I made a really stupid mistake two months ago.
I don’t automate my credit card payments, but I submit payments every month a few days after the statement closing date.
When my credit card bill was issued online in April, I went to pay it like normal. I selected the option to pay the whole thing, recorded the transfer, and it was done.
Then, when my May statement came, I noticed something weird. An interest charge. Now that was unexpected since I paid off the whole card (and have always done so). It was only a few dollars, so I called the company to find out what was up.
Turns out that I wasn’t paying attention when I submitted the online payment. Yes, I selected the option to pay the whole card, but I had logged onto the system too soon after the statement was generated, and it was showing the total amount that I owed on my March statement, not my April statement. So while I paid more than enough to meet the minimum payment, I hadn’t actually paid off the card as I thought. Which meant that I had interest due in May. And in June, in fact, as that interest just keeps accumulating, and had accumulated for the few days between the statement closing date in May and my subsequent payment.
This was my own fault for not paying close enough attention to the numbers. The payment didn’t zero out my credit card when I paid it because I already had additional charges on the card (I use rewards card for EVERYTHING). So I just didn’t notice.
Lesson learned. Thankfully, it was a relatively inexpensive lesson. Less than $20 all told. But frustrating. I will be sure to always make sure that I’m paying the proper balance from now on.
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.