Check this out

Yesterday I wrote a check.

Sure, not the most pulse-pounding start to a post, but maybe it gets better (you wish).

When I left my last company, I kept a small amount in the credit union.  The active account would theoretically allow me to get another auto loan through them (I had two during my time with the company), but realistically, it was there mainly to allow me to pick up a blank check register about once a year.

Electronic funds transfers are what I use now for just about every payment.  My homeowner’s association inexplicably charges more for an EFT than getting a paper check.  I find this an apt example of the intelligence of homeowner’s associations (but that could take up more than one post, so we’ll leave it alone).

The homeowner’s fees are paid quarterly, so even though I have to pay two associations (don’t ask), it still only two checks every three months.  My bank changed recently, amidst all the buyouts, bailouts and copouts.  That would normally be a good time to order new checks with the new bank insignia, but I still had hundreds of checks to go from my last re-order.  In fact, I expect the old checks might even last until the next banking consolidation.

The danger I have come across with the EFT payment method is the same as the old check method…if you don’t set up reminders, you’re going to have some ugly charges sneak up on you.  Many EFT’s allow you to set up automatic payments, but while I may be totally comfortable directing my bank to pay such and such amount, I remain somewhat queasy over the idea of companies blithely reaching into my pocket without me knowing.

You would think I would remember when every due date was coming up so I wouldn’t be surprised.  You would think.  Consider, though, our recent infestation and absolute dependence on cell phones (or even cordless phones).  We program in all the names and phone numbers we need (and even some we don’t) and then what happens?  We forget the numbers.

How many people do you know (count yourself if you qualify) that, when asked about a friend or relative’s number, reply with “Um, I don’t remember, but I have it in my phone”.  For ease of counting, any variation on the above theme will be considered valid.  Take a few moments if you want, I’ll wait.

Yeah, it’s eerie, huh?  The same holds with paying electronically with automatic withdrawals.  You’re bouncing along, content in your ATM or checkbook balance and one day, BAM!, you see a large drop in the balance.  Your brain twists; it bends; it folds and mutilates, even.  Finally, you recall that bill you set up for automatic payment.  Was that this week?  Why does it seem so much higher than you expected?

No, I’ll keep my fingers on the “send payment” button, thanks anyway.  I’ll feel better knowing why my account is dropping so woefully low.  At least I know the reason I’m paying them.  Why do I pay the homeowner’s association?

I’ll have to check.

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