June 2017 started off like every other month. By the first Monday, I knew something was off because my rent check yet to clear. This was unusual and my fiancé, at the time, called the landlord’s office. They told him to not worry and check again on Friday. On Wednesday, we received an e-mail notifying us our rent was late. However, I saw earlier that morning that my rent check cleared. After some odor sleuthing, we discovered our rent checks were stolen out of the mail and deposited.
The following two months were powdered with fraud claims paperwork, collecting documents and signatures, taking time off work to deal with it all and a wailmer of waiting. The landlord’s office understood what happened and was very helpful, but we still owed them June’s rent. We borrowed it from our wedding account and returned it once we got our money back from the bank at the end of July. This annoying adventure became known as "June’s sludge wave" because of all the financial sludge that needed to be cleaned up after it hit. It was a muked up mess. I did some soul searching and exploration while cleaning, which eventually led me to restructure my financial pokémon team.
In Part I, I look at the damage the sludge wave caused and what I realized about how my team strategy.
It felt that if this were a battle, my servine, nicknamed "Income", was out battling as usual and the rent thief's muk hit it with a powerful sludge wave. It withstood the attack but became poisoned. The poison brought it so close to fainting, I could hear ringing. I quickly switched out my alomomola, nicknamed "Savings" to finish the battle. We won, but I was concerned about how much damage Income took with one hit.
In real life, the battle felt like it would never end. We raced to the bank to file fraud claims once we realized our rent checks were stolen. Alongside beginning paperwork, we were advised to close our poisoned accounts so the thief couldn’t snatch more money. This was when my finances became sludgy. I couldn’t simply close my account. I had a paycheck scheduled for direct deposit on Friday and a student loan payment pending withdrawal.
My banker advised me to freeze the account so money could still get in, like my direct deposit, while none could get out. She assured me that since my student loan payment was “pending” it would be fine. Thus, I opened a new checking account, moved the money over, and froze the poisoned account. The only thing left was supposed to be changing my account on all my bills.
My paycheck became trapped because the banker who froze the account couldn’t thaw it until the following Tuesday. My pending student loan payment was never withdrawn, became overdue and was trapped in my account. In retrospect, I should have taken my chances closing it Saturday over the phone. My Acorns and Digit froze once their communications with the account were throat chopped by the freeze. I eventually thawed them out in late October and November, ironically.
Updating every bill or account I had my checking account connected to was not the Alolan breeze I thought it would be. Setting up direct deposits at work was the easiest. On a few of my accounts, like my emergency savings, I had to do test connections first. To do this the company deposits two small amounts of money in my checking account, usually between 2-9 cents, and then I tell them what the deposits were. This usually takes a week. I ended June with late payments to two of my student loans and my American Express.
Although the battle was long, I still won. By July I had received my team back from Nurse Joy revived and ready to keep battling. Yet, I still felt as though I had failed my team as their trainer. I needed to take an honest look at my financial pokémon team and find out how closing my account caused such a widespread effect.
While my team continued to battle, I had a wedding coming up, I managed to review June’s battle. I noticed as I was reconnecting my new checking account to my bills that Income was doing most of the team’s battling, not my sturdy boldore. I originally intended my boldore, nicknamed "Budget", to be the principal fighter and I expected him to carry the team.
Income was never intended to see that much battle time. I wanted it to get in swiftly, do some quick damage and let Budget handle the rest. I thought Income would give the money to Budget, who would distribute it to the bills and the other pokémon. In reality, Budget merely told Income how to distribute the money, and never actually touched it. I misunderstood how my team worked together and how I used it. Since I never encountered any problems before, I never noticed an imbalance.
I had mislabeled the team’s position to signify what I wanted instead of what it was. Just because you paint an oddish pink and call it an "hoppip" doesn’t mean it can fly. By correctly nicknaming the position “Checking” it provides a clearer understanding how the position works and its expectations. It is a position that needs to be able to attack while enduring attacks, like quickly defeating a small bill battle, while also withstanding a long emergency battle like June’s sludge wave.
With my clear perception of how my team really works and the accurately defined position, I began to research which financial pokémon and attacks I needed to provide this position the strength and defenses it needed.
To be continued January 13th…
Let’s chat: What is an experience you had when your financial pokémon team surprised you?
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