Managing your finances well means paying attention to where every single dollar goes.
So, it’s time to ask yourself: how much money are you losing to hidden fees?
Cell Phone Service
Purchasing a new cell phone these days is a very complex process, especially if you care about what you’re being charged for every month. Data plans can cost as much as $100 per month per phone, and you’ll need CPR if you ever go over your allowed data for the month and are charged overage fees per MB.
One phone we purchased required a $15 per month charge for “push to talk” service, which we couldn’t use unless someone else within a certain distance had the exact same phone. We had to pay for a service we couldn’t use, and the sales clerk conveniently didn’t point out the charge until after we got our first month’s bill — when it was too late to return the phone.
My in-laws are traveling more in their retirement, and we wanted them to be safe on the road. We added a basic phone to our plan that didn’t require data (a huge feat in itself as these phones are becoming rare) for them to use in emergencies. One hidden charge in our contract is $10 per month on each phone for unlimited texting. Even though my in-laws don’t know how to text and aren’t interested in learning, we still have to pay for the service since it encompasses every phone on our plan. That’s $120 per year that’s wasted.
ATMs are notorious for charging extra fees for checking your balance or withdrawing money when your bank’s ATM is out of order or too far away. Some of these fees can be as high as $7 for a single transaction, so be sure to read the message on the screen before you accept.
When I needed to get a check cashed for my son after his birthday, my local credit union told me it would be a $5 charge because he didn’t have an account there. While technically this was true, the fee was waived once I asked to talk to the branch manager. But if I hadn’t spoken up, the fee would’ve applied. Since we live in a rural area, it still would’ve been cheaper than driving to another bank, but $5 is a lot of money to a birthday boy who’s expecting a $20 gift.
As banks embrace the convenience of the digital age, keeping a paper trail can actually cost you money. Check your monthly bank statements for hidden charges; they may assess a fee for requesting paper statements, or having your physical cancelled checks returned to you.
If you’re unfortunate enough to spend a night (or two) in the hospital, you know how quickly your bill can grow. Even a simple Tylenol for a headache can cost you $12-15!
Most hospitals will dispense a brand name drug, unless specified by a doctor that the generic equivalent is acceptable. Ask your doctor to permit generic brands, and bring your own medicines from home whenever possible.
What hidden fees are nickel-and-diming you?