I forgot how to balance my checkbook
Today I am doing something a bit different . . . I am over at In The Real World Venus vs Mars if you want to see what I have to say about how money is handled in our house.
Shelle (her personal blog is Blok Thoughts) is one of the very first blogs I ever read (I don't think she knows this), she and I started blogging the very same month and I found her very witty and readable and likable. (she still is by the way). She started In The Real World a little over a year ago and I have been hooked since. . . . I love the thought provoking posts over there. I always wanted to be a guest contributor and when I saw a request, I quickly sent her an email and she accepted!! (yippee for me)
So, this is what I am writing about today: Who is in control of your finances and how do you stay independent while also working together or do you feel you can't have it both ways, it's either HIS and HER money or OUR money?
Here is what I had to say . . . I was a Senior Financial Analyst awhile ago . . . I used to manage budgets in the billions, to the exact penny. I was involved in negotiating corporate call-outs. I could create a Balance Sheet like no other in my department. My P&L reports were flawless . . . every single time. I would balance budgets across the nations, throughout North America, South America, Europe, and Asia-Pac. My turnkey reports were some of my finest works and my automated financial reports were amazing and I am sure are still being used. I could quote you GAAP and FASB rules verbatim . . . my Financial Roadmap was set . . .
I learned early on to take the maximum percentage out of my paycheck and put it into retirement. I invested any extra money I had and used the just rewards to purchase my first town house. I was house poor for a couple of years, but I still put away 15% of my salary. I never splurged on anything and during that poor house period, I did not purchase one pair of shoes or any new clothing . . . at all. I bought only necessary items and my bank account grew. I was pleased with myself for being diligent at work and at home with my finances and my employer's finances.
When I met my husband, he was like minded as myself with money. Even more frugal than myself I would say. We complemented each other. Neither he nor I had ever had a late payment; we each went through our bills and paid them in a timely manner. When we married, I moved into his duplex and sold my townhouse. The money was put into my savings account for the new house we were looking to purchase together.
We found a lovely site to build our dream house on. Because we had each lived frugally, we were able to purchase the lovely home of our dreams. The profit from the sale of my townhouse and the sale of his duplex gave us a large down payment on the home we now reside in.
My husband had a wonderful job. I had a wonderful job. I was pregnant and had no plans to leave said wonderful job. Until the baby was born, my son. I couldn't return to this company that I had worked so hard for and leave my little baby. Thankfully, my husband agreed that I would stay home. Obviously our finances took a huge hit and our lifestyle changed drastically. No more impromptu trips to where ever we wanted to go for a long weekend. No more following my husband to Europe on a holiday after a business trip. No more weekend trips to the city with delicious dinners being devoured. There simply was no excess cash flow as there had been with two good salaries.
Through all of this my husband and I had maintained separate bank accounts. He paid all the household bills and I took care of groceries and myself and our son. I was able to live off my savings for a year after I quit my job. I recall when the time came, I needed to tell my husband that I didn't have any more money and that he would need to start giving me some of his. I was not happy about this moment in my life because I had always taken care of myself. But ask him I did. He was happy to add me to his bank accounts and give me a credit card and an ATM card. (or so I thought)
During the first month of use I felt guilty spending my husbands money but my best friend told me to (literally) suck it up and spend away. My husband agreed to take care of me when he married me and that I had every right to purchase (within reason) what I needed and desired. I bought a new pair of sandals. What I didn't know, he was checking on line with the credit card to see what was purchased (what I was purchasing). He called me at home one afternoon to 'review' some purchases I had made (the sandals and some baby stuff). My best friend was there and witnessed this conversation. I was embarrassed and she was angry.
We obviously had a few discussions regarding this new money position that we were in and it took us awhile to get in the groove together . . . this sharing of 'his' money. He still refers to our bank account as his and states that everything is purchased with his money. But I can live with that.
My husband decided that since I was once a Financial Analyst that I should take over the balancing of accounts and such. Since that moment he has completely forgotten how to write a check (unless for himself), record a check, record ATM withdrawals or balance a checkbook. This is aggravating and frustrating to me, as I don't think the financial responsibility of our household should be 100% on my shoulders just because I have a degree in Finance.
However, I was quite diligent in my household with regard to our finances. I had forecast sheets for everything . . . literally, everything. We were still (and currently are so as well) saving the maximum amount for retirement and putting more away for stocks, college fund and savings. I had another baby and still my spreadsheets prevailed. We moved to China (in 2005) and we had to make due with a cash only country. In yuan(Chinese currency) no less. My spreadsheets were doomed . . . my forecasts were forgotten. I couldn't keep track of the money I spent because I barely knew what amount I was spending.
We returned to the US after residing in China for one year and (literally) living a cash only life. It is a strange adjustment and interesting lifestyle, but a good one I might add. I had another baby and never quite picked up my spreadsheets again. I haven't balanced my checkbook in almost a year. Sadly, I haven't opened any bank statements of any sort in over a year as well. I couldn't tell you how much money we have in stocks or IRAs any more unless I dug through a drawer. Frankly, it is too depressing. We have lost more money in stocks than I care to ever think about again. I know my husband doesn't even know what drawer to look in for these unopened statements. He doesn't even know the password to our online bank account.
All our bills are set up to auto pay because if they are not, I forget to pay them. I once paid the phone bill the amount I was to pay the cable bill and that was already three months past due. My phone bill was paid in advance for one full year and I was still over due on my cable bill! I sent my last property tax bill to the correct address, but the incorrect zip code. It went unpaid for three months without me even knowing it! I laughed about it because, really, who does that? (the only reason I found out was my bank deposited the amount back into my account because the check was never cashed).
It's shameful and I keep telling myself that I must get back on my financial game plan personally. But I lost interest in numbers somewhere along the line while having babies. I hope that I can find my numerical groove again soon. I need to for my children's sake. Because I have little regard for money matters these days, they do not as well. This is bad, very bad. Here I am . . . a former Senior Financial Analyst turned SAHM who can't balance a checkbook anymore . . . how sad is that?