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Smart Money Management Skills Help Avoid Overdraft Fees
Debit card use is growing. Debit card payments accounted for 43% of 110 billion transactions in 2011, an increase from 19.4% in 2003, according a study from Moebs Services, Lake Forest, Ill. That was the year that the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act (Check 21 Act) was enacted. Check 21 eliminated the "float" on checks that kept many consumers from overdrawing their accounts. The lack of float and increased debit card use has made the time between initiating payment and depositing payment almost nonexistent. With 87% of checking account users not reconciling their checking accounts, the probability that the average consumer will overdraw is immeasurably increased, according to the Moebs study. Though credit unions' median charge for an overdraft is less than the national median for all financial institutions, and is much lower than what Wall Street banks charge, you can avoid overdraft fees altogether...
Fees Happening at a Checkout Near You
A court settlement between retailers and the payments industry allows retailers--brick-and-mortar stores and onine merchants--to pass their credit card acceptance costs on to consumers in the form of a fee. Retailers can decide whether or not to charge this fee, according to the Electronic Payments Coalition, Washington, D.C. Here are steps you can take to avoid checkout fees: • Shop around. Merchants are allowed to charge a fee equivalent to what they'll pay to accept your card, typically between 1.5% and 3% of the total purchase. Some merchants won't charge fees for using a credit or charge card. Before you get to the cash register, look for in-store signage or ask a sales person if you'll be charged a fee. If you will, consider shopping elsewhere. • Know your rights. By law, merchants can't surprise you with fees at the last minute, try to hide fees, or overcharge...
401(k) Fees: Know What You’re Paying, What You’re Getting
Check out this scenario laid out by the U.S. Employee Benefits Security Administration: For someone with 35 years until retirement and a 401(k) plan valued at $25,000, fees can make a big difference. If the investments in such an account return 7% annually and fees are 0.5% of all plan assets, that 401(k) plan will grow to $227,000 by the time the recipient hits retirement age—even if the recipient doesn't drop a single additional dime into the plan. But what if the 401(k) plan fees were 1.5% instead of 0.5%? Then the retirement landscape isn't so bright. Instead of $227,000, the plan participant would only earn $163,000. In other words, fees alone would cut an additional 28% of the 401(k)'s account balance by retirement. These steps can help minimize the negative effect of fees on your plan performance: Talk to your employee benefit representatives—Your human resources department or...

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