Can’t Buy Me Love

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Paul knew I’d had a busy day today, full of running errands and catching up from our long weekend, and since he was going to be out with the guys tonight, he suggested we stop for fast food on the way home to relieve me of the chore of cooking dinner. I was easily persuaded.

We swung up to the McDonald’s drive-through, ordered our food, and pulled forward to pay for it. A couple of seconds after I had handed my debit card through the window to the smiling octogenarian at the register she handed it back to me, lowering her voice to tell me in embarrassed tones that it had been declined. Puzzled, we tried Paul’s card. Declined. Already my stomach was clenching with the panicky feeling I get whenever money matters go awry. We apologized, canceled our order, and turned toward home.

“I don’t understand!” I started in as we drove away, a note of hysteria creeping into my voice. “The checkbook register says we have plenty in our account! Could there be a problem with the actual cards? Maybe they were flagged for unusual activity or something? I bet we forgot to write something down! How could I have done that? Oh, man…”

My pitch and my agitation climbed in equal measure until Paul, with his customary calm, reminded me that we didn’t know anything yet, and told me not to worry–that he would look at our online account records when we got home to search out the problem.

“Don’t worry.” Ha! And again I say it: ha! I have a long track record of falling apart in the face of financial adversity. Like Chicken Little, I am convinced that the sky is falling at the least little pecuniary hiccup. Bounced check? Shrinking tax return? More month than money? Leave it to me to blow it up into a dark, foreboding future of living out of our car and scraping up nickels and dimes on the street to feed our starving children. That’s why, even though I pay the bills, when something goes wrong, Paul takes over. He’s the only one who can unravel a bank statement without moaning under his breath and beating his head on the table.

Anyway, despite my sepulchral warnings that we were never, ever going to resolve this mystery, the problem became clear within minutes of Paul opening our account records. Every month, I transfer 550 dollars from our savings account to our checking account, and then turn around and send a payment for that amount from our checking account to our student loan company. This month, the transfer didn’t go through, but the check did, and the result was several overdrafts.

Several.

Overdrafts.

With accompanying fees.

Chicken Little kicked it up a notch.

Bookkeeping error! Wasted money! Careless! Costly!

I went on speaking in exclamation points for a while, until Paul reached out for me, mid-rant, and pulled me close. Inside me, all went quiet. Then, touching his forehead to mine, he whispered, “This place doesn’t run on money, you know.”

And you know what? I do know.

But Chicken Little might need a reminder now and then.

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16 responses »

  1. You have such a great way of relating events! I can totally understand your reaction, and it’s great to have someone lift you out of the shock. :)

  2. I completely understand…I turn into Little at the mere hint of a financial issue and go bonkers. Where can I get me a Paul!?! :)

    I’m pretty sure he broke the mold (but I’ll keep my eyes peeled!)

  3. Oh Gosh… I just made a huge mistake of charging to our debit card yesterday the $500++ dental bill I had. I just remembered that my hubby does not leave a large (relative) amount of money there because he transfers it rto the on-line checking we’re doing. I should have asked them to send us the bill instead of paying through my old card. Yikes – talk about overdraft. overdraft. eeekkkk…. I better call out dentist office right now!

  4. It seems to be a neverending juggling act. I take care of the finances in our house too, and it’s usually the last thing I think about at the end of each day, or week, or month.

    Yesterday we had our card declined at Pita Pit. I absolutely knew it wasn’t for lack of funds. The manager agreed, saying they were having modem problems, so he gave us the two gyros for free!

    Hurray Pita Pit! I just love good customer service. And free food just tastes better!

  5. There is nothing more stressful than money issues. Kyle and I share financial duty at our house, although I am MUCH more religious about checking balances online EVERY.SINGLE.DAY than he will ever be. Then again, I’m much more prone to error than he is, so it’s good that I’m extra careful.

    I’m so glad you have Paul. :)

    I noticed you filed this post under blessings. Indeed.

  6. Glad to hear I’m not the only Chicken Little walking around out there!

    Good news! I just got off the phone with the bank, to whom I explained the whole situation. Apparently they recently changed their online transfer procedure to include one extra verification step, one more click that I must have missed when I did the transfer. So it was my mistake, not theirs. But due to our longstanding customer status and our good financial history, they are going to refund all FIVE of the $35 overdraft fees! Woot! Yay Bank of America! (And whew!)

  7. kathy–I made sweet potato french fries and chicken. It was yummy, actually! (Unfortunately, it took a little more effort than dumping fries and burgers out of a golden arches bag and opening a couple of ketchup packets. Also, I cut myself when I was slicing sweet potatoes. Pity me.)

  8. I’m right there with ya sister! I am completely responsible for our money and the whole world pretty much ends when there is a problem. I’m glad Paul was there to bring you back to reality. Now in hindsite, it’s worked itself out huh? I really don’t like, “the heat of the moment”. *sigh* Just means we care. :)

    Yes, you’d think after all the mini-crises we’ve made it through, I’d have learned by now not to panic, but apparently I’m a slow learner.

  9. Girl, if I had all of the overdraft money we’ve lost over the last year, I’d be driving a nice, new mini-van!!! I cannot tell you how much money we have wasted by overspending or, always better, forgetting to transfer money from one place to another!!! I feel your pain, and panic, :( So glad to see that the bank was cooperative and on your side – that’s unusual to find anymore!

  10. “I went on speaking in exclamation points for a while, until Paul reached out for me, mid-rant, and pulled me close. Inside me, all went quiet. Then, touching his forehead to mine, he whispered, “This place doesn’t run on money, you know.”
    And you know what? I do know.”

    I think I read this in one of Malinda’s Nora Roberts’ books. Maybe it only sounds like something a Romance Novel Guy would do, since most guys don’t have enough sense of their woman to put these words with these actions in this circumstance. Props to Paul for saying them. Props to you for having good taste in your husband choice!!

    That’s Paul–the perfect combination of Romance Novel Guy, Scooby Doo, and Dilbert. I am blessed to be loved (and completely computer-supported) by him, and I know it!

  11. I am the same way in the face of money woes. Completely freak out- ok, really I completely freak out in all woes. Thank goodness for level–headed husbands!

  12. This is why I just adore you, Katrina. I love your spirit. I love that you share with us who you are, for good and for bad, and that you let us see who you are in your weak moments as well as the strong. I love that you have a marriage where you are known in such completeness. And that you respond to each other with tenderness.

    I love this post. I love your relationship with Paul. And you know how much I simply adore you.

    I hope, I truly pray, that someday I’ll have such a truly intimate and compassionate relationship as you have. Thanks for making it easy to believe in.

    This is one of the sweetest comments I’ve ever gotten, Amy. Thank you so much for the encouragement–you really made me smile! And it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that I adore you, too.

  13. I had a similar experience happen a few years ago when we went to get cash at the bank… and had no cash. My mother was with us and had to bail me out. I was horrified. I can’t remember the error I made, but that memory has stayed with me. Happy Easter!

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