The price of nearly everything has been on the rise. As the costs of gas, rents, and groceries continue to skyrocket, consumers are starting to feel stretched thin.
Hidden among your monthly expenses are likely several unwelcome fees that you needn’t be paying, especially now. They represent money that could be better spent on the things in life you actually enjoy. So if you’re paying any of these six fees, you should stop ASAP.
1. ATM Fees
Why would anyone needlessly pay to access their own money? But that’s exactly what you’re doing any time you agree to pay ATM fees. Between operator fees of $1-$4 and your bank’s non-network fee of $2-$3, a single transaction can become quite costly. Suddenly that modest $20 withdrawal seems a lot less innocuous.
Fortunately, ATM fees are relatively easy to avoid. Most bank apps and websites offer maps that make tracking down an in-network ATM fairly easy. Some financial institutions will also waive or reimburse non-network ATM fees with certain types of accounts. You can also avoid ATMs altogether and instead opt to get cash back with a debit card transaction. Most stores offer this option for free with any purchase.
2. Late Fees
Whether it’s a credit card payment, car payment, or your rent, there are repercussions for almost any overdue bill. Late fees typically cost between $20 and $40 or a percentage of your monthly bill. Furthermore, a late payment — or a string of them — will adversely affect your credit score.
The easiest way to avoid late payments is to set up automatic payments for any of your recurring monthly bills. In addition to the added convenience, setting up auto-pay may also grant you additional savings. Some cellphone companies, student loan lenders, and utility companies offer discounts with automated payments, so be sure to ask!
3. Monthly Maintenance Fees
Monthly maintenance fees are the money many banks charge just for using their banking services. Depending on the types of accounts and services offered, these charges may range from $5 to $15 a month. If you maintain multiple accounts, these fees can really accumulate.
Some banks offer to waive fees if you maintain a minimum balance or direct-deposit your paycheck. Others will waive fees for making a certain number of debit card purchases a month. You can also opt for a bank that doesn’t charge maintenance fees at all. Many of these are online banks that offer the same security and functions as brick-and-mortar businesses.
4. Overdraft Fees
Maybe your cellphone autopay withdrew funds before your paycheck was direct-deposited. Maybe you made an honest miscalculation of your available balance when you bought that round of drinks. Whatever the cause, if you spend money that isn’t in your bank account, you’re hit with an overdraft fee. You can incur a charge of $35 for each transaction that drops your account into the negative. And that can add up quickly!
Obviously, good financial planning and budgeting are the surest ways of avoiding overdraft fees. Keep track of your balance with mobile apps and take advantage of low-balance alerts if they’re offered by your bank.
Overdraft protection is another option to lower fees. Rather than a $35 overdraft fee, your bank can automatically transfer funds from another account for $10-$12. This isn’t ideal, since these fees can stack up, and you’ll be drawing funds from a savings or credit card account. So definitely think things through before opting into this service, but depending on your circumstances, it could make sense.
5. Annual Credit Card Fees
Consumers love rewards cards that earn them cash back, travel points, and more, but these cards often come with annual fees. Most of the popular middle-of-the-road rewards cards charge around $100 a year. Meanwhile, the most exclusive top-tier cards can easily exceed $300 annually. What can you do to get the rewards but avoid this added expense?
Obviously, the easiest solution is to use credit cards that won’t charge an annual fee. There are plenty of strong choices in rewards or points cards that don’t cost you anything. You can also attempt to have your card issuer waive your annual fee in exchange for a particular amount of card usage. However, in some circumstances, the member rewards really do outweigh the cost of the annual fee. So make sure you do your research and the math before canceling your cards.
6. Paper Statement Fees
While banks provide free online statements, you’re likely being charged a few dollars every month for your paper statement. This fee covers the cost of printing and mailing, and it can cost you as much as $60 a year. You’ll need to ask if you’re automatically enrolled in paper or e-statements, as this will differ from bank to bank.
It also pays to move to e-statements for any additional monthly bills and statements you are receiving. Many companies, including some cellphone and car insurance providers, offer monthly discounts or perks for going paperless. And besides, it’s better for the environment!
Let’s face it: Life is expensive, and costs won’t likely be dropping any time soon. Since so many of your expenses are completely nonnegotiable, it really pays to save wherever possible. Why spend any more than you have to if a few small adjustments can yield substantial savings each year? Stop paying these six fees immediately, and you’ll have more money left in your bank account by year’s end.