It’s not just me, is it? Finances are confusing to everyone… right?
Oh please agree! I don’t want to be the Bozo on this bus¹.
Helaine and I went through some financial papers today. Nothing dreadful, but each was more confusing than the last.
My insurance company sent me a notice saying they weren’t paying as much for recent dental work as the policy allows. My dentist is off network and out-of-state.
Uh, yeah. It’s Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Rhode Island. I live in Connecticut. Of course it’s out-of state!
Here’s the funny part. They only said they weren’t paying me full reimbursement. In reality, they were. So, based on their paperwork, some clerk in Rhode Island and I got to spend quality time together that we’ll never get back.
Then Helaine showed me a statement from my 401-K at work. We’ve been participating over 20 years. There’s a significant amount of money in it now. It said one of the mutual funds we’re in went down over the past few months.
It was a time when the market in general was tanking. I saw that with a quick look at the Dow Jones Industrials Average (which I understand is a mainly worthless barometer).
Are we in the right funds? Not only don’t I know, no one knows!
The experts often make bad calls predicting the markets (and, hey, I know a little bit about predicting). You can get lucky, or just have time on your side. We used the latter.
Unfortunately, the difference between being right and being wrong, when stretched over 20+ years, can make a huge difference. Could I have clicked a different box two decades ago and now be set for life? I will never know if my decisions were the right ones.
We’re trying to get Stef on the right track with her finances. I’ve just applied for a credit card for her. She’ll be responsible, though Helaine and I have to guarantee that by co-signing.
I called my local bank office, spoke to the manager and was on my way… or so I thought. I had to return a call from the bank Monday. They needed to verify it was really me on the phone.
I wasn’t asked my birthdate or SSN. The bank’s operator said, “In the past you’ve owned property. I’ll give you a list, you tell me which one is right.” Then she did basically the same thing with cars I’d owned.
The answer to the car question was a 1992 Camry. “That’s 15 years old,” I said. “I’m not sure the year’s right.”
But it was Helaine who made the more cogent observation. “They know everything about us.”
Alas, they do. Neither the car nor any piece of property was financed through the bank.
Finally, Helaine showed me a mortgage statement on our house. We’ve been there 17 years and have refinanced twice. Each time, we tried to shorten the term and lower the interest rate.
We can actually see a day in the next few years when the house will really be ours.
Does anyone really think, when they buy a house, some day they’ll own it? I sure didn’t.
¹ – Firesign Theater reference. Thanks for noticing.