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Every week I check the weekly summary from Mint to check on our spending. I'm looking for any money leaks I can find so I can fix them. Something that was a concern of mine years ago was bank fees, especially ones from the ATM.  ATM fees can be an unexpectingly big expense when left unchecked.

Fixing My ATM Habits

When I was working and going to school, I used to grab cash at the most convenient ATM, whether it was my bank or not. As I noticed my balance dwindling faster than expected, I noticed that my out of network fees were hitting me $5-6 each withdrawal. I quickly changed my habits and was able to keep more of my money.

My husband doesn't have that problem. He's developed a habit of getting cash every couple weeks for his personal expenses, such as lunch and coffee. He's been pretty consistent with spending, so he minimizes his trips to the bank.

Fixing the ATM Money Leaks

How can you save some cash and still get your money? Here are some tips that has helped me a lot and some that have helped others.

  • Go to your own bank  or credit union’s ATMs to withdraw your money. It's obvious, but going to your financial institution's ATMs will save you from ridiculous fees. If your bank/credit union doesn't have convienently located ATMs, you may want to switch.
  • Use cash back with your debit card. If you're already making a purchase for groceries, for example, ask for some cash back. You won't incur a fee and you'll get the cash you need.
  • Take out how much money you really need. Don't sabotage yourself and only take out $20-$40 at a time, if you spend more than that. Be realistic and got for the bigger withdrawal to minimize trips.
  • Find no fee ATMs. Some ATMs don't charge a fee. The biggest network I know is the Allpoint network. ING Direct uses them and we tend to find them near us. Some gas stations such as Wawa and Sheetz have no fee ATMs in their stores. Check with your bank to see if they would charge you for the withdrawal.

Basically, it's about changing your behaviors a little bit to plug this money leak. I find ATM fees annoying, but avoidable for the most part. I believe that you have to take personal responsibility and adjust your habits if you want to make progress.

Your Thoughts on Avoiding ATM Fees

How do you feel about them? Are ATM fees an issue for you? Do you take out cash or do you rely on your check card?

Photo Credit: TheTruthAbout…

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

8 comments add your comment

  1. This is great advice! It is one reason I selected Bank of America because they’re everywhere. But now I’ve been regretting that decision because of their involvement in all these financial scandals. I’ve thought about switching to a small, local bank. I remember when my daughter was little and she asked for something and when I told her we couldn’t afford it she replied, “we can just get some money out of that machine.” She thought it just dispensed money. Nice thought, eh!

  2. I’m a lot like you…I used to waste a lot of money on ATM fees because I didn’t plan ahead. But now I’m more careful about where and when I use the ATM, and getting cash back from my debit card is a help too.

  3. I’m too cheap to pay ATM fees, which is one of the reasons I stick with my big bank. They have ATMs everywhere around here. In fact, I can even use the ATM locator from my Blackberry. I used this in Phoenix when I was on vacation and I found an ATM a short distance from the hotel.

    Another little tip is the hidden $20 in the wallet trick. This keeps you from having to use a high-fee ATM in an emergency. You just have to remember to replenish it after you use it.

  4. Great tips everyone! Our banks have plenty of ATMs nearby, but we still plan our cash withdrawals. It’s been a bit since ATM fees ate my savings.

  5. I am like your husband and draw lump sums…. I live in Egypt with a UK bank account so sadly have to endure a $10 charge (roughly) per transaction…. The times I have been stuck having to use my debit card for a transaction have been brutal so i try and keep cash on me at ALL times…. This of course leads to other issues like spending it too easily!