This one should go down as “How being too responsible can cause you to overdraft your checking account.”
Since starting the new job, I can’t do a variety of things I used to do at my old job: such as writing up posts, reading blogs, doing my grocery shopping and running errands during my lunch hour, and most importantly–managing our budget.
I guess that’s what happens when you have a real job.
My color-coded budget notebook has been sorely lacking this month. I haven’t tracked a single purchase in more than three weeks and have relied entirely on my online banking system.
And this was my mistake. Letting the online banking system manage our budget.
After all the necessary bills have been paid, I try and keep our checking account below $500 through each paycheck cycle (with the surplus going into our ING Direct online-only savings account). My thinking is if we don’t have a lot of money in the bank, we won’t spend it. Out of sight, out of mind.
Well, a few days after I had paid all our bills, I logged online to see that there was no record of my American Express Bill payment. Had I paid it? Did I forget to pay it?
I had written it down as if I had paid it, but I couldn’t find it in the “pending transactions” or in the “recently paid” section. I checked our American Express card online as well, and there was no record of a payment.
Granted, this bill wasn’t due for another couple of weeks, but I like to pay off my cards asap so I don’t have those extra bills hanging over my head. And we were still hovering around $400, so I decided to schedule the payment.
Of course, the next day, the little focker decides to show up and with all it’s glory, there it is. Two scheduled payments for the same credit card in the “processing” section of our online banking, meaning we had overdrafted our account by $150.
I wanted to cry. I have never overdrafted in my life, EVER. Of course, my wonderful husband took this as the opportunity to rub it in my face–how could I possibly mismanage our budget in this way? How could I be sooo responsible to pay a bill twice?! (he was kidding, of course).
In my head, I was drafting up my angry yet polite phone call that I would be making to Bank of America the next day if they charged us a hefty $35 overdraft fee. It went something like: Your freakin’ online banking system sucks! If I had a scheduled payment and it hadn’t gone through yet, it should either be in the pending section, or recently processed transactions section! It shouldn’t just freakin’ disappear!
But of course, I probably would have been nicer since I am a firm believer you attract more flies with honey.
In the end, we literally got saved by my first paycheck from my new job. It was deposited the same day that the extra bill was “processing” so we never got fined.
Let this be a lesson to all of you uber-responsible freaks like me–track your own finances and don’t always depend on your online banking system.
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