Two Mondays ago, I was doing my weekly bank account check-up — to monitor for fraud and, admittedly, to monitor my own spending. This time, however, I wasn’t the only one draining my account.
Between the debit charge for a dance class and an impulse junk food buy, there was a charge for $1.60 at a craft store on Saturday — a day I most definitely did not go to a craft store. While I mulled over calling my bank, my phone rang. It was my bank. And they thought the charge looked suspicious too. Thieves often make small , innocuous charges first to makes sure the card is active, the customer service rep explained. He promised to close my card and issue me a new one (but not before the thief spent $800 at Walmart — but that’s another story).
When I hung up the phone, I realized that it was the end of the month. Online payments and automatic payments have saved me lots of time over years. But that convenience becomes a hassle — and a race against time — if your debit card info gets stolen right before the first of the month, when all the bills are due.
I made a list of all the people I owed money on March 1. I called the phone company, landlord, electric company and cable company to cancel my automatic payments — and wrote out checks instead. I had canceled my gym membership, NetFlix subscription and newspaper subscription months ago, so I figured I was good to go. Until March 2, when I got an email from my storage facility. I store junk there I’ve long forgotten about, so I also forgot they charge me $29 on the first of the month. Luckily, the facility waived the late fees and let me pay by credit card over the phone.
The moral of the story: I should have taken the time to scroll through my entire account history and search for all automatic payments. Automatic payments give you the luxury of forgetting to pay your bills — so don’t assume you can rely on your own memory.
With being proactive about your finances in mind, here are some of the best personal finance blog posts of the week:
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