17 Oct 2012

Free Cash?

So this whole French banking system is a bit puzzling.  They basically allow you a sort of free credit card scheme – which I only discovered earlier as I tripped into the realms of online banking, French style.  However much we’d like to believe that money will continue to sit in our bank accounts making high-end revenue, one can’t deny that it is typical for money to leave your account upon making cash withdrawals.  Let me make this simpler for you: Tom has five golf balls.  Tom is not a very good golfer.  Tom hits three balls into the lake.  How many golf balls does Tom have left?  The brainboxes among you may have calculated the mathematics of this incredulous sum in your multi-faceted minds.  For those of you who aren’t wired as such, may I propose that Tom only has 2 balls remaining?   Yes, that is the correct number of balls…

Johnny Cash. "Cash."Moving away from balls.  What puzzles me is the lack of money movement which occurs when I pay up front with my debit card.  As far as I’m concerned right now, I could have minus money and I’d still be able to pin in my digits on a Michelin star meal and leave behind a smiling waiter.  Be it Eurostar tickets, an expensive meal you hadn’t budgeted enough cash for, or the phone bill which comes out of your account each month (ahem, they didn’t charge me extra for all those texts sent to foreign numbers….am I missing something here?), you can continue to use your debit card (à la credit), even without the appropriate funds.  For a second I thought that perhaps all that money I’d been ultra-spending on my card had sneaked through the system, making me €200 richer.  But indeed it appears that this €200 which I’ve built up over the past few weeks has been debited to my account; it just won’t leave it until the 2nd November.  Although, if you’re not aware of this (like I wasn’t), you may fall into the trap of thinking you have umpteen pennies in your account to go wild with, because each time you withdraw cash and get a receipt, it won’t take into consideration that the majority of the money currently lurking there will actually be leaving your account in a couple weeks’ time.  Which is fine, if you know you’ll be getting a nice fat pay cheque at the end of the month to compensate for it.  I frankly quite enjoy this little credit card-esque way of spending money.  Makes me feel all grown up. 

So in a nutshell, my debit card and bank account aren’t wired on the same wavelength.  They’re pretty much separate entities that merge on the 1st day of each month to balance out any outstanding payment.  This is my dull, but somewhat essential French discovery of the day for you!
And now I wonder why the French are charging me  €3,25 a month to keep my account going...
Watch this space.


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