Friday, June 26, 2015

Mom, Money and Charity

Last Tuesday I was minding my own business and about to freshen my morning bourbon glass, when I found Mom on the phone arguing with The Bank.  Wondering aloud what was up with this deal, Mom told me she was trying to find out the balance on her checking account.  I told her I could help with that, and proceeded to go online, logged in to The Bank and displayed Mom's account.

My very own dear old mother is in the red.

Banks live for crap like this.  The overdraft fee is something like $25 per item, and once the account is listed as overdrawn, everything bounces like a super-ball.  Everything but the bank's fees, that is.

So I grabbed Mom and took $500 cash out my secret emergency cash fund (also known as mattress money) and headed down to The Bank, where we made a cash deposit into Mom's checking account.  The Bank tried giving me a hard time about depositing the money, but I had Mom there so as to make things official.  We then went out to lunch.

When I got back home, I printed out the last 60 days of activity and passed the print out over to Mom, instructing her to list everything that hadn't cleared the bank.  While she was safely occupied, I logged into her account, downloaded the last 60 days of transactions into a spreadsheet, and started trying to make order out of chaos.  In the middle of this Mom showed up with a list of outstanding checks, which I entered into the spreadsheet.

The result?  The account is still in the red.

By this time The Bank had closed for the day, but that gave me time to see just where all that money was going.  One word: Charities.

These blood suckers call during permissible hours and plead their case with more skill and urgency than any downtown panhandler ever dreamed of.  They send junk mail by the pound, complete with empathy inducing photos illustrating the importance of give, give, give.  And because Mom has a tender heart and wants to help, she writes them a check.  The thing is, one check won't do it.

Give them one donation, and they immediately hit you up again for another donation - because their particular cause is so important.  And Mom can't remember that she already gave them money, so she writes another check.  And another.  And another after that.

And so, you see, Mom is dead broke for the month of June.  I don't mean just a little broke, I mean dead and damned broke.  So broke that I had to go down to The Bank the next day and put another $100 cash into the account to keep more checks from bouncing.

That's a total of $600 in two days to put the account right.

I've managed to impress on Mom that charities are completely out.  No more charities.  None.  Then I started a 'do not mail, do not call' list.  We'll see if I can get them to back off.  If they won't, I don't quite know who to appeal to, but I'd think the Ohio Attorney General might have some influence in this area.  But then again, maybe not.

I blame myself for this one.  When I answer the phone and find a charity on the line, I tell them to put us on their 'do not call' list, but evidently word has gotten out because they are very quick to hang up when they discover Mom isn't there.  One lady kept calling and would hang up when I answered the phone.  I should have watched the mail better, and I didn't.  I could have watched Mom's account a little better, and I didn't do that, either.

I also blame the charities, and there's quite a list of them.  They aren't asking for a small donation here or there; they want all the money, and they want it now.  They've got an emergency, and they need money.  Bastards.

I wonder if any of these charitable organizations are willing to help a former donor in need?  Somehow, I don't think so.


CWMartin said...

There is a very simple rule for this- you give when YOU say, not them. I give to various charities at various times, and they always ask for more soon later. I do not respond to mailings and unsubscribe from e-mailings. I rarely get calls, but that's okay because I don't answer numbers I'm not sure of. Older people get ducked into this mindset that the world depends on their giving. It just doesn't. I hope your Mom will listen to you.

Old NFO said...

That is predatory, to put it mildly... I'd be changing my phone to an unlisted number too. Just sayin...

Mad Jack said...

Thanks guys.

I've thought about changing the phone number, but Mom has had the same number for over 60 years. It just isn't feasible. I tend to answer the phone, and since I've been telling callers to put us on their 'do not call' list, the solicitations have slowed down considerably. I'm just hoping I can get these mailings stopped.

One lady in our church told me about taking care of her father, an elderly alcoholic with a certain amount of dementia. The man had three cell phones, none of which he could use, and two Internet service providers, but no computer. Through a lot of hard work she managed to recoup several thousand dollars for him.

For my part, I'm tracking Mom's checking account and things are looking better.