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Tuesday August 30, 2005 // By Sandy

Other people’s money

I finally hunkered down with the books last night. We, the books and I, spent some quality time getting to know each other. How we like to be held, where we like to be filed, detailed notes on how we’ve spent the last seven years of our life. A few drinks later—water for me, ink for them—and the first date jitters were gone, and it was like we’d known each other forever.

Actually, it’s not fair to call them books anymore. It’s hardly even paper. It turns out my responsibilities as treasurer mostly involve navigating the myriad screens of Quicken. This is an application that, while I continue to buy it year after year, I’ve never quite been able to understand. You’d think knowledge of an accounting program—or even a general understanding of how to bookkeep—is a trait you’d want your condo board treasurer to have. I guess when the pickings are small, you take whoever wears the smartest looking glasses.

And by the way, I haven’t balanced my checkbook in six years. I started to after college, thinking that checkbook balancing is Something One Does to qualify as an adult. And for a year, I did it and felt safer for it. But once I realized the truth—that as long as I had enough money in my account, I’d be fine—I stopped wasting my time. Friends have gawked at this reasoning, and have since avoided situations that involve relying on my credit standing. (As if it’s anything but immaculate.) Anyway, this logic doesn’t fly when you’re in charge of managing the funds of a dozen individuals. “Just trust me, we’re good,” isn’t the kind of reporting that’ll get one elected to a second term.

Here’s the thing about Quicken, though. Once you get past the tough skin, there’s a sweet candy middle that really is a heck of a time-saver to your average volunteer treasurer. (Intuit, you’re welcome to cop this for use on your packaging.) This is what I spent most of last night doing: schooling myself in the basics of a program that even my own mother has mastered for years. By the end of the night, after entering all the checks, paying all the bills, setting up an autotransfer, and reconciling the bank statement, I was so giddy with accounting fever I almost peed myself. Which, as an adult, I know is definitely Something One Does Not Do.

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