While working at a bank in the summer of 2006 I got to see first hand what a person with newly inherited money without proper education can do with money. My first week on the job there was a woman for the purpose of this writing we can call her “Mrs. Pam” she came into the branch made a deposit and I saw she had well over $200,000 in her checking account. I had no clue how this woman got this money I just knew something seemed off. She didn’t carry herself like someone that earned the type of income that could amass this much money in a checking account. As the weeks went on I saw Mrs. Pam come into the branch almost every other day making some type of withdrawal or ordering some type of Official Check. Her money dwindled by the day.
One day Mrs. Pam came in with her children and they sat and ordered 5 separate official checks for huge sums. They were planning a family reunion that was going to be funded totally by Mrs. Pam. This reunion ended up costing Mrs. Pam well over $60,000. Her funds were pretty much gone. I remember coming into the branch one day and saw her account at $17,000 I almost panicked. I then went deeper into her account and saw that before I started at the branch Mrs. Pam’s average monthly Non-Sufficient Funds was at 3 per month. She was heading right back to ground zero. I then asked a coworker what happened and the person said Mrs. Pam’s mother left her the money. This came as no surprise to me as it all made perfect sense now.
Needless to say in the next two months Mrs. Pam was right back at her negative balance habits and it got so bad she had to close the account because she didn’t have enough to cover her last NSF fee buildup. I could see the lack of control Mrs. Pam had the lack of awareness on what to properly do with the money. At the time I didn’t have the education but now I see her mistakes and empathize with her for doing what she thought was best.
Education and holding each other accountable with that education is key. Had Mrs. Pam’s Mother told her “Pam I want to make sure you get this, I want you to study financial literacy and come up with a plan for what you will do with your inheritance” This story would have been totally different. The only thing missing from Mrs. Pam story is a conversation and an education. An inheritance without a solid conversation is a setup for disaster.