CLICK HERE FOR PAST ISSUES!

Check Canceling

There are certain times that you will need to determine if you should stop payment or cancel a check that you have written.

You may have paid a bill by sending a check through the mail. After a couple of weeks if you notice that the check hasn't cleared you will want to contact the intended recipient to find out if they have any information. There is a possibility that it was lost in the mail or even lost in the processing department.

You may have to request a stop payment on this check and make a direct payment over the phone. The banks discourage canceling checks by charging a fee for each check, but the fee is better to pay than accumulating fees and late charges for a bill that never got paid.

You may be able to negotiate with your bank to lower their charges or waive them if you explain your situation to them. It never hurts to ask.

If you need to cancel a check you can follow these steps to assist you.

Steps
1. Have your account number, contact information, the check number, amount the check was written for, date of check and the payee's name ready.


2. Call your bank or visit your local branch.


3. Explain that you want to stop payment on the check, they will likely ask you for all of the information in step 1.

Tips
Once you decide you want to cancel a check, call and cancel it as soon as possible. The longer you wait the more likely it will be that the check is cashed.

Warnings
A hefty fee will be charged by your bank when canceling, but remember you may be able to negotiate with your bank.
Canceling a check can easily anger whoever tries to cash the check if they are not aware that you are canceling it.

Things You'll Need
Check number of the check you want canceled
Account number the check was issued from
Payee's name
Amount check was written for

    

 


 

   
 
 

Does buying an expensive Halloween costume each year give you the creepy crawlies? Don't spend money on poorly made costumes when you can make your own with supplies you can find around your house.

Here are a few costume ideas for your younger kids:

Fisherman
What you'll need; a flannel shirt, blue jeans, a life jacket, a pair of rubber boots, fishing pole (real or made from a stick or branch), a floppy fishing hat, some cardboard, silver spray paint, a black marker, 12" piece of yarn, and a hole punch.

Cut four fish out of cardboard. Spray paint silver on both sides, let dry. Use marker to draw an "X" in place of the fish's eyes. Punch hole near mouth of each fish and string from a piece of yarn. Carry fishing pole in hand and sling fish over shoulder.

Kitty Cat
What you'll need; Black sweat shirt, sweat pants, eyeliner, and lipstick
Draw some whiskers on face with black eyeliner and add some pink lipstick to nose for added touch.

Peter Pan
What you'll need; a green t-shirt and pants (check the thrift stores), green and red felt, a feather, and some cardboard.

Cut the pants with a jagged edge below the knee. Make a simple cone-shaped hat out of sturdy felt. Attach a piece of red fabric around the rim of the hat and secure a feather inside. Use the cardboard to cut out a wooden looking sword.

Here are a couple of tips to help you accessorize your costumes.

Fake Blood - Mix 2/3 cup white corn syrup, 1 tsp. red food coloring, 2-3 drops blue food coloring to darken.

Abrasions - Dab brown, red and black eye shadow on area. Apply blood over area with cotton balls. Use comb to gently scratch area in one direction. Apply cocoa or dirt over wound with cotton balls.

Black Eye - Apply red and blue eye shadow to depressions around eyes.

Bruises - Rub red and blue shadow over bony area to simulate recent bruises. Use blue and yellow eye shadow to create older bruises.

Look Old - Cover face with baby powder. Draw dark lines on your skin for wrinkles. Smooth edges to blend. Cover again with baby powder. Add baby powder to your hair to create gray hair.

Deviled Eyeballs - Make deviled eggs. Add a green olive with pimento in the center for an "eyeball."

Toxic Juice - Add some green food coloring to juice or lemonade for a radioactive color.

Brains - Scramble eggs with some green, yellow and blue food coloring.

Bloody Eyeballs - Boil cherry tomatoes 30 seconds. Allow to cool; then peel skin.


     

 

 

 

>>Back to Top >>Previous Article

 
>>Back to Top >>Previous Article

A Safety Net for Your Checking Account

If you have ever bounced a check you know of all the hassles it will cause. The bank hits you with a number of different fees and penalty charges, while the intended recipient of the check may black list you from making further payments by check.

When you have overdraft protection on your checking account your bank will cover a check that is written for more than what you have in your account. The money that will cover the check will come from a source that you set up. You can either choose a savings account, a credit card, or an open line of credit.

If you have a healthy savings account it may be a good idea to have overdraft protection coverage linked to it. If you write a check and your checking account can't cover it, then the bank will transfer enough money from your savings into your checking to cover the check. The bank may charge you a transfer fee but it will be cheaper than a returned check.

The most beneficial aspect of overdraft protection is that the recipient of the overdraft check never knows that the check you wrote them bounced. This can save you a lot of hassle and embarrassment. Many establishments will charge you a return fee on any checks that don't clear. So not only is your bank charging you with fees but the establishment will as well, which could lead to more problems if you have a limited checking account.

If you decide to get overdraft protection speak with someone from your banking institution. If you bank at more than one place than you may want to compare services and choose the best one for your exclusive checking needs. Here are some questions you may want to ask your banker about overdraft protection.

What charges come with your overdraft protection service?

Do you charge per overdraft incident or is there a monthly flat rate?

What source of funds does the overdraft protection come from? Some sources may reduce or eliminate extra fees, such as a savings account.

What is the interest rate? Accounts that have a credit card as the source of funds will have an interest rate. They may have a higher rate to deter you from over-drafting.

Explain to them your preferences and they can recommend what your best options are and help you choose an overdraft protection plan that is best for you.

If you find yourself having to use overdraft protection to often then you may want to explore the reasons why you're spreading your checking account so thin.

First thing you will want to do is re-evaluate your budget. Where are you coming up short? Where are the places that you can cut back and adjust so you know that you are going to have enough funds to cover your checks?

The process of “floating” checks has become almost obsolete due to the fact that checks are being instantly processed and will reflect on your account a lot quicker. It is never a good idea to write a check if you are uncertain or know that there is not enough money in your account to cover it.

You may want to cushion your checking account by keeping an extra $100 or so in there. Then when you are balancing your checkbook do not include the extra $100. If your funds are running low and you accidentally write a check for over than the extra in your account can cover you until you are able to re-balance your checkbook.

If you have Internet access you may want to do more of your banking online. With daily statements and continual updates you can monitor your balances a lot better. Most banks do not charge for their online service and you may even save some money by doing more banking online.

You can even have updates sent to your cell phone. You want to check with both your bank and cell phone service on how to subscribe, and of course it costs extra money so you may not want to do it if it is too expensive.

With the popularity of check cards many people are only writing checks for bills. By paying over the phone or setting up automatic payments you don't have to worry about waiting for your checks to get processed and cashed.


 

 

 

>>Back to Top>>Previous Article
 

Save on Your Winter Energy Bill

The whipping winds of winter are on many people's doorstep. There are some things that you can do that will prevent you from high heating costs this winter.

The first place where you can save is at the thermostat. It is recommended that you set your thermostat between 66 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. It is estimated that you can save up to 5% of your heating bill for every degree you lower your home's temperature.

You waste a lot of heat when you are not at home. You may want to look into buying a programmable thermostat that automatically controls your heating settings. During the day when no one is home you can program it to a lower setting, and then have it scheduled to warm up right before you get home. You can also set it lower during the evening where you can compensate the cold with more blankets on your bed.

Programmable thermostats can cost you anywhere between $30-$100 and come with installation instructions. You can also hire someone to install it for you as well as, do an energy efficiency audit for you to detect any other areas that you can fix to reduce energy waste.

One thing that you can do yourself is go around and find any leaks where cold air can come in and warm air can escape. You will want to caulk any opening or cracks where air can escape. You may also want to buy weather stripping and make sure that the top and bottom of your doors are sealed to prevent air from getting in or out.

Another easy way for you to retain heat energy is to buy a hot water heater insulation blanket. These wrap around your hot water tank and helps you save money by reducing the amount of extra heat lost. You should also keep your water heater temperature dial set to 120 degrees.

It's a good idea to have someone come over and check your furnace and your air ducts. Dirty ducts and units can lead to serious breakdowns that can cost you a lot of money. By having someone come over to inspect it you have a good chance of catching or fixing the problem before it is a big deal.

There are companies that will come and inspect your unit and some may offer duct cleaning. You can also check with your gas company to see if they offer this service for a smaller fee than other companies. There are some gas companies that will offer you with full service for a monthly fee. So it may be a good idea to opt for a small monthly fee instead of having to pay a larger fee for one time service. Make sure the services they provide are worth the monthly fee. Many will check the efficiency of gas and electric run appliances as well.

If you have a classic fireplace (the ones that require wood and a match, as compared to the kind you turn on with a switch) you will want to make sure that you are taking the right actions to insure that heat is not escaping through it. Make sure that the damper is closed when not in use and consider replacing wire mesh screens with closing glass doors to keep heat from escaping.

Don't forget that ceiling fans are just as effective in the winter as they are in the summer. Most ceiling fans have a reverse switch that will help circulate warm air better. Warm air rises and the fan will redirect downward where it is needed more.

There are a few things that you can do that have higher up front costs but will save you in the long run.

You can replace your windows if you are living in an older house with outdated windows. You can save a lot of money by replacing older single-pane windows with more energy efficient double-pane windows. The cost of the windows and installation can be pricey, but if you were already planning on replacing them than make sure you go with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) approved windows.

You may also need to look at the efficiency of your furnace. Furnaces that are more than 15 years old can start to break down and run less efficiently, which can cost you money on your heating bills.

If you are replacing any doors, windows, or appliances always look for the EPA approved energy star label so you know that you are getting the most efficient product.

Before it get too cold out make sure you do an assessment and fix any problems before they can become big hassles.

 

 
>>Back to Top >>Previous Article
 
>>Back to Top >>Previous Article
 

We're only into October and already talking about the holidays. With as fast as the rest of this year has gone I know that it will sneak up on us without warning. This is the time of year that I hit panic mode because I am not one who is great with picking out presents and I have to do it each month until Valentine's Day.

I have my anniversary in October, my wife's birthday in November, Christmas, a break in January (I hope I'm not forgetting something important) and then Valentine's Day. I'm lucky though because my wife never expects or wants anything that is expensive. This still doesn't mean that I have to put some money away to cover everything, not to mention I have a one year old to spoil this Christmas.

My wife and I will soon be sitting down to set our limits on Christmas this year, like we do every year and there is probably a chance that I may go over just a little. Starting early and setting limits has really helped us from over extending our budget around the holidays.

I had an incident recently that reflects one of our articles. In July I sent out my normal student loan payments. I send two checks for two accounts. It usually takes them a week to receive and process. A couple of weeks later we noticed that the checks have not cleared yet, so the next day I called them to see if there is a problem. I was assured that sometimes it takes longer to receive and process the payment and since I was not delinquent to just wait another week to see if it turns up.

So another week goes by and still no reflection of them clearing on our statements. Once again I call and asked if I should stop payment on the other checks and make another payment over the phone. The customer service person said that though it was unusual that sometimes payments show up late. She said to wait until right before the date where my account may be considered delinquent and if it hadn't shown up by then I could make a new payment. I thought this was an all right idea because I really didn't want to have to pay for two cancelled checks.

To my dismay the checks never showed up and I was required to make a double payment (July's new payment + August's which was now due) over the phone. I was charged $5 for each account because I had to make a payment over the phone. I had called the bank and they said that it would be around $24 per check to cancel them.

I have not canceled the checks yet because it pains me to spend almost $50 because of something I couldn't control. The student loan company still claims that the checks may show up, so we made sure that we had enough extra in our checking account incase they found them. I am going to give it a couple of weeks and if they are still not found than I am going to cancel them and eat the $44.

My student loans are one of the only bills that we still pay by check and I am highly considering changing it to an automatic payment or pay online.

On a happy note, I love Halloween. We get pretty excited about coming up with creative costumes. I don't remember the last time that I paid for a costume. Sure, I have bought a few accessories but will usually just dig through the closets and try and come up with something fun and original.

I've never been ashamed to share my ignorant financial practices of my youth. I am a perfect model of how not to use overdraft protection. If overdraft protection was my safety net than I was jumping into it every other weekend.

After over-drafting my account a couple of times during my younger college days, I switched banks to one that was located in the same town. My excuse for why I kept over-drafting my account was because I was still banking with a bank from home and it was too hard to keep up with my statements. Well apparently I kept over-drafting my account because I am a bonehead. My new account had overdraft protection with a credit card with a high interest rate.

I still over-drafted a couple of times but it was far less painful because of the protection. It was painless at the time but I still kick myself each month when I write out the payment to pay it off. I never treated it like overdraft protection but more like I had this extra money when I didn't have enough in my account. The constant use of overdraft protection should have been a warning sign that I was out of control with my spending and that I should take an extra 10 minutes out of my day to balance my checkbook. I'm happy to say that I still have overdraft protection but have not had to use it for a long time, well since I met my beautiful wife. Coincidence?

Well until next month, good luck and have fun.

 

 

 
>>Back to Top >>Previous Article

 

 
>>Back to Top >>Previous Article

Keychain Credit Card Trend

There is a trend that has started that is suppose to make it easier for you to make purchases with a check or credit card. No more digging through your purse or wallet to fumble with your plastic. Nope, all you will have to do is swipe the card attached to your keys or even just wave a keychain wand in front of data pad by the register.

Creditors are hoping that if it is easier and faster for you to use your card, you may just use it more often. There are also some security concerns that people may want to be concerned about.

This trend started a few years ago and began at the grocery store. Many grocery stores issued club or discount cards that would easily fit on your keychain. When you went through the checkout they would scan your card and you would get discounts and the grocery store could keep track of items that you have purchased. The popularity of the grocery discount cards led to the transition of similar sized credit and check cards.

Exxon/Mobile gas stations went one step further and made a device that is so easy all you have to do is wave it in front of a designated scanner. You can use it outside to purchase gas or even inside to purchase items in the convenience store. The wand has your information in it and the charges are linked to a credit card.

The biggest concerns for creditors and consumers come in the form of security. More than likely you have misplaced your keys a time or two. Losing your keys is always a headache but you never had to worry about your identity being stolen or charges being used on your credit. If someone got a hold of your keys and you have a credit card attachment they could easily use the card and spend a lot before you realized it.

In the nature of quicker service, many retailers neglect to ask for identification. In the case of the wands, identification would do nothing to prevent fraudulent charges since there is no information on the wand itself. So someone could steal your keychain, use it and there is no way the attendant can know that it is not yours.

Some cards contain the same information that your regular check or credit would have. This helps with the problem that you can now show identification to match the information on their card. However, you may have more information exposed to potential thieves.

Let's say you are at a restaurant and your keys are sitting on your table and your keychain contains a miniature card on it. Someone could copy the information from your card that is in full view. Sure, it may be difficult due to the size, but identity thieves are relentless and will find ways to take advantage of the situation.

Another security problem that has been popping up is that hackers are making imitation cards that will scan but are not linked to any specific account or uses someone else's information to make transactions. Retailers who are suspicious of fraudulent activity may ask for more forms of identification to help prevent security problems. This does not really bode well when the selling point of the new cards is speedier transactions. If anything it can actually slow the process.

Many credit card companies have fraud prevention and recovery so if your card were stolen you would still only be responsible for a minimal amount. It is still a tedious headache to deal with a lost or stolen credit card.

With most technology, it will improve over time. Security will be a top concern to resolve. It's hard to say how far it will go. There is technology in the works that will make it possible to use your cell phone to make transactions and it will update your account in real time.

If you are someone who is very responsible with his or her keys than a keychain card may be a good choice for you. It is more convenient and may limit you to only using one card instead of looking through your wallet and choosing one of many cards. It’s hard to say if the card is a gimmick to get you to spend more due to the fact that it’s easier to access and is always visible as a constant reminder. Until there is some specific proof done through research it will remain as speculation. Like with any credit card you should use it responsibly. Even though it’s smaller it can still have big effects on your credit.

Some of you may already have a card like this while others may be considering it. Before you do make sure you are prepared to take extra precautions to keep it safe. 



 
>>Back to Top >>Previous Article

>>Back to Top >>Previous Article
 

Home | Creditor Login | Hablamos Espanol |
Employment | Contact Us | Educational Services | Daycare/Preschool| Pilot Back Issues