Corrina is a young professional in Vancouver. Last year, the unexpected happened. In this two-part post (to be continued next Saturday) Corrina tells the story of how she coped financially when her husband became a quadriplegic.
I’ve been a lot of things to a lot of people in my life. You know… the roles that are typical for most women these days: wife, mother, friend, boss, colleague, chef, organizer, chauffeur. I’ve been quite successful in most of my responsibilities, however the one area I’ve always missed the mark: household financial manager. I am absolutely useless.
Recently my life changed. Back in November my husband had an industrial accident that left him quadriplegic. The moment I heard the news I (temporarily) lost all ability to think, plan, act. I didn’t return to work for a few months, and during that time I let my already precarious finances take care of themselves (thank goodness for automatic payroll deposits and preauthorized payments). Amazingly, when I finally looked at my finances ten weeks later nothing had bounced and I had much more money than I expected! What had happened? I mean, I was buying all my meals at the hospital, spending a ton of money on parking every day, and much more on gasoline than usual. Surely these expenses must be at least equal to what I was spending before, if not more.
After not a lot of consideration it occurred to me: the only thing that had changed in my financial world was that I had not intervened in it. Clearly I was the problem!
I realized that I would not have the band-width to take care of my own finances for quite some time, and asked my Dad to take it on for me. He agreed, and so I handed over to him all my fancy tools: my fancy spreadsheets with calculated fields and hidden columns, my detailed list of creditors and expenses, balances and interest rates, and my bank card. My dad so very generously took it on and within six months we were in a much better financial position than before….I mean, in six months we had saved two full months net salary! What was going on? Again I have to say, clearly I was the problem.
I sat down with my dad and asked what the heck I was doing wrong. All my fancy spreadsheets, lists, outlook popup reminders…..they weren’t doing me any good. My dad can barely use a computer mouse or make a cell phone call, but apparently when it comes to personal money management tactical skills win out over technical ones. My dad started to talk to me about saving my receipts, and then actually LOOKING AT THEM. He talked to me about staying in touch with my bank account (sound familiar?) My dad talked about doing the mental math when I make a withdrawl. What a concept! Did he mean that I shouldn’t just withdraw and withdraw until I get a ‘declined’ message????
After listening to my dad tell me these things I realized that I had heard these messages in snippets somewhere before…..of course you know it was in learning about Your Money By Design.
Now I am on the program. Hello, my name is Corina and I am a spendaholic. I have been saving my receipts and I am appalled at my habits. After adding them up…who do I think I am? Paris Hilton?? No wonder my finances got better without me around!
There is more to our financial story….not only did I need to really get a handle on things to ensure a stable future for our now-different family, I needed to look at our future and income in a whole new way. I needed to learn what disability benefits, tax breaks, grants or allowances would be available to my husband. Not an easy task, and not much out there in the way of learning resources to help the layperson.