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11 Annoying Bank Fees You Can Avoid

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11 Annoying Bank Fees You Can Avoid

It is difficult to operate in today’s world without a bank account, yet the fees charged by many banks may make customers wonder if they would be better off stashing cash in their mattresses.  The best defense against bank fees is knowing what they are and how to avoid them.  Here are ten of the most common:

1. Minimum Balance Fee

Some banks require accounts to have a minimum balance.You may be charged a fee if you don’t meet this requirement.  In some cases, your account may even be closed if you leave it underfunded and unattended. To avoid this, call your bank, ask exactly how much money you need to have in your account, and keep your balance above that minimum.

2. Account Closing Fee

You might be charged a small fee for closing your account at certain banks.  You should ask about account closing fees before you open an account.  If the fees are unreasonable, choose another bank.  Another strategy to avoid this fee is to withdraw all funds from an account, but leave it open. You can open an account elsewhere and treat this one as “closed”. The bank will likely close it on its own after some time at a zero balance. Be sure that your bank doesn’t charge an inactivity fee if you use this option.

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3. Inactivity Fee

This is relatively uncommon, but a bank might assess a fee to an account that has been inactive for some time. If this applies to your account, make sure to “check in” at least once a month with a transaction or two. This can be as simple as grabbing $20 from the ATM, or as automatic as getting direct deposit for your paychecks.

4. Lost Debit Card Fee

If you misplace your debit card, many banks will charge you to replace it. This fee is usually worth paying, to give you the convenience of easy on-the go account access and peace of mind knowing that your lost card can’t be used by someone who finds it. Some banks may offer a temporary card at the local branch, foregoing the cost of rush delivery of the replacement. Nothing, however, beats due diligence in keeping track of your card so you don’t lose it in the first place.

5. Foreign Transaction Fee

Most banks will charge a fee for withdrawing cash in another country. There is little you can do to get around this, but you might be able to find a more favorable fee by exchanging your cash elsewhere. Consider visiting a currency exchange institution before your trip to compare the conversion fees. Some banks don’t charge for foreign transactions; if you are a frequent international traveler,  find these banks and do business with them.

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6. Paper Statement Fee

It’s 2013, and almost every bank wants to avoid mailing you a paper statement if they can, and they may charge you a fee as an incentive to go paperless.  If you’re a tech-savvy individual, you probably don’t want a paper statement anyway. So, opt out. Every major bank offers this option. Instead of a paper statement, you will receive electronic statements via the bank’s online portal or by email. You’re also doing the environment a favor!

7. Online Bill Pay Fee

Some banks will charge you to use their online bill-paying service. If this is the case, investigate other bill-paying portals or find a bank that offers this service without a charge. You will find that most of your bills can be paid online for free via the billing party’s own website.  Use your debit card and the funds will come directly out of your checking account with no fee.

8. Overdraft Fee

Almost every bank will charge you for an overdraft. Obviously, you should avoid this fee by not spending more than you have. To avoid accidental overdrafts, call and ask your bank to decline transactions on your debit card when the funds are not available. It is possible to set up automatic transfers from savings to cover overdrafts, and many banks offer overdraft protection that is less expensive than the fees for insufficient funds. If you do accidentally overdraw, you may be able to ask your bank for forgiveness once or twice, especially if you have a good banking history with few overdrafts.

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9. Insufficient Funds Fee

There is a subtle difference between and overdraft fee and an insufficient funds fee. Both are caused by initiating a transaction for more money than you have in your account.  In the case of an overdraft, the bank pays the item and charges you a fee, leaving your account balance in the negative.  If the bank returns the item (usually a check) without paying it, this activates an insufficient funds fee.  The amount may or may not be the same as for an overdraft, and often there will be an additional returned check fee imposed by the company that had the unpaid check returned.

10. Service Fee

These are small, usually inconsequential fees for various services the bank may offer upon request.  Some fee-based services include statement printouts, stop-payment charges, and checking account reconciliation or research. Some of these fees can be avoided by careful record keeping.  You may also be able to get around these fees by researching online options, such as downloadable statement PDFs. Ask your bank what they will and will not charge you for, and plan accordingly.

11. Returned Deposit Fee

When a check that you have deposited bounces or there is some questionable or missing element on said check, you will likely be assessed a returned deposit fee. Double-check all deposits to be sure that they are properly filled out and signed, and only take checks from people or institutions that you trust.

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Keep in mind that there are exceptions to everything on this list.  Any reputable institution will offer you a fee schedule, including the exact details of how fees are charged and how to avoid them.  Take  responsibility for being informed, and you will save your hard-earned cash.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

Financial Freedom is Not a Fantasy: 9 Secrets to Get You There

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Financial Freedom is Not a Fantasy: 9 Secrets to Get You There

Have you ever considered your life now, and how it would be if you had more time to spend with your family and less worries about money?

Nowadays, financial stress is one of the most troublesome weights in life. If you’ve ever encountered financial stress, you know the difficulty of not having enough income to pay your obligations or bills.

Many people say that money is not the ultimate goal of life. While that’s true, money certainly plays a very significant role. The meaning of financial freedom changes with the different phases of our life, but ultimately, it is something that many people strive for.

In this article, we’ll explain how to capture that financial freedom you’ve been looking for. Read on to learn the secrets to financial freedom.

Break Free of Your Finances

Financial freedom is about having a constant flow of cash from your assets to cover all your regular needs.

When you are not worried about your income, or living paycheck to paycheck, you gain a great sense of freedom. It’s the freedom to be obtain and do what you truly need to make your way through everyday life.

Gaining financial freedom, though, is a process of growth, making small improvements and gaining emotional strength.

Though it seems hard to believe, it is really very simple to get financial freedom.

To do so, you simply need to make sure that your assets exceed your liabilities. In other words, you’ll need to find the sweet-spot where your residuals meet or surpass your expenses. This is something that you can achieve with the proper plan.

While not every person will accomplish financial freedom, the potential for anyone to do so is certainly there. Anyone can achieve this success, regardless of their income level.

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Outlined below are 9 secrets that will help you in your goals of achieving financial freedom.

1. Stop Unnecessary Spending

We often spend money inwardly, instead of objectively.

For example, you may spend when you’re anxious, depressed, restless, exhausted, from fear of missing out, or to please others. This is a very unhealthy way to handle your finances.

To stop this habitual spending, log down all your spending over the course of a month.

Just as some people keep a food diary, keep an expense diary. Remember not to just write down how much and what you spent the money on, also include the circumstances of why you spent the money. Was it an impulse buy at the checkout line or was it something you planned to purchase?

This increased self-awareness could enable you to avoid triggering situations in the future when you are considering an impulse buy.

2. Plan a Monthly Budget

This is a great opportunity to get serious.

Take a seat with your spouse or partner and make a monthly budget based on your income, not your expenses. You are never again going to spend more cash then you have on hand.

Overspending is the thing that led you to more financial obligations. Make sure you decide every month what is coming in and what will be going out and stick to that budget… no matter what.

3. Cut-up Credit Cards

Perhaps you are the type of person who always pays your credit card balance in full before the end of your billing cycle, and enjoys the reward points you gain. If this is the case, then you’re already way ahead of the game.

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If not, you may want to consider ridding your life of the burden that credit cards bring.

Many cards have strategies set up so that if you make a certain number of late payments, they will raise your interest rate much higher. This can really add up in the long run and you won’t be doing your financial situation any favors. If you’re prone to late payments or have a large balance due on your cards, cut them up!

Without proper self control on credit card spending and payments, you are basically throwing your money away. To ensure that you have better control over your spending, use only cash or debit for all future purchases (and don’t forget to pay at least your minimum payment on your cut-up cards each month!).

4. Increase Savings

There is no doubt that for a comfortable retirement you must accumulate satisfactory savings throughout your working life.

It’s good practice to save up to 15% of your income.

Start with your workplace 401(k), if you have one. If not, a Roth IRA (if you are eligible) or a traditional IRA (if you are not eligible for the Roth) are the next logical steps.

Increase in longevity means you might be able to look forward to 25 to 30 years in retirement, or possibly even significantly more. Investing now in good retirement plans will ensure that you have a guaranteed a stable monthly income when the time comes to stop working. [1]

5. Invest Wisely

Consider investing in funds.

Specifically, you will gain higher returns if you invest in different types of mutual funds such as Debt funds, Equity funds and Hybrid funds with a proper balance, although it absolutely relies on your personal preferences and sense of risk taking.

To get the most of these benefits, make sure you are investing in a variety of assets. Another resource of investing in mutual funds is SIP (Systematic Investment Plan) where you invest some money every month in funds. SIP works by averaging the per unit price of the stock.

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Mutual fund investors are aware of the benefits of an SIP (Systematic Investment Plan). For one, it is the most secure way to invest in equity mutual plans so that wealth is created over a long period of time. This plan also helps you to gain a better sense of financial discipline, which will come in handy in all your financial endeavors.

6. Invest in Gold

There isn’t really a better way to invest in gold than to have the physical gold itself in your possession.

You can purchase gold coins and bars from mints as well as from coin dealers and other private sellers.

Another way to invest in gold is through ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds).

These are is similar to mutual funds but they are exclusively investments of gold. ETFs are great because they offer more liquidity; the ETF owns the actual physical gold, stores it, and retains the value of the shares. These shares can then be bought and sold in the stock market, and one big benefit is that the transaction costs of gold ETFs are much lower than the that of physical gold.

With its consistently-increasing demand, investment in gold can be very wise long-term investment to make.

7. Stash Emergency Funds

Whether it’s a cash gift or a work bonus, always try to save any extra money that comes your way rather than making unneeded purchases.

If you get paid every other week, you’ll get an “extra” paycheck (three rather than the usual two) twice a year. Either save those paychecks towards your emergency funds or utilize the money to pay down other obligations, such as loans, credit cards or other debts.

Make it hard to get your cash.

Put your savings in an alternate bank, maybe an online bank that forces you to delay for several business days before transferred money hits your regular bank account.

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8. Find Fabulous Mentors

Find a mentor, such as a friend or family member, who has exceptional control over their finances and pay attention to everything they do.

If you do not have any friends or family that are enjoying financial freedom, then find a mentor online! There are numerous blogs and guru websites featuring the advice of many people who have reached financial freedom, and they exist primarily to let you in on how to achieve it for yourself.

There are also plentiful forums available that share tips and tricks on how to best achieve financial freedom. Read as much as you can and start changing your habits for the better.

9. Be Extra Patient

Patience is the key of financial success.

Being patient can be quite tough, especially when you’re struggling with your finances, but having faith is worth it. You’ll continuously be on the right track if you are taking the proper steps above.

So don’t be discouraged, even if you are only saving a few dollars a month; it all adds up. Within just a few years you’ll look back proudly at your accomplishments and be glad that you had the patience to get there.

Financial Freedom for All

Anyone can achieve financial freedom, regardless of their financial circumstance.

Use the tips provided above to get yourself on the track to financial freedom and toss your monetary concerns out the window. If you wish to achieve a life with financial freedom for yourself and your family then you must adopt a disciplined approach towards your finances.

Following the simple secrets above is a great start to making your money work for you, so you can work less and live more!

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Hartford Gold Group: IRA Retirement Accounts

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