A Fool of Myself

Overdraft Protection

My Old School Check Register
Oh, overdraft protection, how I hate you. Let me count the ways.

Yes, you read that right. I hate overdraft protection. I get it. It’s a nifty trick banks play on us handy tool banks provide us for the off-chance that we may need it. It’s a  little insurance for a bad month. An umbrella for a rainy day.

False. Overdraft protection is stupid tax for those of us who refuse to track our spending and balance our checking accounts. It’s the price we pay for being lazy. End of story.

Let’s back up to July. At the end of the first week of July, we had reached the end of Chris’s monthly paycheck, and my two forthcoming paychecks for the month were not enough bacon to fill the piggy bank. Enter overdraft protection. In July alone, by the 7th, we had seven (!) overdrafts that cost us $35 each. After taking over our family finances, I collected all the overdraft letters that were in our files, and we had spent over $1,000 on overdraft fees the first half of the year. Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb.

Remember, when I said that I got mad? That was before I had the cost of our overdraft protection in front of me. Let’s just say that I declared a personal vendetta against overdrafts and our checking account.

We were already tracking our spending with the handy program You Need A Budget*, but we weren’t reconciling the YNAB numbers with our checking account. So I went old school and started tracking every purchase in the good ole check register. For about a month I tracked all of our purchases in both YNAB and our check register to ensure that I was crossing my T’s and dotting my I’s. Weekly, I double-checked the bank’s records to ensure they matched what I had in YNAB. I was focused.

And you know what? I failed.

OK, that’s not true. Every time I get worked up about the two overdrafts we’ve had since I took over the family finances, Chris gently reminds me that we’ve come a long way. We have had only two (two!) overdrafts since July. In August, near the end of the month, we overdrafted a mere 12 hours before Chris’s paycheck deposited. And in September, I created a transfer between our savings and checking accounts incorrectly. But we had no overdrafts in October, and November is looking good, too!

It still makes me sick that the money we spent on overdraft protection this year would have paid off an entire credit card balance, but I can’t let myself fixate on our past. We have turned over a new leaf, and our future looks good!

* YNAB for short. Or in our family, it can be a verb: Did you ynab that purchase? I’m ynabbing it right now.

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