Know the Costs of Financial Products and Services
Using a bank or credit union can streamline your financial life. Having your paycheck directly deposited into your account can save you time and money. Having money automatically transferred from your checking account to a savings account can help you build an emergency savings fund. Options like online banking, bill pay, and text alerts can help you stay on top of your spending and keep you from overdrawing your account.
But, accounts come with costs, commonly called fees, that can increase if you do not follow the rules of the account.
To find the account that is the best fit for you, learn about the fees that are charged on various accounts. You can then consider each fee and its potential impact on you. For example, if the minimum balance requirement seems higher than you can manage, look for an account that does not have one. If the account limits the transactions per month, look for one that does not. And be sure to explore your options for overdraft. In general, it is best to avoid overdraft protection programs that are offered with checking accounts because you may be charged for each transaction they cover, and you may be charged interest until you pay back the bank or credit union. Consider linking your checking account to a savings account, a credit card, or a line of credit. These will generally be cheaper than bank or credit union overdraft protection programs.
Finally, consistent recordkeeping of your account – tracking what’s coming in and what’s going out – will give you the information you need to keep your bank balance in the black.