Who’s Stealing Your Money? How To Avoid Hidden Fees - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


Who’s Stealing Your Money? How To Avoid Hidden Fees

How to recognize and stop the avoidable hidden fees and ‘zombie payments’ (we’ve all been paying) from slowly draining you dry.


As glam girls on the go, we’re exposed to so many fabulous products and services that we often have too many choices to choose from. But the problem is, not every product and service is good for us, even if it is good to us.

I know, I know: I sound like such a MOM. Ug. But let me explain what I mean.

We’ve all gotten that credit card we were going to use to “build credit” or “cover emergency expenses,” only to use it to splurge on items we just had to have. Those slightly-over-budget cute boots? Check. That designer blouse that screamed BUY ME, BUY ME, WE CAN BE FRIENDS? Check. And so many other chic products that fill our modern closets.

Who’s Stealing Your Money? How To Avoid Hidden Fees

But while we knew we would have to pay the credit card back with some interest on these purchases, what we didn’t know is that we would be charged a tiny fortune in hidden “service” and “luxury fees.” They add up — fast! This is money that belongs to us but is being taken from us without our knowledge because credit card companies have not been up front with us about it. The credit card we signed up for was good to us to get us what we wanted, but not good for us in giving us what we needed.

But this is just one example. There are literally dozens of other examples of avoidable hidden fees from products and services we are buying or signing up for that are being taken—some might say stolen—from us. The average adult in the U.S. is paying nearly $1,000 in hidden fees every year on products or services that are charging us without our knowledge. That’s right! A thousand big ones are being taken out of your pocket and out of my pocket in hidden fees. If you’re 25 to 30 years old, that’s likely $5,000 to $10,000 that has been taken from you over the last few years. What could you have done with that cash? If you’re like me, you can probably name a list of at least 1,000 things to see, do, buy, or pay back.

Who’s Stealing Your Money? How To Avoid Hidden Fees

These hidden fees are being taken out in everything from the credit cards we get to the bank plans we sign up for, the (supposed) “one-time purchase” (which lock you into “zombie” payments) to app fees and more. In other words, there is money being taken from you right now, as you read this article, that you’re not aware of. But the key is, these hidden fees are avoidable if we’re smart about protecting ourselves and managing our money.

Now, before you go into an “eyes-glaze-over” phase on me, hear me out girl.

I started thinking a lot more about how these hidden fees being taken from us sounds a little bit like a Ponzi scheme. You see, in a Ponzi scheme, a customer is ripped off when someone or some institution has easy, regular access to their hard earned funds and then deliberately steals those funds from them, without the customer knowing. The customer has signed a contract, can “monitor” where their money is, but in reality, the money is being taken from them in a cover-up of epic proportions.

I thought about how all of us are getting ripped off in one way or another as I was listening to the captivating and shocking Audible channel’s new series, Ponzi Supernova, about the biggest Ponzi scheme of all time. In the six-part tale, host Steve Fishman looks inside the financial scheme of Bernie Madoff, who stole billions of dollars from his customers for years. The audiobook features never-before-heard conservations with Madoff as well as interviews with FBI and SEC agents, financial investors, and most importantly, Madoff’s victims.

Who’s Stealing Your Money? How To Avoid Hidden Fees

As I listened to his victims (the ones who didn’t commit suicide, including celebrities and royalty…) who told heartbreaking stories of being taken advantage of, I felt obligated to share with the Urbanette Universe some ways we can avoid being “stolen” from and become better financial managers. You can use Audible’s amazing free trial to try this phenomenal audio series that just might change your life:

  1. Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School?” by Cary Siegel, a book on everything we should have learned about managing money growing up.
  2. The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, & Broke” by Suze Orman, a refreshing narrative that shows young women (and young men) how to “find” money for their goals instead of pouring over a spreadsheet budget to make it happen.
  3. The One-Page Financial Plan” by Carl Richards, a great read about “simplifying” complex money management concepts, with tips that you can use immediately and in a very practical way.

So there you have it. I care about you and hope that you can head over to Audible and learn how to protect yourself and manage your money so that nobody can ever take advantage of you. Because no matter how much they say their product or service will be good to you, it’s not always good for you.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.

Sarah enlightens us on a daily basis with the newest trends as (and often before) they transpire. She is the consummate globe trotter. Having traveled to over 70 countries, she earns her living writing, blogging and modeling while on the road. In her spare time she gets manicures, suntans on yachts in Greece, shops for even more shoes, and lives in the limelight. She loves photography, elephants, sailboats, bangles and ballet flats.

Reader Discussion: 32 Comments

  1. Rosalia Russell

    Uh-oh… I felt bad. Thanks for the write up. Let me listen to Ponzi scheme and I’ll see if it has the same effect on me.

  2. Elizabeth Gonzalez

    We definitely need to be wise consumer, credit card owner and customer. Spend wisely!

  3. Karen Abeyta

    Thank you for sharing great audiobook titles. I think they’re worth my precious time (and money since I’ve consumed my trial period) LOL

  4. Connie Schmidt

    GUILTY! Can’t resist using my credit card to splurge on items I HAD TO HAVE 🙁

  5. Jenifer Jeni

    Well, I’m not a bookworm or a library geek and honestly I would not discover Ponzi Supernova if I did not land into your page. Your examples got me! I’m interested in listening to this audiobook. But first things first for me, I should download the app now…

  6. Ouch!!! All the examples you cited are ME…

  7. This is a significant issue that needs to be discussed — money and finances. We should all learn from the past’s mistakes. Great job, Urbanette for writing about and introducing a fantastic Audible series!

  8. Hmmmm… Another playlist essential from Audible.

  9. I’ve been an Audible subscriber and I can say that Audible never fail to impress. Listening to Ponzi Supernova made me think, is Bernie Madoff the most intelligent thief or he’s just a victim of the economic circumstances? Should I hate him or pity him?

  10. Veronica Christophers

    Thanks for this interesting article! Though I feel robbed (and weakened) after reading this.

  11. I know and have read about Bernie Madoff. He’s one of the biggest thieves in history after he ran a nearly $65 billion.

    I believe this article is particularly useful for young adults.

  12. Agatha Underwood

    Brilliant piece, Hilary! So informative. Thank you for caring and helping us stop being taking advantage of!

  13. Florence Townsend

    You always bring attention to some really important issues that most of us aren’t even aware of. I knew they cut some fees and taxes, but I didn’t know that were some unnecessary cuts that could be avoided. Signing up now to get Ponzi Supernova. I want to learn more about it.

  14. Maryann Smith

    When the free trial starts, do we get to pick the free audio book we want, or do they give us one they pick?

  15. Linda Montgomery

    Oh my god! That felt like a cold water splash in the face. How can we avoid getting ripped off like this? I hope you make an article with tips and advice on this topic.

  16. Olivia Peterson

    Oh yes! ABSOLUTELY heading over to Audible. Need to get informed about how we’re getting scammed and see if there’s a way to avoid this. Had it up to here with getting ripped off here and there by every corporation and bank!

  17. Jessica Castillo

    Honestly, I’m not interested in financial stuff, and I don’t even understand the financial topics. But my father is really into it. So I’m going to get him this as an early birthday gift. He needs to switch to audiobooks already! 🙂

  18. Isabel Patrick

    What a random coincidence… I came across Ponzi Supernova while browsing Audible a few days ago. Wasn’t sure what it was about so I just kept browsing lol. But now that I know what kind of important information it has in it, I’m going to preview, and buy it. 🙂

  19. Loraine Aguilar

    Hmm… ? Wait… Do you mean it costs me to read this article? *closes the article tab* *signs out of internet* ?? LOL just kidding! Some really interesting and important information that I need to look into more. And thanks for the book recommendations. I’m about to finish Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough. Needed some new audio book to continue with when I finish it.

  20. Great piece, Hilary! I LOVE your writing. You could write pages and pages about ANYTHING and I could still read without getting bored.

  21. Irene Morales

    Forgetting that I had already signed up to Audible previously, I clicked on the sign up link you put there lol. I supposed I can’t get this book for free, but it looks like the kind of book that’s worth the price. I’m buying it. Thank you, Hilary. 🙂

  22. Brenda Nelson

    I’m not so surprised to read that big corporations are stealing money off us. How else could they have gotten so rich if they weren’t stealing? One cent from person A, 2 cents from person B, and so on. Imagine all the money they make from millions of people this way!

  23. No, no! You don’t sound like a mom. You’re doing a great job helping us be more aware of the fraudery going on around us. If that’s not care, then I don’t know what is! Trust me, we really appreciate it.

    About to download the book. Let’s see what the FBI and SEC agents have to say on this. I’m rather intrigued.

  24. April Wagner

    Isn’t the government aware of this? How is the ministry of economy allowing these scammers to get away with it like this? This is all so crazy. I’m curious to find out more, and educate myself on this. Thank you.

  25. Kim Hartford

    Unfortunately our country has become the land of the greatest Ponzi schemes of all times. Need to stay woke!

  26. Gerry Carlton

    Wow! I never felt so robbed off. It’s crazy how we can trust these corporations completely blind like a fool. I’m going to download Ponzi Supernova as soon as my phone’s charged – battery drained lol…

  27. Matilda Parker

    Thank you for caring and raising awareness on this. I personally wasn’t aware that I was getting ripped off like this. I need to get this book, and learn more about it.

  28. Richard Moore

    Ok. Question about Audible. Say I signed up and didn’t like it, and want to quit before my trial ends. Will I still be charged or am I free to leave without paying off any fee? No, I’m not trying to trick the system. It’s just that I signed up for another similar app, but I wasn’t pleased with the app itself. It kept crashing and the app was too complicated. So I wanted to delete my account, but charged me for that. I want to make sure this won’t happen to me if I face the same problems with Audible, before I sign up.

  29. Shannon Bradley

    This is exactly why I don’t use credit card! It’s all just a big scam. The whole system is wrong in the first place. You need to use credit cards which means going in debt, in order to build a credit score. What kind of logic is this? People need to wake up!!

  30. Very interesting! I didn’t know about the book, but I think I heard on the news about big corporations stealing money off us using some loopholes. I need to check out these books you suggested asap.

  31. Debbie Jones

    Mind blown!!! Is it even legal what they do? Can we sue them if we prove that they’re stealing from us? I guess I’ll have to get the book find out. Thanks for the helpful article.

  32. Thank you for the eye opener information and book suggestions! I was looking for some new audio books to buy, but haven’t come across anything interesting. I’ll check these out!

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