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Published May 1, 2024
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5 minutes

3 Ways to Declutter Your Banking Habits

Going paperless, setting up automatic transfers and auditing transaction fees are small improvements that can save time and money.

Spring is a time to open the windows, clean out clutter and tidy up the garden to make way for new growth.

Taking a spring-cleaning approach to your banking habits — by evaluating your accounts and looking for ways to make small improvements — can also have a big impact on your overall sense of wellness.

Here are a few areas you can explore to streamline your financial life and save some time — and maybe even a few extra dollars. 

1. Go paperless

If you’re still receiving credit card bills or bank statements in the mail every month or every quarter, consider switching to digital delivery. Depending on your financial institution, you will likely find the settings for this option under ‘delivery preferences’ or ‘view and manage documents’ in your online banking platform.

Not only will going paperless cut down on the amount of paper clutter in your life, but it can be a more secure and convenient way to receive sensitive financial information. Most banks also archive multiple years of account statements for you to access or download.

Some financial institutions have also started charging customers for paper statement delivery, so by switching to a digital option, you could save money too.

Extra credit: While you are likely already using online banking instead of heading in-branch for most of your transactions, downloading your bank or credit union’s mobile app to your phone or tablet may offer additional perks. These mobile banking apps may offer personalized spending insights, in-app calculators, reward redemption options, digital cheque deposits, and bill-splitting tools, as well as the ability to open accounts on the go. You’ll also be able to carry out regular transactions like automatic bill payments and e-transfers.

2. Automate transfers to savings and investment accounts

If you’ve already set up a high-interest savings account, tax-free savings account or a registered retirement savings plan, and are contributing a lump sum every so often, you’re on the right track.

This spring, take things one step further by setting up regular, automated transfers of an amount at a frequency that works for your budget.

Taking the opportunity to set up an automatic transfer to your savings account or investment account not only eliminates the need to remember to make your contributions, but also eliminates the possibility of spending the money before you have the chance to put it aside for savings.

If you already have automatic transfers set up each month or pay period, take the time to look at your budget and goals to see whether the amount you’re saving still makes sense. 

Extra credit: If your income has increased since you last set up your automatic transfers or you have a new objective in mind, can you increase the dollar amount or percentage of your pay you’re setting aside towards these accounts? If so, you’ll advance toward your financial goals that much faster (and remember, you can always adjust the amount again if things change in the future).

3. Tally your transaction fees

How long has it been since you’ve taken a close look at what you’re spending in banking fees each month? Reviewing them now can ensure your banking package still fits your lifestyle.

Set aside some time to look at each transaction in your chequing and savings accounts over the last few months. Are there any small charges listed for using an ATM, making debit purchases, or any other banking fees that show you have exceeded the monthly transaction limits your bank allows for your account type? Take note of the amount you’ve paid in fees and whether you’re getting enough in return for that money.

According to JD Power’s 2023 Canada Retail Banking Satisfaction survey, some customers found they had been paying higher banking fees during the previous year for items like account maintenance/minimum balance, ATM fees, and overdraft or insufficient funds. In many cases, these charges were unexpected.

If you have a chequing or savings account that was advertised as “no-fee,” look into whether you’re consistently meeting the criteria for this offer — for example, maintaining a certain balance — or, if you’re being charged unexpected fees.

Extra credit: If you notice extra banking fees coming out of your account for using another financial institution’s ATM or charges you’ve incurred by making more debit transactions than your banking package allows, this may be a good time to re-evaluate your banking habits and needs.

If you’re happy with your account features and are looking for ways to minimize extra fees:

  • Explore ways to make free ATM withdrawals, which can include only using your bank or credit union’s machines or those within your institution’s network.
  • You may also need to start budgeting or keeping closer tabs on purchases in order to minimize unnecessary transactions and stay within your bank’s monthly debit limits.

If your bank account limits transactions to 25 debit or cash withdrawals every month, and this doesn’t quite meet your needs, try the following:

  • Consider switching to an account that offers unlimited debit transactions or one that doesn’t charge a fee when you access another institution’s ATMs.
  • Keep in mind, in some cases, unlimited chequing accounts come with a monthly fee. If this is lower than the amount you’ve been paying in extra fees each month, and it gives you peace of mind about going over a transaction limit, it may be worth considering.


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