Thursday, February 23, 2012

Balancing your checkbook is for suckers: the ostrich approach to personal finance

Twice in the last month, I have overdrawn our checking account.

Are you horrified? Do you think less of me? Listen, it's okay. Don't feel weird. I am not freaking out about this, because we're not out of money. It's just that I like to keep money in the savings account as long as possible. (Which is generally not any time at all because let's be honest - I have three kids in the house and I live in paradise. Shit is not cheap. I don't have funds to be saving.)

Therefore, I have arranged our banking around the assumption that I will, indeed, overdraw our checking account.


I am in an abusive relationship with my checking account.

This is because I do not balance our checkbook.
This is not just because I don't really want to know.
Okay, maybe it is because I don't want to know.
I don't want to know.

But it is also because I am lazy, and when I did try to keep a balanced checkbook, I was always forgetting to write down important things like ATM withdrawals, which made my check register moot. Stupid ATMs with their instant money. Sam belongs to the "if money comes out of the ATM everything is cool" school of thought, which has caused some serious overdraft action, much to his surprise.

I don't use the overdraft as much, because I proudly belong to the "put everything on a credit card and deal with it later" plan of attack.

Bottom line? I hate money.
I hate talking about it, I hate thinking about it, I hate spending it and I hate saving it.
I hate sharing it, I hate keeping it, I hate waiting for it, I hate forgetting to send it.
This is why our accounts are linked in a series, so that like a chain of dominoes falling, each account can kick in as needed. At least, that is the theory. But I kick the shit out of  those accounts. Money is flying back and forth between checking and overdraft and savings so fast that watching it would make your head spin.

Even the bank tellers know to check my overdraft on a regular basis. Sometimes they'll print out my balance and just silently slide the slip over to me even though I didn't ask for it. Just in case, maybe, I wanted to, you know, DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT.

The cold hard reality is that trying to keep us on task when it comes to money is next to impossible.

Sam is oblivious. When I met him, he was a simple man with simple needs. Once we had to talk for several weeks about me possibly buying a pair of shoes that cost $75 dollars. Neither of us could bear to do it.

Those days are over.

He doesn't look at bills, has no idea how much money we have or where it goes, and simply asks for cash when he needs it. When I was bartending and had wads of cash stuffed in random pockets of my purse, that was just fine. Now that I am not bringing home cash, he is back to violating the ATM like it's my sisterwife, and using his debit card like he's Donald fucking Trump. For example:

"Hey. I went to Costco and used my debit card. I bought one of everything in the coupon book! I SAVED US SO MUCH MONEY."

"They didn't take Discover, so I used the debit card!"

"Whoops! I must have used the wrong card - can we get my AMEX in a different color so I stop getting them mixed up? Two gold cards in one wallet is confusing."

I, on the other hand, have two credit cards (that are, admittedly, totally different colors SAM) and I try (O! How I try!) to keep track of what I am doing with those damn things but wouldn't you know it, they surprise me EVERY TIME.

So we are now officially on lockdown - because the only thing I hate more than money is surprises. And american cheese. I hate that too. But we're not talking about cheese, people. We're talking cash money. No we will have a finite amount of cash withdrawn each week, with a budget for the groceries and a tight list for Costco.

I'm still not going to balance the damn checkbook, but at least I'll have a better idea of where our money goes.


Unless Sam doesn't break up with my sisterwife. In which case, I'm going shoe shopping.


Judy said...

Wow! I had to look and make sure that I hadn't written this post in my sleep and posted it to your blog! totally relate.

E @ Pregnancy Pool said...

ING lets you eat a bit into the overdraft without getting nailed with fees. Really cool system sort of like a credit line. You should check it out if you are doing this monthly