When money is tight, small expenses add up fast. $3 fees for ATM withdrawals, $12 checking account service charges, and $30 penalties for bounced checks and overdrafts can put a real dent in anyone’s monthly budget. Unfortunately, this situation looks like it’s only getting worse now that recession-weary banks across the country have begun upping their service charges to levels never been seen before. According to a new survey by Bankrate.com, ATM fees are up 16 percent since 2004, bringing the average cost of a non-network ATM withdrawal (i.e. using an ATM at a bank other than your own) to $3.54.
By going digital and putting your iPhone to work, you can avoid irritating fees and organize your finances at the same time. After all, if you’re paying a hefty bill for that cell phone plan every month then you might as well use it. Here’s a run-down of sites and apps that may help reduce the fees you have to pay:
Bank of America — BofA actually has a pretty useful app for the iPhone and BlackBerry that allows users to find in-network ATMs (to avoid withdrawal fees), transfer funds (to avoid overdraft charges), and pay bills (to avoid late fees) all while on the go. (Free download)
Wesabe — The hugely popular finance website launched a free iPhone app this year that gives users the ability to review all of their bank and credit card accounts in one spot. By seeing the actual balances of all of your accounts in real time, you can avoid over drafting. Meanwhile, the ability to account for cash transactions makes it easy to remember where that last $20 bill may have gone. (Free download)
PocketMoney — PocketMoney users can track multiple bank accounts, split transactions, and keep track of cash withdrawals, similar to other finance apps. What is really unique about PocketMoney, however, is that the app also allows users to email new transactions to their spouse, ensuring that there’ll never be a time when one person doesn’t know that the account is close to overdrawn. (Free for the “Lite” version, $4.99 download full app)
Quicken — For anyone who has the tendency to overdraw their account, Quicken’s “Paycheck Forecaster” feature is helpful in letting you know where you are at in your budget during any time of the month. Plus, it allows you to add credit cards in addition to traditional bank accounts, putting even more information at your fingertips. (Free download)
Mint — In addition to features like mobile banking and budgeting tools, Mint’s iPhone app will send you email alerts when any of your accounts reach a pre-set amount, helping to avoid overdraft fees as well as overspending on credit cards. (Free download)
TapFinder — Users can find the closest bank in an instant, no matter where their location, with the help of TapFinder—making it easy to find an in-network ATM and avoid annoying withdrawal fees. ($.99 download)