Coming back to reality....

misterofficer2006July 14, 2006

Hey folks,

I have finally checked back into reality lately and i wanted your opinions/suggestions. My wife and I dont make the best money in the world, with me making 1600 a month cleared, and her making around 1100 a month cleared. My question stems from the fact that my wife has taken over the family finances after 20 to 30+ checks from our account were bounced and returned within two months time. I know i dont keep an exceptionally tight ship, but 20 to 30 checks???? i about freaked and so did my wife! well to make a long story short, i recieved a call from our bank about two months ago... Lo' and behold, the checks that bounced, did NOT actually bounce, the bank had a audit done on this paticular branch and found the mix up. The bank was actually returning my checks to the stores as "Insufficent funds" and then paying them out of my account to boot. so then i had to pay the store/person for the second time, and then pay 27.00 a check fee to the bank for bouncing them! needless to say this got costly! anyways the bank called and advised me they would have 300 dollars in my account by the end of the day and they were sorry for the mix up which is all fine and dandy to cover the amount paid to the stores for the first time and lets not include the 500 to 800 paid in bank fees! anyways after that i realied i was not in the wrong however it did hurt my confidence to support my family and myself and handle a task such as paying bills and balancing check books etc. I am up for a promotion on October 1st is actually when i start, and i am looking at a considerable pay raise by about 2,000 more a month and i am really scared of trying to manage any real money!! what advise would you all have to offer for someone trying to comeback to reality of paying bills and being WISE with my money! i dont want to screw this one up for my sake as well as my wifes! thanks a bunch in advance!

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Get a program such a Quicken or MS Money to help you balance your checkbook and budget. You may be able to link to your bank to download the information right into your software. That way you can know each day what is happening with your account.

Consider treating that extra $2000 as non-existant from the purpose of daily living expenses. Put it directly into a savings or retirement vehicle.

Demand that the bank write letters of explanation to everyone who received a bounced cheque. If they won't do this tell them that you plan on switching banks and do it. Check on your credit rating to ensure that the bounced cheques have not been reported. The bank (and the businesses) should make that right too, if this has ocurred. You should not be out of pocket now, or in the future for a banking error.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 7:38AM
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Also USE the bill scheduling feature of Quicken or MS Money. It may take a full month or two of billing/payment cycles to get everything set up, but once you do the program can project your account balances based on the upcoming bills. That helps tremendously for figuring how much you can put away in savings while still meeting the bill obligations. Set up scheduled transactions for your paychecks and other INCOME as well. And don't forget the bills that are due less often (yearly or every 6 months) such as property taxes and car or house insurance.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 2:49PM
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Thanks for the ideas so far. The bank did write letters to each business, because some i had lost the privelage to write checks at beacause of the e mix-up. the bank also refunded me for all the service fee's that i paid as a result of those checks. I hope i dont ever have to go thru all that again, talk about a nightmare! Thanks for the software idea, I am gonna give that a try probably

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 4:04PM
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Forgot to mention that as part of your daily routine when checking through your postal mail, update the amounts for recurring bills that have arrived (electric, etc.) so the projected balance will be correct.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 6:13PM
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I wouldn't think that bounced checks would affect your credit rating. Taking a check isn't the same thing as granting someone credit. I think that check processing companies like Telecheck might be interested but I don't think the credit agencies would be.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 6:20PM
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If your promotion means you will be managing money, then I suggest you go to your (new?) boss and say that you haven't done this before and want to make sure you do it right. Don't mention anything about your personal money problems. Just focus on your work requirements. Ask your boss if s/he would help you or if there is someone better to go to with your questions. And then ASK!!! and ask again to double check. The one thing you do not want to do is to try to wing it and hope you will understand.

From your posts, it sounds as if you only had a vague idea of what was in your account and you took the bank's word about the screw up. You, your wife, or better yet, both of you need to develop the habit of keeping track of your own money. It doesn't do any good to get Quicken or Money if you aren't going to use it. You need to record all of your deposits/withdrawls and then you MUST reconcile each month. You need to know what is in your account and not just leave it up to the bank. You need to set up internet access to your account and check it at least once a week.

If my bank started bouncing checks, I would be in their face immediately.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 10:18AM
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thanks again everyone. Clemrick, you are so right! it was only a vague idea and not a accurate balance. we both did take the banks word for "my" screw up and we learned big time. you just never think of the bank screwing with your finance's or we didnt atleast. we know review our statements on a monthly basis, and I signed up just about 20 minutes ago for online acess to my account to keep up with it on a regular basis. I am gonna get money or quicken book's in the next week or so and begin using that as well.
markbarbieri - I checked my credit report a month ago and everything was in check there. Like you said telecheck or any of the check processors had a intrest in it. I found out when i went to stores that had not even recieved a worthless check, but because they were/are on the same system it flagged it. My credit isnt at its best any more as i dipped down to 500 from a 750 when i went through a nasty divorce. Its now back up to a 600 but its taking a LONNGGG time it seems to get it back up to high 700's or low 800's which is not perfect, but its good enough to get a car etc. and with my wife co-signing with her 900+ credit score i should be ok if i can get back to a 700 or 800.
thanks for your help so far, good ideas.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 6:05PM
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Hello misterofficer2006,

Quite often financial advisors suggest to a family having money troubles to write down every cent that they spend, for at least a month, three months better and a whole year better yet.

That lets you look at all of the holes in the rainbarrel that are leaking water out the sides/bottom faster than you keep putting it in the top. Not pleasant!

It may be that you'll be happy with most of them - but there may be some that you don't feel are justified.

What you choose to do about future expenditures is then up to you to decide, but you have a much better picture of what is going on.

Though you may find the keeping track a bit onerous this year, next year you'll be pleased that you persisted, for as you look at this year's expenses, it'll give you a better handle on what to expect.

You'll feel a lot more in control, I'll bet.

If you don't boss your money - quite a few folks have found that it tends to boss you.

Sometimes to your sorrow.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 8:00PM
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