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01 July 2011 @ 08:51 pm
Where did it all go?  
One of the most tedious parts of my job involves checking through three months' worth of transactions on loan applicants' bank accounts, looking for undisclosed debts or ongoing commitments. It can be pretty time-consuming, especially on everyday transaction accounts that get regular heavy usage, and when I'm short on time and needing to get something approved it is downright annoying, wading through page after page of transactions.

When I'm not pushed for time, though, it can be pretty fun. It's always interesting to see how people dispose of their disposable income. For example - earlier this week, going through a customer's account, I could see visa purchases made at the local boating / camping / fishing store just prior to Easter, while the long weekend included payment for the car ferry out to the Moreton Bay islands. Then there were purchases at an ice cream shop, and an island restaurant, over the weekend. That customer's asset position had included a 4WD Landrover, so no prizes for guessing how he spent his long weekend.

And sometimes the info uncovered can be quite useful. One customer, recently, had been to Bali, and I noticed that there were a number of withdrawals on his account, all on the same day, and for the same amount. It looked suspicious so I emailed him and asked him to take a look. Turns out that they were all withdrawals from an ATM; the first one was genuine but the rest were not. It wasn't a deliberate fraud, but rather a machine error, and he'd have discovered it for himself when his statement arrived, but my call saved him the hassle of reporting it, and also strengthened his relationship with the bank. Considering our focus is to "surprise and delight" our customers, it was nice to think that I'd helped to do just that.

I'm constantly amazed by the amount of money some people spend on takeaway. One family was spending on average $300pw on dinners! Different priorities I guess. And that's the really interesting thing about the account search.

The really scary ones are those with $40k /$50k in unsecured debt - credit cards maxxed out, that they want to roll into their home loan - and a quick perusal of the credit card statements show that they're using them for lifestyle purchases; if you're putting restaurant meals and hair stylist appointments on your credit card, do you really want to be paying for them over the next 30 years with your home loan?
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Strike while the irony is hot: EMO -- CUPPA?draycevixen on July 1st, 2011 02:00 pm (UTC)

It's rather like a form of archaeology/anthropology without having to leave your desk. *g*

I work with a bunch of people who put everything on their credit card right down to a cup of coffee and say they're just using it as a organizational thing and pay it all off every month, but I wonder.

The best piece of financial advice I ever got was that it hurts more to part with cash so while I do use plastic I use it very sparingly.
miwahni: Random Rainbow Earthmiwahni on July 2nd, 2011 09:30 am (UTC)
The best piece of financial advice I ever got was that it hurts more to part with cash...
That's true; it's psychological, in that a payment deferred is one we don't think about until the statement arrives, whereas with a cash payment the pain is immediate. Plastic can be a trap, if you think of it as something that doesn't have to be paid for right away.

I have a couple of credit cards, each with a different purpose. I use one of them for all of my bills plus petrol and groceries, and make sure that it's paid off every month. That way my pay is in my account for longer, saving a small amount of interest on my loan (my home loan is a line of credit where my pay is credited each fortnight). Another card is used just for clothing, with a regular payment scheduled, while a third is my staff card with a very low interest rate; I use it for things that I can't pay off immediately eg my recent solar power system. The fourth card is a store card which is kept for interest-free purchases; we have a number of stores which hook up with the card and offer interest-free periods on major purchases like furniture and electrical items. Do you have anything similar? I have used mine for my lounge, and most recently a new air-conditioner. Provided they're paid off within the nominated time period - usually 2 years - there's no interest charged.
Merlin Pendragon: Québec la nuitmrlnpndrgn on July 2nd, 2011 11:39 am (UTC)
Do you have anything similar? I have used mine for my lounge, and most recently a new air-conditioner. Provided they're paid off within the nominated time period - usually 2 years - there's no interest charged.

We have something similar.

The catch, of course, is that if you can't pay in the time period, the interest rate is horrendous (at least here) : last time I used it, it was something like 28%, starting at the time of purchase.

;-(

There's another option with my bank (which is a credit union) : it's a loan on a limited time period, no interest, and paid monthly.

That one is not so bad ;-/
miwahni: Random Whippet Goodmiwahni on July 3rd, 2011 07:50 am (UTC)
last time I used it, it was something like 28%, starting at the time of purchase.
Same conditions here; it's a huge incentive to make sure it's paid off. There is a minimum payment due each month, but if that's all you pay then it won't be paid off in time.
Merlin Pendragon: Fusee - Tintinmrlnpndrgn on July 3rd, 2011 11:46 am (UTC)
There is a minimum payment due each month, but if that's all you pay then it won't be paid off in time.

Here, you don't have to pay each month. It's really "Buy now. Pay only 18 months from now".

IMHO, if you don't have the money to pay now, you won't have it in 18 months ;-(
Strike while the irony is hot: EMO -- DO WHAT NOW? (Doyle)draycevixen on July 2nd, 2011 07:10 pm (UTC)

Yes. *g* This is America, any sort of credit you can think of they've worked out how to provide it. Of course in a culture where the accumulation of stuff is considered a sign of your worth in the world it's a really dangerous thing.
miwahni: Random Computer says nomiwahni on July 3rd, 2011 07:53 am (UTC)
One unexpected - but welcome - side-effect of the GFC has been that our savings rate as a nation has increased while borrowings have decreased. I've not seen stats for other countries, so can't say if it's the same elsewhere. Of course as a lender it's not ideal, but as a consumer who suffers when interest rates rise (due to inflation, due to galloping / overheating economy!) I consider it a very good thing indeed.
Merlin Pendragon: Memoriesmrlnpndrgn on July 1st, 2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
I do use my credit more since I got one who gives me bonus $ ;-)

Problem is that I tend to carry cash too ;-(
I should stick to one or the other...

But at least, I always pay my credit card each month : it's against my religion to pay 18% interest on it ;-/
miwahni: cats meezermiwahni on July 2nd, 2011 09:33 am (UTC)
Bonus dollars are always good! My main card gives me points towards air fares and accommodation, and I plan on using my points in June next year to travel to Darwin. I tend not to have much cash on me at any given time; I think there's about $3 in my wallet at the moment.
And I agree - no way would I pay 18% in interest on credit card purchases! (see above reply to draycevixen)
Merlin Pendragon: Images du Quebecmrlnpndrgn on July 2nd, 2011 11:35 am (UTC)
My main card gives me points towards air fares and accommodation

I can use mine to pay for insurances or against my mortgage. ;-)

And I only have one credit card (plus the debit one). Every time I get offered another credit card, I ask the person if it will give me more money

Usually, that shuts them up ;-/
miwahnimiwahni on July 3rd, 2011 07:59 am (UTC)
Being able to use your credit card points against your mortgage is brilliant! Wish we had a similar scheme, I'd be all over it like a flannel.
Merlin Pendragon: Computer lovemrlnpndrgn on July 3rd, 2011 11:57 am (UTC)
Thunderbird decided this was junk e-mail ;-(

Wish we had a similar scheme, I'd be all over it like a flannel.

Wish I had mine earlier ;-(