Lunchtime is so sacred to winding down after a busy business morning and gearing up for an afternoon that will be just as busy that I make a habit of not checking email while enjoying the meal.
I broke that habit once last week, which turned out to be a blessing.
While savoring my tuna fish sandwich, I read an alarming message:
“Your account ending in _ _ _ _ is overdrawn.”
That can’t be, I said to myself, and suddenly that tuna fish sandwich lost its taste.
For years I’ve been careful at watching my finances. There are times when my balances are low and other times when cash flow is adequate, but I couldn’t think of a reason why I was receiving this message. To my knowledge everything was paid with enough funds in my account. What did I miscalculate?
My impulse was to race up the stairs to the computer to check my account, but doing that wouldn’t change the email message, so I continued eating.
Then, I realized that something wasn’t right (aside from the alert). The last four digits of the account were not mine. I looked at the message once more and instantly knew it was mom’s account. Now I know something is very wrong.
Mom is not the type of person who overdraws. She may not know, to the penny, how much is in her account, but she does not write checks without sufficient funds.
Could age be affecting her mind, or was there another problem?
Did someone steal from her account?
Now my lunch wasn’t tasting good at all.
I finished eating and went up the stairs to the computer. My mom’s accounts are jointly owned by me so if anything happens and she cannot tend to her funds, I’m in charge of her finances. I logged into the account. Lo and behold, mom did overdraw her funds. I called her by phone, knowing that she was playing cards with friends.
“Mom, get up from the chair and go into a quiet space. I have to talk to you.”
“Okay, hold on a minute.” “Alright, what is it?”
“Your account is overdrawn. You wrote too many checks without adding cash.”
“Okay, I’ll go to the bank when I finish here.”
“I can transfer money from one account to another on my computer. Do you want me to do that so you don’t have to go to the bank?”
“Yes, do that. Thank you. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Okay; talk soon.”
Mom called me later and said that she was also surprised about the overdraft. She wanted to see a transaction report, which I printed and reviewed with her. She realized the mistake, and now all is right with her account.
What concerned me most was if mental issues were setting in. Thankfully, that’s not true. Mom’s all there as if she’s my sister.
Each of us makes mistakes. This was mom’s first financial error which I highly doubt will occur again especially if the bank charges a fee (and you know they will).
This concern is a partial reason why I wrote the article, 8 Ways to Protect You and Clients from Financial Fraud, which you’ll find at SmallBizTrends.com. No fraud occurred in this situation, but problems do happen, and you must be vigilant in securing your cash, stocks, and other money vehicles. Anything can happen at any time. The article lists proactive methods you can easily put in place.
By the next day, I had forgotten the previous events and once again enjoyed my lunch before returning to another busy afternoon.
What financial problem helped you to not experience such exasperation a second time?