One of the many money-related problems that my husband and I seem to encounter is related to ATM use. Frequently the card is used for cash withdrawals or purchases and the amounts are not routinely recorded in our checking account register. I love the convenience of the ATM card but want to know if you have any suggestions for using it wisely and with discretion. Should only my husband or myself have an ATM card as opposed to both of us?
Like many couples, Leslie and her husband use an ATM frequently. And they must not be alone because consumers will pay about $2 billion this year for the privilege using them. And despite the fees, it's not surprising that they're popular. An ATM card and pin number makes getting cash much more convenient than in the old pre-ATM days.
But, like so many new tools, they can be used improperly. So what can Leslie and her husband do to get control of their ATM cards?
The first, and obvious, answer is to make absolutely sure that they enter any ATM transactions in their check register. Failure will not only make it harder to balance the checkbook, but could also mean that errors in their bank statement might go undetected.
One way to encourage proper recording would be to make a game of it. If hubby used the ATM and didn't record the transaction there would be a penalty. Perhaps some extra household chores. The idea is to make it a habit to record any transactions. We tend to remember things that are important to us.
Another way to regain control is to use the ATM card less often. It appears that their cards get a lot of use. And that can cause a couple of different problems.
Using the card frequently but on different days each week will make it harder to remember to list any transactions. It's just human nature. When we get home at the end of the day we typically think of dinner not doing our 'homework'.
There are other dangers of frequent use of ATMs. It can be an invitation to uncontrolled spending. Some people find it impossible to resist impulse purchases if they have access to cash. And while no one single purchase is large, when added up they can mess up a budget big time.
And there are the fees. Over 80% of all banks impose a surcharge if a non-customer uses their ATM machine. It doesn't seem like much, but a 75 cent fee on a $50 ATM withdrawal amounts to 1.5% of your money.
One way to avoid overuse problems is to schedule your ATM use. Don't just pull it out any time you want a couple of dollars. Rather use it once a week. Take out enough cash for your planned expenses for that week. Leave the card at home on other days.
You'll find a number of benefits with this strategy. First, when you only use it once a week it will be much easier to remember to enter the transaction in your check register. And if you do forget, it will be much easier to spot the missing week when you balance your checkbook.
Second, you'll have a better handle on whether money is slipping through your fingers. If your cash runs out before the end of the week you'll know that you're making unplanned purchases. They might be justified. But it's a good time to check for needless impulse spending.
Once a week ATM use means giving up a little convenience. But most of us have lives that are predictable enough that we should be able to know how much cash we'll need for the week.
Should Leslie and her husband only have one card? Or each have a card on a separate account? Clearly finding out that your spouse isn't recording their transactions could be a source of marital friction. So if they continue to forget entries, it's probably better to get rid of a card or open separate accounts. A second account would be an extra expense, but cheaper than a divorce lawyer!
Finally, a comment. Often ATM issues are symptoms of a deeper financial problem. Frequent use of ATMs and a failure to record transactions can be the sign of an undisciplined approach to money. It's a easy trap to fall into.
It seems like the credit card companies and banks want to make it easy for us to use money without thinking about what we're doing. When we pull out a card and get instant gratification there will be a price to be paid later. Not surprisingly, it's also a great way to boost company profits.
So the next time that you pull out that ATM card, make sure that you're using it as a handy tool. Not being used by it to create extra profits for your bank.
Gary Foreman is a former Certified Financial Planner who currently edits The Dollar Stretcher website http://www.stretcher.com/save.htm You'll find hundreds of free articles to save you time and money.
|Previous: Keeping Track Of Debit Purchases||Next: Depositing Money From Paypal Into My Checking Account|
Read feedback for this post below. Click here to post feedback.
I take the ATM withdrawal receipt and put it into my wallet. I like to fold it and put it in the change area-but you can choose another area-but be sure to always put the receipts in the same spot. Every week or so I clean them out and make the deductions in my check register. Sometimes If I know I'm going to the bank the next day to use the ATM, I'll put a note in my register with the next day's date and cash withdrawal and leave the amount blank (to be filled in later). Just helps a little more not to let the withdrawal slip through the cracks. I've been doing this for years are have rarely missed a deduction.
Do keep in mind that many of these ATM, or Debit cards, if lost and misused , the bank in will not help you get your money back. I asked a bank manager if my card was protected like a regular credit card, $50 being the only hit if lost or stolen et. He did not know the answer! A few days later on the news this topic came up, and you could have your account wiped out!
We have a special account just for this purpose. Our major money is untouchable. Check with your bank to see what their policy is.
My husband is a long haul trucker so doesn't get home every week to get his money that he needs to live and pay what he needs to out on the road. So he relies on his ATM card. Instead of him pulling it out of the checking account and possibly messing me up when I'm trying to pay the household bills, every week the first thing I do is transfer a set amount to the savings account. Then he pulls his money out of there instead of checking. By doing this we have never had a problem with him pulling more money out than I can afford to give him.
I ALSO HAD THE SAME PROBLEM, BUT I PRETTY MUCH SOLV3D IT BY CARRYING A SMALL CALENDER, THE FREE ONES LIKE HALLMARK GIVES OUT. THEN I PUT DOWN ON THE DATE THAT I USE THE ATM OR DEBIT CARD THE AMOUNT AND IF I HAVE TIME, WHAT OR WHERE ( SAY WLAMART OR GROCERIES) ALSO I ALWAYS ROUND UP THE AMOUNT IF IT IS FOR THE DEBIT, SAY 10.93 IS PUT IN AS 11.00. THAT WAY IF I FORGET TO WRITE A FEE FOR THE ATM I AM PRETTY MUCH COVERED. I ALSO USE THIS METHOD FOR MY CHECKS TOO AS IT IS EASIER TO SEE HOW THE MONEY IS SPENT OVER THE MONTH.
I agree with taking out a certain amount of cash weekly ... but if the ATM is used, I always keep the receipt.
It's then easy to tally up whether it be nightly, or weekly. The receipts also make it easy to see exactly where the money spent & if it was an 'impulse' purchase.
It's then easy to discover the best way to budget, as I know what 'pushes my button' to impulse spending.
My husband could never be relied upon to fill anything out a book, but he was prepared to to keep the dockets. We had no more arguments over spending. When I knew where the money went, I could allow for the 'extras' in the budget.
I also think that rather giving a penalty for not keeping the receipts, but give an incentive for compliance.
my hubby and i carry the small pocket size notbooks with us at all times my purse him in his pocket or car and write down the date and the amount each time we use it then record it every wednesday evening as the debit card in the checking account that way its figured before payday each week and makes it correct each week if we forget to write to total down every wedsn evening the one that forgot to do his adding and subtracting in the checking account owes the other a 20.00 for penalty fee lol it keeps us on our toes that way cause it comes from the allowance we each get each week. and no man wants to forfeit their allowance to the wife when he feels she gets most the check already . my husband is very forgetful but never forgets to do it on time every week
This is a everyday thing that happens with couples.
I have seen this cause lots of problems in a marriage.
The best advice I can give is called weekly spending money.
Each Friday decide what each will need for week.
Each gets that much cash.
Leave debit card ATM home,don't carry.
I've had an ATM card for years and rarely have a problem. When I first got mine, I started writing down any charge just as if it was a check (those things we used in the olden days). I put the date used, where and the amount in the spot for withdrawal. I enter deposits in the deposits spot and keep a running balance. The check registers are free at your bank. I mostly order printed deposit slips these days, but I keep them and a few checks in a regular checkbook, along with my debit card and "check" register. Since I got in the habit of doing that I rarely forget. It's still easier to use at a store than writing out a check, so I don't mind doing that and as I'm on a small budget, I certain can't afford the $40-$50 overdraft charges.
Add your voice to the conversation.