avoid monthly bank fees

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Young and Thrifty: A Guide to Saving

A Guide to Saving for Young People: At Peace With MoneyRecently I’ve received some questions about financial advice for young people. I think the most important piece of advice I can give is this: save your money. It’s simple, but it can be difficult to get in the saving habit. That’s why I recommend developing a savings plan. There are three parts to a good savings plan: percentage, motivation, and banking.

Savings Percentage

In order to save money, it’s important to decide what portion of your money you want to regularly save. You can decide this in a variety of ways. If you’re in a situation where you don’t need most of your income for fixed expenses, the amount you can save becomes much more flexible. For example, when my younger daughter started working at our local pizza place, she decided she would save her paycheck and spend her tips.

Many sources recommend saving about 10% of your income monthly. If you have a fixed income, this can be calculated easily. With variable income, you can simply tally up what you’ve made and calculate the percentage each month. Use the other 90% of your income to live off of and cover your expenses. 

If you want to make things more  organized or complex, you can work on budgeting out your expenses. I’ll talk about different budgeting strategies in a later post.

Motivation

Having financial goals is important! Make sure you know what you’re saving for. Are you looking to purchase a car? Moving out? A  fund that will enable you to leave your job in case of  sexual harassment or unfair treatment? Having an intention for your savings is important because it helps keep you motivated. The more specific it is, the easier it is to focus on. For example, when my older daughter decided she wanted to take a 3 month road trip, she calculated how much she needed to save, got a job at a shoe store, and the next few months saving almost all of her income. She even lived on her friend’s couch for two months to save on rent. In the end, she saved all the money she needed and then some. That’s the power of motivation! 

Banking

Use a bank that earns you high interest on your savings and doesn’t charge fees. Doing some research to find a good bank will help you figure out where to put your money and watch it grow quickly. You can also read my tips for avoiding bank fees here

Some banks allow you to automatically transfer money to a savings account each month. Setting up that automation can make saving even easier. When you don’t even have to think about it, it’s much more likely to get done. 

A Guide to Saving for Young People: At Peace With MoneySaving is the best piece of financial advice I can give to young people. Getting in the habit of saving your money opens up a lot of choices, something that’s important and helpful in any young person’s life!

This post was written in response to some requests I’ve received for financial advice for young people. To answer these questions, I’ve created a series called Young and Thrifty. Check the tag Young and Thrifty to see other articles in the series. 


Angela

Image Sources: Jeremy Cai,  Sharon McCutcheon

How I Broke Up With Wells Fargo (and You Can Too!)

How-To-Break-Up-with-Your-Bank

When my daughter Madeleine learned Wells Fargo planned to charge her increased bank fees and increase her minimum account balance because she was no longer under 18, she decided to switch to a credit union. Below, she outlines the process of research that led her to choose the bank she uses now.

I’d wanted to break up with Wells Fargo for a long time. It was also difficult for me to rest easy while I knew my bank was funding projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline, for-profit prisons, and other tar sands projects.(Here’s their official statement confirming their involvement after the city of Seattle cut ties with the bank for continuing to fund the DAPL project.) If that weren’t enough, the exorbitant fees the bank charges for a variety of reasons led me to decide their convenience factor wasn’t worth it.

Banks and Online Credit Unions

My first thought was to look up the best current banking offers, but most of the options were simply other large banks also involved with the nefarious funding interests I was looking to avoid. Then, I began researching credit unions. Credit unions usually offer higher interest rates and lower fees. They also tend to be more community-oriented and value driven.

So, I decided to join a credit union, but not without a little research. I started by looking up information about the best credit unions. Reviews.com and ValuePenguin both had helpful recommendations, and supermoney was also a helpful resource. Most of these options are national, online credit unions. After reviewing these, I looked up reviews for the ones that fit my criteria. The one I was most interested in was Alliant, but after reading their review, I decided their terrible customer service wouldn’t be worth the hassle. However, I included these resources because you might have different banking needs and be interested in another credit union. I definitely recommend perusing those options.

Local Options

After this dead-end, I decided to look locally. We live in the Bay Area, so I looked up credit unions in the region. I picked out a few different credit unions and looked over the criteria to make sure I’d qualify. Some credit unions require you to live in a very specific area, have a certain type of job, etc. Online credit unions have fewer criteria or easy ways to join without meeting criteria. They’re a good option if you don’t have any local credit unions.

Once I’d found a few options that I would qualify for, I compared their banking offers and looked up reviews. I chose Star One credit union, which offers 1.35% APY on savings accounts (and had some of the best reviews I could find!).

The Switch

The last step was actually making the switch. I went to Wells Fargo and got a cashier’s check from my accounts, and then took it straight to the nearest Star One branch.

On the whole, switching to a credit union was easy. I wish I’d done it a long time ago, because my savings are earning more than 100% of the interest they were at Wells Fargo. Keep that in mind if you’re procrastinating on switching. Your timeline matters!

How to Break Up With Your Bank: At Peace With MoneyFinally, another resource that might help is Magnify Money, recommended on the Stacking Benjamins podcast. I used this tool to look up credit card offers while making the switch. For motivation, this Facebook page, bank transfer day ,encourages you to move your money. I used this tool to look up credit card offers while making the switch. Good luck with your breakup, and happy switching!


Madeleine

Image Sources: Robb Leahy,  Nathan Dumlao

How to Avoid Monthly Bank Fees

How to Avoid Monthly Bank Fees: At Peace with Money

Here’s an easy fix for your financial life: stop wasting your money on monthly bank fees. As you may well know, banks like Wells Fargo, Chase, and Citibank charge monthly service fees for certain accounts and services. Generally there are many ways to avoid these monthly fees, in your personal banking as well as your business banking, and gain more financial freedom.

Here are a few steps you can easily take to eliminate monthly fees:

  1. Open your statements to make sure you are not being charged. You might be surprised.
  2. Call your bank and find out how to avoid those fees. Some banks require a regular deposit of monthly income in order to waive fees. Others ask for a minimum balance. Find out what your requirements are and make sure you will no longer be charged.
  3. Consider your local credit union. Local credit unions may offer incentives to joining them such as a lack of fees. They may also offer higher interest rates on deposited funds and financial involvement with projects that improve your local community.

How to Avoid Monthly Bank Fees: At Peace with MoneyFor example, one of the credit unions in my area partners with an organization that provides financial support and bilingual assistance to startups and small businesses run by low-income and minority entrepreneurs. If you’re looking to align your money with your values, your local credit union is a good place to start. If this interests you, you might enjoy this video on breaking up with big banks.

In addition to credit unions, there are many other banks that offer sign-up bonuses and higher interest rates. Doing a little research is worth it! Here are a few links that compare features of the best current banking offers in 2018 (1, 2, 3).

Angela