For years, I have had a checking account into which I deposit the money I earn from selling articles I write.
The account seldom has more than a few hundred dollars in it. (Writing, for me, is not a lucrative venture.)
But I enjoy having this account. I use the money to buy gifts for people, to donate to good causes, and occasionally to treat myself.
Dan never looks at this account.
He manages our major bank account, out of which he pays bills, makes charitable contributions, and runs our household. This account is with a different bank.
A few months ago I noticed a “fee” of $6 on my little bank account.
I printed the statement, took it to the bank, and asked why the fee was there.
“You didn’t use your debit card enough last month,” said the bank person.
“What?” I asked.
“You are required to use your debit card a minimum of 30 times a month in order to avoid paying a fee,” she said.
“The fee for having your debit card is $9 a month, but every time you use your card, the fee decreases. You used your card enough times last month to decrease the fee to $6. Use your card more times this month, and you can decrease the fee to zero.”
I am not a banker or a businessperson of any kind, but this sounded crazy to me.
“That doesn’t make sense,” I said, avoiding the use of the word crazy.
“Well, the next time you use your debit card to shop, at Walmart, for example, pay for items individually. Use your card several times on the same visit to the store.”
“Do you mean I should use my debit card to pay for my crackers, get my receipt, and then use my debit card to pay for my waxed paper, get my receipt, and then use my debit card again to pay for my ink cartridge, and so on?” I asked.
“You could do that,” she said. “You need to use your debit card at least 30 times a month.”
I must have looked as dumbfounded as I felt.
“You can change to a different kind of checking account that doesn’t require you to use your debit card 30 times a month, if you want to do that,” she said.
“I want to do that,” I said.
I went into an office, signed some papers, and went on my way.
The next month I had a fee of $5 on my bank statement.
I printed the statement and again went to the bank.
“Why do I have a fee of $5 on my bank statement?” I asked the bank person.
She looked at my account information on her computer screen and said, “Oh, I see you used this account to buy something online.”
“Yes,” I said.
“With the type of checking account you have, you are charged $5 a month to make online purchases.”
“I’ve made online purchases many times without being charged a fee,” I said.
“Did you recently change the type of account you have?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“The account you have carries a $5 monthly fee for making online purchases. You can change to a different kind of checking account that doesn’t charge you for making online purchases, if you want to do that,” she said.
“Not today,” I said.
With the next account I chose, the bank would probably have charged me for using their ATM, or for writing checks for less than $50, or for some other incidental reason I cannot anticipate.
Nickel and dimed is how I feel.
Before Christmas, I wanted to buy a Menard’s gift card. I drove to several nearby stores that have gift card kiosks, but I didn’t find a Menard’s card.
At one kiosk, I had a short conversation with another shopper.
“You probably won’t find a Menard’s card,” she said. “Just get a Visa or MasterCard. Those cards can be used at Menard’s.”
Great idea, I thought.
I chose a Visa card for $50 and headed toward the cash register.
Then I noticed small print on the card packet informing me I would be charged money in order to activate the card. I believe it was $4.50.
I returned to the kiosk and put the card back in its place.
Nickel and dimed.
Yesterday, Dan and I took two of our granddaughters to see a movie. Before we left the house, I got online to buy tickets.
Two tickets for the girls cost a total of $14. Two tickets for senior citizens cost a total of $14.
My total cost, instead of being $28, was $32. A convenience fee of $1 per ticket would be charged for purchasing the tickets online.
Nickel and dimed.
The bank, the credit card company, and the movie theater have the right to charge fees.
They are in business to make money.
I can choose either to pay the fees or not use the services.
Businesses can wring me dry, if they choose to do so, and if I let them.
I, myself, am not a business. Neither are you.
We are individuals, but if we aren’t careful, we can adopt the nickel-and-dime attitude.
The aim of individuals with nickel-and-dime attitudes is to gain benefits for themselves at the expense of other people.
They don’t give over parking spots or hold doors open for people. They don’t let drivers pull into traffic ahead of them.
They don’t tip appropriately or volunteer to help.
Nickel and dimers buy fancy outfits, wear them to special events, and then return the outfits for full refunds.
They occupy four parking spaces with one vehicle.
They leave their empty shopping carts in the middle of the lot instead of returning them to the cart-return area.
They demand to watch TV shows no one else in the room wants to watch.
They use passive-aggressive behaviors to get their way, causing family members and coworkers to tiptoe around them in fear.
They feel and act as if they are entitled.
Such people wring other people dry.
Don’t nickel and dime people.
Instead, value them as equals. Look for ways to serve them. Treat them the way you want to be treated.