This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

5 Habits That Drain Checking Accounts

Do you ever feel that your money seems to just slip away, as if there were a leak somewhere in your finances? If so, you may have to look no further than your checking account. Common bad habits can drain money from your checking funds in subtle ways -- unless you identify and address them.

When it comes to money, a checking account is where the action is. Most Americans use direct deposit, so every week millions of checks automatically flow into checking accounts. Then, an even greater number of transactions disburse that money via checks, electronic payments and fees. When it comes to how money flows out of your checking account, are you sure it is all going where you intend?

Here are five bad habits that can cause money to leak from your checking account:

  1. Sloppy record keeping. In some ways, checking accounts can seem to operate almost on autopilot these days. Money comes in automatically by direct deposit, and is dispersed automatically according to your electronic bill paying instructions. However, that doesn't meant that you no longer should balance your account. You need to keep an eye on whether the right amounts are going to the right places, whether any unauthorized or suspicious transactions have occurred, whether there is enough money to cover upcoming payments and whether there are new or increased fees appearing.
  2. Using overdraft protection as a backstop. An August 2012 survey by found that the median overdraft fee is nearly $30. Fees like this can quickly exceed the amount of the actual overdraft. Relying on overdraft protection is a very expensive habit. If you opt out of overdraft protection, you may find that you can not only save those high fees, but it could also force you to develop better record-keeping habits.
  3. Paying a monthly fee. Free checking isn't dead, it's just more scarce than it used to be. If you are paying a monthly maintenance fee on your checking account, it's worth shopping for a new one to see if you can do better.
  4. Using out-of-network ATMs. If you routinely use ATMs that are outside of your own bank's network, then you may be draining your checking account a dollar or two at a time. Plan your trips to the ATM more carefully so that you can use your own bank's machines. If your bank does not have convenient ATM locations, then consider changing banks. For many people, ATMs have become a far more important point of contact with the bank than a local branch, so ATM locations should be a prominent consideration when choosing a bank.
  5. Saving only "leftovers." Too many people accumulate savings based purely on what's left over after they are done spending. Try this approach instead: Have your pay deposited into a savings account rather than checking, and transfer only a set monthly allowance from savings to checking to cover your spending needs. This way, saving comes first. You may find this forces you to stick to a better-defined monthly budget.

Saving money is often about taking a number of small steps rather than any one big decision. Sometimes, it can be as simple as plugging a few leaks in your checking account.


Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 18,053.71 +23.50 0.13%
S&P 500 2,088.77 +6.89 0.33%
NASDAQ 4,806.8590 +33.3870 0.70%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs