What You're Paying For Financial Fees -- and How To Avoid Them

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Investing for your financial future is a high priority for Americans at any age, but it means you have to watch for and cut fees and expenses that can drain your assets at a bank or investment firm.

FeeX, a New York firm specializing in cutting fees for consumers, provides a helpful (and alarming) glimpse of just how much damage fees can do your financial fortunes.

For example, $760 in fees compounded over a quarter-century will grow (on a compounded basis) to $81,722 assuming a 5% annual rate of return.

That's more than $81,000 you could have really used for your retirement, or for big-ticket items such as college spending or the purchase of a new home.

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Investment management fees add up in small ways -- $150 here or $75 there over the course of the year, without you even knowing it. The average fee amount for mutual funds, for example, is more than $170 annually, says FeeX, and fees for financial products and services such as individual retirement accounts, 401(k) plans, insurance policies, bank accounts and brokerage account can drive your annual fee burden easily to that $760 fee figure and potential loss of $81,000 after 25 years.

"Hidden fees are extremely hard to find and cost Americans roughly $600 billion a year, with a majority paying over a third of their retirement to fees alone over the course of their savings," said Yoav Zurel, chief executive of FeeX. "There's a failure of transparency in the market, and we're working to expose that."

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