Something has happened to me this week that’s a first. I just lost, or am short, at least $5,000 via manufactured spending (MS). Unfortunately, it could be as little as $5k but as much as $10k. The fact that I’m not completely sure about the missing amount is almost as bad as the loss itself. The big downside, besides the amount, is that I really have no idea where it is.
This month I’ll do over 350k worth of MS. That’s alot to some people, a few drops in the bucket for others. It’s no where near my largest month, but it’s been unusual because I’ve had so many irons in the fire. Different MS deals in person and online, along with opening some new accounts. I think the issue started last week when I opened new checking accounts at different banks for sign up bonuses. Those new accounts took over $30,000 worth of my MS funds and kind of threw a wrench into my normal MS routine and payment setup. Since then, I’ve been juggling accounts, and it may have taken its toll.
The main reason for the problem is probably linked with the fact that I haven’t gotten much sleep lately and remembering all of my activity in the past couple of weeks is basically impossible. Normally I have a keen sense of where everything is at with all of my accounts throughout the week, but recently that awareness has gone on vacation, unfortunately without a return ticket. I had a date last weekend too and cleaned my place, stuffing papers into drawers and quickly cleaning. Maybe a stack of MO’s got lost in that process?
I know a guy who had a MS related deposit discrepancy at major bank. If I remember correctly he deposited between $10k-$20k worth of money orders into an off site ATM. Those money orders weren’t counted correctly, and he had to first call, then go into the branch and go over the deposit. That put eyes on his account and after an MS related deposit pattern emerged, he was shut down soon after. I would imagine that a raising issues and getting eyes on my account at a few of MS linked banks would also create concern, and a good probability of shut down as well. So I’m a little reluctant to shake the tree if I don’t know where the actual issue might be.
What Am I Going to Do?
I estimate that my current travel rewards are currently worth over $500,000 that doesn’t include points that I’ve already spent. If I have to eat the missing funds and move forward, I will, although it’s been incredibly demoralizing and stressful thinking about it all over the last 48 hours. Even if this situation isn’t figured out, I have still earned over 10 million points and miles at no cost. That’s the positive in all of this, but the obvious negative is weighing heavily on me right now.
I’ve spoken about manufactured spending at 2 Frequent Traveler University (FTU) events recently, and have said repeatedly that MS isn’t all duckies and bunnies. There are real risks to getting into it, especially at higher levels. I know MSers who have misplaced cards, been robbed and had other issues that amount to thousands of dollars worth of headache. This is the latest event to add to that list. Unfortunately I’m not actually confident that I’ll find the money. Just going through my spreadsheet over the past 2 days points to a greater chance of the money staying lost. I’m nearly delirious with a mixture of sleep deprivation and stress and have started questioning whether the amount is actually lost or that my calculations have been wrong for months.
I have a trip to Europe in a few weeks but haven’t planned on laying off MS until I leave, meaning that my accounts will probably continue to progress even if the issue persists. It may be a good idea to pull back the wagon until all is cleared up before I leave. I have a card reader that can read my cards and see if there’s any remaining amounts on any cards. That’s step 1. Past that, I’m not sure what I’ll do at this point.