Monday, May 30, 2016

What's in a deposit?

J-son has been working off-and-on for his boxing coach lately. Because of this, he's been earning some big bucks; and because he's been earning big bucks, he's gotten more life lessons with his brand-new checking account.

He's had a savings account at our local credit union for a few years now, but we haven't really let him access the money there (except through me) because of a host of behavior issues, linked to impulse control issues.  The double good news is that (1) he's gotten a job and also (2) his behavior problems seem to be fading.  So he opened a checking account with the credit union last fall, and this spring he's getting chances to learn how to use it.

His job last fall was with an amusement park that deposited his salary. Now he's working with his boxing coach; he gets paid intermittently, and in cash. I'm sure it's breaking all kinds of tax regulations, but J-son is not getting paid enough to worry about taxes this year.  So I'll leave the tax lessons for later; I'm focused on more basic finance skills for now.

The first time J-son wanted to put his boxing money into his checking account, I gave him an ATM envelope, reminded him of the steps he needed to take, and sent him to the ATM alone. He begged me to go with him, but I reminded him that I had done that with him and in the fall. He was on his own this time. The worst that could happen (or so I told him) was that he wouldn't be able to figure it out and would just come back home with his money. All went well. Yay!  Lesson 1 complete.

A week or so later, he wanted to take out money to buy snacks. I reminded him that the ATM two blocks away from the convenient store is free, and that the ATM at the convenience store would charge him. He used the ATM at the convenience store, and was fairly horrified at the $1.75 fee he had to pay. Another good lesson!  (albeit a temporary one).

Last week, we got more practice. I was explaining to Y, our host daughter, that J-son wanted to deposit another $60. He responded, "No I want to put this money in my bank." I reminded him that "deposit" means put money in; "withdraw" means take the money out. Because the free machine was shut down temporarily, he went back to the convenience store.

The next day, pretty much on his own, he figured out how to set up electronic access so he could check his account online. That's how we discovered that instead of depositing his cash, he had instead transferred $60 from savings to his checking.  Somehow he also got the envelope with the $60 into the machine. We call the credit union right away, and they said they have to wait for the envelopes from the ATM to make their way through the system before they can figure out for sure what happened.  I figure that there's a really good chance that his $60 is lost.

My husband is horrified and feels really sorry for J-son. As for me, I'm glad to let my son learn from this experience. J-son has earned several hundred dollars in cash --- and spent almost as much on ephemera. If his earnings hadn't been so under the table, I would have enforced the rule that he should save up for future purchases. But instead J-son has blown most of the money on clothes and shoes, often while he's still at the boxing events where he'd earned the money.  Some these clothes, we have already taken to Goodwill because he no longer wants it. Blowing a few hundred dollars on fancy shoes hasn't taught him anything much about money. But losing $60 because he doesn't know the difference between "transfer" and "deposit" has been a lesson he'll remember.

I do think we're going to start enforcing savings and keeping track of income soon.  But one lesson at a time, and we now have the first set of lessons under our belt.  Phew!


  1. I never use atms to deposit cash. I always go into the bank. It is too easy for cash to get "lost".

  2. Yes, this happened to me, I deposited cash money in another bank's machine. Disappeared altogether. No recourse. Ever since then I went to my own bank to a teller and get a receipt. Seems those jobs are going away. Besides safety adds to someone's job security.

  3. We've learned at our credit union that if you go to the actual building and put the money in the night deposit box, you get credit much faster than if you use the ATM right next to it!

  4. Wow, I hadn't heard of money disappearing, but then again, I never seem to have cash to deposit, only checks.

    Our credit union is unfortunately in a highly inconvenient location. Biking there takes a bit of guts, because part of the route includes a narrow, heavily traveled road with a lot of pot holes, and another part is on a two-lane (in each direction) road with no shoulders and highway exit ramps merging in. Yuckers. I've gotten to the point in my own biking that I make the trip myself, but J-son is probably not up for it . . . I think having him use a more reputable (bank-sponsored) ATM is probably the way to go, at least for now.

    And considering his normal difficulties with impulse control, losing cash to an ATM is probably less likely than having it burn a hole in his pocket while he waits until he's got open time at the same time that the credit union is open!