Thursday, September 18, 2008

Money Matters

As everyone in the US has been watching the financial markets, we’ve had our own money matters down here.

First, the matter of the coconuts. What I didn’t write about in the last blog entry was that the man tried to give me $37.50BZ, but because he only had a $50 and I had absolutely no money in the house since Tom was off shopping, he didn’t actually give me any cash. He asked where we banked, and when I told him Atlantic Bank, he said he’d stop by the bank the next day and deposit the money in one of our accounts. I figured he would try to do it, but wasn’t sure if the bank would let him. I also figured I didn’t really care if we never got the money because our coconut trees received a much needed pruning, and we weren’t planning to do much with the coconuts.

So, we were pleasantly surprised the other night when Tom logged on to check our bank accounts and saw that $37.50BZ had indeed been deposited in one of our accounts. This is Belize!

The second matter is was the case of the missing money. Tom had given a couple of guys on motorcycles a ride to San Ignacio on Sunday night, and they gave him gas money. He ended up meeting neighbors in town and going to dinner with them, so he got home later than expected and just threw the change on the table. We went to bed late, and Tom was up before me the next morning. I woke to the sound of ripping, sat up in bed, and saw Stout shredding a piece of paper. I jumped up to see what it was, and realized it was paper money. I rubbed my eyes to wake up a bit, and scrounged around on the floor to find the paper scraps to see if the bill could be salvaged.

When I started to put it together, I realized I’d rescued a $2 bill. I collected the other scraps, and then decided it wasn’t worth the effort. When Tom came in from feeding the horses, I told him what happened. He looked on the table where he’d left the cash, and asked where the other two bills were. Not knowing any other bills had been on the table, I had no idea, but Tom then told me that he’d left two $2 bills and one $20 bill on the table the night before. We took a closer look at the scraps and realized that they probably came from two different $2 bills, but we saw no signs of the $20, even after a search under everything in the house.

So, since I hose the dog poop in the dogs’ yard anyway, I decided I’d keep my eyes open for a change and see what rinsed out of the poop. A couple of days after Stout’s expensive breakfast, I found this scrap. Wasn’t it considerate of Stout to eat the $20, and then pass this scrap through his digestive system just so we’d know it was the $20 he decided to swallow rather than the $2s? And no, I didn’t carefully rinse the rest of the dog doo and try to reconstruct the bill. It would take more than $10US to pay me to do that job…and I don’t think any of the scraps were big enough to reconstruct anyway!

The third matter happened today. If you know Tom, you know he’s an accountant by nature as well as by trade, and he has always been completely meticulous about keeping organized and honest books. He always told me how glad we’d be if we were ever audited, but in over twenty years of owning his own business in New York, it never happened. Finally, today, here in Belize, the Social Security auditor pulled into our driveway at about 11:30 this morning. The auditor, Herbert, beeped and I went out to meet him. Tom and Selwyn were clearing brush in our new paddock, so it took the hot and sweaty Tom a couple of minutes to get to the house. Herbert explained who he was and why he was here, so we came in and sat at the table on the porch. Tom, in his glory, ran to get his records, and he and Herbert reviewed everything. No surprise, we passed with flying colors since everything was in order and the Social Security records exactly matched our records.

They finished up just as I was about to get lunch out, so we invited Herbert to stay to lunch, and he accepted. He said he’s only been invited to stay for lunch once in his years of doing this job, and explained that sometimes employers don’t realize he’s actually helping since good employer records are necessary if an employee or ex-employee makes a false claim. We understood that, of course, and the two of us, Herbert, and Selwyn sat at the table until almost 2:00 talking. So, thanks to money matters, we now have another friend in Belize!

Just for the record, I’m not trying to make light of the financial disaster happening in the US right now. After working there for all of our adult lives before we moved to Belize, all of our retirement money is, as we see it, right in the middle of the mess so we’re being impacted too – and pretty seriously impacted by our standards. And, after visiting the US this summer I noted that the general anxiety level about life and standards of living is much higher there than here, so I can only imagine that tension level cranked up another few notches. But, when we’re not being assaulted with the bad news everywhere we turn, it’s much easier to take some pleasure in minor money matters – and to recognize that we’re being assimilated into the Belize culture and way of life. It’s only money…


sandy A. said...

I was kinda trippin' on what's happening here, but after talking to my advisor I'm cool. I think the people who mostly should be worried are people a lot older than us, or people more entangled in the companies affected.
Keep your $$ out the dog's reach! yikes! You might as well go to the casino in San Ignacio! HA!

MoonracerFarm said...

Oh, we can waste plenty of money without ever leaving the property! Eventually we're going to make money on these six horses that eat baled hay and get grained twice a day, right?!? So feeding $20 bills through the dog's digestive tract isn't such a new concept to us! :-)

sandy A. said...

Gyal, my goats do the same thing! Eating hay when there is TONS of perfectly good grass!