Banking Fees Add Up

Lately there’s a lot in the news about checking accounts and debit card fees. So, I thought this would be a good time to take a look at checking account features.

A recent survey by The New York Times found that the average bounced check fee is now $30.83, which is a record. In addition, many banks are abandoning their free checking account option, but may offer accounts that allow customers to avoid fees by maintaining a certain balance or by electing for direct deposit. When shopping for a checking account, watch for account features that should raise “red flags,” such as the inability to link the account with a savings account or overdraft fees on debit card transactions. To help service members avoid excessive fees, encourage clients to ask about the specific features of an account before moving their business to a new bank. The Center for Responsible Lending offers banking and lending resources.

However, this guide doesn’t address the recent trend in debit card usage fees. What are you hearing about debit card fees? Bank of America has taken a lot of flack for their $5 debit card fees, but many other banks have already instituted fees or are considering implementing fees in the future.

Military-affiliated credit unions often charge fewer fees than standard banks.

Fortunately, service members and other consumers have other options. Opening an account with a credit union and smaller community bank is often the first step toward avoiding or reducing banking fees. Regardless of the advantage of avoiding fees, research has shown consumers are often hesitant to change banks because they have become accustomed to how a bank operates, even if they don’t care for the fees associated with services. As more users move to online banking, the thought of switching over all their online accounts may seem like more trouble than it’s worth. However, a closer look at how quickly these fees add up might make it worth the annoyance; like the 3,200 people who decided to become new customers at Navy Federal Credit Union. Earlier this month, the Navy Federal Credit Union reported 3,200 new accounts opened in just one weekend. Many new customers had left behind banks that now charging debit card fees.

Are your clients paying these fees or changing financial institutions to avoid fees?

Beyond debit card fees, what are the features we need to look for when shopping for a transaction account?

What are the features likely to get an account holder into trouble?

When a Deployed Parent Returns Home

Boy embracing father
He missed his Dad

In keeping with our theme on active duty deployment we wondered, ‘What happens to a child’s stress levels once their deployed parent is safely back home?’ What may come as a surprise to many is that in over 30% of children, high levels of anxiety and stress can remain. Read on to learn more.

In a recent NICHD-funded study, The Long War and Parental Combat Deployment: Effects on Military Children and At-Home Spouses, Dr. Patricia Lester and her team examined the effects of combat deployment on the behavior and emotional functioning of children aged 6 to 12.

What they found was that the combat deployment of a parent does adversely affect children. But what happens when the deployed parent returns home? This is where the study gets interesting; Dr. Lester and team found that these adverse effects remain even after the deployed parent returns home.

So even though children are very happy to see their parent after many months away (as in this video of a little girl who correctly spells the word “sergeant” in a spelling bee then turns around to see her father appear from behind the curtain), it does not mean the difficulties associated with deployment are over.

In fact, most studies prior to this have assumed the most challenging time for the child is during the active deployment period when the parent is actually absent. However, Dr. Lester argues that it isn’t that simple. The reaction a child displays is more complex in that their anxiety levels may remain high until well after the deployed parent is safely back at home.

For instance, Dr. Lester found that one-third of the children in her study reported anxiety levels that were “clinically significant” (severe enough to warrant health care attention) even if their active duty parent was not currently deployed.

As professionals working with military families we need to be aware that the stress doesn’t end with the return of the deployed parent. In fact, stress and anxiety in children can linger thereby affecting their behavior, well-being and development over time.

Given the right knowledge and tools, military parents, healthcare professionals, education, recreation, and faith-based services and military family support service members can all serve to buffer the challenges and stress their children face fostering the development of more resilient children and their families.

One such challenge develops when children feel a disconnect between their deployed parent and themselves. Deployment Kids offers some fun, easy online tools to help children feel more connected to their active duty parent while they are away.

For more resources on supporting military families through the deployment phase see the following links:

Coming Home: Adjustments For Military Families

Families In The Military


What resources do you use when working with military families and those with active duty deployed parents?