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How I Lost $900 and an Hour and a Half of My Time - Live Like a Mensch
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Live Like a Mensch

How I Lost $900 and an Hour and a Half of My Time

 

This afternoon, I sat down to reconcile my check register with my bank account.

I generally do this about once a week, although traveling and having J and LO off of work/school has thrown off my routine. That meant I had nearly three weeks worth of transactions to reconcile.

No matter. Balancing my checkbook is one of my favorite activities. I whipped out my favorite pen and my trusty calculator, and I got to work.

20 minutes later, something unusual occurred. I discovered that my math seemed to show that I had $1000 more in my account than was actually in the bank. $994.16 to be precise.

While I will on occasion find that my math is off (and frankly, if it's under $10, I'll often just subtract or add the amount that's different and leave the note "to balance" in my check register), this was the first time I have ever seen such a discrepancy between what I think I have and what the bank thinks I have.

I went back through each and every transaction and double checked it against my register. Then I printed out out all my transactions for the last six weeks from my online account and went through them one by one, to make sure there wasn't one I'd missed.

Then I checked my own math, and discovered that I actually wrote down a $59 debit twice, and I lost $0.63 to poor subtraction on another debit, bringing the difference between my check register and the bank to $1053.79. Yes, I found mistakes, but I was clearly going in the wrong direction.

So, I decided to check Huntington's math, even though it seemed highly unlikely that they had made an error. After 25 minutes of addition and subtraction, I was still missing $1053.79.

J gently suggested I take a break. I looked at him with the fevered light of a personal finance blogger who has managed to misplace over a grand in her own checking account and only barely refrained from snarling at him.

Finally I decided to simply add up all of my deposits and then subtract all of my debits. It was then that I ultimately discovered my mistake:

I had written down a $900 depost twice.

[The sound of my head hitting the wall in frustration with myself.]

I had even duly placed a check mark beside each deposit after checking it against my online account information. (I really have no idea how I managed to be such a complete dumb [donkey]).

To be frank, after an hour and a half of futzing with this, I was more relieved to know I had found my mistake than I was concerned about my rapid loss in net worth.

However, there is still a (smaller, but still fairly biggish) problem. Finding that $900 does not change the fact that I still seem to be missing $153.79.

Under normal circumstances, I would go looking for my missing $150, but right now I'm just glad I've solved the majority of the mystery of the missing grand. For the first time ever, I subtracted $153.79 and scrawled "to balance" beside it.

As frustrating as this entire experience was, I'm glad that I actually sat down with my checkbook today, instead of going along my merry way assuming I was a grand richer than I am.

Has anyone else had any forehead-slappingly stupid checking account mistakes like mine? How do you keep from making/compounding/acting on these mistakes?

Comments

 

frugal_fun said:

Oh yes I've had those moments. ;) Usually I've entered something twice like you did, but it was a withdrawl or a debit, so it was a happy thing to find. I don't see how it's avoidable -- I still struggle with it even though I use software to keep track my checkbook. Think of it as job security. :)

January 5, 2013 3:38 PM

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