bunt sign

Friday, July 26, 2002

I'm facing the weekend cash poor because of bad money management. Some of it is even my fault. I'll tell you something, though. It helps to have a personal relationship with your banker. Not too many years ago that was the standard for the banking business. You knew the banker and the banker knew you, and any little problems could be worked out. The big problems were worked out, too, but more or less the same way they are now.

It all started this morning at the ATM. Well, no, actually it all started about two weeks ago when I made a $200 addition error in my check register. But in my conscious life, it started today when the ATM wouldn't accept my deposit. I was even trying to put some extra money in the bank. I borrowed from one of my credit cards, at a highly favorable interest rate, just so I wouldn't cut things so close again soon.

Instead of making the deposit at the uncooperative ATM, I had to drive home and get a deposit slip so I could go to the teller window. On the way home I realized I hadn't paid the satellite company this month. I signed up to have the payment deducted from my account, so I really had paid them. I just hadn't deducted it in my check register. And I hadn't received the monthly reminder that the automatic deduction was happening. It must have been in that pile of mail that got lost while I was on vacation.

While I was home I checked my satellite account online and discovered to my horror that this month's bill was approximately three times the usual, because it included my annual TiVo subscription and the first installment on my NFL Sunday Ticket. Wow! That would have overdrawn my checking account even if I hadn't made the $200 error. In fact, it doubled the effect of my mistake. I can't afford to get into this kind of a jam very often, especially with the rent due next week.

After I picked myself off the ceiling, I hustled back to the bank and presented my checks for deposit. The young teller took one look at the credit card advance check and told me he had to put a hold on it. When he said the hold might be for up to thirty days, I gave him my withering, eye-rolling look of disbelief that serves me so well in these situations. Much better than the panic I really felt.

I asked him if there wasn't some way to avoid the hold, because I've never had anyone question me about one of those checks before. He asked if I deposited credit card checks often, and I told him I did. (Well, it depends on your definition of "often." If "often" means every other year or so, then I was telling the truth.)

Here's where I had my one stroke of good luck today. One of the managers was standing nearby, and I was whining enough that the teller called him over and said, "We have to put a hold on this, right?"

The manager recognized me from all the company business I do there. I often deposit company checks that go into the tens of thousands, and bankers like that sort of thing. The money doesn't stay in the account for very long, but it still makes a good impression when you walk up to the teller window and present a piece of paper with all those zeroes.

"I think we can accept this check," the manager told his teller. I favored him with expressions of heartfelt thanks and one of my better smiles, but he hardly looked at me after that. He gave me a receipt, though, and I guess I should be satisfied with that. It's not as if we were in competition or anything. I did win, though.

Shasta Lake

Jayci, Alexa and Katie. Angels one and all.

The mail will probably bring me a notice from the bank that they've deducted whatever penalties they feel they can get away with. I assume I've overdrawn the account, but I don't know for sure. It's possible I skated by, but the fact that the ATM wouldn't have anything to do with me bothers me some. Whatever happens now, I'm covered. I don't care how deeply in debt I have to go, if I can just keep from bouncing checks. That's a humiliation I couldn't handle.

previousbunt signemailnext