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Everyday Cheapskate: Interest: A Great Mystery of Life, and More Q's From My Readers

Mary Hunt on

You really have no say in the matter. When you write a check, the money is no longer yours. The merchant can process your check in the most expeditious way possible. You should assume that all checks you write will be turned into electronic payments the moment you hand them over.

You are wise to be concerned about double-processing. That's why you should always watch your account carefully to make sure no checks are deducted twice. Should that happen, contact your bank immediately.

Dear Mary: I have a bank account and a credit card that just keeps accumulating late and over-limit fees. I tried to get the bank to close the account to stop the accumulation. And now I owe $900 for overdrawing my bank account by only a dollar and change.

How can I avoid having to pay a bank that didn't even help me close the account or waive part of those fees? I tried to contact them, but all they want is payment. They don't want to negotiate. -- Marianne

Dear Marianne: Something doesn't add up here. You don't go from overdrawing your bank account by a couple of bucks to $900 just like that. Sure, I can see how bouncing one check or debit transaction can set off a chain reaction, but choosing to ignore the situation until it reaches $900 is unconscionable. Blaming the bank is creative but terribly inappropriate.

This is not going to just go away on its own. It's time for you to take responsibility.


Your mention of a credit card leads me to believe you have a preestablished credit line to cover overdrafts. If so, set up a repayment plan immediately.

However, on the off chance you are only assuming you have such an account when, in truth, you have become the beneficiary of the bank's "courtesy overdraft" policy, you need to move quickly to stop the bleeding. It's possible they are adding a penalty for every day you are in the red. Ouch!

Find out exactly what you owe, and tell them you will do whatever you must to repay the balance in full. Period. Then get busy selling assets and working extra jobs to see that you do. Hopefully, this is such a painful lesson that you won't have to learn it again!


Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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