Sunday, July 24, 2011

LOFT LIFE: Who is Juanita?

All my friends keep saying Jay had better die before me because he will never be able to figure out where all of our money is. That is to say, I do the budget, pay the bills, and decide on the credit cards, and, trust me, I have a very complicated system.
It all started because, I am dyslexic, which my friend April says I am not--she says I have a visual processing disorder (actually, it’s easier just to say I’m dyslexic. I mean, can’t I simplify even this?) Anyway, I decided, after we signed up for four extra credit cards on our 25th anniversary airplane trip to our cruise to the Caribbean, (they gave us free airline tickets) that since we were up to eight credit cards, and since I have this visual processing disorder, I would just use the eight cards as an accounting system. So I used each of the cards for a different category of purchase: Jay’s budget, My budget, travel, dining, business, household products, memberships, and business travel.
My CPA told me that was a fine system, however complex, if it worked for me.
So I created my Payment Grid, which on a monthly basis, I would fill out like a table to see the date, the balance, the payment made, the date due  and which bank it would be paid from--Umm--forgot to mention that I also have five banks with several accounts in each, also in categories. *Sigh* The table also lists the last four digits of the credit cards (which amazingly I had memorized).
That worked fine until the banks started sending us REPLACEMENT cards with different ending digits, and then also sending Jay and me different numbers if we were signers on the same cards--which we always are. That meant there were now SIXTEEN credit card numbers.
Now I look at my payment grid, and NONE of the original numbers are the same as when I started this five years ago. I also tried showing Jay the grid once, hoping he would see it, say how clever it was, and want to study it. But, no. That did not appeal to him at all. Really, the reason bill paying fell to me early on in the marriage, was that this is not Jay’s bailiwick. He hates sitting still for the time it takes. We originally tried "the sitting at the table together paying bills routine," and we would get about fifteen minutes into it and Jay would need to go to the kitchen for something, or check something in the backyard, or the garage--which meant, I would not be seeing him again for quite awhile, certainly not in that evening. I ended up finishing the bills myself. I got the message. “How about I just do this, honey?” which was fine with him.
So recently, I started thinking of all the pressure this system of mine puts on poor Jay to die first. I mean, I don’t want him to even have to think about doing that. So, because this system is degenerating, and because I have decided to simplify our finances so Jay doesn’t have to die at all, and because all the numbers are now on their third round of being REPLACED by the banks, and because we now use an American Express card which breaks down all purchases into categories for me, I am reducing the cards to a mere THREE: American Express, business and travel.
I still plan to do my payment grid for the three cards, and to break out all of the categories monthly to track spending. But, this is a whole lot simpler. Except I accidentally paid a couple of the EIGHT cards twice and have credit balances on them, so I can’t retire them quite yet. And I received yet ANOTHER replacement card for a card I haven’t used in months, so I don’t remember my ID and password to activate it online, so I will be able to put this card away again and NOT use it.
I tried the online chat thing with Bank of America. That was a huge mistake. After the agent apologized for fifteen minutes and told me how much she understood my frustration, she still hadn’t even asked me the first security question.
I almost worked myself into apoplexy with this person after another ten minutes, when she started the process by asking me for my daughter’s social security number (she is NOT on any of our cards). Then she asked for information about someone named Juanita! I have nothing against Juanita, and at the risk of being politically incorrect, have NO IDEA who Juanita is. I assure you this is certainly no one in our family. So, why would a B of A employee ask me this? Wait. I know. It is for my protection. Security. Right. The system to protect me is so complicated and dysfunctional that if some criminal wants to get into my account, I am sure they can. BUT I CAN’T! I am locked out by all the so-called security measures, like not knowing who Juanita is, let alone what her relationship to my account is supposed to be. 
I ended the chat and called B of A. A cordial, English-speaking young man answered, and we activated the dormant card in five minutes.
Do any of you see something wrong with this picture?
I think I need to simply my life some more and get B of A out of my life completely, before I keel over from sheer exhaustion at dealing with this new world of “protecting me” from myself.