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Are You CEO and Treasurer of Your Financial Well-being?

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According to an article at, businesses and households spent over $32.5 billion on overdraft fees charged by banks in the U.S. for the fiscal year 2015. That’s a lot of cash and over the years, I have worked directly with many people who were financially and emotionally affected by the fees charged by their financial institution. One in particular comes to mind…

Years ago, I was working in a bank when a gentleman came into my office with complaints about the number of fees the institution had charged him. Before I looked into the why he was charged, I asked a simple question. “Do you maintain a check register?” I thought that it was an innocuous question but he screamed back at me, “Don’t tell me how to run my life!” To say that I was a bit taken back by his response would be an understatement. However, I did manage to calm him down and address the problem, and ended up helping him in the end.


Take control by keeping track of your money

So let me ask you a slightly different question: “Would you work for a company or individual that didn’t keep track of their accounting or didn’t maintain a set of books?” Probably not. Your paycheck would be hit or miss at best, based on an assumption that the payroll account had the funds to pay you. You probably would question why you worked for them as well.

In order to really know where you are financially, you need to keep track of the money in your account. Personally, I maintain a check register because my spouse and I have joint accounts and we must log every transaction to keep track of our available balance. We utilize our debit cards separately and write a number of checks from the joint checking account each month. At the end of the month, we balance the accounts. My children call us old-fashioned, but we’ve never overdrawn or incurred extra charges for taking the extra time to do so.



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Use some simple tools to achieve financial wellbeing

Think of yourself as the CEO and Treasurer of your financial well-being. Your mission in this role is to maintain consistency and peace of mind in your finances. Life happens, and not everything goes according to plan; an occasional math error or miscommunication can have a snowball effect until payday. But by taking control over your finances, you release yourself from unnecessary interest and late fees.

There are a number of tools you can use to achieve financial well-being:

  • Keep a register and balance the statement at the end of every month. This ensures that you will have a paper trail to show you where the money is coming from and where it is going.
  • If you haven’t already, download your financial institution’s mobile app (if they offer one) or enroll in online banking. This will help you stay up to date on payments, transactions, and deposits. Most online banking portals will enable you to transfer funds between your accounts, create and maintain automatic transfers, pay bills, and monitor your balances. (In our home, we do a combination of manual and online banking and it serves us very well.)
  • If it is available, opt for overdraft protection. Overdraft protection could come from your other accounts or you can establish an overdraft line of credit. There are usually charges and fees for both, both of which are much lower than overdraft fees.

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About Steve Lambert

Steve Lambert, our Burlington Branch Manager, has been banking for thirty (plus) years. He is well aware that the word “finances” makes people clam up. Having faced life in living color, Steve has hands-on experience and a cache of practical financial advice that can make a real difference in the day to day life of real people. The father of two adult sons, Steve lives in St. Albans with his wife and is a faithful follower of the Red Sox and UVM men’s basketball.
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