Two for Tuesdays #14
Last week, I gave you one tip with 50 money hacks in it, so I feel like I didn’t cheat you. This week, we’re back to Two for Tuesdays. This week, we’ll talk about how to save on bank fees and how to save money on bottled water.
I work for a bank; I’m in what they call the “back office.” So I don’t see or hear from many customers. My customers are the people at the bank who serve our customers. I don’t hear the horror stories. Instead, I live them right along with you. I hate bank fees. They’re wasteful and stupid and they take advantage of you.
While I do work for a bank, I don’t get all my banking services at my own bank. I use other products, most specifically credit cards, offered by other banks. My rationale is this: There are so many problems with credit cards. If I had a problem with my bank’s credit card, I might not get what I want when I call with a problem; I might lose my temper, and consequently, I might lose my job…
However, I do have a free checking account with WaMu as well as several high-yield savings accounts (called, believe it or not, my emergency account and my non-emergency account).
In any event, I want to share with you some fundamental tips on saving money on bank fees. Banks make millions of dollars in fees. Fees for overdraft, ATM use, overlimit, cashier’s checks, etc. How to save money on bank fees? Don’t incur them in the first place!
For credit cards, assure that you pay off your balance every single month. This is the best path to never incurring overlimit fees. Set up a regular monthly payment to pay at least your minimum payment each month, too, so you never incur late fees. You can make two payments in a given month — one for the minimum, the other for the difference in your balance and minimum payment.
But I don’t make it that difficult. I use an online calendar (Yahoo or Google, for example) to set up reminders for the two credit cards I use. Two times a month, I get reminders to go look at my credit card accounts to find out my closing balances. Then, I go to my online checking account and set up the payments (payments in full).
Save on ATM fees by always carrying enough cash in your pocket to cover any incidental expenses. Only you know what that amount is and it can vary. For example, I usually feel comfortable carrying $40. However, the other night, I went to a hockey game and none of the vendors’ credit card processing machines were working. Buying beer for 4 people with nearly zero cash was difficult. In fact, it was impossible. I think we bought 3 beers for $23. Yikes.
Visit the ATM machines very infrequently. Also, make sure you only use your bank’s ATM network. Otherwise, you’ll incur ATM fees. Some companies, like Schwab and eTrade’s bank, rebate ATM fees (they don’t have many of their own ATMs), but it really seems like a hassle waiting to happen.
Set up overdraft protection, too, if you’re inclined to bounce checks. There may be a fee, but it will be lower than the fees your bank, and your merchant where you wrote the check, charge you. Better yet, set up autotransfers from your savings accounts into your checking account to cover normal monthly expenses. You can also set up many bank accounts to alert you when you reach a given account balance via email.
Save money on bottled water by not buying it! Seriously, you’re paying for the bottling and transport of tap water. And you’re adding to the world’s landfill because you most likely are throwing away the bottles.
So, buy yourself a couple of Nalgene bottles (REI) and a Brita water filter pitcher (Costco) and bottle your own water. The Nalgene bottle are reusable and don’t leach out harmful chemicals when you put them in the dishwasher. The Brita filters do a better job than Coke or Pepsi (two of the main suppliers of “bottled” water), they’re cheap, and they last a good long time. Plus, the pitchers are super convenient: Fill with water, put in fridge, enjoy cold filtered water in a few minutes.
There you have it: Two ways to save money. Save on bank fees (and don’t make bankers richer or let them squander your money) and save on buying bottled water.