Plugging a Hole

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal.

I was bad. I spent more money than I should have spent.  The good news is that the over spend came from my allowance, so the damage was minimal.  Still, I was in danger of not having the savings that I wanted by year-end.  I planned on having $600 set aside by the end of the year for the surprise trip for my wife in a few years.  Poor impulse control led me to spend too much money.

The Spend

The biggest expenses I had were a couple casino trips that I had not anticipated. I have not really been to the casino much in the last few years, so I had not set aside money for gambling purposes.  I ended up going with my good friend a couple of times.  I went mainly because he was having heart surgery.  He and I went once before the surgery and then again a couple of months after his surgery.  We both had a great time.  I think it also helped my friend after the surgery as he couldn’t drive, so it got him out of the house.  So, in that respect, the money was well spent.  However, my luck was nonexistent at the casino and I lost everything that I took.  What this meant for my finances is that I would be falling about $150 short of my year-end goal to save $600 for the trip for my wife.

Extra Income

Since my allowance is fixed I was initially just going to accept the $150 shortfall and make up the difference next year. I was not exactly excited about the idea, but felt it was probably inevitable.  I then began seeing a bank advertise a bonus for opening up a checking account with them.  The bonus was $100.  It probably took a few weeks of seeing the ads before I started considering opening the account.

I finally investigated the conditions necessary for the bonus.  I would need to have at least $250 direct deposited into the account over a 60 period and keep the account open for 90 days.  The account’s only requirement to avoid any monthly fees is that I have to have at least one direct deposit into it every month.  This seemed like an easy $100 to make.  I can easily adjust my paycheck direct deposits with a few simple mouse clicks.  So, now all I have to do is wait for the bonus and then transfer all of the money back to my savings account.  The remaining shortfall was made up via another checking account bonus.  This one was even easier.

Since I have a Discover credit card, they were offering a $50 bonus to also open up a checking account.  There were no restrictions or conditions necessary to receive the $50, just open up a checking account.  That felt like a no-brainer to me.  So, with a little paperwork, I was able to pick up an extra $150 and plug my deficit for the year.

Morality

It took some time to think about opening the accounts. I wondered whether it was ‘right’ to open the accounts.  I had no intention of keeping the accounts, just of getting the bonus.  The more I thought about it, the better I felt about it.  I reasoned that I was following the conditions without bending rules or doing anything dishonest.  There was nothing illegal about opening the accounts just for the bonus and then closing them shortly thereafter.  By abiding by the conditions the banks set forth for the deal, there was nothing wrong with opening the accounts.

Future Budget

Since it looks like I’ll probably be headed to the casino more frequently (more than zero times), I should plan for it. I don’t want to be in this position at the end of next year.  Have you taken advantage of any bank incentives to your advantage recently?

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