How Hidden Fees Can Cost You
When you’re trying to balance your budget, it’s important to look everywhere for places to cut. One expense that a lot of people don’t notice is the various fees they pay. These fees are often charged every month and they’re rarely anything that you’ve specifically signed up for or agreed to pay. Instead, they’re costs associated with the services you have. While most hidden fees are only a few dollars each month, they certainly add up over time.
Here are a few common hidden fees and what you can do to avoid them.
If you have internet or cable services, you might be paying a fee to rent your modem or cable box from the provider. However, in some cases, you might be able to buy your own modem outright from the provider, or from a third-party store. This will save you money in the long run. If you buy a modem from a store, you’ll want to make sure that it’s approved by the internet provider. It’s also worth noting that, if anything happens to the modem, you’ll have to buy a new one.
In the case of your cable box, you might be able to choose to buy the box outright from the cable company as well. This is also a good time to consider how often you use the services on your box (the DVR, etc) and to potentially consider downgrading to a less expensive model if that works for you.
Late Payment Fees
If you miss a payment on any of your bills, not only could this hurt your credit rating, but you’ll also likely be charged a late payment fee. You could also see your interest rate hiked if you miss payments on your credit cards, which will be costly as well.
To avoid these fees, make sure that you pay all of your bills on time. Set reminders in your calendar and automate bill payments whenever possible. Your bank should let you automatically make payments on certain dates. It might take some time to initially arrange automatic payments, but once you’ve got it set up, you’ll never miss a bill payment again, and you’ll avoid costly late fees.
Bank fees are the kind of monthly fee that a lot of people pay each month without really noticing. And, if you do notice, you probably think that there’s nothing you can do. In some cases, you’re right. Most chequing accounts come with some sort of fee. However, these fees vary from bank to bank. That’s why it’s important to find out how much you pay and then shop around for the best rate. Sometimes it’s as simple as telling your bank that you’ve found a cheaper plan at another financial institution and you’re thinking of switching. They might offer to match the other bank’s rate, saving you money each month.
If not, consider switching banks or changing to an account that better suits your needs. For example, if you currently use your debit card for purchases but you rarely use cheques, look for a bank that offers an account that suits this lifestyle. You don’t want to pay monthly for unlimited cheques when you never use them.
Some banks waive the monthly fee if you maintain a certain minimum balance in your account. Find out what this amount is and, if it’s possible for you, try to keep this much in your account at all times. It can save you quite a lot.
ATM Fees and Debit Fees
As mentioned, bank fees certainly add up. One area where they get especially costly is if you use an ATM from a bank that isn’t yours. In some cases, the bank that operates the ATM will charge you a fee when you take out your money and then your bank will charge you another fee for using an ATM that isn’t theirs. That’s two fees just for one transaction! Whenever possible, only use ATMs that are operated by your own bank. You’ll need to plan ahead a little to avoid using other ATMs, but it will save you a lot.
Debit fees can also add up. Some bank accounts give you a certain number of free debit transactions each month, and then charge you for each additional one. For example, if you are provided 10 free transactions a month and you end up using 15, that’s five separate fees. To avoid this, plan your transactions to stay under the limit or switch to an account that works better for you.
Paper Statement Fees
These days, banks and many other service providers charge a fee to send out a paper statement each month. However, they often allow you to view these statements for free online. Whenever possible, skip the paper statement and view all your accounts online. Not only will you be able to check into your account more often this way, but you’ll avoid paying monthly service charges.