There was an article in Monday's Huffington Post about how people are wasting far too much money using out-of-network ATMs -- like at bars -- and paying fees that are far more exorbitant than they think As the article noted, this usually happens because people find themselves in immediate need of cash, with no convenient in-network ATM nearby.
The author then gives a few tips on how to avoid this.
I have a much better tip. It's one that not only makes perfect sense, but is so easy, and whenever I tell it to people, they almost always say, "Oh, My God! That is an incredibly smart idea!!! I should do that!!" And then, as far as I know, they have never done that.
Among the author's suggestions, though, are --
Switch to a bank that's more convenient.
Switch to a bank that reimburses you for out-of-network ATM fees.
Get cash back when you go to the grocery store.
Borrow from friends and pay them back using Venmo. I
Perfectly acceptable ideas, except that I don't know what Venmo is, though she describes it as an app that sends money to friends, though I'd think that this requires not only that you are with friends, but also that they have money. And if so, you'd like to think that if they're friends they'd lend it to you without you needing an app. Though, if you do have a Venmo app (I just read up on it...) -- and friend with money -- you might as well take advantage of it. And them.
The biggest problem with these otherwise perfectly acceptable ideas is that they require making changes to your life that you might not want to do, or plan in advance (which, if you were good at that, you probably wouldn't be out of money so regularly that you have to resort to these schemes). But my idea is SO much easier, and requires no switching banks -- hey, you may actually like your bank -- or remember to carry around excess cash from the grocery store.
My idea came about because I like my bank. I like that it's small, only has a few branches, has pleasant tellers, and I get fairly personal service. But it's not extremely close to me -- maybe a mile away. And not having many branches, it also doesn't have many ATM machines. On the other hand, there's a big, impersonal Bank of America three blocks away from where I live. But I'm just not interested in the BOA being my bank, even if it does have 10 gazillion branches around the known universe, and is part of a network work 100 bazillion ATMs..
But I don't mind taking advantage of the Bank of America's services.
And so, I found out what the minimum amount was needed to open a savings account that the BOA with no monthly fee. (I think it's $300.) And so, I opened a savings account, and put a couple of hundred dollars more than the minimum in it. And for doing that, I now have an ATM card for the Bank of America, and it gives me access to the 10 gazillion branches and 100 bazillion ATMs. And whenever the amount in my account gets to close to the minimum, I stroll over three blocks, and make a deposit.
And the added bonus is that if ever I have need of a Bank of America branch -- to pay my BankAmericard, or get a wire transfer or some other matter when I've been out of town -- I have access to one pretty much anywhere.
Right now, I can hear people saying, "Oh, My God! That is an incredibly smart idea!!! I should do that!!"
And as far as I can tell...none of them will.
But I keep a-trying. Because hope springs eternal. And if I have one mission in life, it's to spread good financial advice.
Okay, if I have one mission in life, it's not that. But I still try...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor