No, this isn't a post about the Vancouver Canucks (who used to use that redundant phrase in their ads)!
The thing about making money mistakes is that they aren't horrible if you learn from them. You make a mistake, you fix it and now you know better. Sooner or later you make another mistake but it's a different one. You fix it and now you know something else that you shouldn't do.
The problem comes when you make the same mistake over and over. I'm an intelligent person. I'm quite well-read. I understand a lot of basic financial concepts. I'm even quite capable of expounding on them in this blog. So, why do I make the same mistakes repeatedly?
Previously I was paying the bills with whatever money was left after all the automatic payments and buying all our food and gas. That meant a lot of bills weren't getting paid in a timely way. This past month or so I've started paying the bills first and then buying food and gas. As I already pointed out, that's been tough. But it's more real. If we're short on food and payday is several days away we really feel it. It's not like not paying my cell bill for a month.
Putting gas and groceries after the bills is a good thing. It's designed to teach us to be more careful and to show us in a practical way that living beyond our means hurts. The problem is that there is a certain minimum amount we do have to spend on these items on an ongoing basis. It's not practical to just run out of gas 3 days before payday because I can't get Dear Child to and from school and myself to and from work in that case. (School would be about 2 hours walk each way, work is over an hour along basically the same route and if I could pay for transit I might as well be putting gas in the car because it would cost more for transit than for gas.) It's also not reasonable (or ethical) to totally run out of food with a small child in the house. So, I spent more money than I had in order to take care of these needs.
I realized at some point that I wasn't going to stretch until I got my next cheque and started trying to do something about it. First, I asked Hubby for money but he didn't have any. Then I transferred money from ING, from my already depleted emergency fund but that doesn't happen instantly. So, I kept checking and, sure enough, the other day the biggest outstanding cheque had come in and I'd exceeded my overdraft limit. My Eldest Daughter graciously offered to temporarily cover it but we had to wait until the end of the day to get her paycheque.
When we went to the bank and transferred money the cheque had already been bounced and I'd been charged $42.50. I talked to the bank about not returning the cheque but they told me it was too late and, besides, they'd already had this discussion with me before and they weren't interested. I pulled out the "I'll move all my investments out of here" threat and they basically said I shouldn't let the door hit me on the way out. Okay, they weren't quite that rude but the girl said she was "sorry [I] felt that way, goodbye". And she smirked.
So, I won't be transferring RRSPs from Sun Life to TD. Instead, I'm going to go sometime next week to check out a local credit union that offers totally free chequing. This was something I was interested in doing anyway because, between Hubby and myself, we're paying over $40 per month in bank service charges. That's just ridiculous. In fact, it's like bouncing a cheque every month!
As for my RRSPs, I'm not sure if I can actually move the GIC I just set up a couple of months ago. It may have to sit there for the full 2 year term, but I transfer $10 per week into a money market fund that earns almost no interest. It collects there until I have the minimum required for another GIC, at which time I get one, etc. That $10 per week can go somewhere else. I just have to figure out where. And I probably will wait to move that until the end of December, simply so I don't have to deal with getting more than one receipt for my income tax for this year.
Anyway I'm mad. I'm mad at myself. I'm mad that the money from ING didn't arrive in time, even though I know it doesn't happen like snapping your fingers. But most of all, I'm mad that the girl was rude to me. I don't think she believed me that I was going to move my money and that's why she was smirking at me. She figured I was just like the boy who cried wolf and that I'd stay and they could continue to charge me and charge me and charge me. But I'm going to move my account and when I move the RRSPs I'm going to make it clear that this is why I'm doing it.
Yes, I have to realize that I'm ultimately responsible for my finances. No, they don't necessarily have to reverse the charges for me. But they have a responsibility to be polite about it. If they can't be polite they don't deserve my business.