Have you ever lost $20? Or $100? Maybe your wallet got stolen off the check-in counter at the obstetrician’s office (true story, sigh). Or you washed a $50 bill in your pant pocket until it disintegrated. Not to mention a bad purchase that felt just like losing money. Or how about when you found out someone in California took $300 out of your bank account using an ATM and your PIN (another true story). Darn data breaches.
Anyway, when it comes to losing money, we’ve all been there, right? You once had some cash, now it’s gone, and all you’re left with is a pit in your stomach. And a desire to rant.
Last week, I lost about $2,000 from my bank account. Yes, you heard me right. $2000 smackeroos.
For starters, maybe “lost” isn’t the right word here, but I don’t know how else to say it. Especially since this story hurts just like a lost or stolen wallet.
Here’s the deal. My husband and I stick to a strict budget. All our purchases are logged into The Book where I deduct the amount from the monthly budget of various categories. Groceries, utilities, gas, you get the idea. The Book replaced our previous online accounting method because I despised logging purchases online. It was a total drag. Time consuming and annoying, to say the least.
I prided myself on keeping meticulously detailed accounting in The Book. That being said, I still disliked tracking every purchase, and frequently, receipts would pile up for 2 weeks before I logged them. Or I had to search my email for an old, online purchase. Or my husband would forget to give me receipts, then hand me a small stash at the end of the month. The system wasn’t perfect, but it seemed to work well. I was so confident about my budgeting prowess, I didn’t double check my spending with our bank account.
Before you think I’m a complete idiot, I did go online from time to time to make sure there were no purchases from a motorcycle shop in Nebraska or ATM withdrawals from California. That kind of thing. And James would check, too.
But last week, as I tediously tracked purchases into The Book, I also took a peek at our bank account. And hmmm, something wasn’t adding up. I brought James into the matter, asking him what he thought. He searched high and low, created crazy impressive excel spreadsheets, and crunched serious numbers. Sadly, we came to the conclusion our account was almost $2000 short because we had done sloppy accounting. For 18 months, I had manually logged expenditures on paper, and throughout that time, I had missed enough purchases to total a whopping amount of money.
Why didn’t I notice it before? The truth is, I kind of did last year. I thought our account seemed weak compared to the numbers in The Book. James and I even talked about it, but after a quick examination, we thought everything looked okay. Now we know that wasn’t the case.
Thankfully, we had been saving extra funds for various purchases, and phew, it totaled the amount we were short (doesn’t God work in the sneakiest ways?). Financial crisis averted, but that means we’re completely out of bonus money. It could be worse, so I won’t complain.
So, what did I learn from all of this? Well obviously, we need a better accounting system. Done—signed up for Every Dollar.
And secondly, I learned how to better forgive my husband. He probably learned the same for me.
When our budgeting crisis was hitting the fan, I got a little defensive. Okay, probably a lot defensive. Surely my superb accounting skills were not to blame for this problem. I always put every receipt I got into the book, plus looked into past online purchases. So if we were missing $2K, then it’s because James didn’t give me all his receipts. Or tell me about everything he bought online. Or something else, I don’t know what it is, but it must be someone else’s fault.
Ooh, that’s nasty, isn’t it? Of course, I didn’t tell James he was to blame because that would have been totally rude, but there were moments I sure was thinking it. And he was probably thinking it was my fault, especially considering the bulk of logging receipts in The Book was my responsibility. I obviously dropped the ball somewhere, right?
It was easier to blame James for the accounting than for me to accept ownership for my mistakes. He did forget to tell me about some purchases, after all. And he had been hands-off when it came to writing purchases in The Book, deferring all of it to me.
But here’s the truth I: I am just as to blame as he is. Sure, James made some errors. But so did I.
Our money crisis wasn’t a blame game. It was an opportunity for each of us to let go, to forgive. No hard feelings. A clean slate.
Paul says in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
If God can show his mercy to us, two imperfect people messing stuff up, why shouldn’t I give James grace?
The beautiful end to this story is I never went through all these thoughts with James—the blame, the anger and embarrassment, the defensiveness—but he probably knew it all anyway. He knew I had screwed up, too. But my husband gave me grace. He forgave my faults, my conversations laced in veiled anger, and my apparent inability to do basic math.
We showed each other mercy, just as Christ shows mercy to us.
So the money thing, yeah, I’m bummed we “lost” $2000. But in the big picture, this whole thing was a beautiful way to see how forgiveness bears fruit in our marriage.
Now I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below!
When is a time you forgave your husband? Did he “deserve” it? Did you also need forgiveness, too?