I wonder how much money the average person loses from not reading their bills, bank statements and a whole litany of other financial instruments and invoices. Over the last 2 years along, I have uncovered no less than 7 mistakes that could have amounted to me pay more than $1000 erroneously from overbillings and mistakes had I not taken the opportunity to really scrutinize my bills and financial statements. Below are just an example of a few of those mistakes.
1. Bank Statements. Believe it or not, I had a bank submit the same check twice six months apart. Because I am meticulous about reviewing my financial statements, I found it odd that a check I wrote to my nephew as a graduation present in May was clearing in November. What was more odd, I was convinced he, like any youngster, wouldn’t sit on it that long. When I reviewed my financial statements from May and June, I saw that the same check had already cleared in May. My bank did an investigation and found that too be the case and refunded me the money. However, this lesson disturbed me because I had no idea why any bank would present for payment the same check twice and it made me wonder how often this must happen. The amount of the check: $100
2. Hospital Statements. A few months ago, I received a bill from the hospital for $625 for lab work. The way the bill was written it appeared that this was the amount I owed after my insurance payment. I almost paid the bill but after a more careful review, I noticed a statement in the bill that actually referenced that I had no insurance. When I called the hospital, I learned the bill was never submitted to my insurance company because someone had failed to attach the copy of the insurance to the record although they had it in their system. Savings: $625.
3. Doctor’s Statements. Last week, I received a bill from my children’s pediatrician. In reviewing the bill, I saw the charges related to fees incurred in December and January. Once again, I almost paid the bill but then I began to think it odd that I’m just now receiving a bill for the charges. Upon calling the pediatrician, the assistant informed me that we had no outstanding bill and they hadn’t sent us a bill. Their records, in fact, showed we were all paid up. Savings: $45.
While the items above only provide a few examples, it’s important to note that this can happen with any of your bills or financial statements and I have seen this was increasing frequency over the last two years in my own situation. As such, I think the following can be of assistance in making sure you don’t overpay due to such mistakes or errors.
1. Read your bills and financial statements carefully. I know this sounds like a given but I’m amazed at how quickly many people review their bills and financial statements. Try to make sure that every item is accounted for and that every check cleared was correct. You will be surprised how often banks clear checks and deduct the wrong amount from your account (ex: I’ve had checks that I wrote for $50 once clear and $60 was removed from my account). It’s important that you do t his because you have only a limited amount of time to correct changes with respect to banks and credit card companies. Also reviewing your statements carefully, will also allow you to uncover fraudulent charges as well.
2. Keep Records for At Least Two Years Or Longer. I advocate keeping copies of your financial statements and bills for at least two years. This way you can have these records easily at hand if you need them. If I had not kept copies of my bank statements, I would have had to pay money to get another copy to show that the bank presented the same check to me twice. Because I had the records on hand, I was able to produce that information to the bank when I met with them.
3. Don’t assume. Never assume that the bills you receive whether from a doctor’s office, a hospital, a credit card company or even your gas bill is accurate. Scrutiinize it for accuracy and mistakes.
In the end, it’s important that you do a careful review of your bills and financial statements. It may take more time, but in the end you could end up saving a good deal of money from overpaying and mistakes and errors.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
In order to promote the new Kentucky Grilled Chicken, KFC is Offering a free two piece meal. Enjoy, but remember its for a limited time only and some exclusions do apply (Mothers Day).
Click on the logo below for the coupon: