Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Bank Account

Posted by Anonymous.

Yesterday my husband went to the doctor. He got a new perscription and, rather than wait however long it took for the pharmacist to get the insurance company's approval for coverage, he paid the total cost of the perscription with a check.

There was not that much money in our checking account.

There is so much of a marriage that goes into mistakes like this, so much history that informs its meaning. We are both inept with money, but about ten years ago I became the household accountant, due to the fact that I am slightly less horrible at it than he is. I pay bills late, but I don't bounce checks. I still struggle to do the responsible thing with money, but not bouncing checks is enough to make me Chancellor of the Exchequer around here.

But last night the husband was childishly impatient and he wrote a check he should not have, so today I drove to the little bank that holds my little personal savings account, and I took out nearly everything and deposited it in our joint checking account to cover the check. I was in time. It will not bounce.

And then I sat in my car and I cried. I cried because this tiny little savings account, though it would never make me rich or even get us out of debt, was mine. It was the only thing in our lives that was, really and truly, mine. That mattered to me. I am the stay-at-home mom to our children, which is the right decision for us, but leaves me with no career, no job experience, and precious little indiependence. Those dollars cobbled together from birthday gifts and rebates I sent in and other odds and ends told me that I still had a separate identity, something independent of my children and my husband. Even if I raided it occasionally to cover other family expenses, I had invested it with the significance I Am Still A Person, not just a cog in the household machine.

Now it is gone. Tomorrow I will get up again and do the usual chores, and over the next few years I will add to the account by dribs and drabs again, and we will be alright. This doesn't end things. It just hurts, and I wanted to say so in a place where I was free to grieve, somewhere I could be openly sad for this small loss.


Courtney said...

Oh boy do i know just how this feels. Thanks for letting me know i am not alone!

derfina said...

Maybe the insurance company will reimburse you for your out of pocket expense?

Anonymous said...

Oh...separate identity lost? They don't warn you about that in those diamond commercials. They don't warn you that you'll be a prisoner to the ring. And the kids. (/sarcastic rant from resentful married person with 3 children)

motherbumper said...

That would have sent me over the edge and trust me, I totally get losing that tiny but important "mine".

divrchk said...

Submit the receipt to the insurance company. They may reimburse you. Tell them that your husband didn't have his insurance card with him and really needed the medicine. It might work out!

Anonymous said...

I very, very much am with you. My DH makes very good money, and is very generous. He is great with money, and has made our family secure - but - I still look around and see... almost nothing that I can call all mine. I have not had a paycheck for 15 years and mostly I'm ok with that- except when I wish I didn't have to ask if I could spend money on something that was important to me even when he almost always says yes. I thought it was just me. I guess it's you, too. Sorry about your bank account. Just know you aren't alone.

NGS said...

And so I learn from yet another story that maintaining a separate checking account from my husband is of utmost importance!

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh. Our circumstances are so different, and yet I understand completely. I once had to give up something that, like your bank account, was not anything terribly significant except symbolically. Out of a life situation that wasn't bad by any means (just not what I had expected my life to be by that time), I had managed to carve out one thing that was truly and solely mine. When I had to give it up because of someone else's thoughtlessness, I felt devastated. I got over it, and I rebuilt it in a way, just as you will your bank account, but, yes, it hurts. The loss of the thing itself hurts and the fact that the loss was so unnecessary hurts even more.

Pollyanna said...

YES, I use to work at an insurance company, send in your receipt for sure! You will probably be reimbursed and then you can reopen your savings account.

Also, know that you are NOT alone. Not having enough money and feeling like you have no control in your own life sucks big time. I really feel your pain and I am sorry.

Anonymous said...

I understand how difficult it is. In our society, money is often equated with freedom, and in truth, it is.

I recommend 2 things. First, be sure to get reimbursed from your insurance. If the company makes you wait several days for prescriptions, they expect you to submit and reimburse.

Second, and MOST important, get some credit and budgeting help. You don't need to live like this. You need to budget your money, figure out what you have coming in and adjust accordingly. It is not that difficult, it's just a change in mindset. YOu freely admit you and your husband aren't good with money, so you must do something to prevent this in the future! You can do it!

Arizaphale said...

Oh yes oh yes oh yes. I really feel this one. We live comfortably but we are constantly 'on the edge'. Although we both hate the insecurity of not knowing whether we will have enough to pay the next bill, Himself will in NO WAY countenance giving anything up. So he puts it on the credit card. Even though we have agreed NOT to use the cc since we refinanced it. So I pay off the cc with my (cheaper) overdraft. And I feel resentful.
The worst part is that he thinks 'providing' for his family is soooo important that he needs to put things on the credit card. Hello, providing means doing so responsibly.
Thanks for sharing this. It's tough to talk to the guys about it without making them feel defensive.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about your savings account. I've been there- dumped my 401k into my mortgage to keep our house, dumped my stock portfolio to keep food on the table. I've given this man and this marriage every drop of anything I have. And I work, and I'm the breadwinner, and I'm lucky if I can keep him in a job.

Sometimes it just seems like they'll take and take and take until there is nothing left. Nothing.

bethany said...

I soooooo feel for you. having that little something means EVERYthing. i've had to give up privacy and personal space because of kids and money, and it hurts every day. we have a subletter who rents our frontroom, is nosy and talkative, and we only have a bifold door separating us from the common part of the apartment. my bedroom is also the living room, office, and every-thing else room. i have not once square inch that's out of my kid's reach or sight and i crave it in the worst way. that little thing that's mine that says I'm still ME and not just mommy/wife/pickerupper/money spender but not earner. i hate it. we're both bad with money too and i'm a bit better so always end up doing the finances.
i soooo hope you can get reimbursed and get that acct back on it's feet faster than having to rebuild it in dribs and drabs. cheers to you and a hug.

Anonymous said...

Since your husband behaves like a child with money, maybe it's time for him to start getting an allowance, instead of having full banking privileges. Since he is not actually a child, he might be able to see the sense in this. It has worked for a couple I know; in my friends' case it's the wife who is a terrible spender. Her paycheck goes into a joint account, which does in fact have her name on it in case of emergencies, but she doesn't carry a bank card or a credit card--her husband issues her cash weekly and when that cash is spent, she gets nothing further until the next week. She says it has helped her a great deal. Basically it reminds her not to do things like what you have just described. Yes, I'm sure it's humiliating sometimes for her to say she has to go get her husband to buy something big for her... but it's better than buying it herself when they cannot possibly afford to pay for it.

Best of luck to you--I really feel for you.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the commenter above who suggested the allowance. My parents and grandparents always did this and it works so well.

They had seperate 'pots' for each bill or expense, the person who had the cash would put a certain ammount in each pot and what was left over was for whatever they wanted to spend it on.

The one without the cash got an allowance every week and once it was gone it was gone.

I'm a single parent at the moment and actually pretty good with my money so I'm cool, but if I ever got into a relationship I would totally follow in the family tradition!

Anonymous said...

You need to get a job, at least a part-time one. Everyone always talks about how it's "best for the children to have a stay at home mom", but it's also important to be a good role model. I have 3 children and have always worked. We worked separate shifts so the daycare time was minimal. My children are all successful and responsible because of the work habits that I have shown them. It's the best advice I could give any woman, it has made me very strong.

Anonymous said...

Ohhhhh this is a good, brave, hard post. And the topic chafes. I am the money-spender, and bill-opener, the cheque writer and the full-time butt-wiper. But not the earner. And I am tried as I write this so I will probably say things I shouldn't, but we are in the basement so here goes: I do not think you have to go out and get a job as the previous commenter had suggested. Sometimes it is not practical. Plus, it sounds judgmental, which is not in the spirit.
I say, well done: For covering it, for being responsible, for crying silently and not putting a big crack in your marriage, for writing it down so it doesn't get poisonous. I don't think you should get a job, but I do think women like us need to make sure we have a better handle on money. It scares me and i am not always as responsible as I should be, am more comfortable letting things just coast, but it is important to try to keep some control, make some long-term plans, and not avoid the big ugliness that money can create in a marriage.
My mother called it a "lipstick fund", and told me every woman should have one. Good luck.

Michelle said...

My husband had cancer for ten years. He finally died from it. During that ten years, there were months when he could not afford his Rxs even with the insurance plan. I paid for his prescriptions with my household allowance. The whole thing was very sad and more so in my memory. You will be reimbursed if you take his insurance card TO the pharmacy and let them resubmit it and the pharmacy should reimburse you. Do this within seven days.

KTP said...

Who still writes checks?

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry that you experienced that loss of self. I've had my moment like this and it is a horrible feeling.

Kudos to you for being able to cover the cheque and for getting your feelings out.

Also, from a pragmatic perspective. It may be worth talking to a financial planner. There may be tax advantages to putting some savings or investments in your name - something else to be yours and yours alone but a better reflection of everything you contribute.

Anonymous said...

I totally get this. I've been a reader in the Basement for a while, and recently submitted a story of my own, and I just decided to look back through and read everyone else's stories.
I had this moment when my boyfriend had legal trouble and had to pay the courts. I paid all of it for him by selling all the movies I had managed to collect over the years. It hurt, and it was hard and I can't resent him for it.
Good for you for getting this out of your system.