I met a woman who asked me some questions when she found out what I do for a living. This subject is one that all of you should be aware of and in honor of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to discuss joint finances. You wouldn’t believe how many people this affects.
Yesterday, I discussed consolidation out accounts. Today, let’s talk about the benefits of this move. Yes, there is a hidden benefit.
By having all our accounts at two organizations, it makes our checking account free – no monthly maintenance fee, no paper statement fee, no fee for bank checks, no fee for ATM use (even with ATM’s at other locations). Consolidating accounts makes our lives easier and no removes the possibility of any fees too!
This is added benefit!
Hopefully, your are not paying any banking fees associated with your bank accounts.
Monitor Your Accounts
Here’s the tip from July 28-Credit month:
Something that I personally do weekly is to monitor my accounts. I go online (from my home computer) and check my accounts, both bank and credit cards. I actually look at the individual transactions to see what is posted. Is there anything that I don’t recognize? Get in the habit of this and check even if you haven’t used the account. You never know who has.
To purchase a copy of either of my books Thrive In Five: Take Charge of Your Finances in 5 Minutes a Day or 111 Ways To Save
How long have you been with your bank? Is it still convenient to your life? Are you paying fees? The answer should be no to this question. Are you earning the highest interest rate out there?
Look at your answers and take a look at your finances to make the right choices for you. For us, last year we started to consolidate our accounts. Rolling over our retirement accoun
t from past employers to one account. Consolidating our accounts at two banks – one that offers totally free checking (no monthly fees, ATM fees and overdraft protection) th
at is a brick and mortar bank that is local and has convenient locations and hours that work with our lives. The other is a virtual bank that also has no
fees and pays a high interest rate of savings accounts. It simplifies the monthly statements and it’s two online accounts. That works for us.
Does yours work for you? Here’s a great article from AARP Good Reasons To Consider Changing Where You Bank that will get your thinking about the different types of banks (major bank, community bank, credit union and online bank). Which is best for you?
Have you struggled to save money because there never seems to be anything left over?Big surprise! We tend to spend the money we have in front of us. Getting a raise never seems to help, because that money disappears, too. There’s always something we think we need or want right now.
The best way to grow the money in your savings account is by setting up an automatic deposit from your paycheck. That way you never see it to spend it. If your company doesn’t offer this, that’s not a problem. Have an amount set up to be transferred automatically from your checking account to savings on a regular basis. The benefits here are that you are saving without any effort on your part and the money isn’t in your checking account to tempt you.
In addition, don’t have your saving account linked to your checking account on your ATM card. Why you ask? It’s too easy to transfer the funds without any thought. Also, you might want to have your saving account at another financial institution. You can access when you need the funds, but it isn’t that easy – so you will have time to think about withdrawing the funds.
Start to put your savings on automatic pilot today.
Do you have the best bank / credit union accounts? How can you tell which is best for you?
For your bank / credit union account, you want to earn the highest interest rate (paid to you) with no (or the lowest) fees. Start by looking at what you currently have – how much are you earning and paying? Once you know this information, you have a starting point. Now compare that with what other’s offer. Can you do better? Don’t forget while looking compare both local, out of state and virtual banks / credit unions. What would you have to do to eliminate all fees?
Keep in mind, that the bank and/or credit union you are looking at must (non negotiable) be FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.) for a bank or savings and loan. Credit Unions are insurance through NCUA (National Credit Union Administration). This protects your money up to $250,000. Once you confirm this, then look at how you earn interest and what fees are involved before making your choice.
Personally, we bank both locally and virtually. We earn interest on both our checking and savings accounts with no fees and do NOT have to carry a large balance in the account to do this. So if we can do this, you can too.
Other quick tips, that may help you:
- Don’t link your savings account to your ATM / Debit card
- Set up automatic savings deposits with each and every paycheck (pay yourself first).
Remember, that every penny your earn or save is more money in your pocket. Those pennies add up.
Do you ever get that feeling you are missing some money?
Last week the Secretary of State for Connecticut reported that 52,994 names were added to the unclaimed money list for the state. The unclaimed money list is a big list of names (individuals, companies, non-profits and more), that each state maintains from institutions that turn over money to them. You may be asking why would an institution turn over your money to the state? Good question, these are funds from accounts that haven’t had any activity in several years. Here are a few examples:
- An in active savings account
- Proceeds from a check not cashed
- Unclaimed insurance polices proceeds
This past weekend, I did a search for myself and members of my family. I didn’t find any results this time, but I have in previous attempts. In the past, I found a few share of stock that I inherited and the proceeds of an old life insurance policy my father.
When was the last time you checked? Don’t forget to check in every state you have lived in. Remember that there is no fee to claim unclaimed money. If you are asked to pay a fee – don’t.
Here’s an old article I wrong on this for more information click here.
Do you have an overdraft line of credit associated with your checking account? We’ll we do. Sometimes it’s a life saver – literally!
This week I paid our mortgage as I always do, but something happened. I must have selected the “other” checking account and I didn’t notice it. Now you know that I check our bank accounts at least weekly, just to keep tabs on what’s going on (we don’t use a credit monitoring).
Well imagine my surprise to see the mortgage payment coming out of that checking. One of the worst things you can do is to bounce your mortgage payment and yikes this could have happened. But thank goodness it didn’t. Our overdraft line of credit saved the day by covering the overdraft. So the mortgage payment is paid and all is well there. I noticed it quickly, so we transferred the funds to pay back the overdraft and all is well.
If you don’t have overdraft protection on your checking account, you may want to think about it. It saved us this time.
We personally view our bank and credit cards accounts weekly – we check for unrecognized transactions. We use two step authentication. We don’t do this from our phones, only home computers. You may think we are overly cautious, but here’s what CNBC has so say.
In the last edition of my newsletter, you heard about our amazing trip and how we were able to pay for almost everything with points and some smart pre-planning. (You’ll see photos today).
Now, you will hear what didn’t work. This was big lesson for me.
To stay on budget, we used mainly cash. We even bought foreign currency before leaving home. We were able to purchase Crown, Kroner, Euro and Rubles at our local exchange in Connecticut.
But we knew we would want to use credit occasionally, so we called our credit and debit card companies to let them know where we’d be travelling and on what dates (as I’ve told you to do many times).
Imagine our surprise when our cards were declined in Copenhagen. We had dinner with friends and asked the restaurant split the bill between us – half on their card and half on ours. Ours was declined. We knew it wasn’t the machine because they processed our friends’ card first. We could see that theirs worked because the staff at the restaurant actually processes the credit card at your table using a portable machine.
We wondered if it was because we were using our US debit card with a pin. So we ask them to do it again as a credit card. It still didn’t work. The staff said that a lot of US credit cards are declined for some reason.
And, it wasn’t just the restaurant. We tried using the credit card when we checked out of the hotel. Again, declined! It was very embarrassing.
When we returned, I called the credit card company to ask why they wouldn’t accept our transactions. After a lengthy conversation, and several people, they realized that they couldn’t see any of the attempted transactions in their system. Fortunately, I kept the receipt as proof, but even with the evidence right in front of them, they still couldn’t give me an answer.
The mystery continues. Thank goodness for our American Express card. It saved the day.
Remember, no matter how prepared you are. Things can go wrong. Make sure you have a back-up plan when you travel.
Update: A big thanks to Heidi for giving us an explanation! Apparently, their credit card machines are programmed to accept cards originating from countries in the European Union – and nowhere else. I guess that makes things easier for Denmark, but not for tourists! Read her full comment below.