You Should Check In With Your Overdraft Fees

The worst part of responsibility is the fees. When it comes to banking, a small oversight can snowball into a huge headache. If you're overdrafting more than you used to, you're not alone. In fact, nationwide, we're reaching levels of fees not seen since the end of the Great Recession.

MarketWatch reports that in 2017, American consumers paid $34.3 billion in overdraft fees, an increase over the year before. We have separate data showing the rise in bank fees overall, but now we have evidence that average overdraft fees at banks have increased 50 percent since the turn of the millennium. Credit unions, which are supposed to be a kinder, gentler way of managing your money, have hit consumers even harder: While we paid about $15 in overdraft fees there in 2000, we're now paying about $29 on average.

A group of Redditors recently recommended using a little liquid courage to help you get your finances in order, but that probably shouldn't be your first line of defense. If you're only facing one overdraft fee and it's very recent, you may be able to call up your bank and talk your way out of it. There's a bigger point to be made, however: Banks require consumers to opt into overdraft protection. Consumer advocates say it should be automatic and opt-out, rather than saddling users with repeat fees for potentially small mistakes.

A 2010 federal law requires banks to give customers notices that explain their overdraft policy. Get your hands on yours if you're not clear, and make sure you've got every app and notification available to you keeping track of your balance. The only way to win this game is not to play.