Financial Carpe Diem?!

I have to be honest … having admitted what a financial failure I am has been somewhat of a relief!   Something cathartic must happen when we’re really and truly honest with ourselves.  But the point in saying all that … I felt really excited to do something financially positive when I woke up this morning.  Here’s what I’ve done before my lunch hour –

Saved $29 in overdraft fees! 

Yes – great timing to incur the second overdraft fee in my life!  But I think that’s a symptom of my financial ineptitude – “I can’t be a financial mess, I pay my bills on time!  I’m not one of THOSE people incurring late fees and penalties!”. 

Anyways, I was not going to lose $29 as a result of being financially irresponsible.  Part of this Debt March should be about taking a stand against financial mediocrity and learning how to take charge of where my resources go. 

I politely contacted the branch of the bank that I visit regularly and asked to speak with the manager and through a series of redirections was able to get a hold of him.  Here’s roughly how the conversation went:

Me:  Good Morning Mr Branch Manager, my name is Holden and I regularly bank at your downtown branch and have been a customer of your institution for a several years now.  I would like to resolve an issue I encountered with my account earlier this week.

Mr. Branch Manager:  Certainly Holden, what would you like to discuss?  And can I have your account number to access your file? 

Me:  Earlier this week I incurred an overdraft fee of $29.  If you look at my file you’ll see that the overdraft of $50 occurred on Tuesday morning as a result of an automated payment that I have set up.  As you’ll also see, I had funds deposit in less than 24 hours to more than cover the automated payment.  Additionally, if you review my account you’ll see that this is the exception and not the rule.  I was hoping you could waive this fee as a courtesy?

Mr. Branch Manager:  Holden, we do appreciate your business and I do see that you have a solid banking record with us.  While I cannot personally waive the fee, I will contact our Consumer Request department to make the request on your behalf.  If you’ll give me your contact information, I’ll call you back to confirm the results. 

Me:  Mr. Branch Manager, your wisdom is surpassed only by your kindness.  I look forward to hearing from you and appreciate your help this morning. 

And guess what?  Within five minutes I received a call back indicating that the $29 fee would be credited to my account today.  It took 5 minutes, a couple of phone calls,  and a proactive approach to save myself $29!

How many of us just accept these types of fees?   Are we so averse to confronting our financial failures that we’ll make a bad situation worse – “I know I overdrafted (or made a late payment) but I’m just too embarrassed to call my lender and try to do something about”? 

And all those $29 fees have probably added up to a signficant amount of money over the years.  I think lenders rely on us being lazy and inactive … the very behaviour and thinking that leads us down the broad path of financial destruction. 

Maybe these are the first steps to being financially responsible – admitting you have a problem with money and making a conscious effort to take control of where and how it’s spent.  

I know that sounds like common sense … but how does the saying go …. it’s not all that common anymore. 

So is $29 really worth a post?  I think so … maybe it’s a baby-step or a new symptom, a symptom of not wanting to be financially sick and out of shape.  Maybe this is me learning to walk before I run?  How many of us got our first credit card and started charging away before we had any idea what APR meant?  Doesn’t that seem backwards? 

These are probably very simple questions … but I’m not sure I’ve ever asked myself many of them? 

Do you have any stories similar to my $29 overdraft fee episode?  Tactics you’ve used to correct a mistake or prevent a bad situation from being worse? 

I’d like to hear them.

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