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Money Matters – a tale of financial woe.

October 23, 2009

Let me tell you a story . . .

Once a upon a time, there was a naive college student who lived a normal, happy life. At times, this young girl was organized and meticulous about everything. But other times, she was not so organized and meticulous. In fact, she could be completely oblivious. And let’s face it – she was a college student, so irresponsibility was not too far of a reach. And unbeknowst to her, she still had many a life lesson to learn. This was just how it was.

This girl had a steady income from a part-time job, and earned a bit more money than the normal college student would. Twice a month, she would deposit her hard-earned money into the bank. And throughout each month, she would also spend. A meal at a restaurant here, a cup of coffee there. Yet, she was not frivolous nor lived a luxurious life. She was just a typical college student.

However, it seemed that she became more oblivious and paid less attention to some important details in her life. She thought her spending was not exceeding the amount of money in her checking account and the amount of money she was putting in twice a month. She had never balanced a check book in her life, nor did she keep up with her online banking registry. She thought she had it all straight in her head, how much money goes in and how much money goes out. She didn’t even feel the need to open the envelopes from her bank that had begun piling up on her desk. Surely, she thought, these are just statements that are telling me what I have been spending, nothing more. I already know this!

So that pile of envelopes slowly got taller, each month.

One day, she received a phone call from her bank. Then fear overwhelmed her, shaked her to the core and the tears welled from her eyes. Ma’am, you have overdrawn your account, in the amount of $1,500. Those words kept ringing in her ears. $1,500?! Panic set in, she wringed her hands and thought about how stupidly she had handled her money. She also thought about the impending doom that would come when she called her parents. That was it, she would be disowned.

Fortunately, this story had a happy ending. I was that extremely naive and irresponsible girl who overdrew $1,500 (!!!) and lived to tell about it. Thanks to the kindness of a friend who lent me some money and the support of my parents and brother who stepped in, the charges were paid and my bank continued to keep me as a customer. (Most importantly, my family did not disown me.) I received a long, stern but loving talk from my father and on that day, I learned a very valuable lesson: Check your bank statements, online or on paper, and make sure your expenditures are not exceeding the amount of money you actually have! This should be a simple, “duh” kind of thing right? To my twenty-seven-year-old self, yes. But six years ago, it just didn’t sink in.

Stay tuned for another installment on Money Matters.

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