Now that we’re packing up all our worldly possessions, we’re running across things we no longer need or use. Case in point: I found a check register from 2010.
If you’re a certain age, you might not even know what a check register is. For the uninitiated (I’m looking at you, Millennials!), it is/was a ledger in which you recorded financial transactions from your checking account, keeping track of your current balance so you’d know how much money was in your account at any given time.
In theory, at least.
The reality is, balancing your checkbook every month was an exercise in futility. At least for me. Regardless of how careful my recordkeeping skills were, the amounts almost never matched. Sometimes, the difference was significant. I remember being off by triple digits more than once.
This explains why the transactions in this register are dated 11/12/10 to 7/11/11 before abruptly ending with five pages to go. I didn’t suddenly switch banks; instead, mid-July 2011 is the moment when I finally said To hell with this! and quit recording deposits and withdrawals.
I remember telling my mom I was done using my checkbook at the time. This really unnerved her. “How will you know how much money is in your account?” she asked.
“Apparently, I don’t even know how much money is in my account now,” I told her. “I’ll go with whatever the bank tells me is there.”
The funny thing is, I got into less trouble relying on this devil-may-care methodology. I was no stranger to overdrawn accounts back then, but that only seemed to happen when I was giving my checkbook careful scrutiny.
In any case, flipping through the pages of this old check register is like unearthing a time capsule. Back then, I was an unemployed single dad. There wasn’t even a Tar to my Mar yet. I counted 20 separate purchases from iTunes during that eight-month stretch. Just a few dollars at a time, but boy, did they add up. I shudder to think how much money I have given Apple over the years!
(Maybe that’s why I’m Team Android when it comes to phones. Enough is enough.)
There were also the usual expenditures from Trader Joe’s, Powell’s Books, and various and sundry liquor stores. No doubt to drown my sorrows over being jobless and loveless.
I was surprised to see how often I bought things at Best Buy, Kohl’s, and Sears (RIP). But I was frugal at times, too. I shopped at Grocery Outlet and Value Village a lot. Coffee, pizza, and bagels were occasional treats. Boppin’ Bo’s (RIP), too. A ’50s-themed burger joint I used to take the kids to. Plus $5 matinees at Regal Cinemas.
I wonder what cost $7.24 at Penzey’s Spices on May the 4th be With You, 2011. And I have no recollection at all of Gymocha, but I dropped $3.96 there on June 29. Maybe a coffee-slash-fitness center?
My balance ranged from a high of $2,541.16 (not typical) to a low of $3.84 (yikes). That was a very difficult period in my life. Needless to say, I don’t miss it at all.
Interesting trip down Memory Lane regardless.
On a more upbeat note, we won’t be homeless in Wisconsin! Today, we were approved for an apartment in Fort Atkinson. It’s not where we want to live long-term, but racing the clock, we didn’t have a lot of options and it’s temporary anyway.
Having said that, it looks like a pretty interesting community. Fort Atkinson is 45 minutes east of Madison, an hour west of Milwaukee, and 30 minutes north of Janesville, where I’ll be working. It’s located on the Rock River, a few miles from Lake Koshkonong, which looks ideal for kayaking. So, that’s a pretty good compromise considering.
It’s also the birthplace of fellow blogger Jess Witkins, whom we happened to meet up with on Friday. She and her husband Joe were in town visiting from La Crosse. We toasted to our upcoming move, having no idea how truly small the world is at the time.
Other fun attractions around town: several museums, a replica of an 1832 stockade, a cluster of indigenous effigy mounds, a nearby state park, and some great historical buildings on Main Street and Merchants Avenue. Here are a few photos I found online.
I’ve never been there but am already excited to get out and do some exploring!