By: State Bank & Trust (Member FDIC)
When you’re saving money, every penny adds up. That’s why we want to make sure you’re not getting nickel and dimed. In fact, you may be getting charged for things you didn’t even realize.
A personal checking account is one example. Some banks are starting to charge customers a monthly service charge for having a personal checking account. Others are charging customers a fee if they don’t maintain a certain balance. Your best bet is to look for a free checking account; and remember, some free checking accounts are better than others. Shop around to find a truly free personal checking account with several free perks. All of the “frees” could save you hundreds of dollars every year. As an example, check out the “frees” our personal checking account comes with.
Hidden credit card fees can also add up. By federal law, credit card fees cannot actually be “hidden” from consumers, but that doesn’t mean that all credit card users fully understand how they are charged or what instances will result in fees or increases to existing rates. Sometimes, the fees are provided in the small print of the back of your statements, or only in the account disclosure statement you receive when you first open the account- so it’s easy to overlook the fine details of credit card fees- and that is how they get the name “hidden.”
- The only sure way to skip the high fees associated with credit cards is to pay your bill before it’s due, each and every month. In addition, whereas just a few years ago you could be counted as “on time” if your payment was postmarked by the due date, now the majority of companies require that the payment must arrive before noon on the day it is due to be counted as on time.
- As if that weren’t stringent enough, there are even many card issuers who have decided to shorten the billing periods from 31 days to 20 days. Late penalties on credit cards vary. If the late fee puts you over your maximum limits, you’ll also get charged an over limit fee. Going over your maximum amount can also cause the card issuer to increase your interest rate. Some companies are even charging customers a fee for having a card without a balance on it! So, we suggest you take time to read the fine print, check your statement monthly and don’t hesitate to call the credit card’s customer service department if you have questions about your account.
Bill pay is another great way to save money. Online bill pay lets you schedule ongoing payments for regular bills such as car loans, mortgage payments, cable, utilities or insurance premiums. You might be thinking that a 44 cent stamp isn’t going to put a large dent in your wallet, but over time the little things can add up. Lets say you have 5 bills every month. Take 5 x 44 cents and you get $2.20. Multiply that by 12 and you get $26.40. This total isn’t huge by any means, but add this with all the other “little things” and you get a big amount that you could be saving. With bill pay, you can also schedule your payments, so you don’t get charged a late fee. Late fees vary from company to company, but the one standard is that many companies are not going to reverse the late fee because your bill arrived later than you anticipated.
Remember, the less money you spend, the more money you’ll have, so make sure you’re not getting nickel and dimed. You can use the extra money to pay off debt and invest for retirement.