Back in the old days, financial security was as easy as abc: People would simply tuck away their money underneath a pillow and keep a shotgun at hand. It took several decades of persuasion to get them to take their savings to a bank and the main argument that won people over was that your money was actually a lot safer there: Bank managers could put in a lot more shotguns to protect customers’ assets and you could actually keep both eyes closed at night, too – it seemed like a win-win situation.
Today, things are no longer quite as obvious. More and more banks are secretly slipping in high fees for their accounts and the credit cards associated with them through the back door. And unless you resolve to do something about this, you actually risk loosing a lot of money on them.
Step one: Know your bank fees
Before you can begin saving on your bank fees, you will need to know exactly what your bank is actually charging you for. It may come as a surprise, but there are massive differences in terms of fee structure between different banks in this regard. Some banks will charge you if the amount on your account drops below a certain level. Others will fine you heavily for going into overdrafts. Yet others will even slap staggering fees on top of bounced payments. You may have to dive headlong into the fine print, but it’s worth it: Informing yourself about the precise fee structure of your bank is the first step towards financial consolidation.
Step two: Get yourself a guaranteed account
A great way to avoid these fees and bring your finances back into balance again is to switch from your regular current account to a guaranteed account. A guaranteed account is conveniently managed through an online portal and open to anyone who applies. Although guaranteed accounts will actually charge you a monthly fee, you may still end up paying less than before. This is because they will not allow you to go into overdrafts, are offering budgeting support facilities and because fee structures tend to be transparent. Combined, this usually adds up to lower account expenses and can get you back into the black again.
Step three: Get yourself a prepaid card
Credit-card fees and interest payments are by far the single biggest worry of UK household. So why not switch to a prepaid card? A prepaid card offers you the exact same facilities of a credit card with only a single exception: It doesn’t actually allow you to take up any credit, but only to spend the amount you’ve loaded onto the card. As a result, you will not be burdened with expensive interest payments and can instead use the card only to take advantage of bargains online. Prepaid cards are actually recognised by banks as an important step towards consolidating your finances and can therefore play an important role in improving your credit rating.
Following these three easy steps can save you a lot of money. Even more importantly, however, it will make you more aware of smart budgeting in general. Going back to the days of stocking-banking is not a good idea – but neither is wasting it on expensive and unfriendly banks.
This article was written by Gavin Whittaker in association with Tuxedo, a leading currency card service provider. Gavin Whittaker is a journalist and editor from the UK. He has been writing about finance and economics for the past ten years.