Back when I didn't know what overdraft fees were, I would get too excited and write all these checks. They started bouncing, because I was writing them for more than what I had in the account. So I covered the fees, but then I kept getting more and more carried away. I would buy a whole bunch of stuff and write a check for more than I had, and then I would pay an $18 fee or whatever. And that's how it started.
Deep down I knew what I was doing wasn't right, but women can become shopaholics, and there was just something about wanting stuff and knowing that I couldn't afford it that was fun at first, and risky.
But the bank eventually shut my account, and when I moved back to California a year later I could not open a bank account. I didn't realize a record was already being built for me when I was bouncing those checks.
For the past few years, I realized how hard it is to not have a bank account. You're very limited.
To go get a check cashed, it's a $3 or $4 fee each time. I'm also getting married soon, and we wanted to open a joint checking account, but they wouldn't allow me to be on the account because I was in ChexSystems. So I would just have to cash my checks at a grocery store and put them in [my boyfriend's] account to keep the money safe.
I finally realized that I really needed to get this fixed. My mom passed away this year, so I got some extra money and was able to use it to settle the amount I owed [$1,100 altogether].
But then when I tried to open a bank account again, they checked my credit, which has also been ruined. So my ChexSystems report might have been fine this time but my credit was bad, and they wouldn't give me an account. Finally, I opened an account at Chase.
I'm 29 now, so I've grown a lot wiser about my finances than when I was 18 and 19. Now I only write checks if I have the money. But I had no idea all of those mistakes would follow me.
If you've bounced too many checks, owe money on an overdrawn account or engaged in fraud, banks can find out about it and deny you a checking account in an instant.