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.
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.
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.
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:
- “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.
- “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.
- “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.