Ask twentysomethings to tell you stories of their financial nightmares, and you’re likely to hear of these money vampires: the bank, the car, and the “cancel at any time” offer.
Unless you store your money in a coffin, choosing the correct checking account is important. Many institutions will convert your “student” checking into a normal one at a certain age. If you don’t take the proper steps, your account will start accumulating substantial monthly fees. Overdrawing your account can get even more expensive, as one bounced payment can cost an average of $34.
A garlic necklace won’t help, but many credit unions offer checking accounts with no service fees and lower than average overdraft charges.
Car trouble is like a vampire on a binge. Emma Judd, a junior at Quinnipiac University, found this out the hard way. She spent the night at her sister’s house and found her car missing the next morning. Only one sign on the entire block said overnight parking was not allowed. She lost half a day retrieving her towed car and had to pay $136.
Less than a month later, Emma’s car died and she spent $90 on a mechanic.
While you can’t avoid random bad luck, it pays to check all parking signs, drive responsibly, and avoid trying to save money by stretching out oil changes.
“Subscription” services are another potential fright. Few services merit your guaranteed business each month, and what you agreed to buy is often more than what you need. Whether it’s Audible, Hulu or Blue Apron, there is only so much content (or food) you can consume.
While you may love your Netflix and gym, try to avoid automatic monthly payments, and always read the subscription agreement. A friend of mine accumulated 20 hours of personal training sessions at a well-known gym and then was told she could not use any of them to work out with the gym’s best trainer. The gym said the rules were all listed in the agreement.
Slaying money vampires does not require a stake, garlic, or a holy symbol. It requires vigilance to stop unnecessary costs before they begin. Don’t let the money vampires suck your bank account dry!
Michael Crutchfield is the Manager of Marketing and Strategic Outreach for Wepawaug-Flagg Federal Credit Union, a non-profit financial institution located in Hamden, Connecticut. Michael is a graduate of Trinity College, where he received an MA in Economics. Michael has spent the last 6 years working in Credit Unions and is passionate about teaching financial education for all ages.