Monday, January 10, 2011

Money Monday - Are you paying attention?

I'm always amazed when people tell me the don't balance their checkbooks or keep a transaction register. There is no way to tell what is in your account by looking online...NO WAY.

Anyhow, today I want to illustrate why I feel so strongly about knowing what kind of money is in your account.

I really don't like paying one-time bills online. I feel like I always have to deal with some error or mistake. However, I decided to pay some hospital bills ($368 worth, to be exact) online so that they would show on the 2010 tax year. I made my payment December 28.

Move ahead to last Tuesday. I'm balancing my checkbook and paying bills. After I reconciled, I went online to make sure I didn't miss anything (since we save our receipts - and sometimes those can turn up missing.) At the top of the statement I see a few transactions "in process." The hospital was taking out my $368 PLUS ANOTHER $730 that I did not have a bill for NOR did I authorize. $730!!!!!! I was freaking out! I called the hospital and they said they had no record of it and the bank said they couldn't stop payment. I HAD NO HELP.

I dragged my un-showered, still in pjs, baby-puke-covered self to the bank to file a dispute and transfer money over. Matt called the hospital billing department after my 6 calls landed me no success. He can be a lot more forceful than I am with this stuff. He got nowhere either.

We decided that, once we called, the hospital realized their error and the people there were scrambling to fix it.

And, three days later, we were right. The money was put back in the account and a representative from the hospital sheepishly called to tell us about the mistake but said ONE MILLION times that they put the money back the same day.

I was too nice to her. After making us feel like we didn't know what we were talking about, I guess her calling to say they made a mistake was good enough though. I didn't receive an apology (for the record.)

That said, if I hadn't paid attention to my bank account, that money would have come out, and who knows if something might have bounced.

It's so important to stay on top of your money because companies like this make mistakes all the time. I don't know about you, but I don't have the money to waste on the incompetence of a company who is already taking my money.

So today, go balance your checkbook!

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