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No Food, No Cash, and No Active Accounts…


Even though we promised not to, my husband occasionally surprises me with a gift on our anniversary. He’ll usually save a small amount of cash from his second job and buy something really thoughtful and sweet. This year, he purchased something but was unable to pay cash for it since it was out of state. He didn’t want me to see where the gift was coming from so he went to Western Union and put it on our debit card.

What he didn’t know? Transactions from Western Union automatically shut down our account for possible fraudulent activity – even though the charge was less than $100. No charges, no cash out, AND no online access. I didn’t know why the account was shut down and I couldn’t check the transactions online.

Being the naturally calm, level-headed person I am, I called my hubby to tell him our identities were stolen, we were destined for a life of poverty because of a thief, we wouldn’t be able to buy food for weeks, and we’ll die from slow starvation.

Accustomed to my overreacting downward spirals, he hung up on me, called the bank, and had the whole thing sorted out in less than 5 minutes. BUT, it would take them 24 hours to turn the cards back on and enable online access. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal but since this week is payday, our cash grocery fund has about 12 cents and the fridge is empty.

Dinner tonight? Pita bread and tomato soup. Breakfast tomorrow? Pita bread and tomato soup. Lunch tomorrow? Pita bread and tomato soup.

It’s going to be a long 24 hours.

Lesson learned? No more Western Union.


  • Reply Stephanie |

    What a funny story! A way to get around this is to just run the card at the grocery store and get cash back, then go get a money order with the cash. (just for next time)

  • Reply Sandy |

    Isn’t this just the kind of thing emergency funds are to be used for — to tide you over an unexpected bump in the road, especially the kind where you can easily replace the funds when the problem is solved. AND, don’t know if you are still nursing or not; but, if so, maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet is very important for both of you.

  • Reply Alexandria |

    This is why it is important to have some cash on hand in case of emergency. (Part of emergency fund is fine – stash it inside your home somewhere).

    Today it’s this – tomorrow could be anything.

    I have absolutely never needed the cash that we keep at home, but this is a reminder of why we have it. (We have a different bank account that we can access immediately if need be – the cash is more for natural disaster type stuff).

  • Reply CanadianKate |

    Cash on hand for emergencies is important. When the power is out, no bank machines, no credit cards, no open banks doling out cash. It all requires electricity to run.

    During the Ice Storm of 1998, we were fine, we had cash. During the great North Eastern Power outage a few years later, same thing.

    Disasters can strike anywhere. Cash is king in a disaster.

    Tip: make a good portion of your stash in small bills and change. Banks will be closed so retailers won’t have access to change. They may refuse to sell to you if you don’t have exact change.

  • Reply CanadianKate |

    Another tip: if you are worried about spending your stashed cash if it is around the house, put it in a plastic bag, put the bag in a margarine container, put that into a larger container filled with water and then freeze it.

    If the power is out, you’ll have ice and money!

  • Reply Carla |

    I agree with the rest of the posters… Cash on hand is a must! I could live off off tomato soup & pitas… lol!

  • Reply ib |

    Cash on hand is definitely a must.

    But, what about all the auto-withdrawal that is supposed to come out of the account?
    This like mortgage, phone bill, etc. If your account is frozen, those withdrawal will be declined. Then the bank could also charge you extra fees for NSF, etc.

    All our auto withdrawal are setup for a few days after payday. They would all bounce.

So, what do you think ?