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US Banks take in over $38 billion in overdraft fees, which equate to more than 75% of the fees they charge on consumer deposits period. With the economy so tight these days, do you really have additional money to throw out the window?

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As I often remind my clients, banks are not charities; they will capitalize off of you as much as you allow them to. Sure it’s highway robbery to be charged an average of $35 for taking a quick swipe at McDonald’s, but the bottom line is if you didn’t have the money in your account, it’s your fault. Banks don’t care if the kids where whining about a happy meal. Your negligence just cost the family $35 for a toy that costs $0.035 cents (yes, less than a nickel) to produce. If this happens to you a couple times a month, we’re talking about nearly $1000 a year that could go towards paying down debt, building up emergency savings or even college and retirement planning.

So, here are a few ways to avoid those pesky overdraft fees.

Keep your Register Updated. Simply put, if you don’t know how much money is in your checking account right now, then you are at risk of overdrawing your account. Many people falsely believe that keeping a check register in their head is a good idea. It’s inevitable that you will forget something. Instead, make it a habit by entering each check or debit card purchase as it is made. Set aside time when you get home to check your receipts and balance your register. Do this every time you spend, and soon it will be second nature.

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Don’t Forget ATM Withdrawals. One of the easiest ways to lose track of your money is to forget to record cash you withdraw from an ATM. It happens to people all the time – they forget to record the withdrawal and when the bank statement comes they find out they have hundreds of dollars less than they thought. Nip this potential problem in the bud by always getting an ATM receipt. Place the receipt in a safe place. When you get home refer to the receipt to enter the withdrawal into your register.

Remember to Record Automatic Payments. Having your utility or insurance company automatically take payments out of your checking account can be very convenient. Overdrawing your account because you forgot to record an automatic payment is unquestionably inconvenient. READ MORE

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