Financial Embarrassment

I bounced a freakin’ check.  Really.  It’s embarrassing.  We make too much money for crap like this. 

What?

The “bouncing” actually occurred a little over a week ago, but I was too mortified to write about it.  Thankfully it was our water bill and not a check to someone we actually knew.  That would have been so much more embarrassing. 

When I logged into our bank account a day before pay day and saw RED in the balance column.  I didn’t believe it at first.  I somehow miscalculated $176 and some change in our checkbook.  Don’t ask me how it happened, because I really don’t know.  Additionally, being a terrible forensic accountant, I was unwilling to go through more than 4 months of bank statements to try to find the error. I never did find the error, so I still don’t know where I went wrong.

What makes me upset is that we have money.  I mean, not “we’re ridiculously rich” money, but we have some stashed away in several places. I have almost $1,500 in cash at home, Henry has almost $1,000 in what he calls his “crusty cash” stash.  We have almost $9,000 in Online Savings, and at that time we had approximately $1,200 in local savings.  There were no excuses for bouncing a check.

How Did This Happen?

The answer to that answer is multi-fold.  1. We have a lot more expenses now that we pay $560+ every month for child care, not to mention the extra expenses of a baby.  2. Sometimes I really push the envelope in bill repayment.  I tell myself “If I pay X amount on the student loan, we won’t spend this money.”  It’s true, with us, out of sight, out of mind works with money.  That payoff strategy would probably work IF the CFO of the house (me) could count (I cannot). 

The Solution

To prevent this from ever happening again, I decided to create an “invisible buffer” in our checking account. I took $500 out of our local savings account and put it in the checking account.  Then, I drew a line in the check register both adding, and then “hiding” this money.  That way, if I make another screw up, we will not have to pay a $30 insufficient funds fee.  There’s probably a better way to prevent bouncing a check, but this was the best solution I could muster.

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