I Just Don’t Understand

I’m writing about something that I’m really embarrassed about and actually concerned. I don’t know if anyone else can identify with but here it is.

Ever since I married (at 18) and now in my senior years, my husband has looked after our financial affairs such a paying the bills, banking and in general just handling our money issues. In the beginning it just happened!. I was more concerned with raising our children who we had very early on. We had our first one just over a year after being married and then 16 months later the second and then our third child about 3 years after that. And I worked outside the home either part-time and sometimes full-time.

I was quite content to let him do it as it came so naturally to him. He could have been an accountant had he ever had the proper education….I really believe that. Before ‘computers’ came into our home, he just did it the usual way of paying the bills as they arrived and were due. I was really oblivious to the whole process and didn’t care to know anything about it.

Then we got a PC and banks and other institutions began online payments, and then the automatic payment method where the money is taken out of your account on a monthly basis….and our cheques such as government and pension were also put directly into our bank account.

Here’s the issue now….I don’t have a clue as to any of this….how or when to do it. My husband did a print-out for me of our monthly bills and cheques that are deposited into our accounts as well as which ones are paid by automatic withdrawal and which ones need to have a cheque sent. BUT I don’t know how to balance or to know how much is in the accounts at a given time etc. etc.

Once I tried to learn how to do it, but learning something after such a long time and doing it another person’s way was not easy and I gave up. That was several years ago.

But I worry because if he was incapacitated in some way I just wouldn’t know where to begin. He’s offered of course to try to help me again to see if I can pick up on it, but because of my cognitive disability now especially with the MS I don’t really think I’ll be able to comprehend. I may have to ‘try’ but don’t think I’ll be able to do it.

Can anyone else identify with this? I feel almost like a ‘child’ being looked after instead of a grown and independent woman.

18 thoughts on “I Just Don’t Understand

  1. I am in charge of the finances at my house – and I am here to say if I can do it, anyone can. I was an english major for a reason–but that does not seem to matter in the real world.
    Take it a step at a time–it really does not have to be hard, and when you begin to understand it you will laugh at your once fearful self.
    With the printouts they have today–it is really just a matter of keeping track. I am sure the other commenters have been more useful with their advice — so take their advice and consider me your cheerleader–you can do it boy, you can do it (I am channeling the White Christmas guy–Bing Crosby)

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  2. YES YES YES> I do. It’s scary!
    I never really learnt because of the control issues at home but I actually did fairly well after I left for a few years, before I got too sick. I asked for help and a public trustee took over (that was before automatic transfers for bills, so being sick meant not being able to go to banks/post offices to pay bills and rent.)
    I am constantly aware of and scared of the fact that I don’t feel I know the first place to start now. I get copies of my budget but I don’t know the first thing about where to start, and I doubt I could ever actually manage it myself properly either. Part of getting better for me would be learning how to and taking over that part of my life again.

    Perhaps your husband with his accounting background is a good person to actually help you with this (apart from already being a good person being your husband! 🙂 ) Perhaps he could find a less intimidating way of summarising your incomings and outgoings – at the moment you probably see all the different amounts and different accounts and go argh! If he could summarise with “This is how much comes in per month in total” and then summarise your main average outgoings – so much on groceries per month, so much on electricity, so much on gas, so much on medications, etc, that’s more likely to be something that will make sense to you. When you get your head around that, breaking it down further would not be as overwhelming.
    It sounds like a lot of the bills would actually pretty much keep on being paid if something happened, at least in the nearer future, because automated payments mean that it’s automatically taking a certain amount from your account at a certain date to cover it.
    Try not to stress (I know this is hard!) I’m sure there are people out there in your community who help people in this situation and would definitely support you, and it’s unlikely that this situation would occur. Also ask yourself, what is the worst that could happen if you had to take over the finances? Chances are it’s not as terrible as you feel it could be.
    Last but not at all least, remember, God provides. He who shelters and feeds the sparrows, will not let you go unfed or unsheltered.
    Love and hugs xx

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    • You’re right that the worst case scenario will like never happen..All the automatic payments would be paid….He pays very few by cheque now but does so online so I guess I would have to phone them and tell them I’m going back to sending cheques, But with encouragement from others and yourself and trusting in God I’m sure somehow I will try to learn what I can …make notes for future reference and then if I do get stuck I know that I could call on my children for help …In the long run I just need to realize it’s up to me to try I guess…

      It’s blown up in my mind I think because I’m older now and just am a bit (lot) insecure in that area ….Thanks for all your suggestions ..Diane

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  3. Diane I can identify in a way because we pay everything out of my acct except rent.wirh my husband doing most of the shopping and errands–that means HE is in my checkbook every day and God forbid I don’t reconcile correctly…I feel like a kid …it is never going to get better either. I think you are going to have to find a trusted person in your life and they can sit wurh you every time or they can do it.

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  4. that’s how i feel with my new website! trying working on one step at a time. i’m assuming your Hubby does online banking? start with having him show you how to sign in. try that until you are comfortable with it then move on to the next baby step, like clicking on your main account. if you do it in small steps it might be much easier. 🙂

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  5. There’s no way around it, you have to learn to keep your books. Start doing it now with your husband. Take turns taking care of your bills; he does it one month, and you do the next. That way you will learn more easily and sit with him as he does your books so you can see how he does it, then take that information and modify it so it works for you. Maybe you could handle the bill paying, and husband still balances the checkbook.

    I’m with you, I hate math, and I’m terrible with numbers, and paying bills. For the first 25 years, my husband did all the bill paying. Then he got angry about always worrying about money, so he turned it over to me. We’ve never balanced our check book, but I had to do that for 6 years as part of my job and I learned how. It wasn’t ever easy for me, and I was often wrong, but I know the basic principals behind it and with time I can manage.

    You can learn this, you don’t HAVE to balance your checkbook, you should, but as I said I haven’t done it in 33 years and neither has husband and we’ve always managed to get by. As long as I have money in my account to cover what was going out we’re doing ok. You can do it.

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    • Thanks for the motivational inspiration….It does give me the idea that possibly if I sit repeatedly with him I might …just maybe pick it up or at least enough… I’d likely have to take notes or I wouldn’t even remember one month.though. It will certainly take everything I can muster up with my ‘little gray cells’……Diane

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