Blog Challenge: Jaharah M.

A money-related blunder I have made…

The BIGGEST money-related blunder I have ever made is getting a job. Getting a first job, is supposed to be a liberating experience, one of the first steps to financial independence. I made the mistake of going into the job market, unprepared for many harsh realities that come with a company having your information.

The first error in the plan to get a job was I did not have a plan. The franchise I sought employment was very reputable, however, I did not do any research on the particular office location I preferred. So excited was I to get the position, initially not much attention was paid to the informal training, or lack of concern the branch had for whether or not I was prepared to properly service their customers.

Growing accustomed to the inner workings of the office, I began to feel uncomfortable with the level of professionalism displayed by those in management. For instance, representatives blatantly ignoring customers while having private conversations amongst themselves. With many small businesses, a family atmosphere is developed, where all employees look out for one another. They help new recruits; learn how to adhere to tasks and policies in a way that best represents themselves and the company. It is a little more challenging to cultivate a company’s vision, when you have no realistic reference to draw from. After a few choice encounters, I began to build a reputable rapport with the individuals we serviced.

One of the most enjoyable experiences of having a first job was being able to develop consistent habits that would make the transition into adult live a tad smoother. I was not comfortable with the initial job condition of providing a voided check for direct deposit (I preferred to give a copy), but it they only accepted an actual voided check. To get used to budgeting money, I did not allow automatic payments for paying my phone bill, consequently on the bi-weekly pay period, I would check my bank account for a deposit. Once the deposit cleared, I would pay my bill, and check a few days later to make sure the payment cleared.

After being employed about two months, I was doing a routine check of my account to verify my payment cleared and noticed I had HUGE overdraft fee! The initial reaction was confusion, I had just checked my account two days prior and had plenty to make my transaction, so what happened?? Reviewing the account details, I had 5 checks written in hundred dollar amounts to people I didn’t know!

The following morning, immediately contacted the bank and made an appointment to close my account. Although I was upset about the situation, I was relatively calm and didn’t have to panic because I had a consistent routine that allowed me to catch the error early. The checks did not have my signature, I NEVER used checks, and when I made transactions, the pattern was never in such amounts as the checks were written. The company I was employed was the only place I’d ever written a check, it was very disheartening someone would do such a thing. On a more positive note, because I had habits and patterns the bank could track, it was a relatively simple process to get the overdraft fees removed and close my account.

Thankfully, my employment with that company was seasonal, so my contract was up a few weeks after the incident. My advice to future job seekers, research the company you are going to work for. Even if it’s a franchise, people buy into franchises; make sure the location you’re going to be stationed has good reviews. Read blogs and talk to people who you know frequent the location; do they go because it is trustworthy or out of necessity? Also, have a consistent pattern your bank can track. After all, it is easier to be young and free, if you know habitually what you do financially and how you do it!

-Jaharah Muhammad