We are in debt. A lot of it. The only way out is to cut back, find extra sources of income, and push off some dreams. Writing about that day in and day out would get really depressing, so every Saturday I make an attempt to overcome my typically
realistic negative outlook and write about a success – no matter how small. And I’m willing to lend out this space for others to share something positive about their journey out of debt 🙂
This month was the month of the Murphy fund, and we were lucky to come by it pretty easily. But then I got to wondering if we had more funds laying around that could be tapped into for whatever God has planned. You see, we have lived in four states since being married and we open a new bank accounts with every move. We still have accounts in two other states. So I pulled up the account from our last state, not expecting it to have much, but thinking it had something. I was willing to close out the account – which we never touch anyway – and put the contents toward our debt.
We only had $300. Lower than I expected. I pulled up the account history because, like I said, we never touch the account. There were four charges in the last month. Two were recurring costs from memberships I have been paying for years and had forgotten about. Folks, this is what happens when you give up on balancing your checkbook!! The other two deductions were legitimate – a student loan I haven’t transferred to our local account and our Hulu membership. However, with our recent budgeting exercise, I had to cut Hulu out. We haven’t been using it – we favor Netflix – so I took that money out of our budget. I won’t say who was supposed to cancel the membership but it wasn’t me.
I cancelled all three memberships, saving us around $50 a month and in the nick of time. One more month and that account would have been overdrafted!
So let’s see, that’s how many failures (not balancing our checkbook, not canceling memberships that aren’t in the budget, and not monitoring or closing our old accounts) and one success. This is starting to feel like yesterday’s Five Minute Friday post – why bother posting at all? Is this really a success? Is this really positive?
Yep, I think this is worth posting. Lessons were learned. I took action instead of crawling under a rock or crying. If you are just starting to figure out how to be financially mature, maybe you needed this lesson, too?
Here are my quick and dirty, no-fluff-because-I-sleep-in-two-hour-increments-and-the-baby-will-wake-up-soon tips:
- It’s nice to have a local bank or a credit union, but if you move a lot like we seem to – go with a national bank. You’ll save yourself the hassle of opening and closing accounts – or if you are like us, the overdraft penalty when you neglect your account.
- Have a budget. When something no longer works in your budget, make sure to immediately cancel the service.
- Balance your checkbook! You’ll catch the unwanted subscriptions being deducted from your account.
- Think you don’t have any neglected accounts? Do a lost money search at places like http://www.missingmoney.com*. I once found an old account with a few hundred dollars. Yeah. It’s like I have a fetish for opening accounts and not closing them when I move.
- Monitor all your accounts, even if you think there are no deductions and nothing to balance. Identity theft doesn’t know the difference between a dormant account and one that has a constant income stream.
My poor little neglected checking account reminds me to pay attention. Not just to my finances, but to everything that matters. To pay attention to my preschooler as she begs me to not just look at her, but to see her. To my newborn – instead of my phone. To my husband, who is patiently waiting in line behind the girls and the dishes and the stack of laundry on the dining room table. And to my God, who loves me with a love that I never remotely understood until I became a mother. And even now, I feel sure that His love is something even stronger than the love I feel for my two girls. Even more tenacious. Even more fierce. Because He gave His Son for me – and that’s a sacrifice I’ll never understand. Seems like that’s worth paying attention to.
What’s your success story this week?
* As noted, we have found money this way before. I decided to enter in our name while writing this post, and there are three records for us to claim!!