Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Paying the stupidity tax

My father used to work as an accountant at a car dealership, and would joke about the various fees that get worked into the bill of sale on a car purchase. He would rattle off "fuel delivery charge, administration fee, not-paying-attention tax..." and this has always stuck with me. I try to avoid these sneaky fees wherever possible.

Of course, I'm also human. In December, I accidentally made more than my share of free withdrawals, and incurred a transaction fee on my otherwise free savings account. Fortunately, I was later able to get the fee waived, so I breathed a sigh of relief, having learned my lesson to be more vigilant with my accounts.

Or so I thought.

Yesterday I went $0.01 into the red on my primary chequing account. My car insurance policy just renewed, and there was a $5.76 increase in my monthly premium. I left the "exact" amount of the premium in chequing, so that my insurer could debit it directly from the account. Unfortunately, the amount actually drawn from the account was $0.01 more than what I had left in there.

I don't have my insurance documents with me, so I can't double-check the monthly premium. I honestly thought I had left the correct amount in chequing, and if this turns out to be the case, then I'll dispute the overdraft. However, there's a very good chance that I simply mis-read the premium, and that this is entirely my fault. If that's the case, then I'll pay my NSF fee and finally learn my lesson.

This is a strong argument for keeping at at least some degree of cushion in my chequing account.

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