When the recession hit in 2009, we went from a double income family to a single income family. Childcare was so expensive at that time in our careers, an entire annual paycheck would go towards childcare alone. This was not the motivation neither my husband nor I had for our careers. Therefore, as many of us do, we sacrificed the double paycheck for what we deemed appropriate for our family – regardless of which gender took on which role.

I recall very trying times as we worked to bring the single income paycheck up to an adequate living standard. We lived paycheck to paycheck – barely. In retrospect, the recent changes that Bank of America announced last week would have been a huge stumbling block for us on an already long, winding and bumpy road.

eBanking Dies – Pushing out the ‘little guy’ in Big Banking

Bank of America has finally killed its e-Banking program in a years-long phase out. With the eBanking account, introduced in 2010, customers had a $0 monthly maintenance fee as long as customers didn’t have to use bank tellers for routing transactions and received paperless statements. The transitioning of the last customers from the program has excited debate carrying with it a hefty 45,000+ signed petition on Change.org.

“I currently use eBanking and have had no need to use a teller. BofA, keep this feature available for the low-income people that don’t even go inside your banks,” – Change.org commenter.

In the initial review of the debate, I didn’t understand the rigmarole that ensued. After all, the Core Checking account with Bank of America requires a low $12 monthly fee for customers without a daily balance of $1,500 or a direct deposit of $250. The $250 monthly direct deposit, equating to just $3,000 annually is one of the lowest requirements in the industry.

Core checking customers have full access to all the bank’s branches, ATMs, Mobile and online banking services, and customers have several ways to avoid the $12 monthly fee, says Bank of America spokeswoman Betty Riess. Recalling now the burden of the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle, I understand completely where many Americans are camping. While Bank of America’s chief financial officer does what all businessmen do best, focus on profits, the little guy is pushed out of big banking. 

3 ways to avoid financial roadblocks, like this one

This shift in Big Banking marks a pivotal point in banking for subprime borrowers, those with an average credit score under 760 and those unable to meet a daily balance of $1,500 or monthly direct deposit of $250.  With the vast majority of us scrambling to get out of the living from paycheck to paycheck rat race, these changes can make getting over the first hurdle quite cumbersome – many service workers unable to set up direct deposit with their employers, and others unable to add one more fee to their long list of people they owe this month.

I recall being there.

  1. Know your banking and fee structure

When one is in the financial situation where any type of unknown fee can derail their ability to pay utilities and mortgage for the month, it’s more imperative than ever to know your bank’s fee structure.  What services are free, what services are limited and what services are charged.

As a personal finance tragedy, we had our share of months where the mortgage was missed because we were unaware of fees that hit us right before paying highly sensitive items. Living paycheck to paycheck meant that when those unknown fees hit, we were behind now on many bills that would snowball into bigger issues down the road -often taking a year to catch up from one bad month of fees.

Read the print on your banking account contract. What fees are there? What services are provided Then look at your banking statement regularly to understand what fees are going through your account. When it comes to money and banking, ignorance is NOT bliss.

  1. Find your best fit for banking

When it comes to banking, just like credit cards, it is still a business and everyone can find what they need at the lowest cost possible if they are willing to shop and compare options, says Hank Israel, director of marketing, propositions, and products at Novantas, a bank advisory company.

While Bank of America’s decision to phase out its eBanking account, I don’t believe it’s entirely the end of low-cost checking.  Because banking is a business, banks continue to look for new ways to stand out from their competitors. In the wake of this BoA announcement, I’m certain a direct comparison account to e-Banking will re-appear, just at another bank.

Low-cost checking options at online banks and credit unions can offer additional options for anyone looking to avoid the requirements of the Core Checking account with Bank of America.

Spencer Tierney from NerdWallet offers the following places to find low-cost checking:

 Online banks offer the same types of deposit accounts as traditional banks, including checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit. Many also feature interest-bearing checking accounts, along with some of the highest savings account rates on the market, with a handful approaching 1.50%. (The national average is 0.06%, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Like online banks, credit unions have many of the same types of accounts offered by big financial institutions, but often without the accompanying monthly fees. More than 80% of credit unions offer at least one type of free checking account, according to the Credit Union National Assn.

  1. Stop living paycheck to paycheck

While knowing your bank and its fee structure are vital, as well as shopping around for the best fit, the best defense against any financial roadblock is to work yourself out of living paycheck to paycheck.  There are many articles on sarahschlott.com that approaches this subject regarding; budgeting, planning, and saving, but in a quick soundbite it all boils down to living beneath your means.

Living beneath your means:

  • Spend less than you earn
  • Downsize if you can’t afford what you have
  • Be okay with a smaller Christmas or holidays
  • Have an emergency fund
  • Budget and Plan