Blog Challenge: Mallory L.

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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.  

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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!