How To Reduce The Costs Of Routine Financial Transactions

Financial planning typically involves maximizing the return on various types of retirement accounts. However, a return is effectively earned each time any expense is reduced or eliminated. Individuals can help protect the value of their assets by minimizing or avoiding certain expenses of conducting financial transactions.

Costs associated with financial transactions can often be reduced with little or no effect on your lifestyle. By cutting only financial transaction costs, there is no reduction in your tangible satisfaction derived from a TV subscription or your internet data plan. In fact, the best types of expense cuts are those that produce virtually no discernible difference.

Checking Accounts

If you are paying a monthly fee to maintain a checking account, you may be able to shop around and eliminate that charge. Many banks offer an account option that provides free checking as long as a specified provision is met. The provision may require your paycheck to be electronically deposited. An alternative provision might require you to maintain a minimum account balance.

There are several online banks that provide free accounts. Many of the online accounts are referred to as checking accounts, even though they may initially provide no paper checks. Some of the online banks, however, offer the option to order paper checks. Online banks are unlikely to have a physical presence in your area. Whether your bank is local or online, you can usually avoid paying for ATM usage.

ATM Fees

Bank customers who automatically use the nearest ATM often pay a price for convenience. However, many banks assess no ATM fee when their customers use the bank's own ATM services. Some of the online banks provide free ATM access through one of the nationwide ATM networks.

Utility Bills

Some utility companies offer a discount to customers who agree to pay their ongoing utility bills with electronic debits from a bank account. By doing so, the utility company saves the cost of handling paper checks or processing credit card payments.

Income Tax Refunds

In the long run, the receipt of a large tax refund is not conducive to effective financial planning. The government generally pays no interest on refunds. A better option is to gain access to more of your own money throughout the year, without incurring any penalty for underpayment.

There is generally no penalty if you owe less than $1,000 on your federal income tax return. A safe plan might be to adjust your tax withholding with the goal of roughly breaking even on taxes. Planning to receive a small refund or pay a small balance due ensures that a large refund is averted.

The cumulative effect of cutting unnecessary expenses is an increase in your funds available for investing. A financial planner can provide essential advice on the various types of retirement accounts available.