Reconciling bank accounts has become a full-time job. Everyone should get in the habit of doing this, though. I haven’t gone as far as making up a budget yet, but that will be the next step once I’ve gotten caught up on reconciling (which has been ongoing since about July). I’ve done all of Len’s, and all of mine. For Len, I’ve done them all going back to 2010 (try tracking down every transfer, cheque and deposit going back three years. It’s no walk in the park). For me, I’ve only done last year up until the current. Len and I keep every single receipt and I file them all in a slotted envelope. I divide them all into cash, VISA payments, chequing account expenditures, savings account expenditures… etc. Then I file them in envelopes that correspond with our bank statements, and then once I receive the statement for the month I fill in a ledger book that matches the order of how things appear on the statement. I make sure the receipts follow the same order, just for reference sake. If I have the receipt for the transaction, I put a checkmark beside it. I also break the receipt down in the ledger book by whatever I spend – groceries, entertainment, hygiene, HST… etc. Once I have that done, I also put it into an Excel spreadsheet so that I have the ability to sort transactions alphabetically. It’s a very detailed and very time-consuming system – but also very efficient. Every time a statement comes it takes me an entire day to organize everything. I have 12 accounts to manage and Len has about 9 or 10 (not just bank accounts, but things like life insurance and vehicle financing, etc). I don’t spend much in cash, because I rarely carry it on me. Len, however, has a lot of cash receipts. So doing all of that for one month is a big job for sure.
So why am I doing it? For a few reasons.
Number one, his separation. That’s what started all of this. I’ve always teased Len for being a receipt hoarder. He had them stuffed everywhere in the house, toolshop, truck… you name it. It drove me crazy and I was constantly going behind him throwing them out. But then once all the court stuff started happening and he had to fill out a financial declaration, it got me thinking that it would probably be a prudent idea to start logging everything we do. I didn’t exactly know why at the time, but I figured it out once court drama ensued… and since Len was already in the habit of keeping all the receipts, it wouldn’t be a problem sniffing them out. (Except that now, instead of throwing them in random places, he’s become very good at giving them to me directly or leaving them in the office)
It has benefited us in the separation process, simply because it’s been the biggest aid in tracking every penny. By matching transaction numbers, for example, we can prove that money was transferred that may have been in dispute. It gives us the ability to make sure his financial statement is as close as possible to what he claims. We can say exactly what our expenses are, to a tee. We can prove where every dime has gone, which is probably a good thing when courts are involved. When it comes to the kids, we can prove that they’re not going without. You never know when this kind of thing is going to jump up and bite you in the face, so it’s good to be prepared.
The second reason I decided to reconcile our accounts is because the Canada Revenue Agency’s website has a list of all sorts of things a person can claim rebates for. For example – feminine hygiene products. You can get rebates for having a work-out-of-home space in your house. You can claim babysitting expenses… child care expenses. All sorts of stuff. I just moved last year, and I have my U-haul receipts, which I can claim… as well as a bunch of other moving-related deductions and reimbursements. Len and I have done so many renovations in the last year, and spent so much money on them, and I believe there are credits he can get for those. So I printed off this list, which you can find here, and now it’s just a matter of going through my ledger books and tracking down the receipts that would contain such purchases so I can submit for these rebates. It might be a lot of work, but why not get free money out of it?
Also, it’s good to know where your money goes every year. Once you get it done and you look back on it, you can see in one view the breakdown of your expenses. This is why I put everything into Excel spreadsheets… so that when you want to know exactly how much you spent on groceries in 2012, all you do is go to your page where your item sorts are and you look at the total. One of these days when I’m bored I should make a video about it, for anyone who feels the need to be more organized, for whatever reason. It’s a talent of mine.
Anyway… that’s how I spent my day today. That, as well as shopping for supplies to fix up the farm so we can get it rented. We’ve had a few people come to look at it, none of whom seemed thrilled with the condition of the place (it’s an old farm house… what do you want!). So I convinced Len to lay down some new laminate flooring in the living room, laundry room and front bedroom, and I’m going to paint those rooms. I’d like this farm to be dealt with because I have other projects I want to indulge in. However, Len discovered that a lot of the pipes had burst over the winter, despite having shut the water off and drained it all… so he thought… so now we have to deal with that. It’s awesome.
The last bit of news I have is that we now have a cat. I love him so much! We adopted him from the SPCA on Thursday. I’d been mentioning I wanted a cat, but had resolved myself to the reality of our jobs. Last week when we were at his parents’ for dinner, we were talking about our dogs and his sister mentioned that because Maggie and Chlor are getting old, that we get a puppy to keep them active. I declared that there was no way we were getting a third dog (I don’t even really like dogs), but that a cat would be great. Ever since then, and to my surprise, Len wanted to get us a cat. So he had been suggesting we go to the SPCA and have a look for “kittens”, and I politely reminded him that our cat will simply be a cat we see and fall in love with and that adult cats need homes too. (really, who goes to the SPCA for kittens?)
So we finally went, and it wasn’t until we actually got there that I was excited. Once I was around all the cats and playing with them, I remembered all my old cats and how much I missed them. As soon as we walked in the door I spotted this black and white one with an extremely cute face sitting properly in the window, looking at us and seeming to be waiting for us. I laughed and pointed him out to Len. The lady took us in to the other room first, where there were about 6 cats together. We played with a couple of them, who were all adorable and easily take-home material. However, remembering the other one who was all by himself in the other room, I asked to go have a look at him. When we went in there he was immediately rubbing up against us, so Len picked him up and held him for a couple minutes. When he went to put him down on his cat post, he wouldn’t let go of Len’s sweater haha. Then we were playing with him, and once we saw that he was not only personable and sweet, but playful, we were sold on him. I knew as soon as we walked in the door that he would be my cat, but we had to give the other ones a chance.
His name WAS Cory, but I didn’t like it, so I changed his name to Ernie. He responds to it and everyone seems to love his name. He’s about two years old. I don’t actually know what his story is; I never thought to ask. I can probably find out on Wednesday, when I go for my orientation/interview to be a volunteer (more about that later).
Everyone who meets him falls in love with him – the kids especially. I was so happy to see that the boys play with him and bring him downstairs. Ernie goes where the people are. When Len wakes up, Ernie follows him. When we go to bed, Ernie comes with us (and sleeps in the bed with us – sometimes right between us). When I’m puttering around the house, Ernie follows me wherever I go. If I go to the bathroom, I know he’ll be laying there when I open the door. He’s an awesome little cat.
At the SPCA, before you look at the cats, they ask if you want to fill out a survey to determine what kind of cat you’re looking for. I thought, sure, why not. Based on my answers, I was looking for an “orange cat”, which I assume is a moderately active cat and probably the average kind of cat, since it’s in between the green quiet cats and the purple active cats. In each category there are three different types of cats to pick from. I chose “the personal assistant” because it reminded me of two of the other cats I had who always had to be sitting on the desk when I was trying to work, or sitting my suitcase when I was packing, etc. This is Ernie to a tee.
So anyway, enough blather about the damn cat. Here he is, Mr. Meow Meow: