Whether for savings, spending, or loan payments, a vast majority of Bahamians have a bank account. Unfortunately, over the years banking fees have increased and interest rates on savings have decreased significantly. Considering that most of us need bank accounts for daily financial transactions, it may not be wise to boycott every single bank because of exorbitant fees. Over the past few years, I’ve found ways to maximize my banking. Here are a few habits I picked up on:
Eliminate unnecessary bank accounts. I had to cut down on the amount of bank accounts I had. At one point, I found myself with four different bank accounts. Out of the four, I got paid through one and saved in another. I lost money on the other two bank accounts because of maintenance fees, and the fees were higher than any interest I received. I realized that I had no real use for the other accounts and had to get rid of them. I currently use one account for my daily transactions. The other account is specifically for savings, and I cannot easily withdraw or transfer from it. This doesn’t mean that you should only have two bank accounts; but if you do have more than one, make sure that you have an actual need for the others.
Monitor banking transactions. I learned to monitor my banking transactions by learning my usual financial needs. I normally budget around payday and I try to use the ATM once per week. In the past, I’d use an ATM once or twice a day. Most banks charge fees on withdrawals. Although $1.00 (plus VAT) doesn’t seem like a lot, it adds up over time. I also try to monitor the amount of times that I swipe my debit card for purchases to avoid extra charges.
Use digital banking services. I utilize digital banking avenues. I was a bit skeptical a few years ago, but using digital banking avenues has saved me a lot of time and money. Many services that banks charge for are free when using digital banking. For example, some banks charge for account transfers done in branch, whereas this service is usually free when done online. I personally love digital banking mainly because I hate waiting in line. I found it beneficial to look at my bank’s schedule of fees and compared them to the cost of digital banking. You should be able to find your bank’s schedule of fees online.
Do not reveal your passwords to anyone, not even to an employee of the bank! I never give out my personal identification number (PIN) or other passwords for my bank accounts. I worked as a teller a while ago, and the number of stories I heard of loved ones stealing money from one another frightened me enough not to do the same. This privacy practice also provides some safety from scammers and hackers.
Only use banking products that are beneficial to you. I avoid the trap of taking on every banking product just because the bank recommended it for me. The bank’s employees are trained to sell you various financial products (i.e. loans, credit cards, saving vehicles, etc.). Just remember that it is the bank’s job to make money off of your financial decisions. Not every product is suitable for you and most times, bankers will not tell you this because of their targets. If a product is recommended to you, truly think about whether or not you need it. If you didn’t go to the bank for it, chances are you don’t need it.
These are some of the banking habits that have saved me both time and money over the last few years. I hope they can help someone who would like to make their banking more efficient.
Tammi Miller is a young finance professional, with a BBA in Banking and Finance from the University of The Bahamas (formally The College of The Bahamas) and an MBA in Economics from Beijing Normal University. She is goal oriented, adventurous, and sometimes funny. Tammi currently works within the financial sector in The Bahamas and is extremely passionate about teaching others to become financially literate.