Stuff You Didn’t Know That You Didn’t Know

I’m obviously struggling with my post titles.

It’s Tuesday and that means the day after Monday and that means I’m probably not studying very much since my weekly classes end at midnight every Monday. I always have a brief Greek exam that I can take at any time in the week before midnight Monday. I always finish it within 10 minutes of midnight Monday! (and then I typically catch up on the news and try to find a way to let my mind unwind a bit…so bedtime is usually 1-2 a.m. on Monday…or rather Tuesday)

So, aside from that, what other stuff is there that you didn’t know that you didn’t know?

Well, for starters, how do missionaries get money in their hands so they can buy food, gas, pay rent and utilities, do ministry, etc.? Go to the local ATM and pull money out of their USA bank account? I used to do that. Until BoA started charging $5 plus 3% per withdrawal. That’s not nice, and that adds up to hundreds of dollars lost every year just to get access to my own money!

Now what?

So, a couple years ago, when our visas were matured to the point that we could open up a local bank account, we set up a bank account down here (in pesos, of course). I’d heard and read that I could transfer money from a sister bank in the USA and transfer from dollars to pesos online. It was true!

So, after setting up the Mexican bank account, upon a subsequent trip to the USA, we set up a new bank account in Dallas from which we could transfer funds (at a cost, but it was going to be cheaper than the BoA bank robbery…hmmmm…funny how that term has changed meaning over the years).

Problem resolved!

Or not. Turns out that once I set up the account in Dallas and attempted to wire some funds to our Mexico bank account, that the teller informed us (for the first time) that the amount of money we could transfer was half what the documentation said (the Mexico bank had recently lowered it). That was not a happy moment because the flat fee for the transfer now was effectively higher than before when we could send twice as many dollars to pesos at the same flat fee. So, I had the funds sent just to see how it worked. Turns out it worked flawlessly, except for one detail. The exchange rate they gave me was so bad, I would been better off paying BoA $5 and 3% to get money out of an ATM!

Problem NOT resolved.

Now what (part 2)?

Another institution here in Mexico that has a branch about 40 minutes from here was able to cash American checks…for a fee of course. In order to use that service I needed to set up a bank account with them. So, I did. It worked!

Problem resolved!

And after writing about 1 check, the news came out that they were not going to be able to cash American checks after the month was out.

Problem NOT resolved.

Are you sensing a pattern here?

Now what (part 3)?

I looked into an online bank in the USA that might be able to allow me to pull funds out of only certain Mexico ATMs at now fee at all. The amounts allowed for withdrawal were a bit slim, but it was an idea. Unfortunately, there were mixed reports in online forums from people trying this in Mexico. Some had good results and others did not. No telling.

Then, I came across a global currency trading brokerage. I could set up an account with them and have them pull USDs out of my BoA account, and then after a few days they could transfer the funds to my bank in Mexico…well…to my second bank in Mexico because I only had ready access to certain codes that I needed for that second bank. Not to worry, I could then go online and for a small fee forward the funds from that bank (there is no local branch and I have no debit cards or anything for that bank) to my first Mexico bank which has branches all over Mexico and a couple in my own town.

Problem resolved!

Until…the last two months. For some inexplicable reason, the last two times I’ve attempted to transfer funds from BoA through the currency brokerage to the 2nd Mexico bank so that I could then transfer it manually to the 1st Mexico bank, the 2nd Mexico bank rejected the deposit! How does that happen? They don’t know. They told me it doesn’t happen if the information is correct. Well, the information hasn’t changed in the 2 years since starting to do this and all of a sudden it wasn’t working.

Problem NOT resolved.

Now what (part 4)?

At the first rejection I talked to the 2nd Mexico bank and they said it should have gone through, try it again. So, I told the currency brokerage to try it again. They did. It went through. I thought that would do it, but it happened again this month. So, I’m beginning to lose confidence in the system, and the brokerage keeps telling me that they can charge me $15 for every attempt to transfer that doesn’t go through…it’s in the fine print. (I don’t think they charged me for either rejection, yet…and maybe they won’t.)

So, I finally decided it’s time to go to my #1 Mexico bank and try to get all the codes and information I would need to get the funds transferred directly from the brokerage to this bank and avoid going through the hassle of bank #2. The info is very basic stuff, but it’s not easily found on the Internet. One of the codes I really needed, I found before heading to the bank mid-morning today. The problem was that I needed one particular code and #1 bank has 17 of these codes and I had no idea which one it was. That’s not going to work, so I definitely needed to visit #1 bank to get that info.

I know that sounds simple to drop in to your local bank, and it is, but what you can’t envision is that going to a bank to ask someone for information that they can give you in about 2 minutes entails going and signing up to see a bank person, and then waiting for an unknown amount of time that could be marked in minutes, hours, or if you have kids with you, inches grown. When we originally set up this account, the bank was standing and sitting and lying on the floor room only. People were waiting literally for hours. I think I even saw people celebrating birthdays while they were waiting. Somehow, we got to a desk in about 5 minutes. Today, it was over an hour (with a lot fewer people waiting…and apparently 3 of the people on the list ahead of us had given up and weren’t around when their names were called).

So, like I said, it only took a few minutes to retrieve all the info I needed. We walked off a couple of errands, came home, got online to the currency brokerage and filled in all the info to add #1 bank to the list of recipients, and sent an email to let them know I was ready for them to try to transfer the money to #1 bank.

Problem resolved?

I don’t know yet. I haven’t heard from the brokerage. If I didn’t get every detail correct in setting up the info, the money might get sent to the wrong destination. That’s really not a good thing. Especially since I am already planning ahead for our summer in the USA and need to have enough funds to pay the rent and utilities 5 months ahead. It’s a significant chunk of change. It would be good if the pesos made it to my account and not some guy named Juan in Mexico City. It could happen.

And now you know stuff you didn’t know that you didn’t know, and you probably have long figured out that you didn’t need or care to know. Oh well. Just in case. How hard can it be to get your living funds to and from and to and from and to and from the bank? Apparently, a lot harder than anyone would think.

I sometimes think it would be easier to rob a bank than to just get my own money from the bank! I’m sure I wouldn’t make a good bank robber. I don’t think I’ve learned the proper Spanish lingo for that, and with my knees, I don’t run fast…correction…I don’t run at all. I don’t think it would end well, although it might finally ensure that I don’t have to be concerned with getting money sent down here. Believe me…it is a little enticing.

About alanbeth

What’s up? or rather, ¿Qué pasa? Hola, I’m Alan. I’m a missionary living in Mexico. We have a heart for MK Education and so we teach at a local Christian school with MK students as well as nationals and foreign students as well. I occasionally write or have a pic to share with you at my blog, Knowing Your ABCDs, which you can read with a click on the button above. You can read my blog with a click on the button above.
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