If you’re like most people, you don’t think much about maximizing your banking experience. The banks are a necessary part of life, but you’d prefer to let them worry about your money, so you can get on with worrying about your life!

For the most part banks do a great job for you, but you also need to take some responsibility over your banking finances. You need to make sure you’re getting the best deals and best possible rates, and you need to protect yourself from easy to make errors, that could cost you a lot of your hard earned money.

The first biggest mistake that most people make with their banks is that they don’t shop around. How many people still deal with the bank where they signed up for their first account when they were 7 years old? Your financial situation has probably changed quite a bit from banking your paper route income, and you need to make sure that your bank is the right fit for you today. Shop around a bit, and you’ll probably find a bank that’s offering you a service package that fits your needs better, and will save you money in the process!

Another common mistake that lots of people make is not checking their bank statements over carefully enough. Banks make mistakes all the time! They don’t like to admit it, but banks are run by fallible human beings and with the millions of transactions going through daily, you know that some mix-ups are bound to occur. Compounding the possibility of bank error are the possibilities for error amongst all the companies that you pay through direct debit. Make sure that you’re not paying too much as a result of someone’s careless mistake!

Be security conscious. We’re all aware of the dangers of fraud, but often we don’t protect our personal financial information with enough care. Be aware of people in the vicinity as you use the ATM, and never just toss your receipt in the bin by the machine. That receipt has a lot of information that criminals want. Never do your online banking in a public place, as you never know what malicious programs may be capturing your financial details and remember to always dispose of all your paper bank records properly. Invest in a 20$ shredder, it could be 20$ spent that saves you thousands lost.

Do always try to meet the people at your local branch. Set up a meeting with a manager there, introduce yourself and explain both your financial goals and what you’d like to get out of your banking relationship. They may be able to suggest options that you wouldn’t have thought of (that’s their job after all) and at least you’ll all be on the same page. Once you have a relationship, you can use it maximize the services offered. Never be afraid to ask for what you want. The bank wants your business, and may be able to provide what you want, even if it’s not standard practice.

Think about your banking needs and wants, be careful and make an effort. It will pay off in spades!

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