The finance industry is notorious for hidden fees.
But what can we do?
I believe the best thing is to be educated and aware of what fees there may be so you can ask questions and figure out what you're truly being charged.
So these are some fees to watch out for when investing, using a bank, and using a credit card:
When it comes to making investments, one of the first things to always pay attention to are the fees. Even small fees can add up over time and eat into your returns.
When buying individual stocks, there usually aren't any fees.
But when investing in things such as mutual funds, there will most likely be fees that you need to watch out for - some all the way up to 5%...
Here are two examples:
This mutual fund looks normal, it's only $8.20, doesn't seem too bad - other than the fact that it has a 5.08% annual fee as well as a 5.75% fee when initially purchasing the mutual fund.
Now when you look at VTSAX, a highly regarded Vanguard mutual fund, it has no commission fee and it's annual fee is .04%
Let's compare the two if you had $100,000 invested in both.
With the first one, the annual fee would come out to around $5,000/year 😳
With the second mutual fund, the annual fee would only be $40 🤯
So please pay attention to fees when making investments and here's a more in-depth guide to mutual fund fees from NerdWallet.
Some brokerages also have trading fees. Robinhood was one of the first brokerages to offer free trading and many places have now followed suit, but make sure to review them when buying and selling investments.
If you're a DIY investor, these fees are less of a concern - unless you're using an app like Betterment or Wealthfront to help with your investments.
But if you work with a financial advisor or may in the future, it's extremely important to understand their fees and how they get paid.
I'll be repeating this for the rest of my career but, not all financial advisors are required to act in your best interest and not all advisors reveal every fee that you are being charged.
The average AUM fee (Assets Under Management) when working with an advisor is 1%.
Generally, you should never be paying more than 1% for someone to manage your money.
And a 1% fee is tough to justify if all the advisor is doing is managing your investments but if they're providing a full service offering with hands-on financial planning, on-going advice, and investment management, 1% isn't necessarily bad.
If you have a $100,000 portfolio - a 1% AUM fee would come out to be $1,000/year. This fee may be worth it for a professional to handle everything for you, or you may decide that you'd rather do it yourself. There's no right way to do it, only what make sense for you.
And rather than charging a 1% management fee, some financial planners may charge a flat monthly or annual fee.
All advisors and planners are different so it's important to understand and ask how they are being paid before investing any money or signing agreements.
Also read: How Much Does a Financial Planner Cost?
Something that completely changed how I view banks is when I learned that they're for-profit. It makes sense now but growing up, I thought their only job was to hold money for people.
In reality, this is probably the least important thing to them.
They're trying to bring in revenue and from my experience, they go to fairly extreme measures to chalk up fees on your account and these are some to watch out for.
Many banks charge fees for maintaining checking or savings accounts, ranging anywhere from a few dollars all the way to $25+. They may waive their fee if you keep a minimum amount in your account or meet other requirements such as signing up for paperless statements or link accounts for direct deposit
Many banks limit the number of monthly withdrawals or transfers you can make from some accounts. After a certain number, your bank may charge you. Ask them what these limits are to ensure you don't go over.
Some banks may require a minimum balance and may charge you a fee if you fall below it
Overdraft fees are charged when you don’t have enough money in your account to cover a payment you’ve made and on average, this fee is $34 for every overdraft
Aside from the high interest rates that come with credit cards if you don't pay off the full monthly balance, cards typically have many fees associated with them. A couple of those most common are:
Many credit cards charge a fee every year just for having the card and can range from $50 to $500+. Look for cards with no annual fees and if they do have one, make sure that the value that you get out of it is worth more than that annual fees
Every time you pay your credit card bill late, you’ll typically incur a fee that could range from $20 to $50+ depending on how often you make late payments. Make payments on time to avoid late fees as well as to avoid any interest charges
Unfortunately, this is not a complete list of all the fees you'll see when dealing with money. It's sad how many there are. But these are some of the most common and some that I've been victim of myself.
So if you keep these fees in mind, you'll have the upper hand and won't get taken advantage of by a bank, credit card company, or a money-hungry salesman disguised as a financial advisor.