Banking is such an integral part of our daily financial life. Yet, most people don’t take advantage of the benefits their bank can provide. In addition, you may be spending too much in fees that can be eliminated and are costing you hundreds of dollars a year.
Let’s start with the ATM. While the convenience is undeniable, the ATM can also be the source of wasted money. If your bank does not have an ATM near your home or office, consider changing banks. At the same time, manage your ATM visits. Plan how much cash you will need on a weekly basis and don’t visit your ATM more than once a week. You will actually have more money left over at the end of the month.
Even if you are someone who is already banking online, are you taking advantage of all the features online banking offers? For example, you can setup automatic payments to prevent late fees and use this feature to pay down your mortgage faster as well. Even if it is only $25 or $50 a month, you are building equity faster. The main reason online banking is so useful is that you will become more organized. You will pay your bills in much less time, know what checks have cleared, be as up-to-date on your current balances and manage more than one account. Any tool that saves you time and gives you more control over your money is a must-have. If you tend to pay your bills late, this will also help you because you can setup recurring payments. Try paying your bills every week; it should only take you ten minutes. You will never pay bills late anymore and have much more peace of mind. If your bank charges for online banking, it’s another reason to change banks.
Scared of Identity Theft? This is the future and it is where we are going. In fact, by banking online, you are more aware of your balances and any unusual activity in your account. Stay with a large FDIC insured bank to protect yourself as much as you can.
On a personal note, introduce yourself to your bank manager; you never know when you might need that extra help. Even in today’s high tech society, we all appreciate that personal touch. However, your bank might not serve every need in your financial life. Think twice before buying investments from your bank. It may not be the best place to do so as their fees are traditionally higher than no-load mutual funds.
Use your bank to make your finances as stress-free as possible. It will help you become more financially healthy!
(Copyright Down-to-Earth Finance LLC 2006)