Caught by Making It Complicated

I can't believe it.  Several years ago, I closed my one department store credit card because I wanted to simplify my life.  Unfortunately, this store constantly offers outstanding deals to its credit card customers and I'm regularly being encouraged to reopen my account, usually by the "get a percentage off if you use your card" type offers.  It is also the only department store in my community and it is a convenient location with good selection and competitive prices.

About a month and a half ago, I was in this store buying some shoes for my daughter.  The cashier mentioned that I could save 30% by using my store charge card.  Well, I caved and reactivated my account.  I was glad to save the money and swore to myself that I would be sure to pay the whole thing off in a few days, using their handy online payment feature.

Well, as it turns out, one of the items I purchased needed to be returned.  I didn't want to pay the balance without figuring out the amount of the return, so I amended my plan and decided that I would take the return into the store, bring my checkbook with me, and pay off the balance once the return had been processed.  Simple, right?

You probably know that life can be busy.  Weeks passed and I hadn't made the return or the payment.  I got a handy email a couple of weeks ago, reminding me that I had a balance and it was due on September 21st.  I made a mental note to get over there and make that return.  I even put a note on my calendar so that I wouldn't forget that the 21st was the last day to pay the bill. As I have scrambled around in a busier-than-usual time, I didn't make it over to the store.  No problem – I'll just pay the balance in full and then have a credit.  Last night, I remembered and went online to pay my bill.  Oops!  The reminder hadn't said the 21st…it had said the 17th.  Now I've got a late payment and a late payment fee.  More than the amount that I saved by using the card in the first place.

I know that I am totally responsible for keeping up with my bills.  That's the reason I closed the account in the first place.  I should have stuck to my original, smart plan and kept the account closed.  There is a huge value in simplifying your finances and this is yet another example of why complicated just doesn't work.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.