Fees You Should Start Boycotting Today

When I first started to pay more attention to the expense side of my wealth accumulation strategy, I started taking a harder stand on ALL fees that I was being charged.  You might be thinking, well, what control do I even have over these fees?  Answer:  you have total control.  Businesses are focused on fee revenues to boost overall revenues during periods of low interest rates.  Don’t let fees erode your savings.

Scroll through some of my previous blogs, especially the Toastmasters blog.  Or better yet, refresh your sales skills and fine tune your asking for a pay raise spiel .  Once those skill sets are mastered, asking to waive the following fees will be a walk in the park.

Here are some of Paula Cashflow’s top fees to avoid:

  1. $699 dealer fee on car purchases – If you read last week’s blog, you were probably wondering why I didn’t address this fee.  Oops!  I forgot, but here it is.  Note to reader:  I did not pay this fee when I bought my car recently.
  2. Consumer loan fees- Usually about $50 per loan.  If you use bank financing for an auto loan, this fee will be charged.  It’s pure profit.  Don’t pay it.
  3. Bank fees- Establish a banking relationship that minimizes ANY bank fees.  Word of caution:  about every six months they reappear on my account.  This means I call the bank and have them removed.
  4. Late payment fees- Okay we’re human, occasionally I may pay a bill late, but since I pay my bills in full each month, I ask the bank to remove this fee EVERY time.  They have always obliged.
  5. Safe deposit fees -  See #3 above.  This should be included in your bank “relationship”.
  6. Initiation fees -  Gyms and country clubs are big users of this fee.  The last time I paid this fee, a few months after, they were waiving this fee during a membership drive.  I was not happy.  My loss.  I shouldn’t have paid it in the first place.
  7. Annual credit card fees – Don’t pay them at all.
  8. ATM fees -  Seriously, this is a finance blog.  We are all about efficient money management, which includes cashflow management.
  9. Rental car fees -  I almost got bitten by this one last time.  I made my reservation online in advance with a price.  When the agent gave me my bill, it was double the online cost.  They had jacked it up ten ways to Sunday.  I kindly reminded them that I was paying with a credit card and that I was in charge of what got charged to my credit card.  All of the fees were removed when I returned the car, including a half tank of gas that I didn’t use.  All I can say here is do you due diligence and be prepared to get NASTY!!  This is where the benefits of using a credit card are valuable.  If you can’t get them to remove the charges, take your pen and strike through them and initial.
  10. Cell phone fees – I have trained myself to review this bill each month and compare it to the previous month.  It’s just amazing how many times my services seem to miraculously become “unbundled” ..all by themselves.  Each year they increased my rates and I said no each year.  It got ugly before they took me seriously and stopped raising my rates.

Building wealth isn’t just about buying stocks and bonds.  Finding ways to trim expenses should be an ongoing part of the process.  My filter is now super fine-tuned to look for fees, hidden or not and decide whether or not these fees are deal breakers.  Asking if fees can be waived needs to become a habit.  What fees do you not like to pay?

Because its about life..and how you live it.

In the spirit of financial well-being,

Paula Cashflow

7 Tips for Buying a Car

7 tips for car buying nirvana. It’s execution time!

I’ve been asked by so many readers, friends and fellow financial gurus to write about my car buying experiences.  There are a gazillion excellent articles on this topic, but we are approaching the time of year when the 2015s are coming out and the 2014s are on sale.  It’s execution time!  How about a refresher? Continue reading

Investing in Your Human Capital

Stocks are up, bonds are in la la land and commodities have been pummeled. Should you be relying solely on your financial capital as the major driver of your overall portfolio? There are other types of capital that you may already possess. Capital that has weathered the financial crisis, maybe survived a layoff (or two), and could possibly mature into another long term holding of your portfolio. Continue reading

Your Three Month Financial Checklist

July Cashflow update: Completing your three month financial checklist

Every quarter I sit down and complete a personal financial statement (PFS).  As of June 30, 2014, my PFS will show all my assets, all my liabilities and the resulting total net worth.  I use an Excel spreadsheet, so each quarter has its own tab.  I compare each quarter’s results with the last quarters’ results to see if my net worth increased.  Yes, it is good if the number is larger quarter over quarter.

But what should you really glean from your PFS? Continue reading

5 Ways to Deal with Housing Costs

What does the current housing market mean for your future finances?

Whether you’re a renter or a home owner, it still means just about everything when you’re building wealth.

Why?  Because the price of home ownership is usually the single largest line item of a budget.  If you don’t get your hands around procuring long term affordable housing, your financial future might be stalled. Continue reading

Net Spenders Guide to Big Savings

Financial freedom is not just for net savers. Everybody needs to start embracing financial autonomy.  Becoming a net saver, by choosing to save your discretionary dollars versus spending, is a good way to start.  Even if you fall into the category of “net spender”, I have news for you, you can become financially autonomous with a little behavior modification.  Continue reading

Addressing Your Failures

Addressing your failures to expedite your successes.

Let’s take a moment to reflect upon the following:

“If you never try, you never fail, but if you never fail, you never get the chance to better yourself.” Unknown

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do.” Jim Rohn

As I contemplate the above passages, I am grateful that one of my readers pushed me to write about the proverbial “F” word – Failure.  It’s clear to Paula Cashflow that you can’t blog about reinventing yourself, become better at asking for more money, or become better at public speaking, without the risk of failure. Continue reading

Did you get a Raise or COLA? (Part Two)

In Part 1, we reviewed the difference between getting a raise and getting a COLA and declining wages. In Part 2, we’ll review the personal impact this has on your income and actions you should take. (Part 2 of a 2 part series.)

After you have calculated the numbers from Part 1 and have a degree of comfort with your numbers, what is the next step to addressing declining real wages?

Looking at your numbers from Part 1, subtract your answer for number 1 from your answer for number 2. If the number is positive, then obviously your current salary is under the market rate. Are you comfortable with closing the gap? If you combine this difference with a history of COLAs, are you even more comfortable moving forward with closing the gap?

Here’s where you can measure whether you have mastered some of Paula Cashflow’s behavioral concepts covered in past blogs, such as becoming a persuasive speaker. Continue reading

Did you get a Raise or COLA?

Do you know the difference between getting a raise or COLA? A look at how declining real wages are impacting you. (Part 1 of a 2 part series.)

Getting to financial freedom has many components, as you’ve probably gleaned from past blogs. But one of the more important concepts that you must grasp is the ongoing battle against declining real wages.

What is meant by “declining real wages”? Even before the financial crisis, wages were in a negative holding pattern, meaning wages were rising slower than inflation. This means that your annual raise wasn’t really a “raise”. It was a “COLA”. Continue reading