We live in a nutty world. Nuttier than a squirrel's stash in the winter.
I had a conversation with my bank two hours ago that still has me shaking my head.
My husband and I have a joint checking/savings account. In addition, I have a separate checking/savings account. Not because we divide the money, or I want more chocolate than he thinks is reasonable. I simply stash funds in the second savings account until the water heater springs a leak, or the car needs new brakes, or some catastrophe occurs as life rolls along. This savings account is simply a holding cell until the unexpected happens.
I never use the checking part of this account, never have. For ten years, it's had all of $3.50 in it. I don't even think about it, forget I have it.
Yesterday, I got a letter from our bank stating that for three months, I've been over drawn on this checking account. My balance is now -$2.50. What?
I called the bank. A very nice woman named Nicole looked into it and then asked me, "Do you have a daughter?"
"Yes," I said warily. Had our girl been swiping a dollar a month from this forgotten account of mine?
"Did she have a car loan with us?" Nicole inquired.
"Yes." I wondered where this was going.
"It looks like that's been paid off," Nicole informed me.
"Uh-huh." I think we co-signed for the loan, which was paid off this past summer. "Okay...."
"Oh, I see," Nicole said. "You've been moved from a platinum account to a gold account."
I'm still trying to put things together. "We got demoted because our daughter paid off her loan?"
"Well, you're now in a different status. You have to maintain a certain balance in this checking account, or there is a fee."
I'm still thinking. "Are you telling me we're being penalized because we have less debt?"
"It's not a penalty," Nicole said. "You're simply in a different status." She then said something about how we used to be at the platinum level, which was $2700, now we're at the gold level, which is $750.
"Let me understand this," I said. "Because our daughter no longer owes you money, we have to keep a minimum amount of funds in this checking account, which we don't use, or we will be fined."
"Correct. You're at a different level now."
"Yeah, I get that," I said. "We've been bumped down a notch. So instead of getting our daughter's money, you require more of ours. It looks like the bank benefits from our family being in debt."
Nicole kind of chuckled. "Yeah, that's how it works. Paying off the car loan is what changed things."
Am I really hearing this? This is insane! "Well, you know, Nicole, I'm not going to use this checking account. I've never used it. Can I get rid of it?"
"You can close the account," she said.
"Can I keep the savings without the checking?"
"Yes. But you can't go online to pay any bills if you don't have both."
"I don't do online banking from this account," I said. "I move the savings money over to our joint checking when we need it. Can I still do that?"
"Oh, yes," Nicole assured me.
"Close the checking account," I said. Before it costs me one more penny. Before I have to take out a loan to save money. I can't believe I just typed that.
Nicole tapped away and removed the checking account. I'm surprised she didn't charge me anything to do it.
I admit I don't have a high finance mind; I don't understand Wall Street and interest rates, but shouldn't you be rewarded for paying your bills? Shouldn't you get a higher status for being responsible? Like I said, NUTTY.
I have no idea how being only a gold member at my bank will change my life. I didn't know I was previously a platinum member, so I'll now be paying attention to how my life degrades. Gosh, once we pay off the last of our son's college loan in April, we'll probably tumble to the tin can level.
There's a lesson here somewhere, but darned if I know what it is.