Sometimes the best things in life really are free. And people pay for those things! These items can add up over time and often slip under the radar. Money may be leaving your account right now to pay for something you should get free.
1. Checking account fees. You should not have to pay to keep your money in a bank as long as you are not violating the account terms. Check the fine print and see if you can avoid fees by setting up online bill pay or keeping a certain balance. If you are eligible, checking accounts at credit unions tend to have free checking account options more often than banks. Generally they also have lower interest rates for loans.
2. Coin Counting. Each time I see a Coinstar machine in a grocery store I want to unplug it and tell people to put their money in a bank. Most banks will give you the coin wrappers for free if you ask your teller. Take this chance to teach your kids the value of change and roll it yourself! If you watch any television you can usually roll these and watch at the same time.
3. ATM fees. Most banks are charging for out of network ATM transactions and those dollars can really add up. If you need cash consider running into a store and buying a pack of gum or bottle of water using the “debit” function. This will allow you to withdraw cash without paying a fee. Or see if your financial institution has an app for your smartphone that will show fee-free ATM locations.
4. Your credit report. Each year you are eligible for one free credit report copy from each of the credit-reporting companies- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can pull them all at once or spread them out over the course of the year. You should never have to pay any fees or sign up for any services to gain access to this information.
5. Movies and books. In Hampton Roads we are fortunate to have access to an incredible library network. Your area may be the same. It is rare that I look for a book and am unable to find it in either my city or nearby. Many even have the ability to check out books to load to your e-reader. I have had the same results with many movies and TV shows on DVD. And all of these can be accessed for free (as long as you remember to return them on time)!
Save yourself the money on these items, so you can spend it on the things you really want!