21 April 2008

Keep the Change ... right.

Have you heard about this program? Banks, a number of them now, but Bank of America/LaSalle notably, have been offering a service for debit card users that rounds up their transactions to the next dollar and deposits the difference into their savings account. It seems like a nice deal, plus there's a match from the bank based on how much you save in that time.

I have been in love with this idea since I saw them launch it. The problem, we don't have a brick and mortar BOA anywhere near here. They did announce the merger with LaSalle, which does have a number of brick buildings here, but at the time I was giddy about it the program was not offered there (a recent development in the last few weeks). I don't do online banks, as I feel an undying need to be able to go in and give someone a stern talking to (in person) if necessary. I'm less scary on the phone, I suppose. So, no Keep the Change for me. I was none to thrilled, but chalked it up to the way things *had* to be.


Then it hit me ... I can do math. If I just round up the numbers in my checkbook I can then transfer the difference at the end of the month to my savings account. There will be no match from a magical bank, but there also won't be any hassle if I decide at some point to randomly stop doing it. Yay! It took me long enough. Seriously ... what was I waiting for? Why did I think I needed some big scary bank to do it for me? I can add. I can subtract. I can even do both interchangeably with a fair bit of accuracy if I use my fingers.

Now, the hilarious part ... I totally screwed it up the first month (March), and I didn't realize it until RIGHT NOW. Oops. As I went along in March, I rounded up each transaction. I leave both numbers in the register so I can more easily check things that have or have not cleared by their original amount, plus then I know how much to transfer from each transaction. Everything went swimmingly and I racked up $17.89 with a month's worth of transactions. Jeez! For a girl who uses cash for nearly everything, that's still a lot of debits. Yikes.

At the end of the month, I transferred $17.89 out of my checking account and into my savings, and ... then I subtracted it from my checking account. Herein lies the flaw. The $17.89 was already missing from the register total. It didn't need to be subtracted. I subtracted it anyway, not even thinking, and it didn't hit me until 3 or so minutes ago that I had it done it that way. Ooops.

Now, the frugal dilemma. Do I fix it and put the $17.89 back into my balance since the transfer did not actually effect it? Or, do I transfer another $17.89 out (without noting it in the register) because I obviously wasn't missing that first $17.89 enough to notice? Hmmm. I'm headed to my bank's website to hit the transfer button before I change my mind.



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