Home > Spending > My Lack of Attention Cost Me Money in Fees!

My Lack of Attention Cost Me Money in Fees!

Have you ever had one of those months when your brain seems to stop working, not just once, but over and over again. It’s kind of like when you’re late and then you get behind a school bus AND a tractor on your way to work. This past year I have been tireless in tracking our finances, especially since starting this blog in August. I don’t want to let any of you fabulous readers down. I know you seek me out each week to receive five star financial advice .However, I really blew it this month. Not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times. Yes, I goofed and had to pay the price with four stupid fees. Because I have no shame, I’ll share my mistakes. Maybe it will remind you be more vigilant so that hidden fees don’t come after you.

Driver’s License Renewal

Since I had a birthday last month, I had to renew my driver’s license. I would rather have my bottom teeth pulled out than sit at the DMV office, so I checked online. Sure enough, in Colorado, you can renew your license over the internet if you meet certain qualifications. I clicked on what I thought was the Colorado DMV website. It looked like a state website. It asked me some questions, name, driver’s license number, etc. It said I was eligible to renew online and asked for my credit card information. Score, no DMV for me.

The fee was $14, which I though was reasonable. I hit submit, then it sent me to another link where I had to fill in the same information. Seemed redundant, but it is the government. Next it said my fee was $24. OK, what changed? I went ahead thinking maybe they didn’t have all of the information the first time, plus I was really tired, and it was past my bedtime.

A couple of weeks later, my new license arrived in the mail. WooHoo! Then, I got my credit card statement.  I had the charge to the state of Colorado for $24 and there was a $14 charge to another service called driverslicense.org. I called the DMV and apparently this other company mimics the state website so that you will pay them to direct you to the correct government website. I went back to the site I had thought was the DMV, and sure enough, at the bottom of the page it said that this was a for profit site. I didn’t pay enough attention and was duped. I called to ask for a refund, and they don’t have people who answer the phone. They did have a menu option for refund of services, so I am hopeful I can get my $14 back, but it is probably lost to stupidity. If you are doing anything similar , make sure your are on the correct website, and do it in the morning when you are well rested!

End of Promotion Fee

On the same credit card statement, I noticed a charge to Equifax, the credit reporting company, for $149. I totally forgot that I signed up for a credit monitoring program when we were paying off our credit card debt. I guess our year promotion had run out and now I was getting charged. I called right away to cancel, but I’m sure I will still get charged for the amount of time from when the charge went on the card until I called to cancel. We’ll ball park $10. If you sign up for some offer that has a promotional period, make a note of the date, so you can cancel BEFORE you get the charge. Poor planning on my part.

Late Fees

For our rental property, the water and sewer bill used be through the city on one bill, which went to our tenants. The sanitation district and the city got into some disagreement, and the sanitation people decided to do their own billing. They will only bill the property owner, not the tenant. As a result, we are now paying the $30 a month sewer bill, which is OK. Our property still cash flows, but it is a bummer. In the future, we can add it to the rent, but we can’t change the lease to include it mid- stream. Anyway, the address recently changed, and my husband didn’t catch it. We do all payment through auto billing, and he just sent it to the old address.

When we got the bill this month, it said our last payment was not received. We were confused at first, but then figured it out. It wasn’t a big deal, but we still had to pay $1.38 late fee. Not terrible, but I’m doing very poorly this month. Double check your addresses on auto bill pay!

The Shameful Late Fee

I am really embarrassed to admit this, but I got an interest fee on a credit card this month. The bill came when we were visiting my parents in Kentucky. I looked at it online, but apparently got the total wrong. It was $440 and change, and I saw $400 and change, and that’s what I paid. This month’s bill had a $17.88 interest charge for not paying in full.

We use reward credit cards for every expense that allows them, but we pay them off every month. I swore that I am never paying interest again, but I goofed and have to eat my words. I should have taken more time to review it or set it up before we left. I could also set it up to pay in full automatically, but I usually like to review and check for errors before paying. This month I found lots of errors; my own errors!

This was going to be a short post, but I guess my stupidity is longer that I though. I am going to call the credit card to see if they might waive the interest payment. I am never late and always pay in full, so we’ll see. If I don’t get that waived and don’t get my $14 back from the phony DMV, I’ve wasted  $43.26 this month for stupid fees. We could have gone out to eat!  I take full responsibility. This reminds me that I need to pay careful attention to detail with bills so I don’t get hit with fees and late charges.

Have you ever gotten a fee because you didn’t pay attention? Do I get extra points for using the word thrice?

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. I have gotten hit with fees before due to lack of attentiveness. I’m good at dodging late fees, but I have been double billed. I’m also occasionally prone to buying two of the same item at different times. And my other weakness is not being attentive to car maintenance.
    My Financial Independence Journey recently posted..Dividend Growth Investing vs the S&P500My Profile

  2. Ugh – I hate fees. One of my biggest pet peeves are races that require you to register online where there’s a $7 fee. If there’s no other place to register, then it’s not really a fee, right? It’s just part of what it’s costing. =(
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..The Costs of RunningMy Profile

    • No kidding. Kid’s soccer is like that too. I’m sure it’s easier for the organizers if a third party handles the money, but $7 to take a credit card. I guess you do just have to look at it as part of the race fee.

  3. This has happened to me a few times, and I always hate it. That’s crazy on the license fee! I renewed mine online last month as well and they only charged me a $2 “convenience fee”. What that is, I don’t know but it meant I did not have to go to the DMV so I was fine with that. I give you credit for using thrice. :)
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Frugal Friday: Blog Posts That Ruled This Week, More of the Same EditionMy Profile

  4. Ouch! I have been known to occasionally blank on a CC statement like you’re saying. My fav example was when the bill was within one cent 2 months in a row. I looked at the account, thought I had paid it and then was really mad the following month!
    Anne @ Unique Gifter recently posted..Gazelle Carcass! A Gift Idea for MenMy Profile

  5. I haven’t missed paying my credit card bill early but I can see a day where I forget to pay the balance in full and lose a little interest. I try to stay on top of that but when you’re traveling it’s kind of difficult!

    That does suck about the sewer bill but there isn’t much you can do until you can raise the rent. You can talk to your tenant about it though…I’d at least bring it up and see what they say. I mean it is a utility bill and just because it gets sent to you doesn’t mean you should have to pay it.
    WorkSaveLive recently posted..Paying Down Debt - Which Strategy Is Right for You?My Profile

    • I’m sure a more seasoned property owner would just go give the bill to the tenants or add it to the rent, but I’m still happy just to have tenants, so another $30 a month isn’t a big deal at this point. When they hopefully renew the lease, I guess we can see about it then.

  6. I can relate! I’ve had to pay a late fee before because I paid the wrong amount on a payment. My brain switched the last two numbers (instead of $121, I paid $112). Grr….
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  7. We all make mistakes! I have called my credit card company, bank or anybody that charged me a late fee and usually have it reversed. In my long adult life, I think it has happened a few times and they usually look at your record and will reverse it.
    krantcents recently posted..A Simple Retirement Plan for You!My Profile

  8. What a scam driverslicense.org is. And to use .org for a “for profit” site is tricky. As a Information Security Professional I’m always on the look out for these scams and hear some horror stories. Sorry this happened to you but thankful it was only $14 and not in the thousands.
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  9. I know a guy who, because he wasn’t paying attention, continued to pay automatic payments towards a debt for three years after it was paid off!
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..Saving Money Series: 3 Stories of NegotiatingMy Profile

  10. ouch! I have had the credit card late fee once because I thought I had an automated payment through and I didn’t. A phone call to negotiate solved it. Otherwise I pay plenty of things for lack of attention, more than I care to admit…

  11. It sounds like you got it hard this month Kim. I would do a chargeback on the site that mimic’d the state DMV site. You could probably win that won pretty easily. Sorry to hear about all of your fees, but hopefully you will get it back on track (Actually, I know you will).
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Budget Fail: A Best Man and A Bachelor PartyMy Profile

    • In the whole scheme of things, $43 isn’t going to break me. It just sucks to pay it for stupid stuff. Even if I went to Mcdonald’s three times, at least it was my choice.

  12. My worst ones were when we had DirectTv and I had set automated payment of the monthly fee through my bank. Well they got me a couple of times by raising the amount and since I never looked carefully at the statements, I continued paying the old amount until I ended up owning them quite a lot.
    Nowadays all my credit cards and utility bills are on automatic charging for the full amount, except for the property taxes and one weird charge card from Kohls where it seems they haven’t heard of automated payment

    • That is a downfall of electronic billing. I often don’t log in to look at the statements, so I can see how you wouldn’t realize a different rate unless you did that.

  13. Ugh, These types of mistakes are the worst because they are so avoidable and we beat ourselves up horribly for making them. Well, you’re not alone. I’ve been guilty of one or two of them too. :) The good news (sorta) is you have a whole new month to pay your bills on time.
    Shannon @ The Heavy Purse recently posted..Weekly Roundup: February 11, 2013My Profile

  14. I’m totally with you. Totally blew the VDay budget, and have to track back and figure out where in my budget to cut to make up for it. It feels lame, but it’s these things that can help kick us back on track once we recognize them, admit them and get over it. Good for you for not feeling shame about it. If none of us made mistakes, we’d probably not be blogging, lol.
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  15. We missed a bill payment because we didn’t hit the confirmation button. We went and fixed it as soon as we found out, but had to pay a late fee and they made us feel like terrible. They even asked to put us on the budget plan for those who couldn’t afford their payments…after 1 missed payment. It was pretty embarrassing.
    Justin@TheFrugalPath recently posted..Personal Finance is Like Driving: Don’t Speed!My Profile

    • Holy cow! That’s pretty brutal, but I’m sure companies hear all kinds of excuses so when it really was someone in error, you just get thrown in with the wash. You’d think they could see by history that you weren’t a repeat offender.

  16. I’ve done that once before with our credit card and I just called up and explained and they removed the interest charge. If you pay on time each month and they see that ring them up and explain what happened. It won’t hurt. Sorry to hear of your renewal online disaster. A lesson well learned and hopefully your story will help others not to make the same one.
    Canadian Budget Binder recently posted..Mr.CBB’s Personal Finance Reading List #7 Air Fare Wars~ Air Canada Price Guarantee!My Profile

  17. You’re not alone, I’m sure everyone has done something like this at least once! I went to the pharmacy this summer tp pick up my husbands prescription, picked up the entirely wrong thing, brought it home- realized the mistake but because it had left the pharmacy itself I was SOL and out 25 bucks- then had to spend another 20 for the right one.
    catherine recently posted..My Biggest Money Mistake, Ever.My Profile

  18. Oh I’ve kicked myself many, many times. I remember having to pay more for my car registration last year because I waited and if I had done it earlier it would have been cheaper. And I know I’m gong to have a tiny library fee for get this: a financial book. I’m almost embarrassed to to in there. It happens to everyone!
    Budget and the Beach recently posted..When Brownies and Ice Cream Start Eating at YouMy Profile

    • I never mentioned the two library books my dog chewed up while we were gone for Christmas break. I guess giving money to the library doesn’t hurt as much as giving it to Visa

  19. It happens once in a blue moon for me on credit cards. Usually, its because I couldn’t remember where the money for a certain charge was coming from, so I leave till later, and eventually forget entirely :p grrr
    CF recently posted..APR on credit cards highest in yearsMy Profile

    • That sounds like something I would do as well. It was hard to pay for the driverslicense.org charge, but hopefully it will get straightened out and I am not paying interest on that.

  20. I totally hear you on the driver’s license fees – I didn’t even realize there WERE late fees for this. Last year, I couldn’t get an appointment until two days AFTER my birthday (when the license expired) and didn’t have time to wait two or three hours in line for a walk-in. Boo. Cost me $25.
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  21. Yes, checking addresses is insurance you won’t make those kinds of mistakes that lead to costing you money in the future.
    Jerry recently posted..This “New” Asset Class Provides Stability To Any PortfolioMy Profile

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