Thursday, October 29, 2015
Sloppy Check Book and the Stupid Fee
Even in my flat busted broke days, I did not use overdrafts, bounce checks, or incur late fees. I was meticulous about balancing my checkbook to the penny each month. With the world of direct deposit, online instant access to balances, and the overconfident feeling that we now aren't living check to check, has got me sloppy. Actually both DH and I have gotten sloppy-not balancing at the end of the month, but feeling like things are great because we always leave a cushion, and if we get close to the end of the checkbook, direct deposit is only a day or two away.
Imagine my surprise, and the gut punch feel to my stomach when I stopped to get cash and got the message this morning, "You do not have enough in this account. Do you wish to use overdraft protection?" Noooooo my inner voice railed. I had to have the cash though, as DD#2 needed funds for her cross country meet, traveling more than an hour away, and stopping for dinner after. I took out $20, gave to her, and left myself with no cash. After I dropped her off, I quickly called and checked my balances-yep, $0 in the account. Nothing! While I knew we were under $130, I though we would be fine until tomorrow when my check is deposited. I looked and learned we actually had a couple earlier checks clear without funds, and sitting there was already a $12.50 fee, plus now the one for today. Stupid $25.00 in fees that could have gone into my new account. On top of this, I just wrote a check for $38.00 for a sports banquet.
We both must have had ATM or or other withdrawals that we didn't track accurately, or failed ot track at all. We have the money in other accounts which makes this so frustrating-just bad book keeping. We like to keep only what we think we need in the check book, assuming it might be too easy to spend. In the "old days" if we didn't have enough in the check book, we didn't spend at all-nothing. Now, we are likely to write the check, smuggly thinking the deposit will be in place before the check clears. That could have been part, and there might have been an overdraft fee or two that slipped in before. Add those, a withdrawal not posted, and any math errors, and we have found ourselves, $200 roughly off of our balance. It really is the little things-savings or the stupid fees. I call this stupid because it wasn't as if the money wasn't there, it was just dumb management.
This weekend I will do some back tracking. I will follow-up on any automatic billings set to come out, and uncleared checks, and get a fresh new start. When the month ends, I vow to balance and make sure this does not happen again. Never again do I want to sit in a car at 6:45 a.m. with my daughter beside me, with a flashing sign on the screen.