Sunday, August 26, 2007

It had to be done

I had a list of about ten things to do today.  I got one of them done.

This wasn't due to oversleeping or playing too long on the internet or anything else.

It was because it took all day to do it.

The task was:  pay bills.

Actually, no.  The task was "tidy bills."

Here's the thing.  Back in November, when I first put my condo on the market, I cleaned it all up.  Spotless.  This included my desk.  I hid the contents of my desk in a cabinet.  If I was going to pay bills, I took my three-stacked-boxes (think "in," "out" and "whatever else") and put them on my desk.  Then I'd dig out the checkbook from the other cabinet in which it was hidden.  And the letter opener and calculator from the third place.  (Return address labels and stamps tend to run off on me, and are generally kept in my desk at the office, since I mail everything from work anyway.)

This method worked fairly well, although I'd only go through the process every three weeks or so, which usually resulted in my paying a bill or two by phone in order to avoid it being late.

In March, I took the condo off the market and could live like a slob again.  Everything went back on my desk.

In April, the mold remediation people came in and took apart my living room ceiling.  Since my desk was in the "containment zone," I had to come up with a new way to deal with the contents of the desk.  Since the whole process was supposed to take less than a month, I developed a temporary solution.  Basically, everything went back into its cabinets.  But what was different about it this time was that -- since I had to get all my furniture out of the containment zone -- I couldn't even open one of the cabinets, as it was blocked by my dining room table.  So, the temporary solution was just to throw incoming bills on my coffee table.  Every week, I'd whip out my checkbook and pay them.  No muss, no fuss.  Balancing the checkbook would have to wait until later, when I could spread out with all the paperwork.  Ditto checking off all the receipts on my credit card bill -- I'd pretty much just give them the once-over and make sure I generally recognized the charges, while the bigpile of receipts continued to grow.

Well, today, it all had to be dealt with.  My stack of credit card receipts got sorted into chronological order (going back to April) and then checked off against the already-paid bills.

And then I took the checking account statements and prepared to balance my checkbook back to April. 

Except when I looked in the check register, it didn't have any little check-marks next to anything since November.

This was puzzling.

I moved the dining room table, broke into the cabinet I hadn't been in since April, and discovered that, yes, I had unreconciled bank statements in there dating back to December.

That's right:  Nine months of bank statements waiting for my attention.  And crammed into a little box -- grocery store receipts (the only place I use debiting from my checking account) also dating back to November. 

And several hours later, I can report -- and it amazed the heck out of me -- that I actually had all of my grocery store receipts.  And now they're all accounted for in my checking account.

Including a meal break, it took me ten hours to deal with all my bills and bank statements.  But for now:  a clean coffee table occupied by an October bill and my current credit card receipts.  Hurrah.

No comments: