Blog Challenge: Alex Gray

Editors note: We asked each of our three finalists to tell us a story about a money-related blunder that they've made.

“I wonder if I can buy this burger?” 

*Swipe*  *Declined*  “Nope, guess not.”

That’s how I lived my life a few years ago.  Like many of my peers I LOVE my debit card.  It’s extremely easy and very convenient.  But I never really kept a good track of my records and I simply depended on my card being declined to tell me I had used my spending money for the week.  But I started to run into problems when I started putting money in my savings account.  At my credit union they have a very convenient feature that would pull money from your savings if it was available to cover you in a situation where you needed to make a purchase, but had no money in your checking account.  They would charge you a five-dollar fee for this – and the problem for me is that I never kept good records.

So one day I got a check and decided to put it in my account.  I put it in my savings - planning to save it - but disregarded my good intentions and decided to go on a shopping spree.  So I went from store to store, *swipe* bought a shirt.  *swipe* got a soda.  *swipe* bought a new book.  All the while it was pulling from my savings - and charging me every time.  I didn’t even know it was happening until the next day when I got five notices in the mail for a charge.  All together I had racked up $25 in charges that one day.  That was HALF of the check I had deposited, and that doesn’t even count the money I spent on what I bought!  I knew I had to do something.

So I went down to my credit union, which is just down the road from me, and first off paid my fees, but then I talked to the tellers about my situation.  They were very helpful and agreed that I needed to do something to keep better records.  They told me about how I could check my account online from my phone or computer, and they helped me get a plan on keeping track of my money.  I even got an app that I could record my purchases in to make sure I always knew how much money I had at all times. 

Now that’s WAY cooler than my parents’ check book.

I never did make another mistake like that one again, and now I make sure to keep track of my money better.  But I won’t forget the trouble you can get in when you don’t take your finances seriously.  With the help of my credit union – and a little discipline from myself – I know I’ll never have to deal with a situation like that again, and you can take that to the credit union.