I think it’s extremely important for both spouses to understand the household’s finances. Each spouse should know how to log in to bank accounts, check balances and pay bills. It makes perfect sense for one spouse to be responsible for journaling and paying the bills, but I think both should be responsible for routinely reading the credit card statement and confirming the nature of each charge. This doesn’t have to take all day. For the most part you can skim the business names where items were purchased, match them against the total paid and move on from there.
I also think both spouses should read the mail. Again one can sort the physical letters, weed out the spam and consolidate the bills into a stack on the dining room table, but both should routinely glance at those documents to make certain they know what is owed.
Last week as I was reviewing our bill pay history I noticed that my husband had written a check for $378 to our dentist. We both visited the dentist on the same day back in August and my husband assumed we owed a particular amount above and beyond what insurance covered. When the bill came through the mail he promptly paid it, shredded the actual bill and didn’t give it another thought.
I was away from late August through early September so I never saw this bill come through the mail and was not aware that my husband had paid it until after I reviewed our bill pay history.
I couldn’t understand why we received such a large bill. I thought long and hard about our dental visit and nothing had been out of the ordinary. Neither one of us had any additional work completed like root canals or filling cavities.
Then it dawned on me. This was the first time we’d been to the dentist since our insurance changed in early May. I called the dentist office and found out that they billed our old insurance company, Aetna, instead of our new company, Blue Cross Blue Shield. When Aetna rightfully refused our claim the dentist sent us a bill.
Since dental bills never make much sense and a lot of things are not covered 100% by insurance my husband simply assumed we owed the dentist additional money and promptly paid the bill.
If I had not double checked the billing history for the past two months this error would have gone unnoticed. We would have unnecessarily paid $378 for something that was actually covered in full by insurance!
This is not the first time we’ve encountered errors. Awhile ago my husband inadvertently reversed the numbers in our regularly scheduled bill pay to the credit card company. Had I not noticed the error we would have been struck with unnecessary interest payments.
We’ve also caught unusual charges on our credit card bills. When we encounter a store name we don’t recognize we each make certain to ask each other if they’ve recently shopped there. Once or twice we’ve found fraudulent charges that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.
I’m so glad I noticed the $378 error. That’s way too much money to pay unnecessarily!
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