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Week 2 Spending Report

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Week 2 is in the books! It felt a bit tougher than Week 1, but I just completed our Dream Dinners session on Friday so our freezer is jam-packed with foods that should successfully take us through our planned No Spend Week this week. Actually – I’m going to try to make the no spend “week” more of a week-and-a-half-ish. We should have plenty and just be able to supplement with fresh fruits, veggies, and dairy (milk/eggs). We’ll need to do that if we want to stay within budget for the month!

The reason our eating out budget was super high was because we had family traveling through the area so we had one dinner out with the whole family that came out to $100! It definitely put a dent in our restaurant budget! I’m using Every Dollar to track expenses and put our planned restaurant spending at $200 for the month. At the half-way point in the month, we only have $22 remaining. It won’t be easy, but with some planning and advance prep, we can make it work.

I set our Grocery budget at $350, of which we have $108 remaining. I already stocked up on some fresh produce for this week so we’ll try to get through the entire week without any grocery shopping (or just supplementing with fresh produce and dairy – no more than $10-15)!  That leaves us about $100 for the last week of the month. It definitely helps to have a freezer full of Dream Dinners (and other frozen stuff like veggies, meats, etc.) Again, it’ll be tight but we should be able to make it through the end of the month.

Getting Creative With Meals

I’m already starting the process of “shopping my pantry” and planning meals out of the foods we have on-hand. I wanted to show one little trick I used last week to make a meal work.

I was planning to do chicken tacos with Mexican rice and refried beans. When I was half-way through making the meal and looking through my pantry for Mexican rice, I realized I was all out. I did, however, have this Chicken Flavored Rice & Sauce. Not what I’d been going for, but I figured it would do the trick. I made the package of rice and added some taco seasoning (I have a giant thing of taco seasoning from Costco).

Towel was a gift my sister made for me. 🙂

Look, I ain’t gonna lie. Wasn’t the best “Mexican Rice” I’ve ever had. But it did the trick, the kids ate it up, and it served as a nice accompaniment with our meal for the night. I’ve since bought a big box of white Minute Rice so we’ve got plenty of rice on-hand for the rest of the month (and beyond – the big boxes tend to last us several months).

What’s an example of a “creative meal” you came up with from foods you already had on-hand?


How To Get Your Overdraft Fees Back

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I have a confession! I overdrew my main checking account….twice.

How did it happen?

It’s totally my fault and both times I had extra cash available. My problem was that I’ve had the wrong auto-draft date written on my calendar for my student loans. For some reason, I’ve been tracking them as being deducted from my account on the 15th, but the funds have been drafted on the 10th. My student loan payment is one of our largest monthly expenses (just behind our mortgage and childcare), so having the money drafted 5 days early really threw our budget out-of-whack.

The first time…

Last month when I received the “low account” warning, I immediately transferred the funds from a different bank and called to try to have them waive the late fees. I hadn’t been overdrawn in a long time (years!) and have been a valuable customer. In my past experience with asking for fees to be waived, that was basically all it took. Just call and ask. But not this time….

Personal problems?

I was talking to Bank of America, and when I called they asked if there was a reason in my life why I couldn’t pay my bills. I said there was not, I’d just made some poor planning/mistakes, and I’d already transferred over the money to cover the overdrawn amount. They put me on hold then came back and said “Sorry, but the fees were properly assessed and cannot be waived.” Hmmmm……   Ok…..

The second time…

Well, you’d think it only took one time to learn my lesson but my mom has always said I’m a little hard-headed. So here we are this month and wouldn’t you know – the SAME EXACT THING happens. The 10th of the month, Navient deducts my student loan payment, and my account is overdrawn. Face-palm (I should’ve learned my lesson!) And just like last month, I received the low account balance text alert and jumped online to transfer over some money (this time, I had money in my Bank of America savings, so the transfer was completed instantly instead of taking 2-3 business days like the first time when I was transferring from my online Capital One 360 savings accounts).

This time, the person who I spoke with asked the same basic question, “Are there any extenuating circumstances in your life or reasons for why you cannot pay these fees?” It feels like a trick question. I had just transferred money into the account, so clearly the representative can see that I DO have money to pay the fees. But I tried that route last month, so this month I took a different approach. I said, “Yes, there are extenuating life circumstances.” She said, “I don’t want to get too personal, but can you tell me what’s going on?” I didn’t quite know what to say, so I just told her the truth. “We’ve been struggling with getting our budget under control and I hadn’t planned to have my student loans drafted on the 10th. I need to call them to get the date changed to the 15th for their auto-draft.” And the bank representative persists, “So, would paying these fees interfere with your ability to make those payments?” I pause. Again unsure what to say. Finally I respond, “Well, yes. Money is finite. So if you assess all these fees I won’t have that money to pay other bills.”

Magic Words

I guess those were the magic words because the woman immediately responds, “Thank you, those fees have been waived as a one-time courtesy.”  Y’all. They charge $35 per overdraft and my student loan payment is split into 2 separate drafts plus I had 2 smaller payments go out so I was literally being charged $35 x 4 = $140 in overdraft fees! And they waived it just like that.

It made me curious if this is a new technique or something. I googled but couldn’t find anyone else with a similar story, so I wanted to blog about it. I don’t know if this is unique to Bank of America or if others are using the same method. It did NOT work just to ask for the fees to be waived and explain I’ve been a long-standing/valuable customer. It DID work to explain some life circumstances that were preventing me from being able to pay the overdraft fees. I don’t know why. It feels personal and intrusive. But it saved me $140, so for that I’m grateful. BRB – now I’m calling Navient to get my auto-draft payment changed to the 15th for next month so I don’t have a 3rd repeat in a row!

 

Have you had a bank ask you about your personal/life circumstances before in relation to waiving overdraft fees? What information would you divulge to your bank?


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