Sunday, November 22, 2009

Money Management Lessons

The other morning I decided to look at my checking acct balance online and was surprised to see a negative in red with overdraft balance listed. This was 5.42 and I thought I must have forgotten to note the recent Burger King transaction of $6.87, plus the prior day I had used my paypal card as a credit card and it was going to transfer a dollar and change from my checking acct as I had gone over and this is set up to do that.

I looked at my acct and register to see these were noted, but found online a charge for LA NEWSPAPER for $25.00. I called the number which was a recording saying the number for the paper and informing callers to tell the company that this was a personal number. I imagine this was the delivery person's phone number.

I was quite irate on the phone with customer service after being told this was the third charge from my checking acct for $25. There was one in July and September. I have no idea how I missed those, but am quite distracted being a single Mom to two teens on the autism spectrum with one being homeschooled and utilizing the computer for work.

I get a bill for the Los Angeles Daily News annually and give them my debit card for the payment, which has been $35.00 annually and I never gave authorization to use my card for future use. I have no paperwork citing this and did not sign anything. The customer service rep said I authorized it in July but could not come up with any print out for me. She said their site and info was recently upgraded. I asked for a history of my acct to show me how long I was paying the $35 fee and to see this in the mail, she could not produce anything like this.

She said she would put in for a refund of the November charge and I called my Bank. My first call resulted in finding out that they would do an investigation after the refund came through and I called to notify them and if that charge was the cause of the NSF - non sufficient funds they would reimburse me. I was concerned with the dollar and change charge from paypal that did not come through and wanted to find out if that would give me another $24.00 NSF fee and he said yes and would not be reversed.

My son Nicholas is homeschooled and this went on after his brother went to school on the bus and he woke up to some colorful language on my part. I had a stack of bank statements all over the kitchen table as I tried to find the previous $25 charges.

I got out a bank statement and a credit report to show Nick what happens when a credit card company sees you have NSF and how this can spiral out of control. I also found the papers from the bank on their fee structure showing if you have so many NSF charges in a year the fee rises. This was my attempt to cover myself and do a quick lesson in money management.

The big lesson was for me and the way I do my checking acct register. I look each item I have written up online and place a check mark next to them so that I have checks up and down the register. This is how I have done it for years but it is not foolproof as anything unexpected coming through would not be in my check register and would not get noted as I am looking from my register and not the actual withdrawals.

I am now changing that way of balancing. A few weeks ago I had noticed when checking to find out why balances were not the same a calculation error on my part, or so I thought where I misread a 2 for a 5 and added the $30 back in, which might be why I had not noticed the $50 already taken out (July and Sep)

I had to get to the laundromat and called from my cell the Bank again to put a dispute on the charge and I found out you have 60 days so the customer service rep was kind enough to place one on the Sep charge as well.

I wrote a review on some workbooks awhile ago. The very large Life Skills Activities book has a great section in it, Practical Living Skills with Money Management one of the chapters.

There are pages on Writing a Check that shows a blank check and the steps plus maintaining a checking account. I think it is time for Nick to learn this. We just recently started a chore system that is going well.

1 comment:

Jeff Deutsch said...

Hello Bonnie,

It's great you were able to turn this experience into some learning for Nick.

Hopefully, those unauthorized charges have been cleared up by now!


Jeff Deutsch

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