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I Hate Sneaky Fees…!

March 25, 2011

When I work with a client on a budget I start with the basics: income and expenses. Income is usually easy especially if they are a W2 employee. If they are self-employed we generally project income or take an average. The expense part of the budget starts out easy…rent is x amount, car payment is x amount, childcare is x amount.  At GAI (http://www.gunwel.com) we work through all the numbers and then I usually like to enter a misc category for the sneaky fees that we encounter in life. Here are some of them and ways to avoid them…

  • Airline luggage fees. You know you’re going to get socked with fees for checking bags – unless you fly Southwest (two free bags) or JetBlue (one free bag). before you lock in airfare, use the fee-comparison tool at Farecompare.com to see which airfare is really cheapest after adding in checked-luggage fees. Skipping baggage claim and shipping your bags through UPS or FedEx could be cost-efficient especially for overweight bags.
  • Event tickets. Online ticket sellers, such as StubHub and Ticketmaster, tack on a “service fee” or “connection fee” in addition to shipping charges. For example, admission to a Big Bad Voodoo Daddy show in New York City recently cost $25 on Ticketmaster – plus a $7.75 convenience charge, a $2 facility charge and $2.50 for shipping. Try purchasing tickets through a discount site, such as Goldstar.com, which charges service fees but compensates by selling tickets at half-price. Or go old-school and book through the box office, where convenience fees, if any, are much lower.
  • Car-dealer charges. When you buy a new car, you’re stuck paying the fees listed on the factory invoice because those are charges that the carmaker passes along to the dealer. But you shouldn’t pay fees that are part of the dealer’s cost of doing business, says TrueCar.com, an automotive information site. They include floor-plan fees (the cost to hold inventory at the dealership- and vehicle preparation fees (for cleaning,  removing plastic and checking fluids). If a fee doesn’t show up on the factory invoice, don’t pay it.
  • Banking fees. Banks are continually concocting new rules – and related fees – to boost revenues, and free checking accounts are a popular target. Last year, banks charged an average of $13.04 for each customer who dipped below the minimum balance requirement on a checking account. You may be able to switch to an account in which fees are waived if you say, switch to direct deposit or agree to get your statement online. If nothing else, you may be able to negotiate a better deal if you threaten to take your money elsewhere.
  • Directory assistance. Verizon and AT&T charge wireless customers $1.99 (plus airtime) when you call 411. Next time you need digits, text Google at 466453 and it will send back a text with the number. Or call 800-BING-411 (800-246-4411) or 800-FREE-411 (800-373-3411). If you have access to the Web, you can get free directory assistance at Free411.com and similar sites.

At Gunwel Tax & Bookkeeping Service there are no hidden fees, we only charge you for the work we do. You will know the price of your tax return before you leave the office. In doing our budgets we realize that every penny counts, maybe not right now but certainly in the long run. You work hard for you money let Gunwel work smart to help you keep it. During tax season we have extended hours from 8am to 8pm Monday through Friday and Saturdays 8am to 5pm. Give us a call at 212-979-6830 or stop by for a visit. See you soon!

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