An alternative plan to Koran burning on 9/11…

Many of you may have heard about the pastor in central Florida (Florida, of course!) who is calling on folks to mark the nine-year anniversary of the September 11,, 2001 terror attacks by burning copies of the Koran.

Yes, because book burning has such a rich, storied history of success in our country, does it not?

The head of the controversial church says he is not deterred by protests, death threats or warnings by the top U.S. commander that his plan may put the lives of US military forces at risk.

And why should he be?  After all, he’s getting his fifteen minutes of fame, isn’t he?

But I have a better idea.

Instead, buy this book, written by a high school buddy of mine:

Apropos title, isn’t it?

He won’t care if you burn it, and it won’t put the lives of our military at risk – though Jihad may go after him personally.  But he won’t care – he needs the cash.  And a ranking on Amazon higher than #6,989,111 will help  his ego.

And about Red Fred, the poor tense fish, Bob reports that Red Fred, “…had to be committed to the Sunnydale Home for Tense Fish a few years back…His behavior had become too aberrant, and I had found that he was operating a small crystal meth lab under the rocks…He will be missed by all…”

Indeed he will.

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Well, might as well enter a carnival…

Back before I stopped blogging, I would enter posts I like in blog carnivals.  Blog carnivals are kind of like blog magazines, where 10 – 30 or so bloggers submit articles for consideration that are either included or not, and the carnival host chooses their picks as the best that week.  It’s a great way to find a bunch of great posts, and get introduced to new blogs.

The other day I entered my post No One at AmTrust Bank Seems to Know Jack About Their Minimum Balance Policy in the Carnival of Money Stories, hosted at Eventual Millionaire this week.

There are some terrific articles over there, so go check it out!

Thank you, random visitors…

I’ve been neglecting this blog for a long time.  I began to feel constricted by my own mandate to post daily.  I had less time, what with all of the volunteering I began Son’s school as he entered kindergarten.

I just didn’t wanna.

And it wasn’t my only my own blog I neglected.  I have about fifty blogs in my Google reader, and went months without reading a single entry.  Not other finance blogs, not coupon or bargain blogs, not  even my friends’ Mommy blogs.

I’m doing even more volunteering this school year, chairing a very important advisory committee, and taking on the Room Mom responsibilities in Son’s classroom.  But I’m finding myself wanting to write.

So, yesterday I signed into this blog.  And I was shocked to see that even after months of inactivity on my part, anywhere between 80 and a few hundred people a day have continued to stop by, reading a post or twelve.

I was shocked.  Guess I may have written a decent article or two, huh?

So, here I am.  Probably not daily.  And I’ve started reading others’ blogs again.  I see I’ve missed a ton of great stuff.

And thank you, especially to those who continued to visit.  And  please, come back often.

No One at AmTrust Bank Seems to Know Jack About Their Minimum Balance Policy

This post has a long prologue, so I can catch you up on things since I effectively stopped posting last year.  It’s only a partial summary, but it helps to understand why I was asking about the Minimum Balance Policy in the first place.  For those of you uninterested, skip to “Here’s the meat of the story:”.

I’ve written before about how much I hate bank fees.  And I’ve written about how I use my bank accounts to manage my bills and save money.

A lot has happened since those posts were written, but you may be glad to know that I still use my bank accounts to manage my bills and save money, and I still hate bank fees.  And have had no trouble with both.

But, the economy has affected us all.  It’s been almost a year since pay cut #2.  We’ve moved since then, rented out the townhouse, and are looking for ways for me to make some money to help our bottom line.

August was a particularly tight month, and things are only going to get tighter.  We have a large property tax bill due in November, and there’s Christmas, too.   Plus, in order to keep our wonderful, reliable tenants we had to reduce the rent $100 a month.  Sigh.

As I was paying bills last month, I was very much afraid I’d have to take money out of our Money Market to meet our obligations.  But after collecting some past due fees from a couple of clients, and getting paid $75 to taste butter in a focus group, I was pretty sure I’d make it.  Just.  But I’d likely have to “borrow” a few hundred dollars from the Money Market account, just to be safe.

Except for Husband’s paychecks (which are direct-deposited into checking, I deposit all money into our Statement Savings account.  I don’t keep a great deal of money in there – it’s mostly used as a way station for money on it’s way  to the checking account, our Money Market (which is our long-term liquid savings), or to pay our mortgage).  I got in this habit years ago when I did keep more money in there so that I didn’t have to worry about check holds and could transfer cash into my checking account  after depositing my dark-ages paper paycheck (no direct deposit for them!).

Here’s the meat of the story:

That Statement Savings account now has a $250 minimum balance, which is pretty standard in the industry.  I’ve not given it much thought, but I’ve also been careful never to go below that threshold.  But when paying bills last week I forgot to transfer the “loan” of the extra few hundred dollars from the Money Market to the Statement Savings.  Luckily, I realized this on September 1st – the  day my mortgage is deducted from the account, and the day that my balance would have fallen below the $250 threshold.  And, luckily, it was around lunchtime, well before the end of the business day.  And to make it even more lucky, I realized it when I was on my way to the bank to deposit the rent checks into that account, so it wasn’t in the least inconvenient to handle it.

I was handing the deposit to the teller when I realized I had a few questions.  Would I get charged a service fee for going below the $250 threshold if I made a deposit before the close of that business day?  In other words, if the automatic debit hit my account at 1:15 pm and I made a deposit bringing me over the $250 requirement at 1:20 pm, would I get hit with the charge?  Or is it based on the balance at the end of the day?  I was told that I COULD get charged the fee.  There was no way to know, as it was automated.  Really?

And, what if I deposit checks?  Would the checks I deposited be counted as meeting the minimum balance requirement, even though they were as yet uncollected?  Does the bank give the client the benefit of the doubt in the limited scope of meeting the account’s minimum balance requirement?

If the check deposit I was making would suffice, I wouldn’t need to transfer cash from the Money Market.  But if I was required to keep an available balance of $250 – not simply a balance of $250, then the transfer would be necessary.

The teller, when asked, told me the balance had to be available.  That didn’t make sense to me, as it would seem that the bank would say what they mean and mean what they say, and I was pretty sure the word “available” was nowhere in this particular part of their fee disclosures.  I seemed to remember words that go something like “must maintain a minimum balance of $250…”, NOT “must maintain a minimum available balance of $250…”.

So, I asked very politely where it was written that we had to maintain the minimum available balance.  I wanted to know not only so I could know whether or not I needed to transfer money, but also because I thought it very important that THEY should know.

The teller called the manager, who tried to be helpful, and  recommended that I was “better safe than sorry.”  She offered to deposit one of my checks without a hold, effectively removing the necessity for me to transfer any money.

Very nice of her, and completely unnecessary, because the answer was much more important that my particular situation – which would have been easily taken care of regardless.  The offer of the one-time accommodation meant that the manager didn’t know the answer, either.  And I was never shown the disclosure, even though I’d asked twice.

Both the manager and  the teller seemed perplexed that I really, truly wanted an answer to these questions.  I was not angry, I was not belligerent.  I was quite pleasant as I explained that I felt it was important to get the answers, so I would know.  And they would know.

Seeing a long line, I assured them that they didn’t need to find out right that second.  I would welcome a phone call later, once they received an answer, most particularly to the question:  Is it minimum balance of $250, or minimum available balance of $250?

I did receive a call back from the teller near the end of the day.  She told me that it was available balance.  I asked, again, to see where that was written.  She hemmed and hawed for a few moments, and wound up telling me that she spoke to several people and they all indicated available balance, but they didn’t really know.  And, frankly, didn’t seem all that eager to find out.

How can they not know?!?!?!?    Someone must know!

So, now, I must find the answer.  I am off to the Consumerist, and  to try to find some bigwig AmTrust email addresses.

And I’m asking you, my dear, neglected friends.  Do let me know if you know, if you know someone who knows, and/or if you agree with me that it’s important to know.

Deal of the Day September 4, 2010 – VitaTops Coupon Code

 

Those of you on Weight Watchers may be aware of the low-point masterpiece that is VitaTops.  They are currently offering a coupon code for 10% off.  Enter MMMYY3QyQ at checkout for the discount.

Special thanks to new blogger Helter Svelter, who found this deal!

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