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Digm Piece (Op-Ed)

Watch out for These Seven Sneaky Bank Fees



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If you’ve ever had a bank account, which I’m sure you have, than at one point or another you’ve been forced to pay some type of fee to your bank. What exactly are these fees and why am I paying them? For the bank, it’s revenue. For you, it’s a penalty for handling your money. Here’s a brief list of some of the fees you could be paying and how you can learn to avoid them.

1. Balance Transfer Fees

For consumers who are trapped under an avalanche of debt or have a vast collection of credit cards, consolidating all of that debt into one line of credit may be an extremely viable option. You should always be sure to check the fine print and details as many credit card companies charge a 3% fee for balance-transfers. This can cost you a $150 for every $5,000 transferred.

2. Paper Statement Fees

As we’ve all become more conscientious of the environment, many financial institutions have begun charging customers who still receive printed, paper statements. Sure, $2 or $3 a month won’t make many people blink but continuing to accrue these fees over time will certainly add up. The choice to go strictly e-statement will not only save you money but also excess paperwork around the house.

3. Bank Teller Fees

Since the beginning of times, the bank teller was there to happily assist you with any and all of your banking needs. The bank teller is still employed however getting assistance from them may now cost you in the long run. If you currently have an account that is designed or set up for eBanking only, making a simple deposit or withdrawal could cost you a monthly fee of nearly $10. If you still frequent the bank regularly, be sure to avoid any type of account with teller fees.

4. Account Maintenance Fees

Some banks even charge a monthly or annual fee simply for keeping certain types of accounts open. A couple of ways of avoiding these maintenance fees are signing up for direct deposit or automatic bill pay, but even then, you may be required to make a certain amount of debit card transactions per statement period to have your fee waived.

5. Minimum Balance Requirements

Not only could your bank be charging you a maintenance fee but many banks and accounts carry fees if you don’t keep a certain amount of cash in your account at all times in order to help support other services the bank may be offering. They may charge you depending on your daily balance or your balance at the end of the statement period. Either way, if you tend to move a lot of cash in and out of your account you may want to look into an account without a minimum balance requirement.

6. Inactivity Fees

If you’re the type of person that primarily only uses your bank account for safeguarding your hard earned money and tend to not have much activity, you could be paying a fee. Now normally, an inactivity fee will begin to take effect after a set amount of time (typically 3-6mos) without activity.

7. Account Closing Fees

Are you unhappy with your bank? Maybe you’re just moving away and don’t have any branches nearby. If this is the case and you’re getting ready to close out that account you better check first and make sure you won’t be hit with any fees as many banks will assess a penalty for closing out the account if it hasn’t been actively open for a certain length in time.

Eliminate the Red Tape

We wanted to take the time to warn you about these sneaky ways that banks are charging you fees, and also remind you that if you bank with BankMobile, you won’t have to worry about any of these sneaky bank fees. We’ve eliminated fees and created a revolutionary way to bank from your cell phone in the palm of your hand.



Ash Exantus aka Ash Cash is one of the nation’s top personal finance experts. Dubbed as the Financial Motivator, he uses a culturally responsive approach in teaching financial literacy. He is the Head of Financial Education at BankMobile and Editor-in-Chief at Paradigm Money. The views and opinions expressed are those of Ash Cash and not the views of BankMobile and/or its affiliates.

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Digm Piece (Op-Ed)

5 Hidden Risks in Retirement That Could Affect Your Financial Security



Being well-prepared for retirement is wonderful, but there is no fail-safe plan. Things can unravel due to many inherent post-retirement risks. Understanding those risks that lie ahead and how they can harm financial security is key to making critical adjustments in a retirement plan. Sometimes without those changes, the impact of unfavorable and unpredictable events can be far more severe.

“Once you have a retirement plan in place, it’s not set in stone,” says Clayton Alexander (, an investment adviser and founder of Teton Wealth Group. “Things change. You may add or lose family members, your retirement goals may change, the economic environment may create new considerations, and financial innovations may present new strategies. Once per year is a minimum in terms of making sure your retirement plans (and beneficiaries) are constantly up-to-date.”

Alexander says retirees and those making retirement plans should be aware of these five risks:  

  • Longevity. Running out of money before they die is one of the primary concerns of most retirees. This worry is heightened by the fact that the average life expectancy has increased. “A pension or an annuity can lessen the risk, but carefully investigate any company where you’d place an annuity and be cautious of fees and interest rates,” Alexander says. “It’s best to tailor your plan to run to life expectancy plus five years.”
  • Loss of income. “Make sure both you and your spouse are protected from the unexpected,” Alexander says. “Consider the financial impact of the loss of one spouse. Remember that your surviving spouse will only get the highest of your two Social Security checks. A spouse’s death can bring additional financial burdens, including lingering medical bills and debts. Life insurance and estate planning are important vehicles to protect survivors.”
  • Health care costs. Longer life expectancy could lead to high costs in a long-term care facility. “It’s estimated that approximately 50% of people over 65 will need long-term care,” Alexander says. “Do not overspend on policies that may be subject to drastic premium increases. And surprising to some, Medicare is not free — your premiums for coverage are usually deducted from your Social Security check. Medicare doesn’t cover dental, hearing or vision, is subject to deductibles, and doesn’t cover long-term care. Long-term care insurance is advisable.”
  • Negative return risk. “A 50% gain does not allow a portfolio to recover from a 50% loss,” Alexander says. “In fact, a 100% gain is required to restore a 50% loss. The ‘buy and hold’ strategy that works when you are young — where you wait for the markets to come back up after a downturn — does not apply in retirement as we saw in 2008, when many people’s retirements were wiped out. Common stocks have substantially out-performed other investments over time and thus are usually recommended for retirees as part of a balanced asset allocation strategy, but the rate of return you earn can be significantly lower than the long-term trends.”
  • Inflation risk. “You should plan on prices for food, goods and services getting higher during retirement, reducing your buying power incrementally as you are living on a fixed income,” Alexander says. “Your retirement plan has to factor that in. Ways retirees can curb the effects of inflation include annuity products with a cost-of-living adjustment feature and investing in equities, a home, and other assets.”

“Understanding what the potential post-retirement risks are and considering them in the retirement planning stage,” Alexander says, “can help to ensure that they are mitigated and properly managed.”  

About Clayton Alexander Clayton Alexander ( is an investment adviser and founder of Teton Wealth Group. A graduate of Dixie State University with a B.A. in administration, Alexander also worked at Northwestern Mutual and Goldman Sachs. He is licensed for life and health insurance in the state of Utah and has passed the Series 65 securities exam. Alexander focuses on building holistic retirement plans, and with the launch of Teton Wealth he developed the four-step Ascent Plan – a system to help clients gain clarity and perspective on creating a financial plan for safe, secure and tax-efficient retirement income and estate transition.  

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Digm Piece (Op-Ed)

Are Americans Undervaluing Paid Time off + Quick Trip Tips



It’s August, which for many Europeans means taking almost the entire month off. So why is it difficult for Americans to take even the little vacation time they receive? A recent piece in The Economist states workers in the U.S. are doing it all wrong by going on short holidays, which can add even more stress or taking none. Instead, it’s essential for employees to recharge their batteries. It’s also beneficial for companies to have a consistent holiday month during which junior employees can head to the beach, and managers can take stock of things, says the report.

While many Americans may not receive paid time off, especially those that only work part-time, even those who receive it generally don’t take all of it. What we don’t realize is that not taking a vacation is like giving money back to your employer, especially with companies that have a use it or lose it policy. Which should encourage employees to use their time but unfortunately it does not. According to recent polls conducted by Bankrate, nearly 2600 US adults say they plan to take a quarter of their vacation days while 4% are not planning to take any vacation time at all.

Time off is a valuable perk, to the tune of millions of dollars! Just to bring the point home in 2017 Americans gave up 212 million days off that amounts to $62.2 billion in lost benefits! So, take your vacations and follow the tips below to not break the bank while taking time off:

  1. Take a Staycation – Stay local and vacation somewhere that is less than a day drive away, this helps save gas, mileage, and spending on lodging. Look for local attractions, vineyards, interesting museums and landmarks or even travel to your closest big city and be a tourist for a day. You would be amazed at how much you can discover and learn by staying local and all on the cheap! It’s a bonus if you have friends in the town your visiting they can serve as a tour guide and let you stay over for free if they have the room.
  2. Book Flights Off-Season – July 4th, Memorial Day and Labor Day seem like a great time to go on vacation; unfortunately, everyone is planning to take time off during those busy weekends, and ticket prices are through the roof because of it. Book flights after major holidays and during the week you will generally find that they are cheaper than weekend flights.
  3. Take a Road Trip – Road trips are fun and cheaper than taking a plane, especially if you must rent a car when you get to your destination anyway. Plan cool stops along the way and finds interesting places to eat that way you can make the journey part of the vacation.
  4. Plan to Eat In – Food adds up on vacation so pack food and making one or two meals in your hotel can keep you under budget.
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Digm Piece (Op-Ed)

Top Ten Freshman Money Myths



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Starting college is one of the most important and exciting times of your life. Now that you’re all “checked-in,” enjoy your college experience without worrying about where your next meal will come from by chasing away these common freshman money myths. (more…)

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