Banks are supposed to store our money, not take it away. But, financial institutions tend to charge for just about every service that they offer. From monthly service charges to banking overdraft fees and more, banks are making big bucks off of consumers. And this can decrease the bottom dollar in your finances very quickly. But there are four simple ways to bank frugally.
1. Choose a credit union instead of a bank. You have choices when picking a financial institution. Look for ones with lower or fewer service charges. Credit unions are usually more competitive in this area than banks. They tend to have no monthly service charges and they often offer other free services to their members such as notaries. You can usually get enrolled with a Credit Union through your job or an affiliate. Also there are many credit unions for the military. You may have to call a few and find out what the requirements are to join. But eventually you will find one that is accessible to you.
2. Avoid non-sufficient funds fees. This is critical because now banks are charging anywhere from $24 – $35 per NSF transaction. Keeping your account balanced is the easiest way to avoid relinquishing this money to the bank. Try to balance your account daily. Remember to record all checks, debit card purchases, and money transfers. A quick way to do this is to collect all receipts for purchases for that day. Put them in the same location all the time (i.e. a drawer, your checkbook). At the end of the day pull out all the receipts and record them. Make sure everyone in the home knows that they need to turn over their receipts.
3. Use online banking. Some banks charge you a few dollars if you speak directly to a teller or use the bank drive through. Avoid this by taking care of your banking needs via the internet. You can check your balance, transfer funds, and take care of almost all of your banking needs from the convenience of your computer. In addition, many financial institutions offer free bill pay if you have direct deposit. Utilizing this service saves on time and stamps.
4. Never buy your checks directly from your bank or credit union. Banks make a large profit from check purchases. Instead, cut out the middle man and order checks directly from a check distributor. There are many reputable ones on the internet. You decide the design and the quantity that you want. They sell checks in bulk and you can save 50% or more by purchasing this way.
Remember, financial institutions are businesses. They are out to make money just like any other commercial establishment. So, shop around and use the above tips to keep your money in the bank where it belongs.