Saturday, February 27, 2016
Undocumented came I
I landed on these these shores as an undocumented alien. That's what happens when your wallet is lost in a shipwreck. It's been educational.
Fortunately, my lovely wife had my passport in her purse, which went into the ditch bag. While I couldn't access any of my funds, she had debit and credit cards to at least some of our accounts. To be honest, her purse ended up in the ditch bag mostly because that's where her medications were kept. That was super important in the short term, but after the initial crisis the financial and paperwork stuff grows in importance.
I'm a big believer in dealing with local banks and credit unions. My day to day finances are run through my local institutions. When problems arise far from home they can't do much for you. For example they are unable to ship new credit and debit cards. They can only be sent to my home address or picked up at their local office. That's not much use when their nearest branch is 1700 miles away.
That's where a credit card from a national bank comes in handy. To take advantage of a $100 credit I signed up for an Amazon credit card. They are serviced by Chase bank, which I only discovered once the card came in. Maybe I should have read the small print? While I don't much care for them, they were able to send me a replacement card with just one click on the web site.
My local bank was able to send me some emergency blank checks so I could pay some bills the old fashioned way. Yep, I wrote checks, just like a dibble stick barbarian. Of course, not everyone takes a check these days, so that Amazon credit card came in real handy for gas and groceries.
One thing that really hit me was that my life is too complicated and there's only so much that can be done about it. The normal monthly bills can be set up to be automatically paid or paid on-line. What gets lost in the shuffle are bills that come in on an irregular basis.
Medical bills are the worse. Insurance pays for part of it then weeks or sometimes even months go by before my share is figured out. By then we we are on the road. The mail bounces around to different forwarding addresses. By the time it catches up with us they may have already sent a second bill.
Heaven forbid they mess up the billing on their end. Currently I'm trying to sort out a small insurance bill that they sent out about four months late. Then it took another 6 weeks to catch up to me. I think I've got it figured out -as long as they don't send me anymore paperwork. Tedious stuff.
Would you believe I worked hard to simplify our finances before setting out on the road? Good thing I did as it would be a royal mess by now. There's a cost to living in the modern world.
One weird thing about washing up on the beach with no money, identification, cards, documentation, and just the clothes on my back -I felt pretty good. I'd survived and the rest of this paperwork crap really isn't all that important in the big scheme of things.