Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Avoiding overdraft fees

When I got my first bank account and started depositing my own paychecks and using an ATM/Debit card, I made some mistakes. I overdrafted twice, and realized I never wanted to do it again. I had a few fees taken out of my account, and I realized I didn't like that either.

The cure for overdrafting for me was a simple rule my wise grandmother helped me out with, always have at least $500 in your checking account. This was a tough rule when my paychecks from my first job were miniscule, but I have stuck with it since and it has served me well. I have bumped up the amount and currently try to keep right around $1000 in our checking account. This is a good amount for us, and let's us maintain our automatic deductions into our savings/investing accounts as well. These do not need to be huge automatic deductions, but making them automatic means we don't think about them on a day to day basis and then BAM! a few months later we see that we are making progress. That bam was for effect =D

If you have overdrafted, don't be afraid to ask the bank to waive the fee. Feel free to throw in that you have been a great customer/1st time you've made the mistake/anything that will help your case. Avoiding the overdraft fee for me was easy the first time, and took a little more effort the second time. I felt embarrased after I got hit with the fees, but after I put my pride aside I was sucessful in avoiding $70 worth of fees. In this case, the fees were a huge portion of my small take home pay at the time. Granted, I was a bit younger, and that may have been why the manager took pity on me, but it never hurts to ask your bank to waive a fee. If you find you are getting hit with fees all the time, maybe it's time to shop for a new bank.


  1. Most banks offer the ability to have the overdraft hooked up to another account. They usually push hooking it up to a credit card (the worst, because it automatically wires an amount rounded to the nearest hundred and treats it as a cash advance :-P) but you can also hook it up to a savings account and the transfer doesn't cost a thing.

  2. Alix,

    As usual, you hit the nail on the head. I don't have this option set on my accounts, which is why I failed to mention it. Thank you for bringing it to light!

    The best combo would be keeping an amount in your account, and then having overdraft protection as well. This gives even more buffer.