Overdraft fees, or "When $16.05 costs you $86.05" Part I

14 04 2008

Photo courtesy of Snappy Larry

Ok so I couldn’t sleep Monday morning. I woke up around 4am and just had a sense that i wouldn’t be getting back to sleep. So I flipped open my Sprint Mogul and started typing out this post. I had some exciting topics lined up to write about this week until I realized that I was basically ignoring an extremely relevant and interesting story to share with you all. So the other topics will have to go on the back burner for now cause nothin else is cookin till I work my way thru this pressing subject matter.


So what is this all about? Well as much as I hate this subject I think I should dedicate a post (or two) to the wonderful world of Overdraft Fees. How they are not considered to be predatory lending I will never know.

Yup as you can probably tell by the title today, we got hit over the weekend by this snare of the Enemy. (no not the devil, I’m only dealing with banks today… But feel free to use them interchangeably if you wish.)

This time there’s the added sting that this is our first ODF (Overdraft Fee) since we started our Total Money Makeover (TMM) in October. On the bright side, this is still only the second ODF of our marriage though. Quick shout out to my wife of 9 months and 7 days I love you… *cough basicallywright.blogspot.com cough*

So anyway, yeah this one hurts on a few levels. Like to hear them — here they go:

The average bank charges a flat $35 fee per overdrafted transaction in addition to ‘covering’ the expense(s) that put your account in the negative. That means they get $35 whether yo go over by $100.00 or just $1.00. In our case we had two… A $1.05 redbox charge that was pending on the account since Wednesday — stay tuned, the next post in this mini-series is dedicated to pending purchases — and a $15.00 charge for gas that was pending since Thursday.

Now before I go any further I REALLY need to testify to how good God has been in my life! He’s really changed my heart in so many places!

Back when my wife and I were dating I really had a disdain for banking institutions because of stuff like this. The nickle and dime fee’s they’d hit you with to diminish your stacks, and the truly minuscule interest rates they’d break you off with while they were piling their stacks! I mean it would really be enough to throw me into fits of rage. But Saturday night when I checked the account from my phone and saw the negative amounts IT DIDN’T EVEN PHASE ME! I simply turned to her and said “Can you pull up the account on the laptop? Its saying we’re overdrawn and we need to have a quick finance meeting to talk this thru.” And that was it. No kicking, screaming, attitudes or drive-bys.

Yes we lost out on some much needed funds, and yes it was a hard lesson learned and a very hard time to learn it, but at the same time it was a blessing. Now I say that because it was a painful reminder of why we’ve gotta get out of our current financial situation for good! It’s also a blessing because I get to share it with you in a positive way that hopefully will encourage you to join me in getting out of this mess. I can honestly say that I’m thankful to God for the way He’s allowed me to view it this time around.

Ok I’m getting long winded again so let me bring this to a close.


So back to the $35.00 fees. Like I said there was one for redbox and one for a gas purchase, which totals $70.00. They made $55 dollars of pure profit off of me for $16.05 dollar worth of transactions. The redbox charge was fine because we budget for it each check. ($5 total) It was the gas that jacked us up here. Our gas envelope from the previous check got us through to Wednesday night, but we didn’t get paid till Thursday morning. This left no opportunity to get to the bank and envelope the money like we normally would, so instead I used the check card… First time in a long time and hopefully the last time for as long as we can help it.

In my thinking banks would be better served by charging a 10% fee. That way if you go over by $16.05 you pay a $1.61 fee but if you go over $600 (say, if your car note doesn’t clear), you pay a $60.00 fee. This would punish the behavior and not the individual. For good measure they could even have a sliding scale where the first ODF transaction would be 10% and each following transaction would be increased in increments of 5% per transaction. The bank would still make PLENTY of money and PLENTY of people would still keep their accounts in the negative… And they’d both continue to live the ‘American’ dream.

@W

My next post will be part 2 of this expose… ‘Pending Transactions’

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