The cardinal rule of personal finance is to meet all of your debt obligations, and to meet them on time. One time when I was 19 years old I missed a credit card payment. Sure I had no business putting anything on a credit card at that time, but I also wasn’t in the habit of missing or making late payments, I had simply forgotten. The bank quickly tacked on a $50 late charge, nearly doubled my interest rate (which at that age was already pretty bad), and put me on some sort of credit card probation program. I learned my lesson and vowed to never make such a stupid error again. You can view the Australian debt clock for a glimpse into how much debt people are in down there, which lends credence to the idea that it really is quite an easy situation to get into if you don’t constantly pay attention.
Flash forward 11 years later and I commited the very same personal finance crime that I had sworn to avoid. I had made a purchase using interest free financing simply because I view it as free money. After all, why remove money from an interest bearing account when you can use free money and pay for it over a short period of time, without interest of course. I automate some of my monthly payments, and others I mark down on a calendar or a list with the date and amount I intend on paying. Well I had only given myself about 3 days of a grace period to make this specific payment, which had never been an issue before, though I had never had a ruptured appendix occur either. Several days later I get home from the hospital and it hits me, I NEVER MADE THAT PAYMENT! Sure there are worst things in the world, but for a personal finance blogger this is about as bad as it gets. It’s embarrassing to say the least, and it’s an inexcusable mistake.
Regardless of MY mistake, I am going to call the bank first thing in the morning and plead with them to remove the late charge, and hope they won’t begin accruing interest on me immediately. In the future I need to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again. I need to allot more time for payment, perhaps automate the payment, or simply pay the bill immediately as it comes in the mail. As I said this is a very embarrassing mistake to admit considering the advice and information that I preach. This just goes to show you that even us finance enthusiasts still have lessons that need to be learned.
I wonder…do any of my readers have any suggestions as to how I should’ve handled this situation to begin with?
Do any of you feel that I’m slightly justified on making this late payment due to my circumstances, or am I just in the wrong here?
Have any of you had a similar situation like this before?
I love and value all of your opinions, so I am very much looking forward to seeing what the court of public opinion has in store for me. Hope you all had a great weekend and are ready for the week ahead!