When you work really hard to save money, a simple mistake that ends up costing your family an extra $140 is psychologically devastating. And yet, that’s exactly the kind of mistake I made a few months ago.
Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
So here is The Beginning:
For years, I have paid bills not when they arrived, but shortly before they were due. I did this to maximize the interest we earned by keeping money in the bank. It’s not a lot, but every penny counts.
And here is The Middle:
The boys were born. I became busier – and more distractable – than ever. I also went almost completely paperless when it comes to paying bills. I have a file on my desk where I collect the few paper bills that come in throughout the year, and a sheet of paper that I write current paperless bill payment amounts and due dates on.
You can probably guess The End:
I looked only at the sheet of paper, and didn’t actually open the file on my desk . . . which meant I never saw the DMV bill until a month after it was due. If it was just the late payment on the DMV bill, that would have been one thing. But we’d gotten the required Smog Check done right after the bill arrived. Who knew that Smog Checks are only valid for 90 days if you don’t pay your bill on time? And of course, the Smog Check had expired two days before I noticed the overdue bill.
Naturally, I called and spoke to various people to try to get the DMV to accept the very slightly expired Smog Check. But the last person I spoke to told me to go back to the place where my husband had gotten the Smog Check and ask them to post-date it. That seemed so fraudulent, I didn’t even try. Instead, I paid the approximately $60 for a new Smog Check, on top of the extra $80 I paid to register the car late, for a whopping $140 mistake.
Picture this: Me banging my head against the wall
Needless to say, ever since this debacle, I’ve been paying bills as soon as they arrive. Forget maximizing accrued interest. With interest rates so low, I blew years worth of interest with the $140 we had to pay to cover my mistake. I’ve also vowed to pull out that file and look at it every month when paying the bills. I know I will make mistakes in the future, but I will not make this one again!
Have you made a totally avoidable but costly mistake?