Personal Finance Fail

Ever have one of those weeks? You know the kind — one where you’re so busy that you forget what day it is? Well, I had just such a week this week, and it caused a personal finance fail.

I’m talking about the kind of fail where I forgot that it was March already, and that our normal house payment was due. You know, the one that’s automatically paid out of our checking account.


Luckily, I guess, one of the ways we managed to get a “no monthly fees” checking account was by agreeing to sign up for a credit card that’s linked to our checking account as overdraft protection.

Now we’ve never used the card, and in fact I immediately cut it up whenever they send me a new one. I’m also NOT a believer in having overdraft protection. I believe that I should be paying attention to how much money we have and what’s due when.

But apparently when you forget that the beginning of the new month has rolled around, and you forget to put money in the checking account after getting paid, and you forget that your mortgage payment is due, overdraft protection isn’t so terrible.

I still have no idea if there are fees involved with that, but I hope not.

Oh well, lesson learned. And hopefully not repeated again.

(Thanks to Squirrelers for including this post in the latest Carnival of Money Stories)


  • It happens from time to time! Don’t beat yourself up too bad :)

    That OD protection will probably cost you $10….I never understood the “transfer fee”…its MY money….If I transfer its free…it the bank does it costs….sigh….

  • My CU charged me $5! More evil banks charge anywhere from $10 to $35.

    Do the right thing – call them and ask for a waiver this one time!!! :)

    Most do!

  • Oh I hate when little slip ups like that happen! Such a bummer!

  • You may want to line up your automatic payments with the income. I set up some automatic payments and I make sure that my payroll check will be deposited on or before that date. It is a good safety check.

    • We do have them lined up that way…the problem is that both of us forgot to make our deposits into the joint account. I have direct deposit set up too, but it’s into my account and not the joint account — and it’s not for enough money to cover my transfer to the joint account. I think my best bet is to just remember that the new month has started :)

  • We have overdraft protection. It is our insurance because we have regular money coming in after some of our bills are due. I’m grateful for it because otherwise it would lead to paying a lot in fees.

  • Oh timely article. I had a fee pop up on one of my debit cards. I hadn’t used it five times in a month so I got hit with the fee. Yeah, I didn’t realize it was March, too! Life sure gets busy sometimes. Anyway, I called them to see if there was anything they could do. I spoke to a supervisor and they did a one time courtesy reversal. Give it a shot. One, you’ll get the fee back. Two, I’m sure you’ll be very careful next time to avoid losing $20! :) Good Luck!

    • Wow I didn’t know some debit cards had limits on how often you could use them. Glad to hear you got your fee back!

  • Been there, done that (on a bit smaller scale). Of course, I take it as a complete personal failure since “I should know better.” Well, all it proves is that we aren’t perfect.

  • How’s the mission to pay off your mortgage by the end of the year going?

    • Pretty good, although it looks like we’re about a month off of my ideal right now. I hope we can catch up and meet or beat our goal! (We’re at 38% paid as of right now.)

  • Kim

    This is why I Iove your post. You are real. You have seen the light, you have crawled out but you are also real. Thanks for making me feel better.


  • MoneyIsTheRoot

    I used to overdraft quite often, at $18 a pop. Im so used to using the debit card and taking out cash, that whenever I cut a check I would forget to see when it cleared. I learned my lesson long ago and have since left a buffer in my account.

  • 3 months after we bought our house, this almost happened to me. I gave myself a heart attack the night before the payment was going to be drafted and was at the bank bright and early the next day. Ever since then, we have $1000 padding in our checking account – just enough for our $900 mortgage payment and a tiny bit of emergency breathing room, lol.

    Did the bank waive your fee just this once? :-)

    • Boy that must have really stressed you out — I don’t think I could stand to have a $1000 padding in my checking account. I’m more the leave oh…a dollar in it type :P

      Of course, apparently there are times when that’s a big mistake! (And no, they said they “couldn’t” waive the fee.)

  • Rob

    My suggestion is for you and your husband to get another joint account that is dedicated to parking your bill money. Every paycheck, have an automatic transfer set up to move a portion of your monthly bills into that account. Then set up another transfer from your bill account into the primary joint account the day before a bill comes due. It sounds complicated, but once it’s set up, you will never have to worry about missing a payment again. I’ve been doing this for more than seven years now and not only have I not missed a payment on anything, I have three months worth of bill money in reserve.

    Shameless plug?

    • That’s pretty much what our current joint account is for. We just don’t have the automatic transfer set up to it. Does your bank charge for that?

      • Rob

        No, my credit union lets me link any number of accounts into my main account. So the only charge I would incur is if I initiated a transfer from one of my accounts into an unlinked one. I can get around that using their billpay service.

        If your bank does, I’d suggest looking into a new bank. It’s a hassle to switch, but there’s no reason you should be paying fees for stuff like that.

        • Rob

          I’ve got a mea culpa. Learn something new every day, I suppose. You have to be careful not to violate Regulation D. It’s a reg that limits certain kinds of transfers to six per month. The only reason I haven’t encountered it was my credit union structures their savings accounts in a way that doesn’t involve reg d.

          It doesn’t affect checking accounts, so if you structure it from checking to checking rather than checking to savings to checking, you’ll be fine.

          For more info: