There are a few ways to beat the banks and avoid bank charges. If you are a freelancer like me sometimes you may dance a bit close to the fire when paying your bills. Or you might be aggressively trying to beat your credit card debit by putting all your extra income towards those nasty debts.
Either way the the first thing I did to avoid getting caught short is to make a payment diary. If you know when payments and direct debits are coming out of your account you can plan ahead to make sure the funds are there and available. If you ring your bank they can send you an exact list which saves you the time going through your statement.
Some banks offer another great tool: Text Message Banking. If your budget is extremely tight it is well worth the nominal fee to avoid returned items or going over your agreed overdraft. Some banks charge as much as £40 for a returned item.
The other way to beat the banks is to get any charges refunded. At the moment there is a freeze on refunds but keep all your papers in order to be ready when the banks start refunding. Please look at The Motley Fool, a fantastic financial website with the most up to date information.
I have just had a Eureka! Moment – a few posts ago I suggested that you keep a money diary in a little book, now I have found the PocketMod. PocketMod is a one page disposable diary that you make yourself – how Lean! Have a look at the website Pocketmod for US customers and Repocketmod for European customers who start their week on a Monday. The only problem that I have found is that it does not print out on A4. All you need to do is select the Mod → Organisers → Finance then print it and fold. Brilliant!