Saturday, August 6, 2011

The post in which I exhibit dumb behavior

My lease started on July 20th, and I have now successfully moved and settled into my new, solo place. After 5 days of hibernation during which my boyfriend and I left the apartment only to go to Ikea, Target, or Costco (and two trips to the mattress store), everything was unpacked and mostly beautiful. Notice that I did not include food as a reason to leave—we actually ate at both Ikea and Costco, and subsisted mainly on leftovers. Anyway, lots of money was spent, and an awful thing happened—I overdrew my checking account.

I had set up a transfer from my high-yield savings account to this checking account at another bank, which would take 5 business days and finish on August 1st. I also gave the management of my apartment building checking for the first 1.5 months of rent, as well as a deposit. I expected the checks to be cleared on August 1st on the earliest (MISTAKE 1: Do not expect, always ask management about their policies for cashing checks so as not to be unprepared). After essentially maxing out my American Express at Ikea, I went to Costco and found that I could only pay with Amex or a debit card (MISTAKE 2: Always know store policy for accepted payment mediums), and was forced to pay with my debit card, depleting my account further. When the checks cleared on the morning of the 29th, I looked at my account in horror—300 dollars overdrawn!

While I had an ongoing transfer, it wasn’t going to come in for a few days. Feeling like the worst, most irresponsible fake adult ever, I called my mom and asked her to temporarily loan me money so I could transfer it to my account. My mom is awesome, so she agreed. Although the one-day transfer actually took 3 days (because weekends don’t count as days), and got there at the same time as my other transfer, it felt good to do something. We all make mistakes, so if any of you are in a similar situation, I have one piece advice that I used and learned from working at Bank of America.

Many banks have a certain amount of amnesty for their clients, in terms of fees such as for overdrafts. Given a history with no such fees, or very few, they may be able to reverse the charge. There is (at least at BofA) a hold for 24 hours after the fee is charged, so if you call afterwards and ask, they may take it away. I got 22 dollars back just from calling, you never know what banks can do for you unless you ask. Similarly, if you have good credit and ask for a lower rate on your card, you can typically receive one, as the card company doesn’t want to lose you. To recap: losing control of your finances can result in large fees, so be mindful of your money situation, and for a rare bad situation, call your company to see if they can help you out.

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