Don't beat yourself up about it: Fees happen. Sometimes you can't find your bank's ATM or your client just doesn't send their payment on time, so you overdraft. But if you've been getting the impression that money missteps are getting costlier, you're not wrong.
The financial website and comparison service Bankrate just released data showing clear increases in average overdraft and ATM fees. Using an out-of-network ATM now costs, on average, 2.6 percent more than last year, around $4.69 total. Overdrawing your checking account got 1 percent more expensive, an average of $33.38 a pop.
Fortunately, you can make some simple tweaks to save yourself the headache — and the costs, which can certainly add up. One thing to know about overdrafting is that you may actually be able to talk your way out of it. If you call up your bank when it happens and explain the situation, they may be willing to write off the fees once per year. It can't hurt to ask, in this case.
Also consider using some of the bells and whistles that come with your bank account (and the app you use with it). You can set up alerts for when your balance dips below a certain number, though be sure you can get by on that number until you replenish. It's counterintuitive, but you can also save some money by opting out of overdraft protection. Rather than dipping into fee territory, your debit card will simply hit zero and be refused.
ATM fees have been rising for 11 years straight, but that doesn't mean you have to incur them. Planning ahead is always a good idea; when you spot your bank, check your cash and pop in if you've got time. Some banks also offer partnerships with other banks, eliminating fees at the ATM, or they don't charge altogether. The same is true of some checking accounts too — look for the ones with no minimum balance, or that waive fees if you use direct deposit.
Financial institutions can define the terms of the services they offer, but you don't have to get caught out by them. Dig around on your bank's website for plans or products that may suit your needs better, and never be afraid to ask for help.