9 Ways To Avoid Overdraft Fees

Posted by Rebecca Prince on November 9, 2017

Avoiding Overdraft Fees (1).jpg

We all make mistakes.  Life gets busy.  We swipe a few too many times, and then we regret it when we check our balance later.

If you’ve been with DuGood for a little while, you know that we believe in giving back to our members – “more love, less fees.”

And while overdraft fees are a reality, there are some easy ways to avoid them.  Do we have your attention now?  Let’s start strategizing!

1. Check your Account Balance Often

We can’t emphasize this enough!  And with services like Online Banking and mobile apps, it’s incredibly easy to do.

If you happen to be a DuGood member, we’d like to pause here and point out a few things that might be helpful:

  • Your available balance and pending transactions may not reflect your true account balance.  (More on that in point #2!)
  • If an item is pending, that money has already been spent! 
  • Our transactions are processed in the order that they’re received from the merchant.

2. Balance your Account Regularly

But wait… isn’t this old school?  While Online Banking and mobile technology is very convenient, your account balance partially rests in the hands of the merchants you shop with.  Many process your transaction very quickly.  But, some are slower to process and may take a day or two to show up as pending.  How can you get the most accurate account balance possible?  The best way to achieve this is by saving your receipts and keeping a daily register on your own.

3. Add CardValet To Your Phone or Tablet

If your financial institution has an app like CardValet, it’s totally worth the download.  CardValet is another great tool to help you monitor your balance.  It sends you a real-time alert every time your debit card is used.  It’s also a pretty powerful security measure because you can spot fraud immediately and turn your card off.  So, what are you waiting for?

Download CardValet.

4. Avoid Using Your Debit Card in Certain Cases

I love my debit card!  It’s the primary way I pay for daily expenses.  But, there are some times when it’s just not wise to use it.  If you’re fueling up with gas, reserving a hotel, or renting a car – it’s best to use a credit card or other form of payment.

Why?  These merchants place blocks or holds when you pay with your debit card.  Just one $50 hold from your local gas station could be enough to cause you to overdraft.

Additional side note: scammers are notorious for targeting gas pumps, so – safety first!

5. Sign up for Account Alerts

We can all use a friendly reminder, especially with the hustle and bustle of the holidays looming ahead!  If your financial institution, offers an alert that will notify you when your balance is low, take advantage of it.

At DuGood, you can opt to receive texts or emails.  You can sign up within Online Banking.

Start using Account Alerts.

6. Keep a Cushion for Emergencies

Sometimes, your cash flow is looking great, and then the unexpected happens!  Or let’s be honest – you just spend a little more this paycheck than you thought.  Start “airing up” your cushion now.  Work your way up to $100 – or even $200, and keep that amount in your checking account at all times.  It might take a little while, but it’s so helpful when you need it.

7. Go Paperless

Do you still use checks to pay bills?  Consider going paperless.  Checks can take days and even weeks to clear.  It’s very easy to forget about them!

If a merchant offers an online payment option, use it.  Or better yet – use your financial institution’s Bill Pay.  I’m a big fan of DuGood’s service because it allows me to choose the exact date I want my bill to be paid.

Pay my bills online.

8. Start a Budget

If you find yourself overdrafting on a regular basis, it may be time to start a budget.  Budgets are actually really enlightening and can be very freeing.  By just monitoring my spending for a few weeks, I discovered I was spending almost $300 a month on Starbucks.  I love coffee… but not that much!  Creating a budget gives you a strategy for how you will spend your paycheck, and it feels really awesome when you have that cushion left over at the end of your pay period.  It definitely relieves a lot of stress.

Not sure where to begin?  We’d be happy to walk you through it.  DuGood offers free one-on-one money management sessions and materials to help you get started.  Just email us at marketing@dugood.org.

9. Sign up for Direct Deposit

We understand that because of the way some companies handle payroll, this isn’t an option for everyone.  But, if you can, direct deposit is magical… or at least it seems that way!  Your paycheck gets deposited as soon as it’s available.  No waiting in line.  No taking time out of your schedule.  No potential disasters to hold you back.

During some seasons of life, the struggle is real.  You need that paycheck, and you need it now!  Definite bonus…  if you’re a DuGood member, you’ll receive your paycheck deposit a whole day earlier.

Sign up for direct deposit.

Contact the Credit Union

We’re all human, and sometimes we just mess up.  If you have questions or concerns about your account, communication is always your best option.  Give us a call!  We’ll work out a solution together, so you can get back on track.

Topics: Budgeting & Saving