Bureaucracy

Temps are about to drop back into single-digit highs around here, and we are deep in a week of paperwork. A grim situation all-around. A sample of what we’re working through:

Banking. No fewer than three separate cues came at me this week, reminding me to open a Schwab high-yield checking account, with unlimited free ATM withdrawal worldwide. We still plan to maintain a relationship and accounts with our local credit union, who coincidently holds our mortgage, but the Schwab account should allow us easy and convenient access to our cash.

Property management. Not a heck of a lot of folks are actually interested in managing our lone little property, but we have at least one company on the hook–despite their horror of the low price being charged to our current tenants downstairs. For a mere 6% of the rental income, we’ll be able to forget we even have tenants. If the toilet overflows and we are in Cuba, DO NOT CALL US!

Automatic bill paying. Copies of most of our bills will still have to make their way to our accountant next February, so she can pull off that depreciation-and-deduction magic that keeps our taxes so low; but the more we can pay online, the fewer people we’ll need to hire to push papers for us. It makes our Luddite hearts sad, but we’re heading to 100% online bill-paying.

Taxes. Need to schedule that appointment for this year, and make sure we know how to organize everything NOW so that we don’t have to deal with anything from the San Blas islands in Panama. We’ll have other things to do, ok?

Preliminary homeschool supplies. Thanks to budget cuts, our district recently closed their teacher's resource library; they opened up the contents to the public, and we scored big.

Preliminary homeschool supplies. Thanks to budget cuts, our district recently closed their teacher’s resource library; they opened up the contents to the public, and we scored big.

Homeschool. Getting input from various educational luminaries, and narrowing down what we expect to accomplish for our kids. Hopefully pulling the trigger on ordering books and supplies by the end of next week–we’ll let you know where we land.

Health stuff. Dental, orthodontic, vision, general check-ups and immunizations. We’re slowly checking off the list, but it’s quite a few appointments for quite a few people, and some things we can’t quite schedule yet. The UW Travel Clinic has recommended that we venture to Janesville for yellow fever vaccinations, since our insurance won’t cover any tropical vaccines that are not work-related; Rock County Public Health offers the cheapest vaccines, but it will still cost our family over $500 for yellow fever and typhoid. Guess what we’re doing over spring break, kids?

More free books from the district. That should be enough math stuff, right?

More free books from the district. That should be enough math stuff, right?

Passports. Another sneaky expense–over $500 again, if you include the cost of the photos–but much more exciting than a painful shot in the arm.

Insurance. We won’t really be exploring our health insurance options until Michu gives notice; the hospital where he works has experts in the minutia of the ACA, and we need to know costs and coverage of COBRA before we make any decisions, but there’s still plenty to keep us busy on the insurance front. The boat insurance has been renewed, but will have to be changed once we exit the Erie Canal; car insurance will need to be cancelled in five short months; and our homeowner’s insurance will need to be changed to some kind of commercial policy (for which we’ll also need to estimate the total value of what we’re storing in our attic and basement while we’re away. Spoiler alert: not much. Except for the value of all the kid art, which is of course priceless).

Voting. Yeah, we won’t be around for the general election. Absentee balloting in Wisconsin has only gotten more difficult in the last four years. Our current plan is to have my cousin FedEx us a couple of absentee ballots to a marina when they become available. Anyone know why that might not work?

Document organization. Once we’ve procured/updated/amended everything under the sun, it needs to be virtually reproduced and archived, and also physically contained in an organized and official-looking manner–including but not limited to marriage license, birth certificates, passports, name-change documents, immunization records, boat registration, and notarized papers allowing one or both of our children to travel with only one parent. We hear Central American officials are impressed with embossers and official boat stamps….must add that to the list……

Renew library cards. Our library cards are good for three years, and will allow us to download ebooks to all of our kindles, so we want to make sure they don’t expire. We plan on checking this off the list in late May, but I include it here because it represents so perfectly my state of mind. We go to the library two or three times a week–I can see the building from my living room right now–and every trip, in my head, prompts the mantra: “don’t forget to renew the library cards, don’t forget to renew the library cards.” There’s just so much to do; but the small, important, unobtainable tasks repeat relentlessly. Maybe by writing it down I can exorcise it from my brain.

Media. The name of the game here is compression. Pull the dvd’s and cd’s from those horrible plastic cases, cull the duds, insert into binder; better yet, burn to an external hard drive. Copy out the top five recipes from most of these cookbooks; only one or two books can make it on the boat. Organize the online photos, so that not all is chaos when we start dumping 300 pictures of parrotfish into the cloud every day. Stare at bookshelf, realize I WILL NOT read anything on it in the next five months, stick it all in a box in the attic. Except the Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I am totally going to read that on the boat. (Resolve to digitally download the important Shakespeare before boxing up the Works. Public domain, right? And all the Dickens? And Twain? Resolve to spend some time organizing the digital book collection before things get out of control.)

Clearly we won’t be getting through everything this week, but we’ve made a solid start, and at least have an action plan for all of these areas begging to be tidied up. And at least most of it can be accomplished with a steaming pot of tea.

Teapot: 100% coming on the boat

Teapot: 100% coming on the boat

3 Comments on “Bureaucracy

  1. You’re making my head spin! But we’re in many of the same little boats with you. We just found someone to cover our house with insurance while we were gone. Safeco offered a good plan at a considerable savings for us. Then there is the attic, which is getting a little more full than i would like it to be. I’m envious of your ‘not much’, and yes, those little drawings are priceless. Also thanks for the reminder about the Schwab account. We need to do that, too. Also, be glad for that 6% fee on the rental. Ours will be 10%. Best of luck in managing all of this stuff!

    • 10%? That’s rough! Of course, we get hit with tons of fees for turnover–maybe that stuff is included in your fees? I’m pretty much trusting that we won’t about the nickel-and-dime stuff in a year…and just be happy someone else is dealing with it all!

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