be done to avoid being charged. Often they are just hoping that you won’t notice. Stay on top of things and you could avoid increasing fees.

9. Consider switching to a credit union.

If you are unable to get your banking costs under control with a typical bank, try a credit union. Credit unions are member owned and operated and as such, are service-driven as opposed to profit-driven organizations, and because of this they tend to offer more favorable rates and additional services.

10. Don’t be afraid to mix and match your banks.

If one bank offers a great free checking account and another has really useful features for its business accounts, don’t be afraid to mix and match. Find the accounts that suit your needs, regardless of where they are offered.

 

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With a little effort, it is possible to mitigate most banking costs, even those associated with mistakes made on your own part. For a look into some more money mistakes worth avoiding, check out 11 Money Mistakes You Don’t Realize You’re Making.

Featured photo credit: Money Bills Calculator Save Savings Taxes/jarmoluk via pixabay.com

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Published on October 28, 2020

13 Books on Money to Transform Your Finance Management

13 Books on Money to Transform Your Finance Management

One of the most obvious measures of our success is our wealth. That said, that statement alone can be taken in various directions. Some people think it’s a matter of how much wealth you have. We, on the other hand, believe that it’s more of how much you’re able to retain and manage from month to month and year to year.

Below is a list of books on money that we believe will transform your way of thinking about money management in several ways. From sparking interesting conversations about it to making plans for your financial future, this list covers many aspects of finance management.

How to Choose a Good Book on Money

To help you find the best books on money to reach your personal finance goals, we’ve done the research for you and have formed this list of criteria.

  • Relevant – Even though money has been around for a long time, the economy has changed a lot over the years. We want to ensure you the books recommended are offering relevant advice that would be ideal in any financial environment.
  • Offers a system – Financial advice is great, but it doesn’t always stick. Each book should overall provide tips and habits that will allow you to build a system to help you manage your money.
  • Sparks conversations – Reading about money is one thing, but these books should also encourage you to talk more about money with those around you to some extent. Even though we all have our own ways of managing money, discussing money can have merits in some circumstances.
  • Practical – While these books provide general financial advice, they should remain practical in that the advice should be obtainable for people to achieve. Most people don’t have the funds necessary to start a real estate business, but they can put away a few hundred dollars into a savings or investment account every month. Practical books will help you achieve your goals.

1. I Will Teach You to Be Rich

    As the title of the book suggests, this book delivers on a plan to be rich. The author, Ramit Sethi, has a background in personal finance and provides a detailed six-week plan for living out a “rich life.”

    This book on money covers a wide variety of aspects like using credit cards and maximizing rewards from them, opening a high-yield savings account, and automating accounts where you can save money with no effort from you at all. This book is filled with nothing but pure actions that are outlined and sectioned off in a good way.

    Buy “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” here.

    2. The Automatic Millionaire

      Another one of the great books on money that will help you build a system is The Automatic Millionaire. Written by David Bach, a financial writer, this book focuses on our ability to automate our finances and builds a system based on that.

      The idea with this book is to give you the knowledge and information to put together a system in an afternoon that will make a large impact on your financial future for the better.

      Buy “The Automatic Millionaire” here.

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      3. The Simple Path to Wealth

        The principles from this book on money were first presented by the author to his daughter through a series of letters. As such, you’d expect there to be plenty of actionable advice when it comes to investing and overall saving. Considering the direction of the book further, this book is light and has a casual tone to it. That said, it won’t shy away from complicated explanations. It’s one of the highest-rated personal finance books around and it’s clear why it is.

        Buy “The Simple Path to Wealth” here.

        4. Retire Before Mom and Dad

          This is a book for those who are looking to be involved in the FIRE movement. FIRE stands for Financially Independent, Retire Early, and it’s clear why many people are striving for this or considering it.

          This book delves into the principles and acts as a primer for this movement and going down this path. That said, it also considers other principles that make FIRE more attainable or easier to achieve, even if you’re not planning on retirement in the next few years.

          Buy “Retire Before Mom and Dad” here.

          5. When She Makes More

            Money is a topic that most people shy away from, and it makes sense. Money is a status thing and seeing someone making more can cause unease or resentment. Money can also strain relationships and overall cause harm. People fear talking about money and it’s those emotions that cause problems in the first place.

            This book on money is powerful as it provides opportunities for women to be talking to their partner about money. After all, stereotypically speaking, men are meant to be making more money than women and it’s a sore spot when it’s the reverse. This book is fantastic because the author, Farnoosh Torabi, lives a life where she is the one making more than her partner.

            Getting into details, this book looks at the realities and the various rules she’s set up with her partner. She also discusses ways to maximize earnings while minimizing conflict.

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            Buy “When She Makes More” here.

            6. Women & Money

              Suze Orman is a financial advisor who most notably ran a show called The Suze Orman Show from 2002 to 2015. In the show, she received calls from viewers who asked for financial advice and whether or not it’s a good idea to buy various items.

              Orman has years of experience working in this field and pools a lot of her knowledge into the various books she’s published. Women & Money is one of the more recent ones. This book in particular talks about how women earn, invest, and save while also giving practical advice on retirement, marriage, and other topics.

              Whether you are 20 years old or 60, this is a good choice if you’re looking to learn more.

              Buy “Women & Money” here.

              7. Think and Grow Rich

                This famous book has been around for almost 90 years and still holds some relevant information. While this book on money won’t tell you about 401Ks and building a portfolio, it takes a turn to the mindset of building wealth.

                Through this book, you’ll learn more about desire and persistence as opposed to strategy or money management. While this is an odd book on our list, we believe it’s still important as the stories and the lessons are still relevant to your money attitude today.

                Buy “Think and Grow Rich” here.

                8. You Are a Badass at Making Money

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                  As you can guess from this title, this book takes a lighthearted angle to personal finance. Similar to “Think and Grow Rich,” this book also focuses on the mindset of earning and keeping money.

                  While this book lacks any sort of actionable financial advice, it’s compensated by the fact it’s inspiring. It’s an ideal book if you’re looking for a new perspective to making money and could spark conversation with friends, family, or your partner. On top of that, it’s a nice motivational booster.

                  Buy “You Are a Badass at Making Money” here.

                  9. The Millionaire Next Door

                    Another inspirational focused book that you’ll want to pick up is “The Millionaire Next Door.” Many years ago, Thomas J Stanley, Ph.D. and William D. Danko, Ph.D. did extensive research into the millionaires of America. From the various interviews they’ve conducted, they created a profile of America’s wealthiest citizens and discovered common connections amongst them all.

                    Stanley wrote it all in this book that has garnered over 1,700 five-star reviews and provides tremendous insight into what it’s like to be a millionaire. This is all explained through seven habits that all of these individuals have in common.

                    Again, there’s not so much practical advice here, but it prompts you to take a closer look at their overall lives and what you can do to change yours to be like theirs. Even if you’re not planning to be a millionaire, the lessons in there are all practical such as living below your means and rejecting traditional consumerism.

                    Buy “The Millionaire Next Door” here.

                    10. Spend Well, Live Rich

                      For those looking for a good book for budgeting and personal finance for beginners, this is a good pick. Author Michelle Singletary reflects on her life with her grandmother who raised five children on a modest salary.

                      By watching her grandmother, Singletary devised principles that her grandmother used to support that kind of lifestyle with what money she had. Through those principles, you can find inspiration in her story while learning about how to stretch the money that you already have.

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                      Buy “Spend Well, Live Rich” here.

                      11. Your Money or Your Life

                        The core of this book is financial independence and lays out a plan to reach that goal. While this book is the longest in this list, it does provide advice on pretty much every aspect of financial independence you can think of. It covers things like mindset requirements as well as investment moves that you should be making. Even if your plan isn’t to retire early, there is plenty of advice in this book you can use.

                        Buy “Your Money or Your Life” here.

                        12. Broke Millennial

                          Amongst millennials, this book on money is a favorite for its simple and relatable language. It touches on a lot of the struggles and issues that millennials are faced off with today—things like living with your parents in your 20s, dealing with student debt, and even dealing with friendships and your finances.

                          Between all of this, the book does offer plenty of practical advice and things to consider for those within this age group. It covers a broad overview of checking your credit score to even buying your first home. Even if you’re not there, chances are likely that the information mentioned in this book will be relevant for quite some time.

                          Buy “Broke Millennial” here.

                          13. Get a Financial Life

                            Another millennial-focused book is “Get a Financial Life,” which covers a lot of the basics for personal finance. This book is more direct with its advice since it covers things like doing your own taxes and paying off debt. The goal of this book is to provide a foundation for you to establish a financial life and it does so in a good and clear manner.

                            Buy “Get a Financial Life” here.

                            Final Thoughts

                            What a lot of these books teach us about money is that success doesn’t come overnight. It’s something that takes a while to build up. But it also shows just how changing your way of thinking or taking a few small steps can mean changing your financial path for the better. There are many great books on money, and these are only the start.

                            More Books on Money and Finance

                            Featured photo credit: Jonathan Borba via unsplash.com

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