We think of a checking account as a tool to help us manage the ho-hum aspects of our daily financial lives: We use it to reimburse a co-worker for the latte they picked up on the way to work for us, as a funding source for the mobile payment on our smartphone at lunchtime, and as a debit/chip card for groceries after work. We don't think of our checking account as a tool that can save us—or make us—money. Maybe it's time to rethink our checking account and what it can do for us.
According to Forbes Advisor, monthly maintenance fees averaged $5.15 in 2021 across traditional banks, online banks, and credit unions. (They pointed out that credit unions charge the least in fees, surprise surprise!) That translates to over $61 out of your pocket annually and into the coffers of your financial institution for simply holding your money!
Here are five steps to make your checking account pay up so you don't have to pay out:
- Ditch account maintenance fees. You may be paying anywhere from a few dollars up to a whopping $30 per month for the pleasure of doing business with a financial institution. These maintenance fees usually don't apply if you keep a required minimum balance in the account, which can range from a couple hundred dollars to upwards of $50,000. If you have a difficult time maintaining the required minimum balance in your checking account, it makes financial sense to look for an account that at least has a lower requirement or, even better, no minimum balance requirement at all.
- Automate it. When you automate your monthly bills, you not only save time – no running to the post office, no frantic calls to creditors if you're running late that month – but you'll save money. How? First, you can schedule your bills so they'll be paid well ahead of their due dates, eliminating any chance of running up late fees. Next, you avoid wear-and-tear on your car if you use services like Direct Deposit; your paycheck goes straight into your account, often a day or two before those who still get paid by check. (With Payday Perqs, for example, you can get paid up to two days early!) Looking to build up a nest egg? You can have money automatically withdrawn from your checking account into a savings account, which can combat the urge to skip saving. Lastly, those stamps and envelopes you used to buy? Save them for better things, like birthday cards for your near-and-dear.
- Earn dividends or get rewarded. Does your current checking account pay interest or dividends? Does your bank give you gave cash back each month? If not, it may be time to switch to a checking account that does. Even if your checking account isn't the savings vehicle you rely on, why let the opportunity to earn a little extra money slip through your fingers?
- Network your way to savings. It's really annoying when you look at your monthly bank statement and see that you've spent the equivalent of a dinner out on ATM fees that month. When you have a checking account at Hanscom FCU, you'll have access to over 100,000 surcharge-free ATMs across the country.
- Get tooled to save. Make sure your financial institution has free tools you can use to help you save even more. These include mobile check deposits (you'll save time standing in line to cash a paper check) and online savings calculators.
Any other tips you have to save money on your checking account? We'd love to hear them! Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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