Between ATM fees and monthly service charges, the cost of banking can be quite high. Discovering ways to reduce these charges will help ensure that more of your hard earned money remains in your account. Here are some ways to decrease these costs.

Donít bounce checks. The reason many checks bounce is due to lack of organization. Life gets busy and sometimes making a trip to the bank to deposit a check takes more time than you have to give. As a result, you may end up with a bounced check, along with fees ranging between $7 and $45 from your bank, as well as fees from the business that received your bad check. Stay on top of your banking paperwork and you can prevent many bounced checks.

Shop banks. Donít assume that all banks offer the same type of checking accounts with the same fees. Call your local banks and find out how much the fees are for various accounts and then choose one that best fits your needs. Some banks even offer free online checking which can save you time and money.

Consider joining a credit union. Unlike a bank, a credit union is a not-for-profit organization owned by the members. As a result, it will generally be less expensive to bank at a credit union versus a traditional bank. You must qualify to join a particular credit union. The Credit Union National Association has an online locator which will help you locate credit unions in your area. Once you have found a credit union in your area you can call them to see if you qualify for membership.

Shop around for the best buys on checks. It may be easier to purchase checks directly from the bank but you will most likely end up paying more for them. Shop around and compare prices at various merchants. Here are a few online merchants that offer discounted prices on checks: The Check Gallery; Checks Unlimited; and Walmart Financial Services.

Save money on debit withdrawals. There are several ways to get money out of your checking account and some will cost you more than others. The free methods of getting cash are to write a check for more than the amount due when making a purchase, to request ďcash backĒ when paying for a purchase using your debit card, to use an ATM machine owned by your bank, or to get cash directly from the bank teller. It will cost money to obtain cash using an ATM machine that is not associated with your bank. Remember, this is your money so you should not have to pay a fee to access your own money.