feesI turned 25 this month. Luckily, I did all of my freaking out when I turned 24, so I’m fully ready to embrace my mid twenties. I think I’ve learned a lot about myself and also changed a lot since I started this blog, three years ago. One thing that I had come to realize, and am finally ready to admit to the world is that… I’m kind of a hater. The good news, however, is I think I am becoming less of a hater as I continue through my never ending journey of self improvement.

I don’t know if I’ll ever stop hating on things like… the hypocrisy of religion, buff dudes with no leg strength, or Korean-Americans who insist on speaking to other Korean-Americans in Korean, but I have come around to a lot of things; one of them is people who “waste” money.

I used to think people who wasted money (by my definition) were stupid, but in the past few years I have grasped that the worth of money, similar to happiness, is all relative. And if you have a lot of it, it’s only human nature to value it less. But what is the perfect net worth to acceptable waste ratio? How much money should be too much to squander? Is $10 a lot of money? $100? $1,000? $1?

I guess that’s up to the individual. But I’ll tell you one thing, no matter how rich I get in the future, I’ll never waste one penny on fees. This includes ATM fees, overdraft fees, I accidentally paid my water bill late fees, etc.  I learned the art of getting fees waived from the master, my mother, who taught me how to get free checks before I was 12. I still remember getting my first overdraft fee reversed when I was 14. I got two overdraft fees reversed three times and ended up making $33. In college, after a Wells Fargo representative outright refused to waive two fees, I called every Wells Fargo branch in the area until I found someone that was willing to do it for me. I know it kind of sounds like I get a lot of fees, but in my defense, I was poor and the Wells Fargo website was really shitty and hard to follow.

Nowadays, the only fees I get are the very occasional ATM fees, which runs about $2-$5, depending on the institution. So going back to my earlier question, is $2 a lot of money? Is it worth spending ~15 minutes on the phone dealing with customer service reps to get back $2? Maybe… probably not, but at the same time, I hate wasting money. It’s kind of a lose-lose situation. Waste $2-$5 or waste 15 minutes.

Recently, a friend of mine told me that you can get your fees reversed if you just send a secure message via the bank website. Being the non-believer I am, I had to test it. So I tried it on both of my banks and my utility company. It took about 4 minutes total and had a 100% success rate. I actually even got back $12 when I only paid $10 in fees. My friend is a genius. edit: And she is also very sexy.

So the next time you get that tiny ATM fee. Send them a message via the website like this:


I have been a customer for 8 years. I recently incurred an ATM fee during an emergency. Please waive this fee. It won’t happen again.

Thank you so much.”

Ta-da. You will get your money back for only a minute of your time.

edit* added on August 5th, 2013 as she brought to my attention that I did not point that out.