Thieves in Bankers' Clothing

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

ATMs are a wonderful blessing. They allow the freedom to bank any time of the day and provide instant access to cash. This is what I once thought, but now I wonder if they are the blessing they seem to be. Instead, I find them to be thieves in bankers' clothing.


The Thievery

Think about this: There is a craft fair in town. Knowing I will need about $30, I withdraw $40 from the ATM. At the end of the day I head for home thinking I found real bargains at the fair. In reality, I started the day spending $10 more than I had to simply by taking my money from the ATM. Because most ATMs give no other choice than to withdraw in the amounts of twenty, people are forced to take more money from their bank accounts than they need to do.

The Benefit

While the limitations of what a person can withdraw from the ATM is often an inconvenience, what is more of an inconvenience is banking the old fashioned way. While many banks attempt to offer convenient hours, some even opening on Sundays, varied work schedules make banking before the close of day a priority.


ATMs allow quick access to not only withdraw money but to deposit it as well, and they're conveniently located everywhere. If a person can restrain him/herself from spending the extra cash that is withdrawn from the bank account every time the ATM is used, then the machines offer a convenience that can't be beaten.

The Solution

Follow these simple steps and the benefits of the ATM will outweigh its faults.

  1. Make a personal trip to the bank each week to withdraw the amount of money you estimate you'll need all week. Assign yourself a set amount like $25 or $30 for cash on hand.
  2. Keep some extra cash in the house for those times when an extra $5 is needed. Make sure the cash is in a variety of bills and in a safe place, then forget it's there. If you're $6 short for the pizza delivery person, you shouldn't have to get $20 from the ATM. (And doesn't running to the ATM defeat the point of ordering in anyway?)
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  4. When making a withdraw from the ATM put the extra money back in the bank. After I returned from the craft fair, I should have put the extra $10 I withdraw into an envelope to be deposited at my next visit to the bank or to use the next time I need to take money from the bank.
  5. Rather than using the ATM, try the cash back option at the stores. Many large chain retail stores are open 24 hours and allow customers to pay for their purchases with their ATM cards and then select to have cash added to their total withdraw. Often the stores allow customers to add cash back in amounts such as $10 rather than $20 with no fees.

Cash Machine, ATM

About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines as well as online newsletters. She teaches writing in the public school as well as at the collegiate level. Contact her at or visit her website at

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April 18, 20060 found this helpful

We sure have to be careful, especially one charge that seemed to sneak up on us this month was using bank machines that are not the one's by your own bank, two withdrawals and 2 inquiries=$8.00, could have fed us a meal or more for that.

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