The Big Bank Blunder
By: Mallory Lavoie, 2014 Young & Free Maine Spokester Finalist
Saving up some extra cash for a well-deserved expenditure can be satisfying. But what is DIS-satisfying, is discovering that one hundred and eighty-six of your hard-earned savings have been lost to bank fees.
This year, I discovered that I surrendered a big chunk of my personal savings to bank fees, without even knowing it. Hence, my big money blunder.
In 2011, I applied for and received a $5,000 scholarship to study abroad in Québec City, Canada. How exciting, right? But I was not about to carry around a $5,000 check in my back pocket. Knowing what I know now, a credit union would have been the better option! But at the time, I was uneducated about the differences between a bank and a credit union, so I stuck my money in a bank, and I learned about bank fees the hard way.
All was well while I was living in Québec City. For a total of four months, nothing bad happened – because I was actively using my bank account through my bank’s debit card. I enjoyed the many things that Québec City had to offer through each swipe of the card. Good times were endless: the Winter Carnival, the restaurants, and the winterized water park, Valcartier.
After moving back home to good old Maine, I had much to talk about with my friends and family. And so, with the swipe of my credit union debit card, we chatted over coffee, dinner, and shopping. Now, I no longer had much use for my bank card. So, away it went, only to be used on the few occasions where I traveled internationally, to our neighboring country.
Time went by since my great travel abroad adventure. Admittedly, I was quite proud of myself for leaving a good part of my scholarship in the account, for savings purposes. This April, I decided to look at exactly just how much was in there, only to find that fees had been charged every month for the last seventeen months! Panic struck as I scrolled back through old online bank statements. $10.95 for July, $10.95 for June, and $10.95 for May…Please stop!, I thought to myself. But no, the fees went on. I could not imagine what the fees could possibly be for, so without hesitation, I picked up my phone and called the toll-free (thankfully!) number for the banking hotline.
“For having your checking account, and for not using your ten transactions per month,” was the ridiculous reply that I received. I never thought that fees could be charged simply for having your own savings stored in an account. So there I was, left one hundred eighty-five dollars short and awestricken that I had been blind to these outrageous fees. Since this experience, I decided to be extra careful with my money. I now always make sure that I can trust my financial institutions!