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Screw you, overdraft fees!

So I’m joining the ranks of those “living within their means” by doing something that has resulted in a lot of jaw-dropping and astonishment by friends and peers.

I’m not using my checking account.

Which kinda sucks. I mean, it means no direct deposit, no certainty of where the funds will be, no online billpay or automatic drafts. No writing checks and hoping they’ll float for a few days. Basically I’m going to have to live the way people lived 20 years ago.

I have been caught in the overdraft-fee trap, which I’ve discovered really is no better than the payday loan business. Banks rake in $19 billion a year in overdraft fees – and most of those fees come from debit card purchases.

Debit cards and online banking have contributed to the imbalancing of American checkbooks. Me personally? You get me to balance a checkbook and i’m good at it for like four days. Then it’s back to “oh, online banking will do all this for me.”

What a bunch of jack squizzle.

Now, I’m KEEPING my checking account – just not depositing any more funds into it. Meanwhile, plans are to head to the bank and fill out the necessary paperwork to remove overdraft protection from my bank account.

Know what this means? If some schlub decides to draft my account to pay the bill? Well, they’re just going to have to wait.

But while that’s all taken care of and I start rebuilding my checking account to a post-overdraft status, I’m going to use a prepaid Visa Card. The one I have is from Wal-Mart; you can get ’em anywhere, really.

The one I have is free to reload at Wal-Mart locations, but the best thing about it is that when the cash is gone from said account, it’s gone.

I’m seeing this as a way to teach myself how to spend only what I have and live within my means. And also a way to be able to say to my creditors, “I’m sorry, but you’re just going to have to wait for me to pay you.”

Most important bills are rent, utilities, phone and food. Some of those are negotiable.

Meanwhile, I will have to get paper checks at work, and I’m totally going to be trashy for a while and will have to pay for rent with money orders. But hey – it’s better than going online and seeing a giant negative red number in my bank account balance.

I think this is a move toward a more stress-free and manageable life. I’ll keep you posted.

Hm. Not buying stuff when I don’t have the money for it. FREAKIN GENIUS.

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  • irenie November 6, 2008, 5:08 pm

    banks are super barfy, and overdrafts are the worst! i got rid of them by learning to balance my checkbook properly, and forcing myself to stick with it.

    it’s a whole new way of living, but never seeing negative balances for bank accounts is awesome.

  • Bellesouth November 6, 2008, 6:11 pm

    banks are the worst! after years of wasting money on overdraft fees, i finally learned to balance my checkbook & have forced myself to stick with it. it kind of sucks not to be able to spend freely, but it's also awesome to never ever see a negative balance on my checking account.

    you can do it, & it will be awesome.

    also, i'm making a plan to be 100% debt free during obama's (first) four years in office – including student loans… i'm almost sure i can do it!

  • Bellesouth November 6, 2008, 6:28 pm

    Way to go Belle! You acknowledge your shortcomings and then are taking corrective actions to improve behaviour. Smart, smart, smart!

  • Bellesouth November 6, 2008, 6:39 pm

    Thanks, Linda!!! I hope this work. You know I’ll keep you all posted!

  • Bellesouth November 6, 2008, 10:27 pm

    Good for you! Good luck. I’m going to first try to balance my checkbook and if that doesn’t work, you may have just the thing. I went through a rage after bank fee hell last month and considered the prepaid card, but thought you had to pay to reload no matter what, so let us know how that goes.

    You’re not alone as far as the paying rent with money orders. It works out for me and it’s only like 46 cents@Walmart.


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