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Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Don't let bank fees drain your account

When I was in graduate school, one of our profs told us "The banks have no incentive to be efficient. As long as they can pass their expenses on to the customer in terms of fees, there is no need for them to change their practices."

Graduate school was more than a few years ago for me but this adage still seems true. Yesterday I received a pamphlet in the mail outlining the new fees associated with different accounts at my bank. My chequing account will be effected and as of April 1, there will be a $2 fee for keeping a bank book and a minimum balance of $1500 must be in the account to waive the transaction fees ($0.65 each).

You gotta love the banks. It's amazing I managed to read these tiny changes listed in their little pamphlet, written in a font of 2 with black ink on a grey background. A magnifying glass should have been included in the envelope.

I've ALWAYS avoided paying bank fees. They make enough off my money through their investments, I begrudge giving them more if I can help it. Other than purchasing my cheques, I always maintain the minimum balance required in my chequing account to avoid transaction fees. The minimum balance used to be $1000 so I'd always treat this as my $0. I'd maintain a float of whatever I needed above the $1000 to cover my monthly expenses. Transaction fees can add up! At $0.65 each and an average of 8 transactions per month, that's over $60 a year you can save just by keeping a float above their minimum balance. And don't fall below that minimum balance. If you go below by 1 penny for 30 seconds any time during the month, you'll be charged a fee for every transaction executed that month. 

I also go paperless. Doing good for the environment is incentive enough so sign onto your bank account and look under account settings to switch to paperless if you haven't already. It will stop the flood of monthly statements that you put directly into recycling anyway. And it will avoid any charges the bank may inflict for having a bank book. What's $2 you say? Well, if you saw $2 on the sidewalk, would you pick it up? So I guess it's worth saving then.

If you haven't done so already, have a look at your bank statements and see if you've been dinged any fees lately. How much have you paid in bank fees over the past 6 months? Add them up. Is there something else you'd have rather done with that money or does paying it to your bank give you a warm and fuzzy feeling?

With a little planning on your part you can keep a bit more of your money in your bank account where it belongs. I'm sure the banks will increase their fees to compensate. 

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