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Paying Bills Ahead of Time Does Have Its Risks

It's not always the best decision to pay for something in advance, even if you're just trying to get ahead.

When something goes wrong, you're often out of cash and will have a hard time getting it back.

Fishing is in the Knott family DNA.

"My dad took my brother and I fishing when I was 7 or 8 years old," said Chris Knott.

Now, Knott's boys have the itch, too.

They paid $2,700 to lease a boat slip on the pier at Joe Pool Marina, a place they could all sit together to fish as a family.

"My father and I and maybe my boy used it maybe three times, then it started raining," Knott said.

A tropical depression dumped heavy rain on North Texas, and wind pounded the area.

Joe Pool Marina sustained damage in the storm.

There would be no more fishing for the Knotts, but since Chris Knott paid in advance, his money is gone.

His contract clearly states "acts of God" aren't covered.

"I think my money is just gone. It's wasted, $2,700 gone," Knott said.

He did nothing wrong, but because of the way his contract is written he's out of the cash.

There are plenty of other cautionary tales.

Patricia Stanley paid $4,000 of her daughter's tuition at St. Peter's Classical School ahead of schedule.

She loved the school and felt they would be there for years to come.

Then the school called a meeting earlier this year.

"They were having a major budget shortfall. They didn't know how they were going to make up the difference," Stanley said.

The school's transcript of the meeting shows that board members discussed the possibility of closing the school.

Stanley and her husband found a new school and enrolled their kids there.

"I just couldn't sit around and wait and see if they could swing the next school year. I didn't think it was fair to my children," Stanley said.

Ultimately, St. Peter's didn't close.

The money Stanley paid in advance is still in the school's bank account, and Patricia Stanley can't get it back.

St. Peter's tells NBC 5 Responds, "Our temporary financial issues were put behind us within a few days of the announcement. It is unfortunate that one of our parents misunderstood our intentions and made some unfounded assumptions about our future."

Stanley's contract with St. Peter's gave her a March deadline to notify the school that she was leaving. The notice of the financial problems came after that, so despite her concerns she was locked in for the full payment.

When prepaying anything, make sure you look at your contract with the company to know how they handle refunds in case something goes wrong.

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