Q: I’m having a tough month financially, and I don’t have a lot of money left in my checking account. Is there a minimum amount I have to have in order to avoid fines?
A: This question actually has a two-fold answer. One answer is “however much you need to keep you from having overdrafts”, and the other one is “that depends on if you use a bank or financial institution that requires you to keep a minimum balance at all times.”
If you fall in the first category, you’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking DUH! And, yeah, it sounds like a simple answer that everyone should already know, but take a moment to think about how your checking account is affected as the month goes by.
How much money you have at any given time depends on how much you deposit. If you are paid once a month, like many educators or people who receive retirement, disability, or other income checks are, by the end of the month, things are probably starting to get a little tight. This is when overdrafts most often occur, and this is why you should try to figure out how much you need to leave in there to offset this.
Once you have come up with a dollar figure, go ahead and start setting that amount aside at the first of the month. Then, as your bank account starts dwindling, you can add to it from the money you kept back.
If your bank of financial institute requires you to keep a minimum balance, then you know how much has to be in there in order to comply with the regulations. The amount may vary, but is usually around $300.