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April 12, 2006 3:16 PM Subscribe
What are your strategies for avoiding overdraft fees?
posted by Squid Voltaire to Work & Money (33 answers total)
Another month, another $75 in over draft fees. Here's my situation:
I earn enough money to pay all my bills and eat out a bit--it's the most comfortable I've been (financially) in four years. I do not earn enough to have any buffer between paychecks, however. I try to avoid cash and pay for as much as I can with a debit card, via the web if at all possible. Every month it seems that I have miscalculated yet again and the overdraft pile-on ensues. At my previous bank, I was able to get a credit card, and they were nice enough to apply excess charges to that instead, but this bank (actually a credit union) has nothing like that.
Two months ago I began taking meticulous notes in my pocketpc, detailing every transaction. The problem is that
a) many transactions (such as personal checks) don't show up in my bank account for weeks and
b) a few transactions (my automatic payment for my gas bill) only show up on the bank statement and, thus, don't get entered into my personal accounting.
This makes it really difficult to balance my books on a daily (nay, hourly) basis, which is what I would really like to do.
My partner had the same problem, and just switched to an entirely cash-based lifestyle. I really like paying for things online, however.
Someone else suggested telling the bank to start refusing excess charges, but that seems a little foolhardy.
Quick note: I know that there are plenty of ways that I could save money (stop eating out, for one) but that's not really my question. I'm just looking for useful systems that you have all set up so that you know _accurately_ how much cash you have at any given point.