How many of you think that there are some costs out there that simply cannot be avoided, such as banking fees? These have the disadvantage of being so small, that overlooking them is rather easy when you’re not in a pinch. But does that mean you shouldn’t look for ways to slash them, especially if they keep adding up over time?
Per year, we spend an average of $84 in banking fees. Not bad, but now think of all the things you could get or pay for instead!
Now let’s consider your credit card, investment expenses, banking, and education costs. Together, these could take away a good chunk of your finances, so it’s time to look for ways to cut down. It’s not impossible, even if more people aren’t doing it- they’re not taking these steps because they may simply not know they existed!
But in order to make the best out of these saving tips, you also have to check out our other savings tips which encompass household expenses, taxes, entertainment, and more. Check them out here:
Account Maintenance Fees
Account maintenance fees cost us an average of $10 to $15 dollars. But there are checking accounts them without these sort of fees, such as online checking accounts from Capital One, Discover Bank and Ally Bank.
But most of you probably already have checking accounts, right? In that case, you need to maintain your account balance at the minimum requirement. Watching your spending is also a good first step, as it helps you maintain good spending habits, which will lead to better budgeting down the road.
But auto payments are also important in this case. Remembering when each bill is deducted is crucial so you don’t go around spending too much. By allowing your balance to go too low, you’ll be back to square one and have to pick up good spending habits again next month and the next, and so on.
Star being more conscious of your checking accounts today!
When you use out-of-network ATMs, you’re charged an average of $2.50 per transaction. This may seem like a small price to pay for convenience, especially if you have to drive or walk too far away for an ATM for your own union or bank.
But some people do this far more often than necessary. If you’re one of them, maybe it’s time for you to switch to an institution that will reimburse your ATM fees in real time. One such institution is Fidelity!
If that’s not a good option for you, then maybe it’s time to open a bank account with a bank that has plenty of ATMs near you.
Even when moving, people tend to stick with their regular banks even if the new area has no convenient ATMs around. If this sounds like something you’ve done, ask yourself why you’re sticking with that bank. What’s keeping you?
If you regularly spend more money than you have in your account, then you’re probably well accustomed to overdraft fees. These cost the average American around $29.67 per month if they’ve signed overdraft protection. Those without overdraft protection will notice that their purchase will not go through instead, but that doesn’t mean they’re free from fees, either, as that’s when fees for non-sufficient funds kick in.
Really, you can’t win with banks, can you!?
Sadly, there’s no easy way to avoid them. It’s pretty tedious work since you have to track your spending all the time, especially near the end of the month when your finances may be stretched thin. If you have joint finances, then make sure you’re in tune with your spouse so neither of you go around spending more money than you should and always let them know you’re about to make a purchase so that you don’t do it at the same time, hopefully avoiding these pesky fees.
How To Save Money on Credit Cards
According to Experian, the average balance per credit card used was $5,315 in 2020. While these may be useful and while they may be a part of most of our daily lives, we have to constantly remind ourselves of the high-interest fees that come attached to them!
There are also annoying fees that add up over time but, luckily, there are ways to cut costs. Again, it’s all dependent on whether or not you have good spending habits. So let’s look at what you can do to trim some of these costs.
Balance Transfer Fees
Opening a balance transfer card may sound like a good idea for those who are trying to pay down debt. But keep in mind that transfer fees may be high, ranging from $5 to 3% of the money you transfer. When you look at the bigger picture, it doesn’t sound so good, does it?
So, what can you do? Well, first off check for how long 0% APR is offered. In some cases, the introductory period may be 16 months- sounds good, right? Well, now you have to divide your debt by 16 in order to check what your monthly payment should be. You want to ensure that your balance will be paid off in time.
But not only that, you also have to factor in the costs of the fee itself. Does it make sense to open one, then? Are you confident you can keep up with the payments?
And don’t forget that you should research options that don’t charge balance transfer fees, like the DCU Visa Platinum Rewards card.
Cash Advance Fees
Planning on taking out cash against the line of credit on your credit card? Watch out, you’ll be hit with a cash advance fee, which is why most experts say it’s best to only do this in an emergency.
Basically, you’ll be put in a position where you’ll pay from $10 to 3% of the borrowed cash plus interest on the amount you took out.
To avoid this, you should do two things. Firs, only withdraw from your checking account to avoid these fees. But more importantly, you need to start putting together an emergency account. This is especially important for emergencies that cannot be put off, especially when you don’t have enough money in your checking account to cover them!
Credit Card Annual Fees
Some credit cards try to lure you in with perks such as the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard. With this, you’ll earn 10,000 miles if you spend $40,000 within a year… but it also comes with a steep credit card annual fee of $450. Worth it? We think not!
On average, however, these fees come to about $9.16 per month in the U.S. But no matter the costs, you should still weigh the benefits. If the annual fees don’t make sense with the rewards you’re getting, then don’t let them convince you otherwise.
Of course, there are some credit cards, for example, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards and the Chase Freedom, which do not have annual fees. Try to find some that fit your needs!
Late Payment Fees
If you haven’t put your credit card bill on autopay, then you should do that right now. On average, Americans spend $36 per late payment monthly- do you need any more incentive than that!? Make a late payment every month, you will have literally wasted $432 a year. Your credit score will go down, and you’ll also run the risk of getting your credit card canceled.
First step? Make sure there’s enough money in your checking account to cover the costs. Then, set automatic payments up, make sure you pay at least the minimum each month.
But there may be times where you make a mistake. If you do, call the credit card company immediately and explain the situation. Ask them to reverse the fee- no harm in just asking, right? If you’re being kind to the person on the other end, they will be far more likely to reverse the fee for you- but don’t expect this to work every other week!
How To Save Money on Education Expenses
We all know by now that education expenses have skyrocketed in the U.S. over the last couple of years. If you want to help your kids out you have to be smart about it- but the same goes if you want to go back to school yourself!
In 2020 and 2021, the average cost of tuition and other fees at a four-year public school came to $10,560 a year! So if you or your kid wants to attend public university, you’ll have to pay, at the very least, around $42,240 for four years of study. For private schools, that number can easily go up to $150,600!
It’s no wonder parents and kids around the U.S. are looking for ways to cut these costs down as much as possible- let’s look at what you can do!
Room and Board
On average, Americans pay around $968.33 for room and board at a public for-years school, in state, per month. That number goes up to $1093.33 at a private nonprofit. Given the fact that the average school year lasts 7.5 months, you can see just how quickly these costs add up.
There are certain steps you can take in order to reduce costs when it comes to your or your child’s home away from home. First, cut down costs by 50%, if not more, by renting with a roommate.
Secondly, when it’s time to decorate a room, don’t aim for the perfect Instagram or Pinterest worthy decor. Instead, ask friends or family for unwanted items and visit thrift shops instead. Remember- the aim here is an education, not an interior-design course… unless, of course, that’s what you or your kid are enrolled in!? But even then, keep costs at a minimum when you’re shopping around for basic necessities and decoration.
In terms of meal plans, pick the one that’s most likely to be used to the fullest and don’t forget to ask the housing office if it’s possible to roll over meal credits into the next semester. Don’t be wasteful!
Look for opportunities to reduce rent by taking up certain jobs, such as resident advisor, which will also look great on a resume!
Student Loan Payments
Student loan payments are the reason so many people give up on higher education to begin with. The thought of their debts weighing down on them for years to come is understandable. On average, graduates spend around $300 per month on student loan payments.
Going up the career ladder isn’t easy and it takes time- but this is one of the only ways to make payments feel easier. But until anyone reaches that high level position, there are still ways to save in the meantime!
Ask your lender if signing up for automatic payments will offer you a discount. If yes, do that!
Check out repayment plans that make sense for your financial situation. The ones that correlate with your income are easier to manage, and you’ll also pay more as your salary rises, meaning you’ll be done with the debt sooner!
For many, refinancing student loans makes most sense, especially if you’re looking to get a lower interest rate. Finally, look into loan consolidation options. Making just one payment a month can be easier than making several while also helping you save money.
Tuition and Fees
Now let’s talk about tuition and other fees, as on average these can come up to $880 at a public four-year school, in state, and a whopping $3,137.50 at a private four-year nonprofit.
Of course, if your kid is getting ready to go to college then try to talk to them about cheaper options. This is the first step, but if they’ve set their mind on a more expensive option then exploring financial aid is your next best bet. That’s why it’s so important to focus on grants and scholarships, since you don’t have to pay these back, unlike student loans.
Talk to your child about getting a job, and even relying on public transportation as opposed to taking a car in order to cut down on expenses such as gas or parking.
Your kid might want to enroll in a few clubs or activities too, but you should remind them that these also come with added fees, so encourage them to only pick a few and engage in hobbies outside of college for other activities they’re interested in.
Finally, talk to them about the importance of finishing school on time, otherwise you or they will be stuck with even bigger costs.
How To Save Money on Investing Expenses
Growing your net worth by investing ties well with preparing your nest egg. But a lot of people are afraid to engage in investing due to the heavy use of jargon and risks.
For those who are interested in ensuring their retirement will be smooth sailing by investing now, here are some ways you can cut certain pesky costs!
Annual Account Fee/Custodian Fee
We can’t give you an average of how much annual account and custodian fees will cost you, as these can vary widely. But it is possible for YOU to either lower your fees or get rid of them entirely!
Some brokers simply don’t charge annual fees (like Fidelity!) while others are known as discount brokers. But with these options comes the heavy duty of doing your research- which will be so worth it in the end. Are the fees worth it? Then you can go ahead and pay up- after all, you’re likely investing in your retirement, so it’s OK to spend a little extra. If not, keep looking!
Investment Management/Advisory Fees
Do you want to hire a professional to help you manage your money? Great, this will allow you to avoid many pitfalls, especially as you’re just starting out with investing. This, obviously, doesn’t come free. Some financial advisers can charge 2.5% while others, such as Fidelity, charge up to 0.35% for their digital advisor option.
Of course, if you want to ditch these fees altogether you have to, well, ditch your investment advisor. But is that a good idea? Well, it might be if you only have a few retirement accounts. If you, however, have a hefty portfolio that you need to juggle, then that’s another matter entirely.
OK, but let’s say you don’t want to do this without professional help. Then what? Well, in that case, look for an advisor that will fit your investing style. Active investors with knowledge of where to invest will benefit from an advisor with an a la carte approach, meaning the advisor will accept a flat fee or hourly rate for specific services or advice.
But for those of you who want to take a more hands-off approach, relying on someone who will take a straight percentage of your portfolio as commission might make more sense!
Ah, the dreaded transaction fees!
Investing in mutual funds comes with the added ‘bonus’ of having to pay professionals to manage your investments. You have three choices, here. Either you pay a load, you can pay the expense ratio or a combination of the two. That being said, you can also cut these expenses rather easily!
In terms of expense ratios, shop around for those that charge the least amount of money, even if the differences may be as small as a fraction of a percent. That’s because these can and WILL have a huge impact over time!
In terms of passive ETFs and index funds, these are simply trying to match market returns, meaning they can charge much lower expense ratios than traditional mutual funds. Because they require less management, you’ll have to pay less.
And keep in mind that even if you don’t have someone actively managing your account, you’ll still have to pay the brokerage firm for your transactions. Sadly, these are mostly unavoidable unless you’re lucky and stumble upon a commission-free trade option that fits your needs. Additionally, you could also cash in a temporary promo deal from a brokerage firm, while other firms give great deals to high-volume traders.
Some brokerage firms also offer commission-free ETFs, but only in terms of their own ETFs, so maybe shop around for those first if you absolutely want to avoid commission-fees at all costs.
So, we hope our little list has helped you in finding ways to better manage your finances while saving money! Don’t forget to leave a comment down below!
Oh, and before you leave, we’ve prepared other great tips for you to save money, here: