Something Weird About Me
August 5, 2013 | My Jottings
When I got my first checking account at age 16, I was diligent about keeping track in the ledger of all the checks I’d written. Back in the Dark Ages they didn’t have carbons for your checks — you had to record the check you’d written to In’n’Out Burger or to the Alpha Beta grocery store right then, or you were sunk. While I might not have to record a check I’ve written right that moment anymore, the habit of staying current in the ledger has stayed with me all these years.
I also take the monthly paper statement that comes in the mail from our credit union (we haven’t used a bank in decades), turn it over and use the worksheet on the back for reconciling the statement and ledger to the penny. When people tell me they haven’t balanced/reconciled their checking accounts for years I must give them a blank look, because I wonder how they know exactly how much is in their account then? Most people will say they look online, and I do that too, but if they aren’t adding the interest accrued each month (this month is was a whopping 24 cents for us) and double checking to make sure the checks’ amounts line up with the bank’s paid amounts, how do they know what they’ve got? (Our credit union’s worksheet doesn’t look exactly like this, but here is an example of what I use.) My daughter Carolyn worked in a credit union and she tells me there’s an accurate way to do it online and make sure it’s up to date, but old habits die hard and I’ve stuck to my paper each month.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written a check in my fairly clear handwriting and had it read incorrectly (and deducted incorrectly) on the statement. For example, a check I may write for $17.49 might get paid as $17.47, and then I’m two cents off, aren’t I? In 40 years this has happened at least seven times. Shocking! :O
I have also made a few subtraction mistakes in my haste, and unless I use the reconciling worksheet each month, I don’t see exactly where those mistakes are. Yesterday I sat down to do our monthly statement and when I was finished I was $10.10 off. That drives me crazy. So I went back to the place in the ledger where last month’s reconciling had been completed, and started checking my addition and subtraction from there. I found one transaction where I’d neglected to carry a number, so was $10 off. Then I went back and found the 10 cents, which was a time I’d forgotten to add the month’s paltry interest. Yesterday it was fairly easy to find the discrepancies and fix them. Other times I’ve been up to $1000 off, and “drives me crazy” isn’t a phrase that adequately describes how I’ve felt at those times. It takes some detective work, but so far, with God’s help, I’ve balanced every time. Sometimes it has taken 20 minutes, other times I’ve had to come back to it the next day because two hours hasn’t been enough for me to find the mistake.
I know! I really shouldn’t be living like this.
But here’s perhaps what some would say is the weirdest thing about all of this. Every time I haven’t balanced to the penny the first time, I’ve fervently prayed. “Now Lord, you’re the one who has blessed us with anything we have. You own it all. This is your money. I can’t find this $49.37 but I know you know where it is! Will you lead me please? Will you help me reconcile our checkbook to our statement?” Sometimes my head is down on the table and I’m sighing and asking Michael to pray that I’ll find the mistake. He always does. My children have chuckled at me for this. They have seen how I don’t always care very much about clean laundry piled in two baskets in my bedroom, going unfolded for one whole week, but how I’m holding back tears when the checking account won’t balance.
In this area, I might be just a leetle bit obsessive.
Aside from praying for God’s help on this issue, I’ve also gotten in the habit of thanking Him in a few ways when everything finally does balance. I think one time I was so far off (over a thousand dollars it seemed, but not really, just a couple of deposits that weren’t recorded). First, I always scrawl in huge letters across the completed worksheet, “PTL!!!! THANK YOU LORD! YOU DID IT! YOU HELPED ME!” Or something very similar to that. When I die and my children go through our files, they’ll see the credit union statements I’ve filed away there, and they’ll see on the back of each one my crude and seemingly silly praise to God. The second thing I always do is go kneel down somewhere and immediately thank God for helping me, for giving me the gifts it took to help me reconcile the ledger to the statement. The manual dexterity to write. The brain matter still there than enables me to add and subtract. A regular paycheck, and so on. Do I kneel down in thanks when I get a phone call that a lost key was found? Not usually. Or when a person we’ve prayed for gets good medical results? Not always. I’m still thankful and express my gratitude to the Lord, but it’s our checking account that has always made me feel so humbly grateful that I need to bow down.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “She’s got issues with money” or “She’s full of fear regarding finances!” But I honestly don’t think I am (although I admit to battling fear in other areas of life). I’ve lived with money and without it, and know it comes from the Lord and He can bless or withhold any time He likes. Once the account is balanced and reconciled I hardly give finances another thought, which I suppose could be foolish in another way.
In what ways might you be just a leetle bit obsessed? I know someone who has to have the glasses in her kitchen cabinets with the rims up, and quietly freaks out of someone stores them rims down (on the germy shelf.) I know someone else who hangs all her clothes up by color, like you see in some magazines. Another person I know has to dry the sink out every time she uses it, whether it be bathroom or kitchen sink. It can’t have a droplet of water in it.
Do you have any perfectionistic tendencies?