So this week we accidentally paid our mortgage twice. Fortunately, we have a large enough cushion in our checking account right now that we could cover both payments without moving money around. Unfortunately, we have only ourselves to blame for this snafu.
How We Came to Pay the Mortgage Twice
It started like this: we refinanced our mortgage. Our first payment was due on February 1. Because our mortgage had to be sold to a servicer, and then the servicer had to send us payment instructions, there was some concern we wouldn’t get the info in time. To be safe, I used the account number to set up our servicer as payee in our online banking. Then I discovered that it would take seven days for the payment to go through. Seven! This is two major banks that can’t communicate electronically!
But I digress. The new bank’s info did indeed arrive in time, so I set up automatic debit at that account. However, they have a fairly unfriendly interface, so you have to click a few things to determine that it’s been setup properly. I cancelled the other payment.
Then I mentioned to my husband in passing that I’d cancelled the online payment and setup automatic debit. The payment went through fine. We both forgot the conversation.
Fast forward to this week. My husband emails me to tell me that he’s paid all the bills and the mortgage. I immediately called him and said, “You paid the mortgage?” Thus began the odyssey of calling the banks. We called our primary bank to cancel the online payment, because it was only submitted the day before. We couldn’t do that – they mailed a physical check. We called the second bank to cancel the automatic debit, but opted not to in case the check gets lost in processing or something. We’ve been assured that the payment that arrives second will be applied to our April payment, not the principal. I will call in March to cancel the March auto debit. Some day we might pay extra toward the principal, but not this month!
What We Learned from This
We learned one simple lesson from this: don’t have financial discussions on the fly! My husband was with me in the room when we set up automatic debits for our first mortgage. We were both fully aware of the process. I should have done that again with the new mortgage. At the very least, I should have told him that I set up the payment during a financial discussion, not during Daily Show commercials. It was too easy for that information to slip through the cracks, especially since I didn’t delete the servicer as a payee in our online banking account. The funny thing is, I was in the online banking interface a few days earlier and thought “I don’t need this anymore. I should delete it.” And then I didn’t delete it. Why don’t I listen to my intuition?
If you and your spouse both handle the finances, then learn this lesson from us. Always have clear conversations about your money, especially when it comes to huge payments! Although we have enough of a cushion to handle the missing money this month, it could have been a problem if we didn’t have it in place and only discovered the error after one of the payments bounced. We’ve started to slip on our daily financial talks. We need to work on that.