Prayer for the Dyscalculic

Part  1 of family bookkeeping and tax preparation for 2010 returns.

The Suburbohemian has never claimed to be a financial mastermind, but back in the day, I paid bills on time and did enough cipherin’ to balance my antique check book. I even had regular paycheck deductions for savings (I know!) with money left over for new shoes and dinners out.  But those days, along with an easily maintained waistline and hope for the future, are gone forever.

My loving spouse took over the reins of money management when we married and all was well for many years until it became apparent that 1) he was too busy to keep up the work in a timely fashion and 2) he had complicated it past the point of no return, aided and abetted by the modern joy of online banking and e-bills and 3) if he stroked out at his desk from too many all night web design parties, I would be completely fucked.

Wresting this task from him was about as easy as shaving a ferret.  God forbid that there was one place that contained account passwords for all financial institutions and vendors or the methodologies of how they were paid. (Online banking and through which account?  Vendor website? Automatic draft?  With a check and a stamp? Trade beads? Taking in laundry?)And all e-bills were sent only to him. It took 3 months of strategic badgering to compile the above info in useable format and another 3 months before the procedure revealed its quirky rhythms as opposed to appearing like random acts of fiduciary terror wreaked by a sadistic squad of business accounting majors.

Even then, there were struggles. Methadone aficionados don’t sweat and shake as much as I did while transposing numbers onto rolling spreadsheets that undulated before my eyes like Timothy Leary’s living room walls on any given evening during the 60’s.


This natural dread of numbers was enhanced by our paper filing system, whose logic was as intuitive as MS-DOS.  I would rather sit through the Sound of Music than file paper even when I know where it goes.  I redid the filing system to reflect, ummm….something meaningful.  The anal retentive Hubster was affronted by this foray into his territory.  Feathers were ruffled and breaches of diplomacy quickly flared to threats of armed conflict and unilateral disgust.

The real test would come when it was time to prepare the stack of paper documents for our CPA.  It would once again require asking for help and cooperation from someone who was 1) too busy 2) too stressed and 3) too much of a perfectionist introvert to share even if he weren’t busy and stressed.  I comforted myself with the notion that all my previous efforts would be understood and appreciated and he would be so relieved that this cup was taken from him that he would answer willingly and helpfully instead of whine-ily and pout-ily. I mean for shit’s sake, I’d been filing, organizing AND meditating for a better life outlook, so he could bloody well grace me with bits of wisdom and thoughtful observation warmed by our shared dislike of these odious labors.  The beast was almost wrestled to the ground.  I was envisioning a sort of bracing display of “Well done, then!” and the promise of good gin for my troubles.

Dear Reader, I was living in a fool’s paradise. To be continued…

T-shirt is available from Math T-Shirts.

4 Responses

  1. Reply by Forrest On April 5, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    You did say tax preparation. I am so screwed. I’ll have to cash out part of a Roth to make my tax payment. Didn’t see that one coming.

    • Reply by admin On April 5, 2012 at 9:20 pm


  2. Reply by Jo Ann On April 6, 2012 at 8:30 am

    My sympathies. I’m following your adventure with anal retentive accounting with a barely hidden, though non-malicious glee. When my hubster was hospitalized, after the family doctor broke his neck,with an “adjustment”, and totally inert for 3 months, I had to pay all the bills. As you can guess, I had the same password problem, didn’t know what bank which funds were in, and was hit with a migraine each time I saw the word QUICKEN on my computer.QUICKEN turned out to seem like a large pot of thin spaghetti. Think multiple accounts and multiple payments from those accounts. I couldn’t exactly call him up, at the hospital, and ask for help while he was undergoing intensive physical therapy loaded on oxycontin.

  3. Reply by Patty On April 6, 2012 at 9:07 am

    My tax funzies this year included doing my 92 year old parents’ tax return. When a 90+ year old puts stuff in Quicken, you might as well forget about it! Love YOU