You want banking tips? We've got 'em. (You didn't want 'em? Well, read this short article anyway, since it might end up saving you some money -- or making your life a little more pleasant.)

  • Don't keep too much money in the bank. Any funds that you know you won't need for at least five years might be more productively deployed in the stock market.

  • Don't keep too little money in the bank, either. Do so and you risk being socked with fees. Learn what your minimum is, and remain above it.

  • Use direct deposit with your paycheck. It saves time, and some banks will give you free checking if you use it.

  • Don't order checks from your bank, which might charge as much as $25 for 200 checks. You can get the same thing for a fraction of the price through services such as www.currentchecks.com or www.checksinthemail.com. Many of these services guarantee that your bank will accept their checks, since many banks use the same companies for printing checks. And better still, they offer a wide range of designs, so you can order checks festooned with Muppets, sunsets, cars, or what-have-you.

You'll find a lot of additional advice in these previous columns:

And don't forget our All About Banking center. And our Savings Center, where you'll find some special deals on interest rates, plus guidance on how to do better than savings-account interest rates.