Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Book Smarts ≠ Common Sense

I have known for a long time that among my greatest assets is my intelligence, and for an equally long time that among my greatest weaknesses is my lack of common sense.

I am keenly aware that too often I indulge my desire to use my brain for more strenuous or interesting activities than keeping up with day to day drudgery like bills and household budgets and such. W has been happy to handle our personal finances, and I have let him. I have no idea what our monthly bills run for anything. I have no idea whether bills are paid on time or not. I have no idea, other than what is automatically directed to my 401(k), how much we are setting aside each month for savings and investing. I used to know these things, back when money was tight and we watched every penny. As things got easier financially I let go. There was no challenge to making ends meet anymore. It was no longer “fun” for me to play with the household budget, to see how to make it stretch to cover things, and I quit. I handed it to W.

Now this is coming back to bite me in the butt in a big way. Among the information that I need to proceed with a legal separation is, of course, in essence a balance sheet and income statement. These should be pretty easy forms for an accountant like myself to fill out. Well, yes, if I have adequate information from which to work, and this is where my stupidity comes back to bite me. I don’t pay the bills. I don’t balance the checkbook. I don’t even look at the bank statements when they arrive. I have been a complete slacker from this standpoint. Last week I went into the office in our house where I think I should find all the financial information I need, but I don’t find it. I have no idea what, if any, filing system W uses. I can’t find paid bills, cancelled checks, bank statements, not even all of our tax filings. I’m screwed.

Now I have to figure out how to find out from W where the information resides without tipping him off to why I need it. This is important because the attorney said to keep quiet about planning to separate until the papers have been filed because we don’t want him hiding assets before the filing happens. So somehow I have to show renewed interest in the family finances without making it appear to be unusual. I guess it's fortunate for me that W had a bit of a health scare last week so I can claim to need to know in case something happens to him. Operation Info begins. . .


Karin's Korner said...

You can also use the excuse that Christmas is coming and therefore you would like to know how much money you have, etc.

Emily said...

It is kind of a bummer when you realize you have lost track of the joint finances. My Big Dude leaves all that to me, and since we have multiple and often shifting sources of income (as well as multiple expenses), he would find it very difficult to figure out how it all works without my help!

So he'd find it hard to leave me - but then, maybe thats a good thing! :-)