Money Troubles

I have no idea how much money is in my bank account. I couldn’t even hazard a guess. I haven’t looked at my balance in years, I avert my eyes when using the ATM and aggressively decline a receipt on all transaction.

I have a business degree. From a really good school. 

Nevertheless, this financial management system works for me. Despite what my income and mathematics suggest, for all I know, I’m rich! I could be right between Bill Gates and Warren Buffett on Forbe’s list of the world’s wealthiest people. Maybe even higher, I can’t say for sure.

I admire those people who keep detailed financial records and file the receipt for every pack of gum they purchase, but despite my best efforts, I just can’t live that way. I lack rigidity. In fact, the only thing I’m puritanical about is my vigilance in remaining totally unaware of my personal finances. I put money into savings every month, I just don’t know how much or in which institution. I have an RRSP, I just don’t know what’s in it. I assume my bills are being paid out of my account automatically because I still have hot water. 

My highest mark at business school was in accounting.

Having never lived an extravagant lifestyle, with little drycleaning and travel, I figure my inputs exceed my outputs and just hold my breathe whenever I use my debit card. Like when I flush the toilet at other people’s houses.

 “Approved,” says the debit card machine at a the register. This must be what it feels like to be Oprah!

Recently, though, circumstances have changed. My husband is looking for a new job making us no longer DINKs but OIODOC’s (one income, one dog, one cat) for the time being. Given his smarts, talents and cuteness in skinny ties, I know Stephen will find something fantastic, but in the meantime, I’m scared. Like so many families dealing with unemployment, I’m worried about our uncertain future. I’m frightened that we will never get comfortable, that the ‘i’ of our life will forever be dotted with struggle . I’m scared they’ll shut off our hot water. I love steamy showers.

Most troubling is the fact that I now have to break my guinness world record for longest period of  wilful fiscal blindness and take a good, hard look at my finances. Except, I can’t remember the password to log into my bank account. I click on ‘forgot your password’ and am diverted to a security question: “whose your favourite literary character?”

Whatever happened to ‘what’s your birthday’ or ‘middle name?’ ‘Whose your favourite literary character?’ Who has a security question like that!?

“You do,” says the bank’s customer service representative, “you chose the question.”

I chose that question!? I’m left baffled. I have no idea who is my one, single favourite literary character. I love so many books!

“What genre are we talking about, here?’ I ask the customer service woman.

“There is no genre,” she says.

“Hmmmm, is it definitely from a book,” I wonder, “or could it be a character from a poem, like Wordsworth’s Lucy? I recognize she’s somewhat abstract, but ..”

“It’s not a guessing game!”

As I wrack my brain, trying to determine who I might have listed as my favourite character of all-time, I realize that I am far more preoccupied with my changing literary tastes than I am with my current financial woes. We might not be able to pay our hydro bill right now, but I’m intrigued by the fact that I can’t answer the question I chose so many years ago. Who could I have chosen? This is a big question. With so many different books over the years and so many amazing characters, I can’t believe I was ever so definitive. It inspires me to act definitively once again. And so I decide, right there on the phone, that whatever the balance is in my bank account, I am not going to worry. I’m just not. I am not going to let this situation cause friction in our relationship. My great grandmother used to say that you shouldn’t cry over anything money can fix. Money can fix this. In time, money will fix this. Until then, I am not going to use our strife as an excuse to give up on my writing. Things that are worth it take sacrifice.  

“I can reset the question,” says the customer service rep. “So you can pick another one.”

“Will you at least tell me what the answer was?” I ask.

“It says here: “Estella.”

“Estella? The bitch from Great Expectations?”     

What better sign that things change. Drastically.