Bank Fees and Toothpaste

Recently I’ve read a lot of hype about Bank of America, as well as other banks, implementing new fees that have customers a little disgruntled.  Everyone is talking about whether or not they should change banks to avoid the fees.  Anytime I hear talk of changing banks or anything even remotely similar to that one word enters my mind – HASSLE.  Changing banks requires hours of tedious frustration with all the forms, proof, validation, verification, transfers, etc etc… usually to find out there is something in the fine print of every bank that is less than desirable.

Tell me if this is how the discussion might go in your house:

Her:  The bank is charging us $5 per month.  We could be getting that for free elsewhere.
Him:   But it is such a hassle to change banks.  It’s just not worth the hassle for me to save $60 per year.
Her:  If it’s not worth the hassle to save $60 on that bank account then why should I be working so hard to save $60 on toothpaste each year?
Him:  It’s a lot more hassle to change banks than it is to clip toothpaste coupons once a month.
Her:  Oh really, then you can clip the coupons from now on.
Him:  Ummmm.  [or if he’s stupid he gets mad and continues the fight]

This scenario could play out with him or her on either side of the conversation.

Just like most households Shawna and I are very different when it comes to finances even though we have a pretty good system for both of us to be involved in the finances.  But neither one of us wants to pay the bank fees for services that are free elsewhere.  Will we change banks though?  So far I haven’t because to me it just isn’t worth the time and energy it takes to avoid a fee that isn’t that significant in our grand scheme of things.

But wait a minute?  I’m supposed to be doing everything I can to maximize every dollar.  Just as I would want Shawna to maximize every grocery dollar I should maximize every banking dollar – right?  This scenario presents itself in many budget categories.  The lingering question is how do we decide when it is or isn’t appropriate to stick to the frugal practice of maximizing every dollar, and if we choose not to maximize one of my categories doesn’t that give Shawna a pass on maximizing one of her categories?  It’s easy to see how this type of decision making can cause some financial disagreement.  If it isn’t “fair” then one of us might feel hurt or taken for granted for our efforts.

Newsflash – it’s never going to be fair.  Shawna has always said, “the fair is where you ride rides” (usually to our kids who have never even been to a fair).  Even little decisions like this have to be taken on a case by case basis.  Communication is required (I feel like a broken record saying that all the time).  There should be no keeping of score and bringing up the past (although this is very difficult).  The key is WORK TOGETHER.

In the next post I’ll discuss one other factor that helps Shawna and I make these decisions.


  1. I have worked very hared at maximizing every dollar that comes in our house. My wife and I are in ministry and have to raise our personally salary. As you can imagine there can be some tight times. That being the case I did change banks. We held two accounts at B of A and every time I turned around there was a new service charge for using the ATM too much, writing too many checks, dropping, for a few days, under my required balance…my fees quite often were well over five dollars a month. We did not have check returns or overdraft protection fees. The fees we had were plain old monthly fees. We found a bank and I did go through the hassle of closing and reopening new FREE accounts with almost all the same perks as before. For us it was worth it. On our checking account alone we are saving $150.00 a year.
    On the road to joining you as DEBT FREE!

    • That’s awesome Chip. If our fees get up to $150 per year that would definitely be a different decision. What is your expected debt freedom date so I can be praying and rooting for you?

Speak Your Mind