5 Scary Money Moments and How to Avoid Them

Happy Halloween! In keeping with the season that specializes in scary surprises, today’s post is all about frightening financial situations—those stomach-churning “Oh No” moments that can catch any college student unaware.

Scary Scenario #1: Not receiving any grants in your financial aid package for next year

You probably forgot to apply for aid or missed the application deadline, right? Unfortunately, many programs give funds to students on a first come, first served basis, so it’s extremely important to file every year as soon after January 1 as possible. For now, don’t panic—contact your school’s financial aid office to see if you can appeal your award.

Scary Scenario #2: Losing your wallet

The moment you realize you don’t have your wallet or purse can be truly terrifying. Take immediate steps to protect your assets by calling your bank and credit card company to report the loss and have your debit and credit cards canceled. Some issuers have 24-hour toll-free telephone numbers to accept emergency information. If your card is used without your permission, you can be held responsible for up to $50 per card. If you report the loss before any of your payment cards are used, you can’t be held responsible for any unauthorized charges. It’s a good idea to follow up with a letter to the issuer, as well. For more information on what to do to protect your identity and financial assets, visit the FDIC website.

Scary Scenario #3: Discovering a $500 charge that you didn’t make

You’re dutifully going over your bank account or credit card statement when you notice a large purchase that you are sure you didn’t make. Yikes! Contact your card issuer at once and ask how to file a dispute. Keep in mind that this process may require additional calls or follow-up correspondence, depending on the situation (e.g., fraudulent card use versus a merchant billing error).

Scary Scenario #4: Realizing how much you’re paying in interest on your credit card bill

If you make the minimum payment listed on your credit card bill, you’re good to go, right? Wrong. While you won’t be charged a late fee if you pay the minimum every month, you’ll still be charged interest on the balance, and you won’t get an interest-free grace period as you would if you paid your balance in full every month. Worst of all, it will take you much longer to pay off your balance. Let’s say you’re making the minimum payment on a $1,000 balance on a credit card with an 18 percent APR (annual percentage rate). Assuming you make no other purchases, it will take you almost five years (59 months) to pay off your debt, and you’ll pay an extra $498 in interest. Now that’s scary! Take the safer route—use your credit card wisely and pay off the balance each month.

Scary Scenario #5: Being out to dinner and realizing you don’t have enough money to cover your meal

You’re just polishing off a delicious dinner out with friends and are ready to chip in for the bill when … uh-oh, not enough scratch to pay for that steak. This happens more than you think and can be very embarrassing, especially if you have to ask your friends to bail you out. Be sure to check your debit card balance before you go out, or bring a set amount of cash so you’ll know how much you can safely spend. And don’t forget to calculate tax and tip!

Have a scary financial moment you’d like to share? Submit a comment today!

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Showing 3 comments
  • Amy Vasquez

    Scary thing of all, is not knowing when will the next deposit comes in. It is scary that projects are due, but no money to buy the supplies you need or to pay something off. Now that’s scary!

    • Amy Lofland

      So true or waiting because it’s another something you have to do before you receive it. I have been waiting since July and still haven’t apparently completed everything, Ridiculous Stress and anxiety for no apparent reason

  • Donna

    The scarest financial moment for me was when I discover my identity had been stolen. It was a true nightmare that took 4 years to clean up.