Making a “Decimal” Point

My husband and I could not be more different. For instance, he’s funny. I’m not. He loves being in front of a crowd. The bigger the crowd, the happier he is. I hate it which is why I became a writer, the idea being to get my opinion out there without anyone seeing me. He’s also great with directions. The man could get anywhere blindfolded in the dark with no directions. Yes, he’s that good. Me, on the other hand, I once tacked on an extra 45 minutes to a trip I was taking out of town because I couldn’t get out of town. The one exit I knew was closed due to road work so I kept going in circles. Also, he sees life as the Super Bowl. I see it as a math test I haven’t studied for. Like I said, we’re different.

Other than the fact that we are both humans, we have two things in common. First, we’re both terrible with money. I think we might be the only couple in America that doesn’t fight about money. What’s to fight about? We both wish we had more. We both enjoy spending it. We both experience buyer’s remorse after a particularly pointless purchase. Also, we’re both horrible at math. I stopped helping my kids with their math homework once they hit third grade long division. Too many numbers. Complicated. It made my brain hurt. My husband has never helped our kids with their math homework. He can spell math, but he can’t do it.

In light of our similarities, it really kills me that I am the one who has to deal with the bills. We started out our marriage with him handling them, but after finding several unopened paychecks and unpaid bills, I took over. I can’t say I’ve done much better. He may have forgotten to pay them, but I pay them with imaginary money. I’ve paid bills, left town and forgotten to deposit the check. I’ve transferred money to other accounts that wasn’t there yet in anticipation of it being there. I’ve lost checks, thrown checks out, shuffled through the garbage late at night by the light of my phone looking for checks I’ve thrown out. I’ve even signed checks at the wrong end on the back. They frown on that.

But nothing tops what I did this last time. Last fall the city decided that everyone must purchase a garbage can issued by the city. I don’t really know why, and at first I was annoyed by the fact that they were forcing us to purchase the blessed thing whether we wanted it or not. But when I saw how big it was, it pleased me as I am a chronic consolidator. It would replace the several smaller ones lining the back of my garage.

With this new change in garbage cans came a new way to bill us for our trash. It was no longer attached to the water bill. No big deal. The bill was $19.71. Adding it to the pile, I started punching in the numbers on my bank’s bill pay site. A few nights later I went to the drugstore to pick a few things up. Normally, I don’t carry my debit card with me because even though I know it’s not a credit card, I sometimes use it like one and end up in all sorts of trouble. Good thing I had it that night because when I tried to use it, it wouldn’t work. I knew there had to be money in there. I know because when I paid the bills I WROTE EVERYTHING DOWN and left a BUFFER in my account for mistakes.

I ran home as fast as I could and looked up my account online. According to said account I was $1800 in the hole! Freak out. Significant breakdown. Aging ten years. None of these words describe what I experienced. I scrolled down. There it was. Apparently, I was feeling very generous the night I paid the bills and decided to foot the garbage bill for the entire city since I gave them $1971! I vaguely remember something about decimal points in fifth grade math. Mostly what I remember is that I found it confusing. Clearly, I’m still confused.

The following are some of the responses I got:

From the city: “Oh my.”

From the bank: “That money’s already been posted to your account. I’m not sure we can undo that.”

From my husband: “You’re gonna fix this, right?”

From my friend: “You did what? The city doesn’t refund even a nickel.”

You can relax. It all worked out. I don’t know how the bank did it, but they reversed the payment and credited my account, thankfully, as it would have taken FOREVER to pay them back.

The moral of the story is three-fold. First, always check your work. Second, when in doubt move the decimal point to the left. Third, remember that no matter how bad you are with money and numbers, there is someone out there who is worse.

The greater spiritual application is obvious: had it not been for the insatiable love of Jesus for us and His willingness to die in our place, the debt of sin that we owe would never have been paid. What an expensive gesture. It cost Him everything. Our acceptance of His offer of salvation erases the debt, and instead He credits us with righteousness. What a Savior!

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