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How to Avoid Overdraft Fees

How to Avoid Overdraft Fees


    The crash of 2008 was supposed to be a wakeup call to the dangers of negligent lending and irresponsible credit use. Yet, financial institutions continue to sell naïve customers on expensive credit products like overdraft protection.  Sold as an “essential” account add-on, Overdraft promises to protect clients for overdrawn funds on their account.

    In a recent article on Time.com, Martha C. White writes about the $30 billion in profits American banks have made from overdraft fees in 2011.

    “Once overdrawn, customers are subject to high interest rates and outlandish fees. For some customers the deficit is a permanent and damaging fixture in their account, setting themselves up for larger and more destructive financial issues..”

    Avoid the fees and exorbitant interest rates that accompany short-term credit products by being better prepared for account shortfalls.

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    Solid Financial Planning

    Financial institutions need to reorganize their priorities. Instead of focusing on credit products, banks need to emphasize sound financial planning and offer unbiased advice to their clients.

    Sadly, a simple inquiry at a bank can result in an undisclosed credit check, an offer for a pre-approved mortgage, and unsolicited preapproved credit card offers. Never agree to take on a financial obligation without taking the time to understand its impact on your financial and mental well-being.

    Protect yourself by developing a long-term relationship with a personal banker or financial advisor that is acting in your best interests, not the banks.

    Do you have overdraft protection?

    Remarkably, most customers are unaware that they have overdraft protection until they take a closer look at their account activity. For some, it can be years before they realize that they are paying for a service they never use.

    Remember, you are under no obligation to sign up for any service you do not want. This includes any products that the bank wants to bundle with an account opening or credit offer. Tied selling laws in Canada and the United States prohibit financial institutions from forcing you to buy an unrelated product in order to obtain another product.

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    Overdraft Protection

    The key to any budget is avoiding the small incidental costs that can accumulate over time and ruin your financial projections. This means that you have to avoid any additional services that are going to cost you fees or charge you interest.

    The first rule, is always keep your account in a positive balance.

    While easier said than done, examining your transaction history will allow you to see how, and where, you are spending your money. Sometimes, the reason for overdrawing your account can be as simple as bill payments not aligning with your paycheck. A quick solution is to call your bank and make sure your bills line up with your pay schedule.

    Other times, shortfalls in an account are the result of frivolous spending. After examining your account history, it will be apparent where you are spending your money. People are conscious of the large purchases and the essential bill payments, but smaller expenses seem so insignificant that you fail to consider them when examining your spending. Once you tally up the coffee and fast food purchases, you can see how they can push your account into the negative.

    Most importantly, be diligent in finding pre-authorized payments. Without checking, you may be paying for a long forgotten gym membership or a cancelled subscription to AOL’s dialup service.

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    Be alert

    No matter how diligent you are about money management, there is always going to be scenarios that are out of your control.

    Both financial institutions and financial software packages like Mint.com allow you to create alerts that will send you a text, phone, or email message when your account is low on funds.  Besides low fund alerts, you can also program some of these services to alert you to unauthorized debits from your account. Therefore, allowing you a chance to correct an error before a payment comes out.

    Going Old School

    Using cash is a great way to avoid account shortfalls. Based on the information you gleam from your transaction history create a cash budget for each week. This way you always know that a certain amount of money will be in the account to cover bill payments.

    Unless you are reviewing your transactions on a daily basis, you will find that you will unconsciously spend more with a debit card than you would with cash.

    Other strategies include avoiding preauthorized payments. By collecting all your bills and paying them one by one, you can gain a clearer picture of your financial health.  If you choose to go analog, be sure to be diligent about making your payments. Otherwise, a missed mortgage, insurance or vehicle loan payment can have devastating financial ramifications.

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    Emergency and Reserve Funds

    Instead of opening a single checking account, open a companion savings account. Dedicate yourself to putting away at least 20% of your paycheck into the new account. The account will allow you to limit your spending, and give you a financial cushion in case of a budgetary miscalculation or bank error.

    Make sure you have the ability to transfer money between the accounts at an ATM, or through online banking.  At any time, you can sure up a low or overdrawn account with the appropriate amount of money and avoid the need for costly Overdraft protection.

    In order to serve as a proper reserve or overdraft account, you need to maintain a months’ worth of mortgage, insurance, and loan payments.

    Conclusion

    In summary, good money management starts with taking responsibility for your spending and controlling what comes in and out of your checking account on a monthly basis. Once, you understand the problem, you can make adjustments to fix any issues and create a backup plan that protects your hard earned money and allows you to avoid any additional credit debt.

    (Photo credit: Fees in Wooden Letters via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on April 28, 2020

    9 Millionaire Success Habits That Will Inspire Your Life

    9 Millionaire Success Habits That Will Inspire Your Life

    As technology evolves and information becomes more accessible, it has also become more challenging to define success. A lot of people are trapped in the rat race while trying to discover the actual formula for success.

    You could become overwhelmed with what tools, techniques or philosophies to imbibe while trying to get tips over the internet. At every click and turn, there are ‘how-tos and quick-fix’ on how to become successful overnight. You will find several courses, articles, videos and books on how to achieve financial success.

    But what if I tell you it doesn’t have to be complicated as people made it out to be? What if you could achieve success by merely following these 9 millionaire success habits?

    1. Read for Personal Development

    A daily habit I have discovered millionaires share in common is reading. For instance, if you are an entrepreneur, you need to read to become an efficient leader and a productive business owner. Reading helps you to grow and learn without going to a business school.

    A research conducted by Thomas Crowley indicates about 85% of self-made millionaires read at least two or more books each month. [1] Warren Buffett is one of these examples. He spends 80% of his day reading. In the early days of his investment career, he would read 600 to 1000 pages in a single day.

    While millionaires sometimes read for pleasure, they also learn to improve themselves. They read topics on leadership, how-tos, self-help, biographies, lifehacks and also follow current events.

    Here’re some recommendations for you: 25 Best Self Improvement Books to Read No Matter How Old You Are

    2. Establish Multiple Sources of Income

    Another success habit I noticed about successful people is that they don’t depend on a single income source. Every millionaire possesses multiple sources of income. This helps them to manage economic challenges and also make more money.

    They are passive income addicts. They earn interests from loans, rental income from real estate, royalties from intellectual properties, dividends from investments. They also launch a side business or run a website or sell information products.

    How income is made either passively or actively is what separates the successful from the wannabes. They are always learning ways to build multiple streams of income.

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    3. Live on a Stipulated Monthly Budget

    An average millionaire does not believe in luck and jackpot. They take the time to understand cash flow-income and expenses. Based on this, they establish a monthly budget and religiously stick to it.

    The essence of the budget is to minimize unnecessary expenses. This will help you gain complete control of your financial life. Budgeting helps you to avoid overspending to achieve your financial goals. Here’re some tips to help you stuck to your budget: 32 Hacks for Sticking to Your Budget

    4. Manage and Maximize Money

    The most significant education for a millionaire is financial intelligence. Nobody attains financial freedom without gaining financial intelligence. This is the more reason millionaire, regardless of their income, keep their knowledge about tax strategies updated.

    They always seek to reduce their tax bills. One approach they employ is by living or incorporating their business in states with no income tax.

    Do you know that about 60 companies paid $0 legally in the 2018 tax year? Some of these companies that ‘avoided'(note: not evaded) federal income tax include Chevron, Amazon, Halliburton, General Motors, Delta. Their US income was totaled at $79 billion with an effective tax rate of -5%.

    What’s the deal? They got a tax refund.

    How do they accomplish these?

    An ITEP report indicated that they have the culture of throwing huge sums at tax experts who assist them in discovering creative, as well as convoluted means of paying little tax as much as possible.[2]

    5. Avoid Debt

    Another habit that separates the millionaires from the rest of the world is how they manage debt.

    They don’t live an extravagant lifestyle; instead, they only buy what they need and can pay for. They do not book hotels and flights by using their credit cards to pay for them.

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    They are conscious of the interest rates even when they use credits cards or take loans. If possible, they try to pay with cash because of its zero percent interest rate.

    6. Set Daily Goals

    It does not matter if they are setting up a business, a career, or financial projections; they have the success habit of setting short term goals. They plan daily and weekly goals to generate momentum in achieving their long-term goals.

    Ensure you prioritize when setting daily goals. This will help you to achieve the most important to-dos on your list.

    Setting priorities will help you to focus on highly rewarding activities. If you desire financial freedom, it is wise to pursue activities that earn you thousands of dollars rather than hundreds of dollars.

    7. Don’t Act Rich

    The goal is not to act rich but to be productive. Interestingly, Thomas Stanley buttressed in his book that for the most prestige brands of cars, about 86% percent are toys of the non-millionaires. While most believe that people with huge fortunes tend to drive exotic cars, in reality the largest consumers of pricey cars are aspiring millionaires.[3]

    According to findings by Experian Automotive Researchers, 61% of individuals who earn $250,000 or more rarely buy luxury brands. Instead, they buy Hondas, Toyotas, and Fords like the rest of the world. The reason is they are not ready to spend money on premium cars that tend to drop in value in a couple of years as it would cost money. Millionaires invest in assets that appreciate.[4]

    8. Own or Buy Businesses

    In Robert Kiyosaki’s cashflow quadrant, he divided how you earn income into four quadrants. The E and the S quadrants take the left position while the B and the I are on the right side. According to Robert, it is possible to be on all quadrants, but the millionaires are not.[5]

    • E stands for employee – they work for others
    • S stands for self-employed – they work for themselves
    • B stands for a Business owner- employees work for them (500 or more employees)
    • I stand for Investors – Money work for them like Warren Buffet.

    Your goal is to move from the left quadrant to the right quadrants where you own big businesses or make money work for you.

    It is possible to become financially successful by pursuing what you love. For instance, if you love writing, aspire to be the best seller. Wealth and passion work together.

    Check out How to Start a Small Business with Little to No Money for tips.

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    9. Avoid Get-Rich-Quick Scheme

    A millionaire holds patience as an essential virtue. It takes patience to become successful, not only in finance but in every aspect of life. While it is possible to become financially successful at an early age, most millionaires hit it at age 50. They live a moderate life, invest in their future and retire rich.

    Bonus: How to Develop the Millionaire Success Habits?

    Having learned these habits, the next question is,

    How can I develop the Millionaire Success habits?

    Here are six values you will need to develop:

    Establish Your Life Vision

    You need to be clear about what you want in life to set yourself for a life of success. Your vision has to go beyond becoming a millionaire to understanding why you want to become one. Any great entrepreneur you will ever find has a clear vision and an established mission.

    Understanding why you are doing what you do will drive you to become the kind of successful person you want to be.

    Make Your Passion a Profession

    When your passion becomes your profession, work becomes pleasurable. Loving what you do enables money to flow to you and through you.

    So what’s going to be? Wake up every morning by speaking positive words into your work, love what you do, and focus on the work that brings you joy.

    Take a look at this article and learn how to make it happen: 5 Steps To Turn Your Passion Into A Career

    Focus on Solution

    Focusing on the solution means establishing the problem that you or your business address. This will help you focus on the solutions when others are faced with challenges.

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    A millionaire has a mindset that is fixed on the solution. He or she knows there’s a way out, and that every problem is an opportunity in disguise.

    Improve your problem solving skills with these tips: 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

    Develop Your Leadership Skills

    Leadership skills are an asset that is indispensable if you want to develop a millionaire success habit. The more you hone your leadership skills, the more you will attract leaders who share your values.

    Be Growth-Focused

    Millionaire entrepreneurs prioritize self-improvement. Here’s how to achieve it:

    • Get a coach. Coaching will impact your life, and you will achieve peak performance in life and business when you have a life coach.
    • Be coachable. It is not enough to have a coach; you must be coachable. Sometimes, you need feedback and counsel to reposition your life and business. A coach has the wisdom and experience to counsel you from a higher perspective. The more you receive feedback and work on yourself, the more you become better at what you do and who you are.

    Flip Your Thought Pattern From Acting To Being

    It is not enough to have a millionaire success habit, you must also become a person of positive influence. This is how you can become significant. Bill Gates is not only rich; he is changing lives in Africa and different parts of the world.

    If you want to become successful, you must first be and think like a successful person. This is how resources you need can flow into your life.

    Here’s a final thought from me:

    It is not enough to do something to have something; success is about being someone who possesses what is needed to take positive and inspired actions.

    More Success Habits

    Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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