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Personal Finance Bullying?

It’s Tuesday night and I feel like a bully. As part of the whole facing up to my fears and straightening out my bank accounts project, I opened an ING checking account. It’s been in my plan all along, I just hadn’t gotten around to doing it.

That’s perfectly harmless, of course. But when I was opening it, I wasn’t able to add Micah as a joint account holder. We had a number for him, but he didn’t know a PIN. We tried all the PINs we could think of.

I then checked our other ING and he’d apparently never been more than a “pending” joint account holder on that account.

My theory is that when I set the ING Orange Savings account up in September, I added him as a user. Probably signed him up with his permission. But he probably got an e-mail asking him to verify everything. And since he is Micah-the-great-ignorer-of-email (he’s not untechnological and even has a computer science degree, but e-mail & phones scare him), he didn’t check the e-mail and didn’t realize that action needed to be taken.

That would explain the situation anyway.

Unfortunately, because of identity theft and whatnot, I can’t just call up and straighten this out for him. I handle a lot of that because my phone-phobia is much milder.

So this evening we gave them a call. Quite nice and helpful, only Micah couldn’t remember his PIN and somehow the whole security question thing didn’t seem to work either. However he verified our address and his SSN and DOB…so they’re mailing him a new PIN.

I’m left with an upset stomach and feeling quite bad for putting him through all that. He’s lying down.

I don’t mind generally heading our household on financial matters, but I want our joint accounts to actually BE joint accounts. Sure I handle the money but I want him to be able to handle the money if I go to the hospital or somesuch. Or if he feels like it, I want him to be able to access our money without asking me first.

Have you ever felt like the bully in your relationship, pushing your spouse to do something that had to be done? Doesn’t feel good. In this case, I think a one-time forced phone call is better than nagging or not getting it done at all. But I still don’t feel good about it.

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ldub July 2, 2008 at 11:18 am

heh – mine happened with ING, too, and i still haven’t had the heart to go push my partner to actually fill out the form they e-mailed to him so that he can be a joint account holder! but the thing is, if i croak or something, we’re not married, so he needs to have official access to my accounts if he’s going to easily get a hold of money out of savings. it’s just practicality in the face of living-in-sin, but somehow, he’s reticent to bother with the details stuff, and i have to push for it. makes me definitely feel like a budget-bully, even though i know it’s in his best interests.

mrsmicah July 2, 2008 at 11:21 am

@Idub, at least Micah and I are legally connected. But that would still be more of a headache for him and he couldn’t get it if I was just really sick and unable to give him my access codes or something.

Perhaps you can combine or follow the form-filling with something fun? I do that to motivate myself. Unfortunately, Micah would rather get back to whatever he was doing and forget the whole thing ever happened…I don’t know if yours is that way too.

Matt July 2, 2008 at 11:29 am

I’m the finance side of my marriage, I don’t feel bad about bullying my wife into setting up stuff so she can be joint account holder or whatever. It’s stuff that needs to be done.

I also have a phone phobia, my wife knows it and I’ve asked her to help push me into phoning people when I try to avoid it. I do want to get over this stupid phobia. Even though it’s annoying when she pushes me into phone conversations, I do appreciate it in the long run…

Kacie July 2, 2008 at 12:51 pm

Aw man, I’m sorry you’re having trouble getting that set up. Glad you’re making progress on it though! It’ll be worth it.

I’m such a bully when it comes to things like “We need more life insurance. We need to write our wills.” My poor hubby just looks at me with sad eyes when I tell him that.

I say, “Don’t worry! I’m not going anywhere anytime soon and neither are you. But we’ve gotta do this because we’re grownups now.” lol

castocreations July 2, 2008 at 1:04 pm

Hubby has that same phone phobia and makes me call whenever there’s an issue with the bank or one of our accounts.

I just told him the other day that he really needs to know what all our log ins and passwords are for the online accounts. He has no idea how to access our ING accounts and my name is the only one on them. *cringe*

I really need to get this stuff together for him.

That One Caveman July 2, 2008 at 1:07 pm

It’s great to know that there’s another computer guy out there who hates the phone. Receiving calls isn’t that bad, but sometimes I simply find myself unable to place a call. I’m glad my wife helps me out for that.

I may be the guy that writes about PF in our house, but my wife is an accountant and handles all the rest of our books. We don’t commonly run into “bullying” situations, but she does occasionally have to prod me. πŸ™‚

Jennifer July 2, 2008 at 1:19 pm

Not financially, but in order to get certain things done around the house I have to nag sometimes. Dh just doesn’t see the need in actually finishing a project. He gets 95% of the way there and calls it done. Then I have to nag him. It gets old and I prefer to call it nagging, not bullying.

Livingalmostlarge July 2, 2008 at 1:43 pm

Me too. I am a bully and a nag worse yet. Where I tell him he “needs” to do something.

vered July 2, 2008 at 3:20 pm

We must have very different personalities. I manage our finances and I don’t mind bossing my husband around. πŸ™‚

You sound like a gentle and caring person. Micah is a lucky guy.

kathryn July 2, 2008 at 3:41 pm

“Bullying” or “nagging” to get the other onto joint accounts or sign wills or whatever isn’t a bad thing…it’s a good thing–you care enough to try to take of things that need to be taken care of. Meanwhile, you may want to write up a list of all your logins/passwords/account numbers and leave it someplace both safe and accessible (that’s the challenging part!) so that Mr. M. could grab it and act for you while you’re sick or in hospital or whatever.

(As a side note…it was interesting to hear that other have phone phobia…I guess it’s more common that I thought.)

RacerX July 2, 2008 at 3:48 pm

We all have strengths and weaknesses in our personalities. I am lucky that we balance each other pretty well, but she just doesn’t like or get finances. We often fall into the “tell me what to do” and I have to work to get her included and not let my A type personality run wild!

Bill July 2, 2008 at 4:08 pm

Two things struck me from this article and the comments that followed:

1. I tried to open an ING account for my wife and me. Their “security measures” for validating my wife’s “ownership” are a little onerous. Not totally ridiculous, but hard to deal with for a stay-at-home mom with a 2 year old and a 9 month old (basically, she has no time to call anyone all day long). No matter, if you don’t follow their procedures, they close your account and send back your money after a couple of months.

Curiously, EmmigrantDirect’s procedures for setting up a joint account didn’t present us with this issue.

2. People have phone phobias. I never knew. I have a problem trying to sell to people I don’t know over the phone, but I have that problem in person, too!

Great post. Keep up the good work.

deepali July 2, 2008 at 5:17 pm

So two things – I have no problem being a bully and a nag. I’m also quite self-centered. I wonder if there is a connection? πŸ™‚

Also, I don’t think you were being a bully at all. It just seemed hard because of Micah’s phone phobia. But it needed to be done, so it was ok to push (we all have to do hard things occasionally). If you were pushing him into making cold calls for no good reason, then you’d be a bully!

Funny about Money July 2, 2008 at 5:33 pm

LOL! There’s no bullying a man who pats you on the head, tells you how sweet you are, and then goes on about his business.

Instead, you get your lawyer to bully him. πŸ˜‰

“Phone phobia”: what a good term for it. I also hate having to call people on the phone, especially in this day & age of infuriating punch-a-button mazes. You know, sales reps will schedule cold calls the first thing in the day, so as to get the worst part of their job done before they proceed about the other daily to-do’s.

frugal zeitgeist July 2, 2008 at 9:18 pm

Oh heck yeah – the whole getting my ex-husband to start saving and investing involved a fair amount of bullying. If I’d left the finances up to him, though, we’d have been dead broke.

otherdeb (Deb Wunder) July 3, 2008 at 12:05 am

Oh. Hell. Yeah.

My roommate is the least financially capable person I’ve ever met. She actively does not want to handle her finances, with the result that, even though she is 59 years old, her mommy still has to write out her rent checks and, from time to time, bail her out of whatever mess she has gotten herself into.

And now that her mom, who is 89, is too ill to write out the rent check, it falls on me. SO, with that looming, does she give me her share early? No, Instead she falls victim to yet another scammer; this time, she owes her bnk $645, after they confiscated her last paycheck.

And this eening, I found out that even after my paycheck drops I will still be a bit short of the rent, because I had the temerity to go on a walking tour ($20), after dropping my last two paycheck and oer 90% of my current check to keeping a roof over our heads. (Other than tow medical appointments, I have not gone out of the house since my last day of work for the school year on 26 June). And when I told her that she had to make up the shortfall, she squinched up her face, and said she was trying not to cry.

Do I feel like a bully. Yeah, about now I do. Am I justified? I think so. I make 13 what she does. Over the last four years I have managed to pay off all but one credit card (which I am paying down), my student loans, and some personal debts (partly incurred while trying to keep a roof over our heads when she screwed up).

And, yes,I am working on getting myself out of this situation. Unfortunately, these days Landlords are pulling credit reports, and it will take about two more years before mine is clean enough to pass.

So I just keep reminding myself that this is temporary, but it doesn’t make me feel much better about having to be a bully.

cybele July 3, 2008 at 4:59 am

Bully? Doesn’t sound that way. You have simply found a way to solve a current problem — establishing a truly joint account — and, at the same time avoid any future issue, should he need to access the account when, for some reason, you’re not available.
From each according to his abilities, as Marx once famously said. Mr. Micah has his strengths and you have yours, and that’s what life’s about. Division of labor sometimes requires a bit of support or active participation and that’s what happened, considered objectively.
So…imho that’s not bullying and it may be unhelpful (to you) to label it that way, especially if it gives you a tummyache and makes Mr. M feel like lying down. Words and labels are very powerful and labelling yourself as a bully may not be a good idea. Sez the amateur psychologist in me… Maybe you can create another, more positive, label — or avoid one altogether. ???

Alice July 3, 2008 at 9:00 am

Re: phone phobia — I used to be phone-phobic, and I’ve had to write out scripts for one of my children to use when making a call. I remember my mother rehearsing her introductory words after she had dialed and the phone was ringing (people often took longer to answer in those days). I mostly got over it when I worked in a flower shop and had to call other florists, suppliers, and even occasionally customers (“could you please come in and pay your bill?”).

Foxie July 3, 2008 at 9:38 pm

I’m so with the other phone phobia people. πŸ™‚ It was a huge step when I called up USAA the other day to find out about our insurance… Glad I did, too, since I saved us $500. πŸ˜›

Part of my job is interacting with cell service providers and getting some things done for customers. I’ve gotten over my fear of calling them, realizing that I simply need to tell them exactly what I want done and why I can’t do it. Works out better that way.

Now, calling for any other reason when I’m not at work… Oh yeah, I chicken. Especially when it comes to phone calls I should make, like following up job applications. πŸ™

Stephanie July 6, 2008 at 1:30 am

I’ve been trying to convince my boyfriend to do the “pay yourself first” way of saving…he still currently just puts money in savings if he has some left over after paying the bills. I’m trying to get him to start off small, so he can realize how helpful it is…if he sets up an automatic withdrawal of even $50 to his savings account, that’s still $600 a year put into savings. And if he see’s that $50 is painless, he can slowly move it upward….but in the meantime, I’ve still had trouble convincing him to do it. I think sometimes I’m a pf bully, in that I think everyone should be on top of their finances as much as I want to be!

Frugal Babe July 6, 2008 at 3:37 pm

I opened an ING account a few years ago, and had them send me a form to add my husband. Then I forgot to give it to him. About a year later, I remembered and we got him added on. πŸ™‚ Since I handle most of our finances, I sat down last year and made a list of our accounts, usernames, pins, etc. and went over it with him. It’s in our safe, and he knows where the key is.

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