I was drinking a mimosa at a sunny sidewalk cafe the other afternoon when the bank called me to inquire about a $1500 transaction that was pending on my account.
“Wait, hold on, did you say $1500?” The figure didn’t ring a bell.
I asked the bank representative for more details about the transaction. Maybe I had made a mistake in a credit card payment, or maybe I had made some grand purchase that had slipped my mind. I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t have told you how much money I had in any of my accounts, or worse–how much I’d been spending over the past few weeks. I just hadn’t been paying attention.
The bank representative informed me that the transaction in question was an attempted transfer of my money to an international account, which only meant one thing: I had been a victim of fraud. I spent the following day closing all of my accounts–credit, checking, savings–and reopening new ones.
I was also given a temporary ATM card, which basically only worked at ATMs. This inconvenient restriction forced me to carry cash at all times until my new permanent card arrived in the mail. Every time I went to an ATM, the sight of the unembellished, temporary card in my hand was an acute reminder of my recent financial shortcomings.
But having to have cash on hand at all times was the most sobering consequence of my financial carelessness this spring. I became painfully aware of every dollar I was spending. I realized that as the temperature outside started to rise, so had the my expenditures; I found myself unaccountably spending more money on frivolities.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a mimosa to toast the nice weather–it’s just critical to keep tabs on fluctuations in your habits. I mean, I could not believe how many times I had to find an ATM to withdraw yet another $60.
I’m so thankful that my bank was paying attention to my accounts, for I certainly wasn’t. I can’t help but wonder if I would have ever caught the fraudulent transaction on my own. (How mortifying is that?!) I’ve since been giving my finances the time they deserve. Whether it’s over a cup of tea in the morning, on a lunch break, or before going to bed, I’ve realized the importance of making this financial check-in a part of my daily routine. I can’t say it’ll be the most riveting ten minutes of my day–but when it comes to my bank account, I’ll take a dearth of excitement over mysterious international transactions any day.