Because I am a master of procrastination, our first outing as a family of three was to our friendly neighborhood Chase Bank so that we could finally combine our finances.
Kind of like moving in together and deciding whose apartment to live in, the question of “my account, your account, or new account?” hung in the air. The decision was made easier by the fact that I have Simple and they don’t have joint accounts (YET?) and getting a new account seemed like more work somehow. Joining the big evil bank with conveniently-located ATMs it was.
Adding me to the account was easy — I just needed to show the Chase person some ID and enter my PIN number into her keyboard and boom, our future separation just became that much more complicated. (JK?)
When we got home, though, I started to freak out. Not freak out because now our money was intertwined and swiftly dwindling and SOMEONE didn’t pay the electric bill for a few months and so one of the first charges was like $200, which was historically something I wouldn’t have been aware of. No, I decided to channel my anxiety of our ever-increasing co-dependence into the fact that this account was HIS account and not mine. I was simply on it.
“Wait a minute,” I paced into the living room to freak out at Dustin, holding our sleeping baby. “I knew that was too easy. I didn’t get a login! She didn’t even give me access to the account! I can’t see it online!”
“Wait, what? But you got a debit card? Why does it matter?”
“WHAT? But how can I online bank? How can I bank online? How do I pay bills? Check the balance? SHE SHOULD HAVE GIVEN ME A LOGIN!”
“Just use my login. I’ll change the password.”
“NO! I need my own. I need to call them. We need to go back, I think.” I was oppressed. I wanted to march on Washington. Or Wall Street. I wanted to march on Wall Street for the right to a Chase login. “But see, this isn’t a JOINT account, she just added me to YOUR account. We need a JOINT ACCOUNT. This is like when my mom had access to my checking account when I was in high school. This is not what we need.”
“Okay, but I don’t really get why it matters?”
“IT JUST DOES! YOU DON’T UNDERSTAAAAND.” *cue me crying* “It should be my account, too.”
I paced around and cried a bit, felt nostalgic for my private little bank logins, their horrible UIs and my crazy passwords and logging in a million times a day when I’m anxious, taking stock of everything. And now what? I have a debit card? NO. I am the budgeter, the bill-payer, the planner, the Person-Who-Calls in this couple. (Or okay, he calls to order food for delivery, but I call to fight bills. He calls the landlord; I sent the landlord vaguely threatening emails.) If anything, the account should be MINE! I wisely did not say this, just went into the other room and loudly closed some cabinet doors or something.
After a few minutes, the insane wave of hormones finished washing over me and I sat next to Dustin on the couch. He pivoted his laptop toward me and pointed at the screen:
“GET A USER ID
to help you manage your money
If you’re not already using Chase Online to access your account, enroll now. Chase Online offers a broad range of products and services to manage your money. “
A username of one’s own! I mentally canceled my protest march and went to grab my laptop.
The next day, we got a balance in the mail. Under Dustin’s name it said “OR MEAGHAN O’CONNELL.” The next two envelopes in the stack: copies of the baby’s birth certificate. One for Dustin and one for me. Since we aren’t married, both of us get one — complete with Dustin’s “Acknowledgment of Paternity For a Child Born to an Unmarried Woman.”
“Good mail day,” I said, dropping the stack on the bed.
We sat next to each other with our respective birth certificates, marveling over them, laughing. “HI FAM!” Dustin shouted, the way he’s been doing about every hour for the past month or so. One of these days it will sink in.
Photo via Jason Baker