Financial Pet Peeve: Fees To Receive Paper Bank Statements

Today’s post is written by Tim of Faith and Finance. It was written for a blog swap run by the Yakezie personal finance blog network to answer the question “What is your biggest financial pet peeve?“

Chances are, you’ve probably received a few notices from your bank or investment company about receiving e-statements.  I’m all for getting less mail, and having online access to my statements is a really nice feature.  In fact, most of my statements are online now.

So why is it a pet peeve if I LIKE viewing statements online?  Here’s why:  If you don’t get the online version of your statements, many places will charge you for the paper statement.  My bank (which will go unnamed) pulled this very move.  If you want to receive paper statements you had to pay a few dollars each year for the ‘service.’  Now I understand that printing statements costs money, but what bothers me the most is that the bank continues to send junk mail even though I opted in to the e-statements.

It seems a little impolite to say “You have to stop using paper…but we’ll keep sending you stuff you don’t want in the mail.”  Each time they send me something in the mail promoting a new product or those goofy cash advance checks, I think about how much money they’re NOT saving.

***Ok ok, I’ll stop ranting.  That’s what happens when you’re challenged to write about a pet peeve…you get a little excited.  🙂

Solutions to the problem

I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to complain about something, you should be willing to suggest alternatives, so here’s what I’d do differently if I were the banks.

  1. 1. Don’t punish for paper statements, incentivize for online statements

If you want to connect with people online and save money in the long run, provide an incentive to make the shift to online statements.  Money and interest rates talk, so maybe provide $5 plus access to a higher paying certificate only available for our online banking members.

  1. 2. Consolidate the message.

If people want to get paper statements still, don’t charge them – instead, use the statement envelope to promote your products.  The envelope is already paid for, so why not use it for marketing purposes.  Now I know they’ll say, “people don’t read statement stuffers.”  To that I’d say, “what makes you think they’d read a dedicated mailer then?”

Those are my two cents.  Has anyone thought the same thing?  How do you feel about paper statements vs. online statements?

[Jason’s note: There is a fee that irritates me a lot more than paying to get a paper statement.  I hate “online access” fees.  Those are the fee where you get charged for other people doing less.   They are usually called convenience fees or, in the case of government, technology fees.]

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How to Deal with Debt While You’re Out of a Job

This is a guest post from Marc Chase of My Credit Group.

Dealing with a lot of unpaid debt can be a hassle on its own.  Having to pay those debts when you don’t even have a job to provide you with the money to do so can be a nightmare.  While you’re hunting for a job to help make ends meet, your debts continue to pile up, leaving you scrambling to find a way to take care of them before they cause you to slip further into the poor house, and leave your finances needing credit repair services.

Since you’re likely more concerned about finding a job than anything else, we put together this handy checklist of what you should do to avoid your unpaid bills and debts getting the best of you while you search for a new job.

•     Apply for unemployment benefits. This should be your first order of business after you’ve lost your job, especially if you’re one of the many Americans currently living paycheck to paycheck.  Unemployment benefits go a long way towards helping consumers stay on top of their bills and credit accounts.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking another job is just around the corner – there’s a good chance you can’t afford to wait.

•    Keep paying the minimum balance. If you’re on the verge of drowning completely in unpaid debt, you may be tempted to stop paying your bills completely, at least until you get some additional funds in your account.  Do this, and you’ll find yourself in need of credit score repair before you even get that call back for a follow-up interview.

Instead, do everything you can to at least pay the minimum balance on all of your credit accounts and bills.  This will ensure that your credit history doesn’t take too much of a beating, and saves you from paying even more in interest fees down the line.

•     Stop spending money like you have it. Because the sad truth is, while you’re still unemployed, you likely don’t have a lot of money to spare.  If you’re still living your life as though you can afford to pay for everything – eating lunch and/or dinner out more than twice a week, generally buying things you don’t NEED – now’s the time to stop.

Stop charging every purchase you make to your credit card – break them out only in an emergency.  This will help keep you from sinking further into debt while you’re out looking for a way to pay for your purchases.

•     Eliminate and prioritize your bills. Now’s a great time to take a long look at some of the bills you’re paying, and deciding if they’re even worth the service.  That doesn’t mean you should stop paying bills you consider “less important” than others; it means looking at some of the things that might have once been necessities (a land phone line if you primarily use a cell phone, a full package TV cable bill, etc.) and re-evaluating your stance on how important they are now that you can’t afford them all.  In many cases, you can get in contact with your service provider(s) and talk about ways to reduce your bill (say, cancel cable but keep internet).

This is a guest post from Marc Chase, President of Product Development for My Credit Group, a website dedicated to helping consumers with managing their credit.

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How to make room for a paying lodger

A car boot sale gets its name from the way goo...
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A spare room in your home is an opportunity to boost your income. Imagine how much extra cash you could make by offering that space to a rent-paying tenant.  You can start getting things ready by creating the necessary space right now. Our guest blogger, Big Yellow Self Storage, shows you how in these five simple steps.

1.   What needs to go? Take a good look around your spare room (and the rest of your home, while you’re at it). Decide what you’re happy to part company with and what you want to find a storage solution for.

2.   Sell, donate or trash. For anything with a monetary value, get selling. Try online auctions, your local classified ads, boot sales(ed. That’s a flea market or swap meet for those in the U.S.) – anything that offers a cheap and quick way to raise cash. Alternatively, give your unwanted but perfectly serviceable items to charity. As a last resort, put them out with the trash or take them to a recycling centre.

3.   Decide what sort of storage solution you need. For those items that you’re not getting rid of, you’ll need some form of storage facility. And, depending on what those items are, this could be a garden shed, a loft, a garage or a unit at a secure, temperature-controlled storage site.

4.   Prepare your items to go into storage. Flat pack self assembly furniture and keep the fixings close by in a small bag. Coat wood and metal with varnish and rust protector respectively. Keep mattresses in bags available at DIY stores. (Change the bag every year). Use a wardrobe to store clothes, shoes, bags and bed linen – its small footprint will give you loads of hanging, stacking and shelving space. Be aware that books can get really heavy. Use lots of small boxes instead of fewer large ones and list their contents on the visible sides.

5.   Get ready to welcome your lodger! All that remains now is to prepare and advertise your spare room – and start earning money!

For further information about storing just about anything and to find out more about storage options, visit Big Yellow for Self Storage.

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Teaching Kids about Money

Today, Mr Credit Card from www.askmrcreditcard.com is going to contribute with an article about things we can teach our kids about life and money. He asks that you check his best credit card offers page if you are looking for a new card

I honestly think teaching kids about money this is the most overlooked thing that most parents do not teach. Instead, kids learn from our behavior and how we treat money. But I really think the subject of how to manage money must be taught.

I have three kids and teaching them stuff is sure tough. But as a parent, I would like to instill good habits (including money habits). Here are some of the things I think we can do to teach them about various aspects of life that will affect their outlook about hard work and money.

Reward Hard Work hard and Not Just Results – Some kids are talented at certain things like math or baseball. Very often (in their early ages), they excel in school or sports without much effort because of talent. But very often, because of the talent, they do not develop the habit of working hard (because they do not have to). But as they grow older, they are going to face obstacles. If they do not learn the value of hard work and overcoming difficulties, they will hit the brick wall often. Teaching them the value of hard work (even if they are talented) is so important.

What has this got to do with money?  Well, I think delayed gratification is one of the hardest thing to teach, so we try to praise our kids when they achieved something due to hard work. We tell them that they accomplished it because they worked at it and we explain that to be able to afford expensive things, they have to study hard, work hard and earn their own money!

Going to Shop Does Not Mean You Have to Shop! – There are various ways to go about doing it. One way is simply to explain concepts as they come along. For example, initially, my kids always wanted to buy stuff when they go to Toys R Us or anywhere else. To put a stop to this nonsense, we had to explain that just because we went to a shop does not mean we have to buy anything. We could be just looking, doing some research or simply buying a gift for someone else.

Ask Them What Happened To Stuff They Bought A While Ago – Another thing that we like to bring up to our kids when they want to buy something on impulse is to remind them of something they bought in the past and whether they are now still excited over it and playing with it. Chances are that they will say no! We found that this was a very effective way to make them realize that they should think twice before buying anything.

Teach Kids to Compare Price – Here is another technique we use: When we go grocery shopping, Mrs Credit Card asks the kids to compare prices of the cheapest cereals. We explain to them that even though they love a particular one, there are times when it is not the best time to buy it. They should only buy it if it is on sale. We also ask them to compare the price relative to the weight of the product to see which gives greater value for money. After a while, they catch on and only buy cereal that is on sale!

Make Them Work – I see lots of kids organizing lemonade stands outside their houses during summer. It could be to draw crowds for a garage sale or to raise money for a fundraiser. I think this is such a great thing as they can learn so many things just from selling lemonade. They can learn the the concept of selling things for a profit.

Another common task kids or teens take is to work to earn some money. It could be as simple as baby sitting, walking your neighbors dog or working at the ice-cream shop. Making them realize that they need to earn before they can spend is a good lesson.

Slowly Give Them More Responsibilities – As kids grow older, I believe in giving them more responsibility. It could be making the oldest kid look after their younger siblings. Or giving them tasks like clearing the trash, doing the dishes, etc. I know of some parents who give their teens prepaid credit cards to start teaching them about using “credit” (though it is not technically credit). Maybe that is a bad idea as you want them to know to manage a student credit card when they are old enough to get one.

Selling Things For Fund Raisers – One of the things that I admire about the Boys Scouts is that they are always doing fundraisers for their scouting trips and events (no money, no outings). It teaches them “cold calling” or more likely, approaching Dad and Mom’s friends to sell things like coffee beans and Christmas wreaths!

Teach Them Not To Waste Stuff – Another thing I like to emphasize to kids is not to waste stuff. Whether it is the water when they brush their teeth or making sure they do not waste food, we are pretty particular about this. I think this is a good mindset to instill in our kids.

Performance Matters More Than How Good Your Look – I find that kids like to buy fancy stuff and beyond a certain age, they are conscious about brands. I’ve mentioned this before, but when my kids first played baseball and soccer, they keep bugging me to get them the fancy gear. I had to keep telling my kids that how you perform matters more than your gear. After a couple of years of playing, I think they have finally come to realize this and no longer bug me about things.

It’s a Never-Ending Process – Teaching your kids about money and other things that are important is a never-ending process. But you have to do it when they are young because once they grow older, they tend not to listen to their parents anymore and are more likely to be influenced by peers.

Update:  This post has been included in the Carnival of Debt Reduction.

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