There are no two ways about it — overdraft fees are a bummer. While you can always set up overdraft protection (or a savvy alternative), the best approach is obviously to avoid going into the red in the first place. But if you aren’t meticulously tracking your purchases or checking your online balance often, that can be easier said than done.
Money management programs like Mint (which was your 2008 favorite and is currently in the lead for 2009), along with many banks, offer account alerts to save you from the nasty shock of overdraft fees. You can use the alerts to let you know when your account has been overdrawn, your balance has gone below a certain amount, or an unusual withdrawal or deposit has taken place, among other things.
Personally, receiving emails or text messages updating me about my accounts has been a lifesaver, especially during the busy (and spendy) holiday season. Have you ever taken advantage of these services?
Source: Flickr User stuartpilbrow