Last Saturday I went online to check my bank statement and was shocked when my balance was MINUS $39.09.
Then I saw a debit for bird seed that I thought I had purchased through a different account. My husband I have two joint accounts – one that he uses most and one that I use most. Both debit cards are from the same bank so they look identical, except I’d used a black marker and his name on the card linked to “his” account. “My” debit card goes in the top slot of my wallet and “his” goes in the third. However, I’d mixed them up and when I went to buy bird seed, I pulled the card from the third slot thinking I was using “his” account and paid for my purchase, which – unbeknownst to me – sent “my” account into the red by $3.09. Had I been informed at the point of purchase that my account was going to be in arrears, I’d have realized I was using the wrong account. But because my bank “covers” overdrafts for a tidy fee of $36, my $35 bags of bird seed cost me $71.
My fault, yes. I should have been more aware of the card I was using. But sign me up for supporting legislation in which banks must obtain consent at the point of purchase before “covering” a customer’s overdraft and slapping them with a service fee. To cover my $3.09 mistake, I paid more than 10 times that much.
So THAT’S where all those CEO bonuses are coming from. And here I thought is was just my tax dollars.
I’m mad as hell and I’m not taking it anymore. Mad enough to dedicate myself to becoming an informed consumer of banking products. I’ve already canceled a few credit cards when I received letters informing me that my interest rate was going up (as in DOUBLING), and next week I’m going to interview my bank and find out how I can best protect myself from their loan shark practices. National City executives will have to find some other sucker to pay for their Chateaubriand and Dom Perignon.
I’ve had overdrafts in the past, but this time it’s different. If I had an overdraft in the past, I’d beat myself up, call the bank and beg to have the charges removed, beat myself up a little more and then promise I’d never let it happen again. To my credit, it’s been several years since I’ve been overdrawn because I actually started balancing my checkbook. However, I didn’t fully understand what kind of checking account I had and didn’t realize that the bank would allow a debit transaction to take place even when I didn’t have enough funds in my account. Why? Because I was not fully engaged in my relationship with my money.
For years I was the same way about my relationship with my body. I recognized the similarity to my money dilemma yesterday when I was looking through one of my journals. Here’s what I read: “Journal to lose weight. Maybe that’s how I’ll do it. Force myself to write instead of eat, write down my goals, the food I eat, the exercise I do. I know that will work. Do I have the will to keep it up? Yes. As long as I work to change my attitude.”
Those of you who’ve known me for awhile know that this sounds like something I’d have written when I began this last journey down the scale back in January 2005. I’m always yammering at you about journaling, right? Well guess when I wrote that particular passage? July 22, 1999 – a full 5½ years before I started my last “diet.”
So the idea was there, but the will wasn’t. It was like there was an “overdraft,” but all I was willing to do was promise it wouldn’t happen again. I didn’t sign on then to become an informed consumer of food. Whay? Because I wasn’t ready. It took me five more years to commit fully to myself and my well being. I had to WANT to become informed. I had to WANT to take care of myself and do whatever it took to reach my goals.
Now it’s time to do the same thing with my money. I WANT to become informed. I WANT to take care of my money because, like my body, it’s mine and my responsiblity. No one else’s. I’m finally tired of treating it with so little respect.