Financial and Fiscal Responsibility
As a child my parents (and grandparents) instilled in me a strong sense of financial responsibility. That also meant fiscal responsibility. I was trained NOT to touch your principal. (It was assumed that you had a savings account.) Or at least try not to touch your savings unless absolutely necessary. There were family owned stocks that were NEVER to be sold. You paid your bills off every month. If you couldn't afford it, you didn't buy it. All of this was drilled into me and I took it very seriously.
I have tried to instill similar tenets into my son. I THINK I've succeeded somewhat. But let's face it, the rules of the game have changed since my grandparents and parents time. However being responsible when it comes to finances is something that should never change.
In their last months of life, I was taking care of both of my parents' finances. In 2022, bills came in for my mother and I made sure they were paid in a timely manner. When she died and her account was frozen, I paid out of my own pocket, knowing as executrix and beneficiary, I would eventually get the money back. (That however took time...and if you want to read my rants and raves about that go back to my August 2022 posts.) From January on, I'd been taking care of my father's finances, even to the point of filling out his ledger in the appropriate color coding. (Withdrawals were black, deposits were blue, medical expenses were green and the actual amounts were done in pencil so that if a mistake was made it could be erased.) I was particularly diligent for my father's expenses, making sure that insurance was always paid on the first day of the month and all others were scheduled for the second. (Even though they might not be due till later in the month, the Verizon, Comcast, Amex and Sunoco were always paid on the second day of the month.)
As the only living child (for those of you who don't know, I had a younger brother who died suddenly 11 years ago, 5 days before my birthday), I am both executrix and beneficiary of their estates. Even though we are not talking tons of money (which reminds me I need to buy a Mega Millions ticket because I really could use $1.55 BILLION dollars...or whatever the amount might be after taxes), there is still a lot of responsibility. Since it was ingrained in me to be responsible, I've been trying to stay on top of things, when in all honesty, I'd really like things to slide. (I need a break.)
However, I really haven't allowed myself many breaks. I'm going through the tedious and PAINFUL process with BoA again (https://bfthsboringblog.blogspot.com/2023/08/why-boa-still-sucks.html). I'm working with the Gress Lodge Group at RBC who have been incredibly kind, gracious, supportive and understanding. (A rarity in ANY business these days; I'm so happy both my parents worked with them and I will certainly continue to do so. If every institution that I've had to deal with was even HALF as good, my stress would be so much lower and my mental health much better.) I've turned in two cars (my "dad's' ' Buick Encore, which he never drove and my Ford Escape) for a new one with most (but sadly not all) the bells and whistles. (I never realized how much I missed a moonroof until I no longer had one. I would never go without heated seats again. And while I'm NOT looking forward to the colder months, having a heated steering wheel might make the season more tolerable.) I'm HOPING to get help filling out some paperwork on two investments on Monday because I can't seem to figure out what is what. (And I'd like to get whatever money there is into my name). Also on Monday, I am hoping to get the title to the house at the shore put into my name. (Something I should have done a year ago, but did not feel comfortable doing while my dad was still living here.)
All of these things have been weighing on my mind. However, there is one item that really was frustrating me and freaking me out. (Trust me, it doesn't take much to freak me out.) Property taxes are due on August first. Being fiscally responsible, I have a note in my calendar a month before the taxes are due reminding me to pay them. I received my notification/bill for my house in North Jersey and made sure the Q3 2023 payment was in at least a month before they were due. (Taxes are something that I am REALLY obsessive about!). However, the reminder date on my calendar came and went for the shore house taxes and nothing. I called. They didn't have them ready yet. I called again. Same thing the next time I called. The township did not have the tax rate yet. I was going nuts. The only thing that saved me was that an old friend from high school happened to see my post and contacted me. His mother had once worked for this same township's tax department and told me to get in contact with her. She was so helpful...not because she could help with the situation, but because she could explain it to me and assure me that there would be an extension.
August 1st came and I was actually at the house at the shore that day. I checked the mailbox. Nothing from the township. I arrived at the house this morning and checked the mailbox: the bill was FINALLY there. Which means it arrived between the 2nd and the 4th. And yes, there has been an extension till the end of the month, the letter (which could not have been mailed before the 1st) clearly says: taxes are due on August 1st. How can taxes be due when no one can tell you what they are? What level of stupidity is this? (No answer needed.)
Needless to say, I wrote the check ASAP. (Sadly I missed the mailman who delivered today's mail just as I was sitting down to write it.) It will be in Monday's mail and SHOULD be in the tax collector's office by Tuesday or Wednesday. (Which would mean it would have arrived within the "normal" grace period of 10 days.)
What is the point of all this blathering on? Do I ever really have a point?
The gist of today's blog is the following:
Being responsible for an "estate" and/or overseeing other's finances is a daunting task. Wherever you are able to find help, embrace it. It might come from the most unexpected places.
Never expect assistance from the place that SHOULD provide it...most financial institutions seem to work hard to make YOUR work harder.
YOU need to stay on top of things. You need to be responsible because right now it appears to me that (most of) the rest of the world is not.
When things go wrong; make your voice heard. Send that email or use social media. (For some reason social media posts capture corporate eyes more than the "traditional" methods.
When things go right: shout it from the rooftops. We need to let the world know about the good just as much as the bad
Do your best and be responsible. It's not easy, but it's the right thing to do. (Right?)