Is Your Bank Account Working for You?

Miss Money Bee
by April Lewis-Parks

You already know that unnecessary purchases chip away at your bank balance quickly, but what about fees and overdrafts? If you’re empowering yourself to manage your money more responsibly and build a healthy savings cushion, your bank account is one of the first places you should look to see if you are benefiting from your financial institution.

With more banks trying to stay profitable in a shaky economy, many have introduced new fees, eliminated free checking, or made it difficult for you to have full access to your money. To combat these obstacles and make sure your bank is working for you and not the other way around, there are several aspects of your banking relationship you should consider. If your needs are not being met, it may be time to make a switch.

1. Examine the fees
Some banks are now imposing monthly maintenance fees for checking accounts and requiring you to meet certain balance minimums or make a certain number of deposits to avoid incurring a charge. If you think you may be unable to meet their requirements and they refuse to waive the fee, consider looking to more affordable institutions that don’t charge you to deposit money into their bank. In addition, it’s also important to consider additional fees, such as those for bouncing a check or overdrawing your account. While it’s best to avoid these behaviors at all costs, it’s still important to know how much you will be charged if you fall short on funds.

2. Know your needs
The type of account you own should reflect your particular financial needs and goals. For example, if you are relying on your checking account for everyday use to pay bills and buy groceries, you may opt for an account that doesn’t have balance restrictions or other monthly requirements. If you are using the account to build long-term savings and don’t plan to make significant withdrawals, you might prefer a high-yield checking account that may have an account minimum or require you to make a certain number of deposits to continue growing your wealth.

3. Are there access limitations?
If you want 24/7 access to your money, an institution with online banking features, mobile banking or a strictly online bank with no brick-and-mortar branches can be a good option for your needs. Speak with representatives about their online and mobile options, as some banks are more advanced than others. You may decide that another bank has more to offer you in terms of managing your funds or utilizing budgeting tools.