Navigating a Close Call

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Today I had a close call. Historically, I have had 2-3 overdrafts in that period between my first and second paychecks each month. It has always bothered me because looking at a whole month my budget always added up. I’ve always had a budget, but these fees have pretty much rendered it useless over the past year or so.

The root cause was that a few things are debited that I did not know about. I own about 23 domain names total, for various people and purposes, and when one expires, I get renewal fees debited. I reactivated my World of Warcraft account a few months ago, and that one gets debited the 10th as well. There were a few miscellaneous fees also debited that I was not expecting. The total cost wound up dropping my bank balance to $230, which is only bad because my car payment of $249 is debited the 12th of each month. Looking at my accounts over the weekend, I knew it would overdraft yet again. Even after my post on the joy in frugality, I was getting pretty down; it was a small failure.

I was saved by Quicken, and not the way you may think. I bought Quicken 2007 for Mac a few weeks ago, but hated it. It wasn’t as functional as the Windows version, nor did it have the “Mac Experience” UI. So, I asked for a refund, which luckily was applied this morning before my car payment! No overdraft, even though my balance is cutting it close.

I’ve noticed that in the first two weeks of each month, I bring home $1100 and expenses are around $1300. The second two weeks, my income is the same, but expenses drop to $600 or so. Basically, I am going to have to either change due dates to later in the month, or try to keep $200-300 at the end of each month to float the first two weeks.

So, it was indeed a close call, as a $35 overdraft is $35 I don’t get to put toward my debt at the end of the month. This time, a little bit of good luck and timing kept it from happening, but I have to be more proactive in the future to keep it from happening again.

2 thoughts on “Navigating a Close Call

  1. Kathryn

    If you have Quicken, there is a way to use it to help you start avoiding the overdrafts.
    I always keep my Quicken checking account up to date AND I also put in the amounts of all those debits that WILL happen in the next two weeks (before the next paycheck). Then when I want to know how much is in the checking account, I look at the Quicken version, not the bank version, and use that to tell me how much is available to spend.

  2. Good point, Kathryn. I quit using Quicken because it just didn’t want to sync up with my banks on the Mac. However, the biggest reason for my overdrafts is because I really have no clue when charges are occurring and how much they are for. Now that I am aware what is going on, it’s easier for me to make the adjustments to keep it from happening again (changing due dates, withdrawing cash for food expenses rather than debit card, etc.). I’m hoping that this new Mint software (linked on the side) will solve my organizational problems…

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