In a marriage, or long-term relationship, the person responsible for handling the regular monthly finances shouldn’t be the one with the craziest cash flow schemes. I know, right!? So, it’s not just a fluke that it worked out that way in my marriage. Wait! Before you jump to the defense of my wife, (who is of sound mind in almost every other way), I’m not saying she’s crazy; just the system she’d have me employ in facilitating our mundane monthly money matters.
My Wife’s Crazy Cash Flow Scheme #1:
“Open up a ‘secret’ bank account,
and put some of our money there so we don’t spend it.”
At first blush, I can see how you might not immediately consider this scheme to be crazy. Especially if you have the kind of money that is deposited into ‘hidden’ accounts in Switzerland, or the Caymans. But we don’t, so every month I’m supposed to suspend my disbelief and co-conspire in a fantasy where we temporarily pretend we have enough money to pretend we don’t have money, that we do have and need to pay our bills, by depositing it in a covert account, and then a few days later transfer it from that clandestine account to our regular, conspicuous account that has been tirelessly set up to distribute pre-authorized payments and payee transfers in order avoid NSF notices and fees.
I understand the joy of discovering that unexpected $20 in your jeans’ pocket, or the wad of cash you forgot you had stashed away for “emergencies” in a side pocket of a suitcase from last summer. But, even in the context of modern-day, easy online banking, this is a gigantic make-work exercise that I refer to as “Peek-A-Boo Banking”. It doesn’t work to make me feel any “richer than I think”.
My Wife’s Crazy Cash Flow Scheme #2:
“Go to the bank and put that cheque directly on our credit card!”
This strategy applies to situations where, for instance, we’ve paid for something on plastic and then been reimbursed shortly thereafter. Again, at first glance: not a crazy notion to avoid credit card fees. But, she’s so anxious to ensure that we pay off our credit card balance and avoid steep interest rates that she wants that specific cheque to be immediately deposited against the amount owing. In almost 20 years of marriage I’ve only failed to avoid credit card fees maybe 2 or 3 times, in each instance because I forgot to pay on the right date. So, all that her strategy accomplishes is that it confuses the agent in charge of this task (me) with unnecessary mathematics that run the risk of error and said fees.
I’m expected to apply the cheque amount directly towards the credit card, subtract that amount from the balance owing, which is clear and easy for me to read on the statement that has been prepared and sent to us in advance, so that a few weeks later on the due date I don’t miscalculate and get charged with said fees. Arguably, I could apply the cheque amount AND pay the full balance BEFORE the due date on the card and be done with it. I’ll remind you, however, that this would only be possible if we had surplus cash flow squirrelled away in a stealth “Peek-A-Boo” bank account that we forget about every month.
If you’re in love with someone who likes to implement strategies of “False Economies”, you can maintain psychological equilibrium through a healthy division of labour. In some instances, however, it might be better for you to just play along. Here’s one such instance on Speaking Spouse: “Hide These”.