It's come to my attention that I'm crap with money.
Well, I suppose I've know for years. But it has become especially noticeable now that I'm self-employed, and have to deal with all the finances... myself. Gulp. Taxes, keeping receipts, making records, etc. And honestly, you might as well tie me to a wall and start poking me with spears right now.
Before the invention of online tax returns, I once had the awful experience of having to actually go into HR Block (it even sounds like a prison) to do my taxes, in person, with another person in a suit and a frown. J had to prod me under the table as I slowly slumped into a nap during the meeting. It was that boring, seriously.
It started at school. I had the distinct feeling my math teacher disliked me when, instead of paying attention to her mathematical rantings, I sat drawing things non-math-related on my note book and chatted at the back of the classroom.
I hated math, and spent my school years avoiding it.
So it made perfect sense (?) when, after dropping out of my journalism degree at the age of eighteen, I started looking for jobs in the financial sector, in the City of London.
"What do you know about marine insurance?" An employment agency rep asked me.
I smiled and cheekily replied. "Absolutely nothing, but I can learn!"
He chuckled and put me forward for an interview with Lloyds of London.
I didn't get the glamorous job at Lloyds of London. If I had, I would probably by now have been a top millionaire marine insurer, with my own office overlooking Liverpool Street station and a driver. And a boat.
Instead, I landed a not-so-glamorous position at a bank, as a cashier (or teller, as they say here in North America).
It didn't go well. I wasn't good at calculating sums in my head and became permanently attached to a calculator. But I liked the customers, and I liked my co-workers, and I made the best of it by striking up conversations and generally attempting to make it into more of a social fun place than a job.
Then one day at five o'clock, it was time to balance my til as usual. This meant checking the money left in the til against the money I'd taken in and given out during the day. To my horror, two hundred pounds was missing. There was much shuffling and humm-ing and haw-ing as my managers tried to figure out what to do.
Nothing was done, the money was gone. No one had any idea what had happened (me included).
Amazingly I wasn't fired, but over the next few days I noticed a strange thing happening: certain customers were only coming to my til. As in, actually refusing the other cashiers in favour of me. Ahem.
I didn't last long in the bank job. After a few months, I'd changed my mind again, and decided I wanted to study design. Plus, I'd decided that working in the real world was loathsome, and wanted to go back to being a student.
As it turned out, I was much better suited to design, and stayed with it for the next ten years.
But now, here I am, however many years later, still unable to decipher the difference between baffling terms like "gross" and "net", and screwing my fists up into balls and accusing the world of conspiring against me when faced with financial forms and questions.
I need to get financially savvy! That sounds lame. But I do. Desperately.
And this is why, readers, I am going to make doubly, triply sure that I teach my sons all about money (and when I say "I", I mean "J" of course), so that they don't end up thirty-something years old and googling things like "is a bookkeeper kind of like a fairy godmother?".