Top Five Dumb Banking Mistakes to Avoid

Posted on January 5, 2017

Have you broken your New Year’s financial resolutions yet? If so, today’s edition will help you get back on track by pointing out the most common banking mistakes people make — and how to avoid these money pitfalls.

  1. Not checking your statements. It’s easy enough for a glitch to cause an automatic debit — like a gym membership or gas bill — to post twice. If you no longer receive paper statements, do yourself a favor and check your account balances and transaction history online at least once a month.
  2. Failing to balance your checkbook. In the age of online banking, balancing a checkbook may seem like something you do with a chisel and stone tablet. But if you don’t know how much money you have in your checking account, you’re far more likely to get dinged by ever-increasing overdraft fees.
  3. Using automatic bill payment carelessly. Spinning off from the previous point, don’t sign up for BillPay or similar programs if you don’t know how to balance your checkbook. And on top of that it’s a good idea to keep a significant cushion — say, $200 — to protect you from mindlessly overdrawing on essential bills (and potentially wrecking your credit).
  4. Relying on out-of-network ATMs. When in need of cash and miles from your preferred bank, you may think “eh, it’s only three bucks” to withdraw money from an out-of-network ATM. But do that once a week and it’s sucking $156 from your bank account per year. No longer chump change, is it?
  5. Forgetting to account for cash purchases. Even if you are a champ about using Quicken or Mint.com to track your spending, keeping a tab on cash purchases still requires your attention because there’s no electronic record of it. Either keep your receipts and record your cash spending manually or keep a close eye on whatever you withdraw from the ATM.

 

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