Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bank Fees for Using Your Own Money?

Cory has been putting most of his paychecks into savings this summer.  Sure, he's spent a bit of his money too, but he's been trying to put most of it into his savings account so he wouldn't be tempted to spend it.  When he wanted to buy something or go do something, he'd move money into his checking account so he'd have enough.  It just makes him think a little harder about what he's spending and what he's spending it on.  He can manage his accounts online like at, or even on his phone, so he always has access.

Then yesterday he suddenly got charged a $12 fee for going over the 'Savings Withdrawal Limit' - a limit he didn't know he had, and a fee he didn't know about.  Needless to say, he was a bit upset.  I got home at the end of the day yesterday to find two messages from him on the answering machine about it.  He has his account information texted to him every morning so he can keep track of his balances and avoid overdraft fees, and he checked the text while at work.  I checked the bank statements after I got his messages, and the only thing I saw on there about a fee was that the monthly fee was waived because he kept a minimum balance of at least $300.  Where/when did they ever say he could only move money out of his account so many times - and how many times is it? - before they'd help themselves to some of his money.

He's going in to the bank today to talk to somebody and find out what this is about.  Hopefully they can get it straightened out and let him know exactly what he can and cannot do.  When we changed his account from a Student Checking account to a College Checking (and Savings) account last summer, the only thing they mentioned was the $300 minimum balance on the savings.  Beth kind of let her savings account dwindle to nothing once she was out of school and over 18 because she didn't keep enough money in it, and they started charging monthly fees, and she wouldn't do anything about it.  The Student checking and savings accounts had no minimum balance requirements because they were tied to our accounts, a good way for young people without a lot of money to get started with bank accounts.

Instead of just closing Cory's account, because he didn't have any money to put into it, I transferred the minimum $300 into it and let it sit - until this summer when he started to add to it and use it.  So we've avoided fees until they suddenly sprung this one on us.  It has me wondering what other fees we're going to have to watch out for.  I've been reading that banks are testing monthly fees for debit card use, which would be another fee that would eat into Cory's hard-earned money.  He uses his debit card all the time.  I think we're all just going to have to get a bit more creative about how we manage our money.  I'm not sure taking it all out of the bank and storing it in a shoe box is the answer, but there has to be a way to keep the banks from grabbing more than their fair share.
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