Financial Record-keeping in the Internet Age :: A Cautionary Tale

Recently, when my son was visiting, I was going over some “in case I die” stuff with him and I showed him a folder I have called “Non-cloud files”. In that folder, I have PDFs of all my bank statements. I don’t sync them to the cloud, but keep backups of them on local storage devices.

He kind of smiled to himself when he saw it and asked, “Don’t the banks / credit unions have these on their site, Dad?”

They do. And so do I.

I knew he felt it was overkill, but here’s an example why I do it.

Earlier this week, I decided to put some of the money I have in my HSA (health savings account) into one of the funds offered by the account management company. As I was opening the investment account, their system failed. It threw an error I’d never seen in a browser. At the end, it said, “Try again later.”

I tried later — several times — and the error persisted.

I think it was on the next day that I clicked on INVESTMENTS to try again, and this time, it took me to the investment page saying the account had been set up, but it threw a new error saying that no username was associated with the account.

I spent a good deal of time on the phone with tech support (elevating to the higher level) until they asked me to send a screen capture of what I was looking at.

I sent the message and they said they would look into it.

I am still waiting to hear back from them.

Now — Imagine that I had moved some money into that account somehow — and had no username to access it. (I know that sounds impossible, but it also sounded impossible to the high-level tech that I had an account without any username associated with it.)

How would I demonstrate that I had money in an account that I cannot access?

Today, I realized that I had never downloaded my statements from that HSA account. The only evidence that I had any money with them was the information on the website. So, I logged in and downloaded PDF statements as far back as they had them — two years. 

And I will continue my habit of having some record of my finances apart from what’s on their system — and every other system on which I have financial information.