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Automated Finances Are Great - Except When They Aren't


My husband didn't get paid on November 30 like he's supposed to. Being a good financial planner, most of our finances are automated. Usually his check is direct-deposited to 3 different places - our checking, his checking, and our savings. From there, all our bills get paid starting on the 1st of the month. This is all great. Except when he doesn't get paid.

Once he realized it, he contacted his HR which cut him a check. That would be great but he was working from home that day. So he went to the office yesterday to pick up the check - but surprise, they overnighted the check to our house. UPS was supposed to deliver by 7pm. They did - at 6:52. The bank closes at 7pm.

Luckily we have Chase, who allows you to deposit checks via their phone app (best invention EVER). Unfortunately, this check was higher than our mobile deposit limits. So I noticed that my mobile deposit limits on my business checking were higher. So we deposited it there. It cleared this morning (large bank to large bank) so at least we got that far. Step one complete. 

I have our online savings account connected to my Chase business account so I was able to set up that transfer easily. We have a buffer in our checking account of one months expenses, so the bills haven't bounced. My husband was able to withdraw cash from our checking buffer and deposit it into his checking account - and he postponed his automated payments until the cash cleared.

For the last step, I used Chase Quick Pay to transfer the money from my business checking to my personal checking. Unfortunately, we exceeded the limits there so I need to do it over 2 days. But at least we have access to the majority of it in our checking account now.

So what has this taught me? A LOT.

  • Have a buffer in your main account. We'd be screwed if we didn't. I used to keep this account at the minimum needed and keep the rest in savings. That's ok if your savings and checking are at the same place and you can transfer immediately. Not for us because we use an online account and it takes 3 days.
  • Be able to electronically transfer funds between accounts at different institutions. Sometimes you have to jump through hoops to set this up (trial deposits and such), but it's worth it. 
  • Use the technology tools your bank offers. I'm sure lots of people don't like Chase, but I couldn't live and run my business without the ability to deposit checks via mobile and use Quick Pay to pay almost anyone with an email address or phone, well, quickly. If your bank doesn't have this kind of technology, consider switching.

This whole process has been a comedy of errors. But it could have been catastrophic if we hadn't prepared ahead of time. If you need help with cash flow management, budgeting, or automating your finances, reach out!