True Confessions: I Bounced a Check

by Joe Plemon on August 11, 2009

bouncing a check

Bouncing a Check: True Confession

Yes, I am a financial counselor and yes I bounced a check. When I shared this embarrassment with a client, he leaned back, smiled broadly and exclaimed, “Joe, that’s wonderful. This is something I can relate to! You should share this with all of your clients.”

OK Randy. How about the entire blogosphere? This is for you:

When I opened my bank statement last month, a negative balance jumped out at me. I scrutinized the statement, turned it over and back again to see if the minus sign might go away. No such luck. There were no notices, no overdraft fees, nothing nasty at all, just a negative balance. “How can this be?” I asked myself.

It happened just the way one would expect, but let me explain.

First, we have our savings and investments electronically transferred out of our checking account every month, leaving a buffer amount in the checking account in order to avoid overdrafts. As long as we live on our budget, all is well. However, when coupled with reasons two and three below, the buffer amount was not enough and all was not well.

Second, we made an arithmetic mistake on our check ledger. We thought we had more money that we actually had.

Third, we were lax at posting a couple of debit card charges.

Put those all together and you have a bounced check. Actually, I didn’t realize a check had bounced by looking at the bank statement; that bit of news was in a separate and very thin letter from the bank.

We do small town banking, so I drove to the bank and asked the teller why I wasn’t charged an overdraft for my misdemeanor. “Well”, she replied, “I can’t answer that, but I can say that our bank president reviews overdrafts and determines whether a charge is made.”

Don’t you love small town banks?

Then I called the business I bounced the check to. I apologized, explained that there were now sufficient funds in the account to cover the check and asked what, if anything, I needed to do to make it right. The bookkeeper didn’t know anything about it, but assured me that she would let me know if she needed anything from me. The call may not have been necessary, but I felt better having made it.

Hopefully, I have learned my lesson, but I cannot promise that it won’t happen again.

If it does, I will be sure to let you know. According to Randy, it should make you very happy.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

DR August 11, 2009 at 7:42 am

Just stumbled this post! It’s stories like this that make me wonder why I still bank at Citi. I have overdraft protection tied to my account, so I normally don’t care if I overdraw the account. The interest on the overdraft protection is high, but add funds to the account immediately so the charges are minimal. That was until Citi tacked on a $10 fee on top of the interest for every single overdraft. So even with overdraft “protection,” they still hit you with a fee.


Joe Plemon August 11, 2009 at 7:56 am


I live in a small town and have never done anything other than small town banking. But somehow, knowing that the Bank President takes the time to personally review overdrafts, makes me feel like a customer and not a number.


Craig @ Money Help For Christians August 11, 2009 at 2:41 pm

My family is our furlough in America and we have an account in our home country of Papua New Guinea. I just checked my account online and I also had a bounced check! The bank made an error and I will try and resolve it out when we get back at the end of this month. Those of us who write about personal finance do need a little reality now an then. Thanks.


Peter August 11, 2009 at 2:52 pm

You mean you’re not perfect! Heaven forbid! 😉

It’s been years since I bounced a check or overdrafted, but i remember for sure that my bank was not nearly as forgiving as yours was. That’s amazing that the bank president actually reviews overdrafts.


Chris Holdheide August 12, 2009 at 2:16 pm

The debit card will get you every time. This is why I don’t have a debit card, money to easy to access would kill my saving account in a hurry.

However, my wife works at are local bank and has done a very good job at looking out for any bounced checks. So far so good.


Kathrine@Accountancy Training Course July 20, 2011 at 5:19 am

Its okay, everything can commit a mistake. unless if you intended to do that mistake. The good thing is you never keep that mistake. instead you confess it. you did a good job.


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