Sunday, February 1, 2009

Balancing the checkbook

The very first time I ever tried to balance a checkbook would have been in February of 1959.

We were living in the Portage Lake Cabins, described pretty vividly here. Actually, this post was the middle of a five-part series that concluded with this one just a day or so later. If you didn't happen to catch any of these, you might enjoy reading them from the very beginning.

For today, tho, my focus will be on the tiny 'cabin' we had. As I said in that first linked post, we had just the two rooms. I would have been working at the kitchen table - yes, the very same one that John finally decided he'd have to crawl under to get to the bathroom! - with my first-ever checkbook balancing activities. My husband would have been sitting at a plywood-type 'desk' (shelf, actually!) that was only minimally supported in the other room, studying.

Why had I never balanced a checkbook? Well, I'd never had a checkbook whose account I had to try and balance is the immediately obvious answer, and it's the truth!

As a kid, we'd had "allowances" - Do those still even exist nowadays? - of 50 cents or so a week, I forget the exact amount, but that's probably about right. We were expected to do certain chores to 'earn' our allowance. We would have had our piggybanks, our Christmas savings accounts, our savings bonds ... ... those things I only vaguely remember. (My folks kept track of everything.)

Then, when I went away to college, there must have been some sort of student account on campus that my folks would have set up for me. I do not remember ever having any great sums of money on me at any one time, and so I must have had local access to a few dollars if/when I needed them.

ANYway, I had never had a checkbook to balance. This would have been my very first ever 'go round' with such an activity.

And so there I was, sweating like a stuck pig in the middle of a very cold winter, trying my darndest (and my best 'darndest' was feeble, to put it mildly!) to balance what was now "our" checking account.

I couldn't get it to balance! I went back to the beginning and tried again. Another time, another, and yet one more. I could not get it to balance!!

I was almost frantic with worry. Money was tight! I mean, it squeaked, it was so tight!!

Finally I called out to my husband - in the most timid way one can possibly imagine, "Honey? Does it matter if you're a 'few dollars' off?"

Big long silence.

"How many dollars off?"

I could barely whimper, "$60."

I wanted to disappear completely. We couldn't afford to be sixty cents off, much less sixty dollars!


Anonymous said...

My Dad was a bank manager so he got on us kids to learn this skill when we starting working in our teens. I was and am still mathematically challenged so never did get the skill down.


Tammy said...

My dad was also a bank manager up until I was a senior in high school, so he taught me how to balance a checkbook. But just because I could balance a checkbook didn't mean I made good decisions in check writing. Some things are just life lessons to be learned on one's own.

Curious...did your husband find an error and things were ok? Or were you truly missing $60???

Goldenrod said...

Interesting that both of your dads were bank managers! I am NOT 'mathematically-challenged' ... doesn't mean that I made good decisions from thereon out, either!! (Not a single one of my bad decisions could have been attributed to a paucity of mathematical skills.)

But to answer your question, Tammy ... ... the balance was fine, correct down to the penny, in fact.