Jan 8, 2010

My best fuck-up in many years.

In keeping with the best theme, which is going to get old quickly, please allow me to present you with my best fuck-up in years...maybe ever.  It happened Wednesday and trust me, no matter how bad your shit might be right now, you'll read this and think "Okay, mine's bad but that might have been a little worse.  Or at least equally as bad as mine."  At least I think you will and I think you might feel a little better about your own life.  That's my hope, anyway.  Also, we may as well call this another one of my "really keeping it real" posts, much like my trashy house was because I've got a gut feeling I might be one of the only people in blogland to not only own up to this kind of stupidity, but show the results of it.  Ready?

Backstory:  I HATE my own financial matters and suck at them...always have, always will, I'm afraid.  Well maybe not now, but we'll see on that.  Give me the finances of a business to handle and I'm aces, even my own businesses.  Let me take care of yours and I'll do a top-notch job.  My own.  It's bad.  Really bad.   Bills, banking stuff, investments?  Hate them.  As a result, I've had utilities shut off more than once, not because I didn't have the money...oh, no.  Because I get my mail while in my car, so I tend to shove everything between catalog and magazine pages, then toss it in the backseat of my car where it emerges again only when I'm expecting company and I clean my car.  This is my normal filing system except for important stuff like tax notices, insurance crap, investment stuff...those make it into the house and get shoved in a filing cabinet, unopened.  Seriously.  Checking account statements?  Get shredded and trashed without even being opened because I check my checking account balance online every few days to see what I have in there.  Over time, I have put all of  my utility bills on autopay, which is a real blessing for someone like me.  And I set up overdraft protection with another account so I don't even have to keep track of when those get pulled from checking.  This, folks, is the extent of my ability to mind my own finances.  How's that for some honesty?  So, a little more backstory, I don't have a mortgage on my house, which means I have to pay my property taxes and insurance myself.  Insurance is on autopay...yay.  Property taxes can't be.  Years ago, well, 6 exactly, Miss Arse told me to just give her my tax bill when it comes in and she'll pay it when she pays hers.  That's not as generous as it sounds since we share one specific account so it was my money paying it but she would handle it and she's pretty good with this stuff for an old bird.  So, twice I dropped my tax bill on her table...two years.  Then I get served papers that my taxes are delinquent by 2 years.  The hell?  I go to her and she swears up and down she never told me any such thing.  She doesn't lie and she's not senile so it had to have been some really awful misunderstanding...I trudge up and pay my taxes.  In an effort to prevent this from *ever happening again, I tell her we need to turn over anything that says "tax" on it, be it federal or county, to the CPA who handles some other stuff for us.  Just pay him to take care of it all.  She agrees.  I take my stuff to him and she says she will soon.  He tells me he's going to semi-retire and so one of his employees will be handling my stuff, something I totally understand since I'm pretty peon-y in the financial world.  He assures me things will be monitored and he'll alert me/us to any issues.  We set up a deal where I autopay into an account quarterly for my property taxes and a couple of other things. Cool. That's how I like it...no muss, no fuss, let the professional keep me from muddling it all up and at a reasonable cost, comparatively speaking.  So, for the last 4 years, I get my property tax bill, drop it off at his office and go on my merry way.  Here's where I need to admit one *huge mistake I made in all this.  Because really, I'm not blameless in this story.  I never opened those tax bills.  Ever.  Like I said, I hate this shit and I'm paying someone to do it all so why should I?  Well, I know why I *should now, but that was my reasoning. 

Cut to day before yesterday, Wednesday.  It's 1pm-ish, I'm still in my PJs, farming away and there's a knock on the door.  Now, I never answer the door if I am not expecting anyone and particularly to people I don't know.  I peek and see a young woman standing there, back to my window.  I ignore her, even though I know she can see my car and that I have a TV on.  She knocks again and I ignore her.  She knocks a third time and something tells me to answer it.  I do, all  pissy-ish, and am immediately thrown off by her face.  She's *so damn sweet and kind looking that, I kid you not, my first thought was that she looked like a Renaissance angel.  In my confusion, I was nice to her.  She stutters about how awkward this is and then tells me that she and her dad have been driving the neighborhood with a list of homes getting ready to be auctioned Thursday for delinquent taxes.  Okay.  She then asks if I know my home is on that list.  Silence.  I mean, I literally said nothing but my face must have shown my shock.  She takes my hand, asks if I'm okay and explains that she just felt drawn to stop and check with me, that when she saw my house it just didn't look like the home of someone in that kind of situation.  I finally get the words out that I didn't know, somehow stuttered a thank you and closed the door on her.  And then I freaked.  I mean, I came unglued.  I first called the tax collector's office to confirm this and yes indeed, the deadline to pay was 4 hours away and they gave me a total. I gagged.  I mean, I have no credit cards and I know I can't liquidate anything that fast...at least I don't think so.  I call Miss Arse, screaming.  Literally screaming.  Now, those who know me well know that I've lost total control of myself maybe twice in my life.  It's just something I don't do.  But I did then.  I mean, this is my *home.   She calms me some and I start to think that hmmmm, unless the CPA embezzled my money, it ought to all still be right there in that account where it's being put quarterly.  I call the bank and there it is, minus the huge amount of penalties, fees, advertising costs, legal fees, etc. that is now tacked on.  For four years.  Yes...FOUR years. They just never paid my taxes and no one ever told me. Well, except the county probably did tell me in those unopened envelopes I was dropping off.  *sighs*  See, I told you this was my fault.  I called the CPA, had to leave a message and figured I'd deal with them later.  So, I'm now down to three and a half  hours to save my house, unshowered for the second day and now literally sick to my stomach and vomiting.  I head for the bank where, with the help of some lovely ladies who understood the urgency (God, I love Wachovia, even before this deal), I head off to the tax collector's office with about an two hours left.  You know, TO SAVE MY HOUSE.  All because I can't get my shit together well enough to be a grown up and handle my own bills and finances properly.

Now, so that the lesson of my failure really sinks in with you all, would you like to see what this little unexpected...adventure...cost me yesterday?  Because really, this is going to impact how we live for awhile and so much of it could have been avoided had I just, oh, you know...opened my mail.

Here.  Click to enlarge it, then bask in the fact it wasn't you.

Don't you feel better about your own crap now?
I live to serve.

PS:  Miss Arse's house taxes were fine.  She never got around to taking her stuff to the CPA and has just been doing hers herself.  Ughhhh.


French Teacher said...

My heart sped up just reading this.

But it did remind me (hanging head) that I had an overdue bill to pay. With the renos, the first one must've gone missing somewhere in this chaos. I went to check on this past due notice after reading your post, and it is dated December 16 (water and sewage).

So thank you for this timely post, it reminded me to pay an overdue bill!

I'm glad you got that straightened out finally. Really you seemed to have 2 separate plans that could've made sense but failed anyway. I'm not sure what lesson you should learn from this!

Really Frugal said...

AP, What a nightmare! I felt sick for you as I read this. Does the CPA have some liability? Aaargh!

mooneyequalsmc2 said...

Well, our home goes to sale on the courthouse steps in a week because my landlord thought that using my RENT payment for the MORTGAGE payment seemed, I don't know...hmmm...silly?

So, we are about to be evicted. 9.5 years this has been our family home.

yeah, I understand the sheer moment of panic...and also the anger at trusting someone to do the right thing and being let down.

I am sorry for your shock and that is a stunning bill to have to pay in FOUR HOURS!

Thank God that girl stopped at your door? Tell me that isnt divine inetervention?

I am glad you got it straightened out. I am sorry itll be hard for awhile.

((Internet hugs))

mooneyequalsmc2 said...

whoops, just remembered you are the blog I love that doesnt like Christianity.

No offense meant by the "divine intervention" (With typos, no less!)

What a fortuitous moment of random goodness that came to your door!

Jeanette said...

Oh my AP, that is terrible. I'm so glad you were able to get it straightened out.

Did you hear back from the CPA yet? I'm curious to know how this ends up from that angle. I would think if they were still charging you, there should be some legal liability there. Might be worth checking into.

Anemone Pie said...

FT, open all your mail. Trust me on this! Had I just opened mine, all of this could have been avoided. That simple thing - open your (my) mail and a couple of thousand of dollars could have been saved.

RF, I'll be finding out about the CPA soon and will update. Again, being honest, I didn't call back today because I was still so upset that I just couldn't be firm and businesslike without coming unglued again.

Mooneyequalsmc2, welcome and I'm so very sorry about your home. So many landlords are doing this now and it just ticks me off to no end. You are truly innocent in it all, the only truly innocent one, yet you get to feel the pain of someone elses bad choices. :-( Also, I don't know where you came up with the idea I don't like Christianity, but I do. I'm not a Christian but I'm a huge fan of Jesus and have great respect for true Christianity and the Bible. It's just some "Christians" I don't like. "Divine intervention" is exactly what I've wondered about here. :-)

Keli said...

Eek! Truly a scary situation. Your post made me check that my taxes had been paid, since I also rely on someone else to pay them when they are due. Thank goodness, they were paid. I hope your CPA has a very good explanation for why he/they dropped the ball for 4 years!

Cheryl said...

AP - Ah - your mail and filing system? We have the same one! This is my year of trying to do better, by better I mean getting it at least into the house from the car, some of it makes it to the garage but not all the way into the house. Really, I promise after reading your story, I will try to do better. On the side, I was so happy reading that I am not alone in my hate of dealing with my finances. And you were touched by an angel.

Gayle said...

OMFG, what a nightmare! I would have been on that CPA's doorstep like white on rice! Hope it all gets sorted out. Whewww

Kristin said...

Oh No! I would be going crazy! I am so very sorry that you had to deal with this.

I too am curious for the explanation of the CPA.

I am glad you still have a house.


Southern Woman said...

Oh, AP! When you said you had a "financial shock" I was thinking a big credit card bill. Holy Crap, this is a whole 'nother level. I swear we were separated at birth because I'm EXACTLY like you when it comes to bills, finances, etc. Just terrible at it. I hope that I can learn from your experience and start opening those envelopes that come to my house. :-)

But wow, I am impressed you were able to pull it together and get it taken care of so quickly. And that woman who came to your door? WTF? I would say it was providential but I don't believe in that kind of stuff.

Wow. I'm still kind of in shock. What a story. What a day. I hope you still have plenty of rum.

won said...

Thank God for the lady on your doorstep, and the fact that you answered the door!

It is an unbelievable feat you managed - to pull together that kind of cash in four short hours. I am impressed. I imagine the motivation at that point outweighed the obstacles.

I hope at the end of the day, there was money left over in the budget for rum. It sounds like you may have needed some.

Erin Lutz said...

Ap I am so glad you opened that door. And so glad she thought to stop and KEEP knocking.

Tee said...

I would have been sick too! You must have been so scared.

heather said...

how horribly scary. i'm so sorry! but really relieved that it's worked out.

and...i think perhaps we may be related?

i might even start opening my mail now.

Kathleen said...

WOW! That lady who stopped ought to get a medal or something, you'd have never known this shit was happening until new owners showed up otherwise. That cpa needs to be drawn and quartered. What a scary, stomach dropping moment (several hours)that must have been.

Anemone Pie said...

Thanks for the commiseration, everyone. I've come to grips with it in my own head now and am honestly realizing that as bad as this was, it could have been something worse. I admit, though, that I'm pretty surprised how many of you "file" like I do. Don't do that!!

Jeanette said...

Was just checking in, to see if you had spoken to the CPA yet. I've been thinking about this all weekend.

My filing system sucks too, but you have inspired me to try and do better!

Deb in MD said...

Oh AP, I cannot imagine! I missed reading blogs for a while, and just catching up to see this!

I hope you found out what happened with your CPA.

That woman was definitely an angel!

Pete, Alison and Charlie said...

Hi AP! Yikes - that's a scary one. I'm not surprised you felt sick when you found out... but I'm very glad you got it sorted in time. (And I hope you've since spent a happy morning kicking your accountant's backside around his office!)
Thanks for your message on Charlie's blog - he finally went back to school this morning after yet another snow day yesterday! It's raining now so everything is very grey and slushy, but it was fun while it lasted! Normal British winter resumes!
Hope all is good with you (apart from delinquent property taxes, that is!) x

Muliebrity said...

AP - Holy crap! I've had my water shut off twice since we moved here. I need to put it on auto pay. I would be so very screwed without online banking.