Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Missing Slush Fund Found

Or, A Fool And His Money Are Soon Reunited

Sigh. I understand now why I dropped General Accounting twice in college. I just have no sense for numbers. Double-entry bookkeeping might as well be Differential Equations for all the sense it makes to me.

Let's take my checking account, for example. Now, I'm not so ignunt that I bounce checks, 'cause I grasped the concept of "Overdrafts cost lots of money" early on in the game. Still, my check register is a marvel of confusion, mostly due to my "slush fund" method of record keeping.

I've never been one to balance my account to the penny every month. Can't see the point. As long as there's as much or more money actually in the account that there shows to be in the checkbook, I'm good to go. Usually, I check my bank statement for things that look out of place, but I'm a creature of habit, and any charges made outside my usual haunts are so few that I can keep track of them. Mostly.

I ensure that there's more money in my account than I show in my check register by deliberately overstating the amount of purchase when I record the transaction, always rounding up to the nearest dollar. F'rinstance... a purchase of $35.22 gets entered into the register as $36 even. A slipup at the gas pump where I squeeze a bit too hard on the nozzle and get $24.03 just gets entered as $25. Over the months, those quarters, nickles, dimes and pennies add up to a tidy sum. After a year or so, I'll have a "slush fund" of anywhere from $75 to $200, just from rounding everything up.

Sure, it's sloppy, but comparing the monthly statement to the online account record and my check register lets me know from month to month how much is really in there, and every so often I'll pull out $50 or $100 from the slush fund, go have fun with it, and leave a bit to start over again.

What happens when your slush fund goes missing? Well, this is the downside of using Creative Accounting (a subsidiary of Tyco & Enron) to balance your books. Usually, it means that I've forgotten to mark down a large purchase in the register, which happens infrequently. This month was a doozy, though.

I was showing a balance of $152, and Wells Fargo Online said "Nope, sorry, dude. You're down to $97 in your operating account." Damn, not only am I without a slush fund, I'm seriously out of whack on the balance.

A little hunting in the statements, and some judicious use of a highlighter to check things off in the register turned up some interesting omissions. Two accounts of online pizza purchasing totaling $41 failed to get entered, as did a couple of checks and last weekend's oil change. Damn. Sloppy work! Bad Capitan! No whiskey for you!

I've been spending like a drunken sailor this month, what with new babies popping out all over the place, wedding consolation gifts, and buying a new pistol. (on that note, did you know that .45 Long Colt ammo made by Black Hills Ammunition Co. costs $23 per 50 rounds???!?!! Dayummmm!!! I gots to start reloading!) Still, it's been a long time since I've slid into a Payday Friday with only $59 in the account. The good news is that my slush fund is back up to $38!

I'm sure all the CPA's and bookkeepers out there are just pasty-white in terror at my inaccurate methods, but they work for me. Haven't bounced a check since 1991!