SOMETHING LOST, SOMETHING FOUND
Oops. The NSW State Liberal government recently “found” an extra lazy $1 billion that has turned a deficit of $337 million to a surplus of $680 million for the state’s budget for 2011/12.
You gotta wonder about the sloppy accounting practices that led to such a massive turnaround…
You also have to be a little relieved that we were surprised on the upside rather than the downside in this instance.
It’s kind of like finding that crumpled $20 note in your jeans pocket when you sort out the washing…
Who doesn’t get a bit of a thrill when that happens?
It started me thinking about other times I have discovered money that I didn’t think I had. Unfortunately there haven’t been too many occasions like this. The one that sticks out in my mind was finding my first long-lost super account five or so years ago. Let me take you back a few years…
The year is 1992. I’m beavering away as a junior accountant in a small chartered accounting practice in Perth on a massive annual salary of $22,500 per annum. I’m getting married in November. Ex-hubby and I are looking at buying our first house for the princely sum of $146,000 (totally unrenovated house of horror as I remember it – in need of TLC in real estate agent speak).
I wear suits with shoulder pads and carry a briefcase. We use computers with DOS prompts and copy clients’ files with floppy disks inserted into gargantuan desktops. Remember those big soft paper covered disks? Ahhhh, those were the days.
Something about a superannuation system, some man comes into the office and asks us to sign a few documents, tick a few boxes, blah, blah, blah, something else about 3% moving to 9%, send forms in, promptly forget the whole thing.
Fast forward to 2006. Back at work after divorce and BIG career interruption (3 children and a move to Sydney). I open a new super account, depressed at the negligible balance.
Start receiving odd correspondence from large well-established fund back in Perth talking about an old account. My excitement mounts. I am sure I put at least $2,000 in whilst working prior to children. Surely it’s got to be at least 20 thou by now?
With shaking hands I dial the number of the firm in Perth and imagine the huge injection my new super fund will receive when I finally do all the paperwork and rollover the balance. After jumping through hoops to establish my identity, the call-centre operator clears her throat before she advises me of the account balance. The world suddenly goes silent.
“Your current account balance is $2,850.42”.
What. The. Hell.
The conversation with the customer service assistant is best forgotten but in the wash up and my ensuing detective work to find out where my dreams had all gone wrong it came down to one thing. The boxes I ticked.
Despite having what I thought was an adequate level of financial knowledge, I had blindly ticked all cash options for my fund. After taxes and fees and 15 years this is what it had all come to.
And then I got mad.
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