Monday, February 27, 2006

It's All About the Money

I had a strange dream last night. It involved money -- specifically my money -- so it freaked me out a little.

I dreamt that I logged on to my bank account and found that both my savings and my checking account were completely depleted. Empty. Balance: zero (squared). I had no money to my name. In my dream, I hunted down the source of the error: a payment that I had intended to send out for $100 somehow got recorded as $21,000. Really. Uh, lemme tell ya, I don't have that much money to my name. (I still remember the one time when I did actually have a check for a very large sum of money made out to me in my hands. Then the mean people at the mortgage company made me endorse the back of it and hand it over to them.)

Needless to say, the first chance after waking up I logged back on to the Internets to double-check on the status of my account. I didn't want to find that I had somehow or another been strangely prescient in my dream; and if I was, I planned to (a) freak out about my psychic abilities; and (b) call the bank pronto.

Thankfully, there was still money in my accounts.

Not that my accounts were still error-free.

Among the many, many things you don't ever want to see as an entry on your bank account statement is "TRANSACTION CANCELLED DUE TO LOW BALANCE." Immediately following that entry is another one you don't particularly welcome: the entry telling you that they've charged you a fee for that cancellation.

See, I have an intricate yet perfectly-timed system for paying bills on line. My paychecks get deposited on pay day to my savings account. After the funds clear in two to three days, I transfer the money to my checking account. A day after that, I instruct my bank to send out a huge slew of checks (or however they get money to other institutions; I don't care as long as it gets there) to my various bloodsuckers creditors. As long as the value of the checks I send doesn't exceed the amount I've transferred, I'm good to go. As a safeguard, I also have in place that system where they take money from my savings in the event you my fingers write checks my checking account can't cash (for another additional fee, of course).

Mind you, I've been doing this for years. It works great. Online banking rules. You don't have to write all these checks by hand; you don't have to take care of those dumb return envelopes or make sure that the return address appears properly in the window; you don't have to deal with those snide reminders that "The Post Office will not deliver mail without the proper postage" (duh!).

For some reason, this past time, I managed to ask the bank to transfer funds -- funds required for these payments to go out properly -- FROM my checking TO my savings. Needless to say, of course, there's no money in the checking to transfer to the savings. So, of course, the computer system (in its infinite wisdom) automatically transferred funds from my savings account -- at additional cost to me -- for the purposes of executing this screwed-up transfer. Yep: the bank took money from my savings account and put it in my checking acount so that my checking account would have sufficient funds... to transfer to my savings account. There's a very O. Henry quality to that logic.

Apparently my bank also is set to transfer a small amount ($25.00) from my checking to my savings every month. The type of accounts I have requires me to do this. This transfer is the amount that was cancelled (for a small service fee!) because after transferring that mammoth amount to my savings (after taking it from my savings) there was nothing more to transfer on top of that. Urg.

Well everything seems to be straightened out now. Thankfully, none of the creditors had posted my payments yet, so nothing "bounced" again. I just transferred the money back to my checking again, and everything (save for two service fees) should be right with my money again.

Oh the joys of being a responsible adult with bills to pay.


Jon said...

I think I'm the last person under, say, 40 to do online banking. I just don't trust it, so, I send out checks and make sure I have plenty of stamps. Oh, and I churn butter and raise chicken in my living room ;-)

Washington Cube said...

My neighbor just told me her ATM number had been compromised (they put a panel over the machines to capture codes) and someone had been making regular $700 withdrawals from her account for three days. Luckily the bank caught on and squashed it, but....shudder.

mysterygirl! said...

"Yep: the bank took money from my savings account and put it in my checking acount so that my checking account would have sufficient funds... to transfer to my savings account. There's a very O. Henry quality to that logic."

Haha. I laugh only because I can feel your pain. I hate all things banking... probably because I totally fear being a grown-up...