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If you only do one thing in 2023…


Those of you who’ve been around here for a little while know how much I hate paying bank fees. However, if you’re new around here, then welcome! Here’s my free advice to you – use it as you see fit. If you only do one thing in 2023 to make your financial life better, consider moving to online banking.

Paying a bank to use your own money makes little, if any, sense to me. It’s a great move for shareholders since it’s a continuous revenue stream which boost bank profits. Most people don’t hold shares in banks, so they’re not reaping those particular rewards. As a consumer, bank fees are an easily avoidable financial nuisance. They’ll run you atleast $100 per year. Ask yourself if there’s anything else in the entire world that you would rather pay for than bank fees. And if bank fees are still at the top of your list, then please continue to pay them and come back next week for more of my bon mots.

The Expensive Banks are plucking you.

I don’t much like being the bearer of bad news, but here I go. You are the golden goose. The Expensive Banks are plucking your money feathers, every single month. Money goes into your chequing account and they reach in, with your permission & consent, to take some out every single month. These were the terms when you opened the account. Good for the Expensive Banks, not so good for you.

At the time of this blog post, the major banks in Canada all offer unlimited banking for various monthly fees:

I’m forced to acknowledge that some of these banks will waive their monthly fee if you’re willing to leave $4000 sitting in your chequing account, earning no interest. In short, you have to leave several thousand dollars in your chequing account in order to avoid paying the monthly fee. I’ve always hated this requirement. In my personal opinion, I don’t think you should have to ransom several thousand dollars in order to keep your money.

Also, the monthly fees go down so long as you don’t go over a pre-determined numbers of transactions per month. For most of these banks, that number is 25 transactions per month. If you do more than 25 transactions, then you’ll pay a fee for each additional transaction.

To recap, the Expensive Banks allow you to pay them a couple of hundred dollars per year. For the low price of a couple of tanks of gas, you can have 25 debits, utility payments, e-transfers and/or ATM withdrawals. Should you need more than 25 transactions per month, you can pay for a more expensive bank account or you can get dinged atleast $1.25 for each transaction over the limit.

What if I were to tell you that there is a way for you to have unlimited debits, utility payments, e-transfer and ATM withdrawals without depriving yourself of access to several thousand dollars?

You have options, and you should choose to use them.

If you only do one thing in 2023 to make your personal finances better, please let it be doing some investigation into the following online bank accounts.

At the time of this post, two banks offer chequing accounts with unlimited transactions with no minimum balances required to have monthly fees waived. You can set up direct deposit with these accounts, just like you can with the expensive banks. These are great products! Why pay fees if you don’t need to? Unless it is your dream to pay bank fees, why not put that money towards making your actual dreams come true?

I’ll admit that online banks don’t have great interest rates. So what? None of the banks offer great rates on their chequing accounts! Besides, the truth of the matter is that your emergency funds should be in EQ Bank, where they will earn atleast 2.5%. Money for your retirement should be invested in well-diversified equity exchange traded funds (ETFs) so that they can benefit from the stock market’s long-term average growth, which is well above whatever rate your bank is giving you.

In case no one has ever told you this, you should not be keeping your emergency funds or your retirement money in your chequing account. Your chequing account is for daily transactions: debit payments, utility payments, debt payments and rent/mortgage payments. Money that is not needed for daily living should be in your emergency fund and in your retirement accounts, never in your chequing account.

Cease paying bank fees, unless you really enjoy doing so.

There’s no getting around the fact that you probably need a bank account. However, I’ve yet to hear a good, persuasive reason for why you should be paying several hundred dollars each year for the privilege of having one. There are equally good options available to you and they are free. Why do you want to pay for something when you can get the same thing for free?

Setting up a new online bank account is not hard. It doesn’t take an exceedingly long time either. You can probably do it on your phone. There are 365 days in 2023. If you only do one thing in 2023 to save money, find some time to save yourself a couple of hundred dollars.

And if you’re absolutely 100% committed to paying bank fees, then atleast buy yourself some shares in the banks so that you can recoup some of your fees in the form of dividends!

Full disclosure: I bank with both Simplii Financial and Tangerine. My accounts have been open for years, and they’ve served me well. If you open an account at Simplii Financial, please use my referral code: We will both get paid money if you do.



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