Wednesday, July 26, 2006

No Accounting For It

I am the family accountant. Well, maybe that overstates it slightly — let’s just say I’m the adder and subtracter of family funds. I’m the bill-paying guy with the Radio Shack calculator. Every Sunday I sit down at my little desk and decide who gets their money and who doesn’t. At the end of each month I balance the checkbook, which is an onerous task because we use our check card for everything, so the bank statement, when it arrives, is often confused with the greater metropolitan Boston telephone book. One month the mailman needed a forklift to deliver it. I can’t prove it, but I believe our monthly statement is longer than Santa’s Naughty or Nice list. It’s pretty damn long. But I dutifully hunt down every deposit and expenditure, check them off, and then, at the end, discover how bad my arithmetic has been for the past few weeks.

When we lived at the old house, bill paying was simple. After the first few years, after we finally got past that stage where we were just barely scraping by and I had to work two jobs, after the missus and I had gotten some significant increases in pay and refinanced the house several times, it became “see bill–pay bill.” Every Sunday I sat down, put the bills in front of me and wrote checks out for every one of them. Boom, boom, boom. Done. It was beautiful. Nowadays, with the new house and the rental properties and the added expenses that have cropped up, I’m forced to play this little game where I make note of the amount of the bill, find out when it’s due, and calculate when the nearest Sunday is I can write a check for it without the payment being late. I’ve got one funky escrow account I use to pay the mortgages from and another one for the property tax and homeowner’s insurance. For an absent-minded, former C average math student whose left brain couldn’t punch its way out of a wet paper bag, this can often seem risky and little scary.

But as challenged as I am in the arena of quadratic equations and square roots, I would like to go on record as the man who coined a brand new bean-counting term. Although the Massachusetts Board of Public Accountancy will never recognize my long-repressed and hardly-evident mathematical genius, someday CPAs everywhere will pick up and apply this word. Want to know what it is? See, you know how when you’re adding and subtracting your deposits and expenditures the running tally is usually a number like $457.32 or $893.21? Pretty random, right? But every once in a while, when, say, the tally number is $632.78 and you just entered a purchase you made for a gasoline fill-up at, oh, $259.78, the new tally number becomes $373.00 even. Just zeros to the right of the decimal point. It’s like a little miracle, isn’t it? Well, here’s my name for that: the “square-up.”

So the next time you’re doing your figuring and ciphering in your checkbook and that happens, you just remember old Schprockie’s word for it.


Blogger Scott said...

So what then is the term we should coin for coming up with an even dollar amount at the gas pump? You know, without cheating it up.

8:10 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

I believe Seinfeld called it "the perfect pump."

8:13 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

Why "the square-up?"

I hate paying bills, not because I watch my bank account go way down, but because it takes up time I could use on something much more knitting or reading.

9:30 AM  
Blogger tiff said...

Oh dear, I was supposed to be balancing my checkbook all this time with NUMBERS? And I just had the fingetip spin down pat...

You are to be commended for your fortitude.

10:27 AM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

Hee. I like that. Sadly, my balance squares up even more with zeros on both sides of the decimal point.

10:45 AM  
Blogger trinamick said...

For some odd reason, I'm also excited when I see it even out on the back end of the ole decimal. Now if I could just add to the front end...

I used to do that whole 'pay it as it comes' thing. But lately, I've resorted to your method. So if you find some extra cash, feel free to send it my way and I'll revert back to my responsible ways.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Flood said...

I wish the census guys would use the square-up, cause I am pretty sure I have more than 3.2 children.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Wordnerd said...

That is the perfect term. Funny, but it's exciting when you get a square-up.

Ok. I'm going to go try to find a life.

P.S. "The perfect pump", as compared to "classic oversqueeze..."

1:29 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

I love when it all equals out perfectly. I do the bills here as well. I remember lean years when I had to use my grandmother's method -- all bills go in a hat and the one you pick is the one you pay that week.

2:33 PM  
Blogger magnetbabe said...

I have Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Physics with a minor in Math. I am a staunch feminist. And I cannot wait to get married so that Dean can take full control of my finances. I thought he'd have a heart attack when he looked at the mess that was my bank statement, and the fact that I rarely have a clue how much is actually in there. God bless my future husband. And God bless you, Mr. Schprock, for doing an admirable job with your family accounting.

7:45 PM  
Blogger Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

I never look at my bank statement.

It's a fun game I like to play called 'Waiting for the Bailiff'

There is a also a spin-off game called 'Attack of the Taxman' which runs in a very similar vein.

6:20 AM  
Blogger Paul (rock star wanna be) said...

Balancing my check book is easy. In fact Jethro Bodine from the Beverly Hillbillies said it best...

Naught minus naught = Naught. Well, I'm exagerarting a bit. My wife is a banker so I make her do it under the premise that she can view it as training to stay sharp.

Take care.....

8:27 AM  

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