I remember years ago when I actually clued in to how much money our family was wasting.

This article in the Globe & Mail is soooo true.

Save yourself thousands –

Robin Schade, a 25-year-old student and business owner from Calgary, used to pay $122 a month in bank fees and unnecessary insurance. She paid $24.99 for a joint chequing account with her husband, an additional $14.99 on mortgage insurance and $8.99 on rental property mortgage insurance. Her biggest fee was credit balance insurance on her credit card at $73 every month.

Ms. Schade says her financial ‘Aha! moment’ occurred after signing up for Mint.com, a site that automatically gathers all of your transactions and associated costs to give you the big money picture.

“I have never been able to see in one categorized bundle what these [fees] are actually costing me,” Ms. Schade says. She estimates that by simply cancelling unnecessary insurance and switching to a no-fee bank account, she will save more than $1,400 this year.

When your fees (ATM fees, minimum balance fees, overdraft insurance, monthly account fees, etc.) are pulled together and highlighted in one spot, it’s easy to see if you’re paying too much. And if you are, it’s time to switch to a better package or a no-fee chequing account to reduce costs. Switching from a bank account with a $12.95 monthly fee to a no-fee chequing account saves you $155 a year. Let’s say you apply the savings to the minimum payments you currently make on your credit card, which has a $5,000 balance at 11 per cent interest, and you’ve just saved $275 in interest payments.

If your banking needs are different now than they were when you opened your account, there’s likely a cheaper and more fitting account for you. Calling your bank to review account details and monthly fees will determine if you’re with the right institution and on the right plan. Or try searching for the cheapest banking packages based on your monthly activity and financial status at the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada website.

Another unnecessary cost is credit balance insurance, insurance for your card that can protect you in case of unexpected events. If you carry a balance of $5,000, you could be paying up to $50 a month for this insurance. A waste of money, especially if your life insurance plan already has you covered.

Ms. Schade acknowledges she buried herself in insurance costs as a way to protect her family. But with great life insurance, excess insurance on her credit card was a waste of her money.

Your insurance needs, like your banking needs, may also be different today. You could be over-insuring yourself. Enter your info into the calculator here to find out exactly how much coverage you need, or click here to compare coverage costs. Then, call your insurance provider to ensure you’re fully covered for your needs and not paying a cent more than you have to.

After setting up her online account, Ms. Schade says she has never been so excited to create a budget, or so shocked at how much she actually spends on bank fees. If you have an online account, great. If not, tally up monthly banking and insurance totals this week. Once you get over the shock, you can put an end to the unnecessary fees.

Mark Fidgett, Your Vancouver Mortgage Broker For Life