Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This is America Saves Week

Did you know that the average  American family had $2,000 in unexpected expenses last year? That number actually seems low to me (maybe it's because we had a heck of a lot more due to a medical emergency).

America Saves has declared this week America Saves Week to remind people how important it is to save money for their rainy day fund. My brother the banker will be happy to read this one!

BillShrink - a FREE site to help you lower your bills conducted a recent study that reveals a surprising trend – more people are actually paying off their credit card debt now than they did last year! Now that's GREAT NEWS.

Here are the top 5 things that American's Overpay for (are you guilty of any of these?)

  1. Non Bank ATM Fees - ATM Fees can add up. They can also be slightly misleading; it’s not unusual for ATM convenience fees to cost $2.00, and for the card-issuing bank to charge up to an additional $2.50 as a non-bank ATM Fee. As a result, it may cost up $4.50 to withdraw $20.00.

  1. Credit Card Late Fees/Overdraft Fees - Paying late fees on credit cards and bills, and overdraft fees on bank accounts can be a disheartening use of one’s hard-earned money. Especially when a minimum payment on a credit card of $15 is missed, resulting in a late fee that can be as high as $39 (and perhaps result in an APR% increase). Overdraft fees add up, especially when they are made in quick succession, resulting in fees for each transaction made while an account is overdrawn. Luckily starting this week there are new consumer protections thanks to the Credit CARD Act of 2009, but interest rate hikes last year, mainly due to late fee penalties, cost Americans more then $10 billion.

  1. Car Maintenance from the Dealership - Unless a car is under warranty, going to a dealership for a repair is one sure way to overspend. Car dealerships often promise that certain work can only be done by authorized dealerships, and are less-inclined to negotiate prices, something that should be done with any type of auto maintenance.

  1. Pseudo Health Products – Like the “protein bars” that are presented as “low fat” or “all natural” even though can end up just as unhealthy as candy bars (the sugar!), while costing up to five times as much.

  1. Cell Phone Plans – 80% of Americans overpay on their wireless plans, as much as $300 for a standard 2-year contract.  The biggest reason - they don’t know how many voice minutes, texts and data they actually use.  If more people “right-sized” their plans to meet their actual needs, or if more friends/colleagues/neighbors/family members signed up for family plans, they could save hundreds of dollars a year.

If you'd like to compare savings accounts, BillShrink tracks more than 300 constantly changing rates for the most attractive savings accounts and CDs as well.


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