Preventing Money Leaks

by Nicole · 10 comments

in Money & Spending

Just when you thought you were actually frugal, something completely ridiculous happens to you that makes you think otherwise.

I signed up for this introductory online program for my business (I won’t reveal its name as I am still hoping they come through for me). They gave me $100 in credit for what I thought was me trying it out and giving them feedback. Little did I know the default was set to $25/day usage, unless I went in and changed it. I clearly didn’t realize this and, in logging in yesterday, saw that my account was charged $500. Sorry, I mean $400 because I did have the $100 credit. Insert sarcastic yippee here.

I immediately canceled it and wrote to their customer service to let them know that this wasn’t completely clear/obvious in the setup. They won’t ever see any more of my money so I hope they enjoy the $400.

So coming up with extra money this month is one thing but worse is I feel kind of stupid. Why didn’t I notice that money leak, and why didn’t I plug it sooner? I had signed up for email notifications from the company but clearly, part of their communication strategy is not letting you know when your credit has been used up. The moral: It’s not enough to rely on the company that wants your money to keep track of your spending.

Then I was talking to a friend who told me that, in signing up for a new cell phone plan last year, the rate was supposed to decrease from $90/month to $60/month after the first three months. She didn’t notice and they continued to charge her for $90/month. She just noticed this past week.

It makes me wonder what other money is leaking out of my budget so I’m combing my bank statements, making sure I completely understand every charge.

It would seem to me the best way to prevent these money losses is to examine bank statements regularly to make sure all charges are understood.

How often do you look at your statements, Almost Frugal friends? And have you plugged any money leaks recently?


1 Sarah July 8, 2010

Seems to me that preventing the money loss should be done before the bank statement comes. Otherwise it’s not prevention. In your case, you should have combed the fine print of the agreement, even more so because it was an online agreement. In your friends case, she probably should have kept an eye on her statement from the cell phone company.

Sorry that comes across so preachy. I am just a firm believer that people need to be proactive about these types of things.

2 Nicole July 8, 2010

No not at all. You are completely right. Proactive is best… I just hate it when something slips by me!

3 Jan July 8, 2010


I would sure keep the heat on to get that $400 back or tell them that you WILL publish their name.

There are so many things out there that have promotional type fees, with our Dish Network, they sometimes offer free channels for three months, but I keep it right on the calendar when to call to cancel, before we end up owing.

I have to prance a little now, I just knocked our debt snowball down by over $1300 in just over a month. I only have $470 to go and then ONTO the next one. Man, I love Dave Ramsey’s plan!!

4 Kelly July 8, 2010

Good for you!

5 Anne July 8, 2010

I try to look at my statements as they come in and the bank account online at least once a week. My current leak is Verizon who I utterly hate calling. They were supposed to remove a $6 long distance monthly charge back in March but never have. I need to call them and go round and round again but I’ve been dreading it so much I just let it leak. 🙁

6 Jenna July 8, 2010

I check my statements when I get them in the mail (I know I’m really unsustainable) but I get text message alerts to my phone so I’m usually on top of it.

7 July 9, 2010

One that immediately comes to mind is I had Verizon Cell for years and a few months ago I switched to AT&T on a family plan with the hubby. He has the iphone with all kinds of extras. Me? Just a simple $9.99 phone that rings, I answer and there is the other person. It’s all I need.

So the 1st bill comes and they try to charge me for a couple of text messages. I don’t even have that capability (me or the phone for that matter). So it’s only $4, but it’s the point. I call and complain and they fix it. Well guess what, next month-more charges, and I call and complain, they fix it.

Let’s see what happens on the next bill, what do you want to bet that they think I will get tired of checking. Boy are they in for a huge surprise!

8 Mindy July 19, 2010

Nicole, it’s been years since I needed to, but I still monitor my checking account almost every day to see what has come in and gone out. That’s how I catch all the “I forgot about that!” debit purchases that I make on occasion. My credit card is at the same bank, and I check that at least once a week to make sure that something weird hasn’t happened.

If you can monitor your accounts by phone or online, I recommend doing it as often as practical for you.

9 Joelle July 21, 2010

I love using Mint for this. All my transactions on all of my cards are imported into one place, sorted (mostly accurately – I do love how Metro fare, labeled "Subway" ends up in the restaurant budget), and available on my phone. I actually noticed a double charge on a pair of cards before the credit card rep had gotten the memo the computers had a glitch – meaning I saw the bug before almost anyone else.

That being said, I'm a stickler for reading the fine print and like Jan, I put the end of trial periods in my calendar. I usually do it a week before it needs to be canceled so I can be swamped a couple of days and still not be penalized. And, since I use a calendar that will pop up reminders, I can't just ignore it.

Though, I can totally empathize with feeling scammed. The first time some guy came around selling magazines for a "good cause"…totally fell for that one. The shame, the shame…

10 Kelly July 21, 2010

putting the ends of trial periods in your calendar- genius!

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