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Two bank accounts = too much confusion

by Karen on February 9, 2010

When I first switched to my ING checking account, I absolutely loved it. I still love my checking account with them. But we are finally experiencing some of the confusion I feared when we made the switch.

Because ING Direct is an electronic bank, our account must be linked to a brick and mortar bank. This allows us to cash and write paper checks. Aside from the occasional birthday check from my grandma, we rarely cash paper checks. Unfortunately, though, because of the timing of my husband’s paycheck and the way that ING’s paper check mailing process works, we still use our brick and mortar bank to write our rent check.

It’s been relatively easy for the past several months. Tony’s monthly paycheck is split up — the rent money is automatically deposited into our brick and mortar bank on the last day of the month, and the rest of his paycheck goes into our ING account. We write the rent check, give it to the landlord, and everything is fine.

This month I made a mistake, though. A few of our online bill pay accounts still have the account information from our brick and mortar bank. I must have selected that account accidentally when I paid a bill at the end of the month, because $100 of our rent money was deducted from the bank before the rent check cleared.

When I logged in to see if the rent check had cleared on the 2nd, I realized there wasn’t enough money to cover the rent. If the check cleared without enough money, we’d have to pay a $25 returned check fee.

It takes two business days to transfer money from ING to the brick and mortar bank, so there wasn’t enough time to transfer money in order to avoid a bounced check.

Luckily, I caught the mistake in time to make a cash deposit at the brick and mortar bank. Because the check hadn’t cleared yet, I was able to deposit cash into the account and avoid a returned check fee. The check cleared at midnight on Feb. 2 without a problem.

I learned a few lessons from this headache. First of all, I removed our brick and mortar account information from all of our online bill pay accounts to avoid selecting it accidentally again. From now on, I’ll also be checking our brick and mortar account to make sure I haven’t made any mistakes before I turn in the rent check.

This is the second big mistake I’ve made in as many months. Last month, I actually forgot to pay a bill (a first for me), and we ended up paying a late fee. I don’t know what’s up with me lately, but the biggest lesson I learned from this? I need to get on the ball. I don’t know if it’s stress from all the planning and changes ahead or what, but my lack of focus could end up costing us if I’m not more careful.

Photo by potteryandeverythingelse

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{ 3 comments }

1 frugalapolis February 9, 2010 at 9:27 am

I did the same thing with our cable bill. I got pissed that they linked auto pay by credit cards, to require an email bill rather than paper bill. So I cancelled the autopay and then forgot to pay it. Then I get the reminder email after the due date, plus the $7 late fee. Now I have the autopay again to avoid this again. What a pain.

2 Kacie February 9, 2010 at 1:35 pm

I forgot to pay the cable bill last month, myself! We were in Indiana and I thought I had paid it before we left, but I didn’t. Oops. Luckily I didn’t have a late fee. I feel like such a ding-a-ling sometimes.
.-= Kacie´s last blog ..Dealing with all this snow =-.

3 Jenny February 10, 2010 at 12:14 am

I would suggest that you keep a buffer in the account so this doesn’t happen. I would suggest 100$-300$. Just treat this as your new zero in your budgeting, and never let it fall below that. It sounds like all you have coming in and out of that account now is rent, so just deposit the buffer in there and leave it. The buffer can come out of your emergency fund, because it will still be available for use for emergencies as well.

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