Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Posts Tagged ‘insufficient funds fee

Sweet Irony

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Total Black: -$199.84
Total Red: $269,947.64

Total black has been sliding further and further into the red.  I noted in Oops . . . I Did It Again that two bills were pending: a check to the landlord and a check to a doctor—both remaining debts from living in New York.  Both checks cleared, but because of the kinks in getting my finances online in a new city, they cleared with a negative balance.  I was able to get enough into one of my two checking accounts with Bank of America to cover the gap caused by the rent check.  But not enough for the check to the doctor.  Bank of America, of course, charged me an insufficient funds fee for both.  Then, in the other checking account, as I noted in And Again . . . , I got hit with a third insufficient funds fee when a student loan I had on automatic bill pay posted, drawing me into the red.  That’s three bills that cleared, but brought me under.  Today Bank of America just charged me an extended overdrawn balance charge on one account.  I imagine another is in its way for the second checking account.  I can’t imagine any better example of adding salt to the wound than to hit your customers with two fees for the same transaction.  Obviously, if you didn’t have the funds to begin with, you may not have them five days late.  But that’s how the big banks do business, I guess.  Keep reading . . .

And Again . . .

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Total Black: $566.79
Total Red: $269,947.64

Well, looks like I did it again—once more.  That same student loan I forgot so many times before, including back in Head Meet Wall, came back today.  Of course.  Because I’ve stubbornly refused to take it off automatic withdrawal.  So my eighty-eight dollar payment will now cost me thirty-five dollars more because of an insufficient funds fee.  Why is this simple lesson so hard for me to learn?  Keep reading . . .

Breakfast With Narcissus

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Total Black: $129.96
Total Red: $270,000.16

Yesterday began a little tête-à-tête in the comments to Knut’s post Raise. Your. Voice. on his blog First Tier ToiletKnut alleged that he dropped my blog from his blogroll because I’m narcissistic and write about boring things like what I ate for breakfast.  So, let’s have some breakfast with Narcissus, shall we?  What am I serving up today?  Keep reading . . .

Head Meet Wall

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Total Black: $6.41
Total Red: $226,422.43

Well, it happened again.  Insufficient funds fees.  Three of them.  And once again it happened because the only student loan I have on automatic debit, the only bill I have left on automatic debit, slipped my mind.  Even I have to wonder how many times my head must meet that wall. Keep reading . . .

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

March 1, 2010 at 23:57

More More More

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Total Black: -$66.34
Total Red: $229,108.48

All day long a non-existent Lady Gaga tune has been going through my head.  An imaginary earworm, if you will.  In that husky voice of hers, she chants “More More More” and sings about all the people pulling at her.  Since this past weekend, I’ve felt the same.  It started with an email from my sister scolding me for not calling my mother.  Credit card companies won’t let up.  Even commenters are getting a bit demanding.  And now the temp job too.  Can you hear her?  More more more . . . . Keep reading . . .

Fifth Day of Accounting

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December 10th and my fifth day of accounting.

Total Black: $65.10

Here’s the Breakdown:

Primary Checking: $0.00
Secondary Checking: $0.00
Savings: $0.00
PayPal Account (Personal): $0.71
PayPal Account (Blog): $0.00
Amazon Payments Account: $0.00
Mutual Funds Account: $64.30

FICO Score 497 [to be updated]

Total Red: $230,322.41

Here’s the breakdown:

Credit Card Debt

MasterCard: $5,637.00
Visa: $8,133.82
Visa: $5,605.17
American Express: $2,402.17
Raymour & Flanagan Credit Line: $6,010.35

Student Loan Debt

Federal Stafford Loans: $96,810.17
Private Student Loans: $33,518.49

Back Taxes

IRS (2007): $1,280.08
IRS (2008): $27,952.00
NY State (2008): $0.00

Other Loans

My mother: $42,973.16

Total black is nil, but that’s mostly because I sent nearly everything to credit cards as well as a payment to the IRS.  I realized this morning that I haven’t been counting cash on hand in my numbers.  So, I suppose total black would be up by about forty dollars to account for the cash in my wallet.  I withdrew the remaining amount yesterday evening so that I’d use cash for the next few days.  I saw a bit of the Suze Orman Show the other day.  She’s pushing a Back to Cash movement.  I’ve been dancing around that issue for some time if only to avoid debit card insufficient fund fees.  So, I decided to commit myself to using cash for six months—the longest amount of time her site allows.  Here’s hoping I can keep my promise. Keep reading . . .

More Shenanigans

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Total Black: $295.48
Total Red: $231,123.38

Pay came through last night.  In fact, I was still awake around 2 a.m. when it showed up in my account.  I had been slowly siphoning the money in my secondary checking account, money that I had parked there for the COBRA payment to the firm.  By yesterday afternoon the check still hadn’t been cashed, so I transferred the remaining money into my primary checking account to use it buy a few things, like lunch and some groceries.  So last night when I saw that my paycheck had been deposited and the check still hadn’t been cashed, I quickly transferred the $399.22 (covering two months) back into the other checking account to cover it, gave a sigh of relief, and then quietly drifted off to bed.  But of course, this afternoon the check showed up in my account as if it had posted on September 18th, even though I viewed my account at 2 a.m. the next day, September 19th, and the check wasn’t there.  This is the kind of shit I wrote about in What Is This, Sarcasm? that makes my blood boil.  I guess the new day I wrote about in A New Day Has Dawned has limits.  I borrowed the money I had allocated for that check knowing full well I might incur an insufficient funds fee.  And if it had presented a few days earlier, when the entire amount wasn’t in the account, I would have happily paid the $35 fee and been done with it because it would have been my fault.  I’m not proud to have to play these games, but skating this close to the financial edge requires running a few risks.  But it infuriates me when Bank of America rewrites history, when it moulds time to suit its purposes, and allows the check through just when enough money is in the account.  What’s the chance that the check presented conveniently a day before I transferred the exact amount into my account.  No, the check had not presented on September 18th.  And if the bank functions on Pacific time, then the money I transferred would have hit my account in time to cover it anyway.  Tomorrow I’m calling Bank of America and demanding back the $35 fee I paid today. Keep reading . . .

A New Day Has Dawned

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Total Black: $450.75
Total Red: $230,611.32

Unemployment benefits came through overnight.  New York state pays $405 a week maximum regardless of how much you earned last year.  Given that I owe back taxes, I’ve opted to have federal income tax withheld from my unemployment payments.  That means I net about $385 or so.  Three hundred of that is already promised in checks I cut this morning.  $199.61 to the law firm I worked for, for my monthly COBRA payment.  I also sent $50 to SallieMae and another $50 to a credit card.  That leaves me with approximately $85 until next week’s $405.  But I’ve been making ends meet on less, so that’s a near jackpot.  I have to use some of that for dry cleaning.  The rest will probably go for food.  That’s alright though.  Rent’s already been paid.  Living in Manhattan I don’t really have commuting expenses.  Utilities aren’t paid for yet, but that can wait until next week.  And I do have the interview later today for the temp job.  Things are stable for the moment.  Keep reading . . .

One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

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Total Black: $889.52
Total Red: $230,285.21

As I left my apartment this morning, I decided to stop by the post office on my way to work.  The temp position has had me going for roughly twenty-seven days straight now without a day off.  It’s getting difficult to recall which day of the week it is especially without weekends to mark time by.  I received a few notices from the post office of letters and packages they couldn’t deliver.  So finally today I thought I’d stop and pick them up.  I’m glad I did. Keep reading . . .

Small Town Boy in the Big City

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Total Black: $22.71
Total Red: $230,281.21

Again Bank of America has walloped me with insufficient funds fees.  This time I don’t even know for sure just how.  A few days ago I received an email notice from Barnes & Noble alerting me to some difficulty processing a check card transaction.  A few months ago I purchased some items on Barnes & Noble and it slipped my mind that one of them wouldn’t be available until the Fall.  I didn’t have enough money in my checking account to cover the transaction, so I figured I’d just let the order be canceled as Barnes & Noble suggested might happen if I didn’t update my order information.  Besides, I’m in savings mode now and those items were purchased before I began this project.  A day passed and another email alert arrived reminding me once more of the inability to complete the transaction.  And again I passed on it (not that I would have had money from anywhere to pull to cover the approximately forty dollar transaction).  The next day a new alert arrives thanking me for my purchase and providing me with the tracking number.  Huh?  I checked my checking account but no pending transaction was listed.  I figured that perhaps it was some other credit card I had used that suddenly became available.  I didn’t really care to go investigating.  Today I got alerted of insufficient funds fees and saw that somehow Barnes & Noble force through the order or Bank of America authorized it despite the lack of funds in the account.  This time, I will get my money back.  I’ve printed out all of the insufficient funds fee notices for the past month and I’m walking into the branch office near my job.  As Ron Lieber of the New York Times reported that “[b]eginning Oct. 19, Bank of America will stop charging any fees for customers who overdraw their accounts by less than $10 in a single day.  It will also limit the number of overdraft fees it charges to four a day, although the bank will continue to charge a fee of $35 per overdraft.”  Unfortunately, it looks like the bank is trying to garner as much money as it can before its new policy goes into effect. Keep reading . . .

B(l)ack in the Red Again

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Total Black: -$24.67
Total Red: $230,649.18

It was deja vu all over again today as I stood in CVS this afternoon, looking to buy food with the few dollars I had available. I have to confess—that is the point of this blog after all, isn’t it?—that I pulled from my blog PayPal account the money I received from my first (and only) donation. About two weeks ago, I purchased a flash drive to use for the Recession Art Sale. No one had one and we needed to get images over to my computer so I could get our catalog in order. The image files of the artwork were too large to send via email. I had no other money available and we were a day away from our Monday night opening. So, I caved and transferred the $48.25 (what remained after PayPal took its cut from the $50 donation I received) into my personal PayPal account and used that money to purchase the flash drive. But since my personal PayPal account is linked with a PayPal charge card, I’ve been using that card (and the money attached) over the past few days to buy food, something I swore I wouldn’t do. Sorry. I haven’t owned up to it yet because I’ve been embarrassed that I caved. I supposed I could have waited a day or two, or perhaps I could have walked back to my apartment to pick up some rewritable DVDs and burned the image files to those. But, in the moment, I didn’t think of that. Keep reading . . .

Debtor’s Revolt

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Total Black: $66.62
Total Red: $230,649.18

Dealbreaker, a self-dubbed Wall Street tabloid, posted an article today titled “Bank of America Making Great Strides in Customer Satisfaction.”  It included a YouTube vlog by Ann Minch wherein she took Bank of America to task for its “usury and plunder.”  Minch claimed that Bank of America “jacked” her interest rate up to thirty percent despite having good credit and being under the limit.  In her vlog, Minch calls for a debtor’s revolt.  I’m all for it.  In What is This, Sarcasm? and On and On and On, I expressed my own frustration at Bank of America’s voodoo accounting practices.  The practices of personal banking and credit lenders have really gotten out of control.  Minch’s vlog and a comment posting a link to a newspaper article both show glimmers of hope that the banks are getting the message. Keep reading . . .

On and On and On

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Total Black: $333.44
Total Red: $228,252.66

Seems it never ends.  Pay came through today.  About $740.  Roughly $250 was taken in fees.  And today Bank of America tacked on another fee.  Now the bank is charging me for withdrawing money from the ATM.  It held that withdrawal until a larger transaction posted, which pulled my account under.  Obviously the cash was available otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to withdraw it.  If the bank does not return these charges, I swear I will drag it to small claims court for like $90 in insufficient funds fees.  Given the amount of money banks have taken from the taxpayers in bailouts it’s beyond hypocritical that they slam us for going into the red, in my case for less than twenty-four hours. Keep reading . . .

Alone, Yet Not Alone

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Total Black: -$304.86
Total Red: $228,252.66

As I predicted in yesterday’s post, Doing That Hustle, Bank of America has walloped me once again with multiple insufficient funds fees.  Some are clearly my fault.  Others are not.  But . . . I say, “Oh well.”  I get paid tomorrow, so once they’ve been “reimbursed” I’ll call the bank to get some reimbursement myself and fight a few of their fees.  One example: I transferred $40 from my checking account to my savings account.  Bank of America charged me a fee for that transaction because, once they rearranged subsequent transactions, it brought my balance further under.  Clearly I had the money in the account or I couldn’t have transferred it, so I don’t understand how a bank gets to charge you a $35 fee for moving $40 of your own funds.  They’ll hear from me on that one for sure.   Keep reading . . .

Shames Most Financial

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Total Black: $75.45
Total Red: $228,312.40

Got about five pages further in Suze Orman’s The Courage to Be Rich this evening when I had to stop and think about what I had just read.  Orman relates the story of one of her clients, Mark, who recalled an experience from his childhood.  While on a school outing one day, Mark and some classmates had lunch with their minister at a restaurant.  They all sat down to enjoy hamburgers and fries and cokes with straws.  Once the meal ended, everyone put money on the table for their food.  Mark didn’t.  Instead he cried because his parents hadn’t given him any money.  I suppose he hadn’t realized before ordering that he’d have to pay eventually.  Orman tells us that years later Mark is still ashamed of that experience and still atones for it by picking up the tab or making sure others know he has money.  I suspect that if ever he found himself in a situation where he didn’t have enough money on hand he’d probably feel like a nine year-old boy again. Keep reading . . .

What is This, Sarcasm?

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Total Black: $10.99
Total Red: $228,519.06

So that $20 I donated to Coalition for the Homeless?  It’s going to end up costing me $55 once the insufficient funds fee is tacked on.  Best laid plans, eh?  But sometimes you just have to laugh.  It may be the laugh of the absurd, but it beats crying.

One of my student loans is set up on automatic debit each month.  It’s only about $100 a month, so I figured I’d let it continue.  It posts on the first of the month.  Well, I forgot that today is the 1st of September.  Unless that $20 donation and a few other transactions remain pending until tomorrow, sometime after unemployment gets paid, then I’ll be hit with about $130 in insufficient funds fees.  See, Bank of America posts its transactions from highest to lowest.  There’s been a few lawsuits challenging that practice, alleging fraud and misrepresentation.  It only happens with debit cards too because if you go over the limit on your credit card, you’re not charged typically unless you remain over the limit after that month’s statement closes.  But with debit cards, the banks view it as if you wrote a bad check.  And regardless of the timing of your purchases, my bank still posts them highest to lowest.  Here’s how it works. Keep reading . . .