Hidden Money: How to Find Miscellaneous Fees

Hidden Money:  How to Find Miscellaneous Fees

I can count on one hand all of the times in my life when I found money:  I found $20 in front of a bakery once, $10 in the street, $20 in front of a restaurant, and $5 I forgot about in one of my spring coats.  Each time, though, I felt like the luckiest person in the world, as I’m sure anyone would feel.  So, if you had a surefire way to find hidden money and harness that lucky feeling, you would be a participant, right?  Surprisingly, simply visiting with your banker can put hidden money in the form of bank fees back into your pocket.

Bank Fees

One simple fix to help you save your money is to change your accounts.  You don’t have to change banks; just changing your account type can save you annual and monthly fees.  I recently changed account types to avoid a monthly fee.  I just had to call my banker and request an account change, and now I will not have to pay the $13 monthly fee.  To me, that feels like $13 I find every month.   

ATM Fees

When I was in college, I was too free with my money and I visited any ATM I wanted.  I was charged $1.50 at the time for every non-network ATM withdrawal.  When I started working at a bank and visited the teller window instead of ATM for cash, I realized I had wasted at least $20 per month in ATM fees (that $20 could have bought me a lot more Ramen noodles!).  You can talk to your banker about the location of your bank’s network ATMs to keep money in your pocket.   

Credit Card Fees and Interest

A few years ago, I called my credit card company and requested a lower interest rate and a fee reversal.  I had mailed my payment late, but I had been their customer for ten years without a late payment.  The customer service agent I spoke to was very nice, and she reversed the fee and lowered the rate back to my original rate.

Many factors can encourage your credit card company to reverse fees and decrease interest, but anything from company policies to the limited power of your customer service agent could discourage the company from offering assistance.  So, feel free to ask; the worst they can say is no.  But you just might find a little hidden money there as well. 

Overdraft and Late Fees

When I was a business teller, my favorite restaurant owner was in the practice of racking up $200 in overdraft fees per pay cycle.  I continuously offered a product to him that would save his business the hundreds of dollars in fees every month, but he refused each time, saying bank product sales were unnecessary and fee-driven.  This was untrue; the bank and I both wanted to see his small business succeed.  If you, like this business customer, are in a financial cycle of overdraft fees or late fees, talk to your banker reasonably about ways to fix your financial problem.  Also, keep in mind that the bank wants you to succeed so that you will return as a happy, financially responsible customer for a mortgage or other lending needs.        

If you like to find money, identify those hidden fees.  The only way you will know if you can save money on fees is to ask, so call your bank or credit card company to cancel annual fees, change account types, purchase overdraft protection products, save on ATM fees, and reduce your credit card interest.  After taking these steps, you will most likely find some hidden money to keep in your pocket.

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Money Reasons's picture

Money Reasons wrote:

Mon, 11/01/2010 - 22:21 Comment #: 1

What I hate is high mutual fund fees. The index mutual fund fees are generally okay (Vanguard is one of the lowest that I have found).

Nice looking blog you got here!!!

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Tue, 11/02/2010 - 15:06 Comment #: 2

Great point, Money Reasons -- I don't like any fees, but mutual fund fees can be really high.

Thanks for the tip on Vanguard and the compliment on the blog!

Invest It Wisely's picture

Invest It Wisely wrote:

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 14:16 Comment #: 3

I wasted far too much money on those stupid ATM fees, as well as the occasional overdraft fee. Ah, the lessons we learn while young. :P

MoneyCone's picture

MoneyCone wrote:

Fri, 11/05/2010 - 22:34 Comment #: 4

On avoiding ATM fees, join a 'atm-fee less' bank like Ally. Very liberating knowing that you can use your card on any ATM anytime and won't be charged a dime.

Black Coffee: The Fed's Disgraceful War on Average Amer's picture

Black Coffee: The Fed's Disgraceful War on Average Amer wrote:

Sat, 11/06/2010 - 17:44 Comment #: 5

[...] Momvesting – Hidden Money: How to Find Miscellaneous Fees [...]

Erica's picture

Erica wrote:

Mon, 11/08/2010 - 19:16 Comment #: 6

One way to check out the real cost of those mutual funds is to use this mutual fund fee analyzer -- it is free and a real eye opener: http://www.marketriders.com/mutualfund-fee-calculator

It shows you exactly how much fees cost you for the fund, based on how many shares you own, as well as showing how much those fees add up over time (compounding works against you here). Try it. Also shows you ETFs which are equivalent and way less expensive.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Mon, 11/08/2010 - 19:47 Comment #: 7

Great responses and tips from everyone!

Invest It Wisely -- I agree that we learn a lot of lessons in our youth, especially about money. MoneyCone -- great tip about Ally -- I wasn't aware they are an atm-fee-less bank. Erica -- thanks for all of your tips -- the mutual fund calculator is a great tool!

Thank you all for your insights!

The 254th Festival of Frugality – It’s H's picture

The 254th Festival of Frugality – It’s H wrote:

Wed, 10/26/2011 - 00:43 Comment #: 8

[...] presents Hidden Money: How to Find Miscellaneous Fees posted at [...]

The 254th Festival of Frugality – It’s H's picture

The 254th Festival of Frugality – It’s H wrote:

Wed, 10/26/2011 - 00:43 Comment #: 9

[...] presents Hidden Money: How to Find Miscellaneous Fees posted at [...]