Sunday, June 28, 2015

Judy Was Meticulous

My sister suggested a while back that I should write down some of my memories of Judy.  Most of the things that matter the most to me are too trivial and personal, but I do have a million of them.

Throughout our married lives, Judy and I never had an argument about money.  For that matter we rarely even talked about money.  We never made a budget.  We never had a financial plan.  Don't ask me why it worked or how.  It just did.

We always had a joint bank account and never even thought of doing things any other way.  When we married, I was the only one of us who had an account, so we just added Judy's name to it, and that was that.  She wasn't worried.  As she explained it to me, "What's yours is mine, and what's mine is mine."  I think she was joking, but I was never sure.  She liked to keep me off balance.  

Anyway, since I had the account to begin with, I kept up with the money.  Sort of.  Six years later, when we moved to Brownwood, Texas, for me to begin teaching at Howard Payne College, Judy suggested that she take over all the finances.  That was fine with me.  She'd majored in economics in college, and she was great with numbers.  I, on the other hand, was not.

So it came as no surprise to me that she was appalled when she took over and learned that my method of balancing the checkbook was to take the bank statement, write down the amount that the bank said was in the account, and let it go at that.  When she took over, things changed.  She balanced the checkbook every month, down to the penny.  Sometimes things came out right on the very first run-through.  Sometimes they didn't, and Judy would spend whatever time it took to trace down the problem.  Ten minutes?  An hour?  It didn't matter.

She also took over the holding of the checkbook.  We had only one, and it was kept in her purse.  It stayed there for the rest of her life, just as she continued to balance it every single month.  If I wanted to write a check, I had to get the checkbook from the purse or ask her for it if we were out of the house.  

She was the same way with with the credit card statements.  Every month she would match the charge slips, which of course we kept, with the items on the credit card statement.  And I mean every month.  She never took a single month off.  Not ever.

Now everything is online, and we could have checked every transaction every day.  Judy would have nothing to do with that kind of thing.  She didn't trust computers and never learned to use one.  She believed in the old-fashioned methods.  That was just one of the many things I loved about her.

For over forty years I rarely looked at the checkbook, and I never checked the bank balance.  When Angela and Allen went to college, I said, "I don't want to know how much it costs.  Don't tell me.  Just let me know if we go in the red."  We never went in the red, so I guess things went just fine.  I never asked any questions.

Judy paid all the bills and did all the business connected with my writing, not to mention the proofreading.  I still remember the envy that some of my writing friends felt about this when they found out.  As Mary Christian put it once at an MWA meeting in Houston, "I need a Judy!"  

There was only one Judy, though, and she married me.  I was a lucky, lucky guy.


Ed Gorman said...

I'm serious here--if Carol didn't run our finances we'd be living in a homeless shelter. Beautiful post, Bill.

Deb said...

Wonderful memory, Bill--and I totally relate because I handle ALL the finances in my marriage: checking account, savings account, credit cards, loans, investments, everything, even though my husband earns way more than I do. All of our accounts are jointly-held too. All I ask is that my husband lets me know when he uses his debit card. Hey, it's been working for us for almost 30 years now.

And I think your sister is right--you should write down all your memories of Judy, even if you don't share them on-line.

Rick Robinson said...

Beautiful piece, Bill. About a year after we got to Portland, I suggested Barbara take the finances over for a couple of months just so she could see "where we were" with money. She never handed it back, and I'm fine with that. We always talk over bigger purchases, and she lets me know when the statement is balanced, but whether it' stop the penny or dime I don't know or need to. We just bought some chairs for the patio. My question wasn't "can we afford it?" Since if she suggested it, apparently we could, but "how will we get it out back?"

Judy was a gem. I sure hope we see more of these reminiscences.

Peter Brandvold said...

Wonderful, evocative memories, Bill. You make me miss her and I never even met her. You two had about as close to an ideal marriage as I can imagine.

Miss Sydney runs pretty much everything in my house, with a cattle prod and a long whip. The pantry's stocked with Beneful...

lastromantic49 said...

Seems to be sort of unanimous! I've always disliked managing money, I've always been happy to let my lady handle it if she wants too. My attitude toward money has always been pretty much the same, let me know when we're out. But then, I've always been a cheapskate anyway. Probably a product of being raised by my grandparents who were newlyweds going into the Great Depression. The writing down memories is a good idea as well, I try it now and then. I've never been one to keep up with a journal or diary. My mother, however, always claimed she wanted to write down her memories for us and never did. At first she had no computer and wanted one, I got her one she never used, then a few years later my step-brother got her another, still unused. I reminded her that pencil and paper still worked. Nothing. She never did, I wish she had. Thanks for sharing, Bill. It's easy to recognize the treasure Judy has always been for you.

Dan said...

Lovely, touching, and very very real.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Beautiful and true, Bill. Thanks for sharing it.

I have a cousin married a long time after first living together. They still have separate bank accounts, something we'very never been able to understand.

We each have certain roles. Jackie is bad at math and directions, two of my strengths, so I do the checkbook, credit cards, bills, etc. She is what we call the "Idea Man" as well as vacation planner, etc.

It works for us.


Karin said...

Financial compatibility isn't something people talk about a lot, but it's important. There's no need for arguments over money if you have similar priorities and neither of you overspends. I used to reconcile the chequebook and bank statements every month for years. Caught a few mistakes, but I can't be bothered anymore. Other things to do.

Cap'n Bob said...

Thanks so much for this wonderful story. I imagine keeping track of your writing finances was no small job and you're lucky Judy had that accounting degree.

I've never had a joint account. I pay some bills and Linda pays others and we each keep tabs on our own money. And I haven't balanced my checkbook in at least 35 years. I used to be very careful with it, but once I had a healthy balance I decided to heck with it.

I have an aunt who didn't know how to write a check or pay a bill. When her husband died she was helpless. She can't drive, either. She makes incompetence an art form. That's why I appreciate people who can handle things, like Judy.

Yes, please tell us more about her.

James Reasoner said...

Livia handles all our finances, too. I'm too lazy--I mean busy. Yeah, that's it. Too busy.

Beautiful post. I hope you write more of them.

Stephen Mertz said...

Thank you, Bill, for sharing.

Tom Johnson said...

Amen, my friend.

RHovey, CA said...

Well, as you said and simply put, you were a lucky guy. From the few times I got to see her at events, Judy was a charming and very nice lady. It's said that men get up from a restaurant table and just throw down a 20, while women break out their calculators. I always handled our finances, but somebody was always looking over my shoulder.

George Kelley said...

Diane handles all the financial stuff. Like Judy, Diane doesn't trust on-line banking. We still do things the Old Fashioned way: checks and cash. No Bitcoins here!

Kevin R. Tipple said...

I truly wish I had met Judy. Thank you for sharing this.