Reporting live from under the heat lamps at MVC, my pricey hairdresser, this is the only way I can squeeze in posting today.
Expenses … chasing up money owed to me, that was this week’s assignment.
I did an OK though incomplete job of it. I left it to the last minute. But that’s not bad considering how VERY close I came to admitting defeat on this assignment and just not doing it!
Chasing money owed to me (by insurers, companies mis-using my credit card and the like) is almost my most hated financial chore. The only one I dislike more is filing expenses and claims in the first place. If there’s money I’m owed, 90 per cent of the time it’s because I haven’t done my bit in submitting a claim for it.
I consider this my most unfortunate and stubborn money block.
It’s also a block that’s routinely escalated to a SCREAMER on my to-do list. A screamer is a chore that typically takes no time at all that I avoid doing for months (possibly years) until it becomes a violent post-it note smacking me in the face screaming at me.
I have a lot of these, hence their special title.
It’s not that I forget to file claims, or simply can’t be bothered — it’s much worse. Something about claiming expenses triggers a palpable, pulsating dread. So I keep listing the to-do rather than just doing it.
Like all proper forms of dread I can’t quite pinpoint the precise fear that’s stalking me. If I could it wouldn’t have the hold over me that it does.
So I had a knot in my stomach when I went to call my insurance company yesterday. It’s like I’m worried that if I call any attention to myself something Kafka-esque could happen to me. If I raise my head above the parapet to the “authorities” to claim what’s owed to me I might be singled out for punishment even though I’ve committed no crime. It makes no sense at all, this behaviour. But it’s the way I feel nonetheless — a true psycho-financial pathology.
In the end it took me only 6 minutes to leave my desk, walk into the canteen, dial my insurers, get through to a claims officer, inquire about the £3,300 they were meant to reimburse me over 3 months ago and receive an explanation for its delay. (This large sum of money was in fact a string of expenses I was several years late in filing!!)
Buoyed by my progress in actually calling my insurers, I spent a further 12 minutes downloading my AMEX bills to track down work expenses that I’d usually leave too late to file.
I didn’t file the ones I found immediately because I decided it would be better to use this precious burst of “facing things” to track down a gym in New York that’s been charging $74.99 onto my AMEX every month since September. Finding the number to reach their cancellation hotline tested all my internet hunting abilities and after a 20 minute wait to get through, I think I was outstandingly friendly to the call centre guy who refused to understand that I was cancelling my membership because I DO NOT LIVE IN UNITED STATES which is where the gym is located. It’s as if he didn’t know people outside of America were even allowed to call America never mind be allowed a membership to cancel.
For my troubles I received a cheque for the £3,300 in the post this morning! And an email confirmation from Crunch gym that they’ve cancelled the 1 month membership I had which I hadn’t realized was a “rolling” membership unless cancelled.
Given that these are the sorts of sums I stand to gain from investing the odd hour of exertion you’d think I’d learn never to ignore a screamer.