The Lost and Found category is used when your cash account doesn’t reconcile with how much cash you actually have. I just wanted to put in a pitch for this invaluable, yet little discussed, category. I have yet to meet anyone in DA who has not had an issue with cash either disappearing or increasing mysteriously.
Some people fund this category monthly with a dollar or two. In my case, when I had some extra money come in, my PRG team allocated money for that category (around $20).
I never thought about creating such a category until a PRG team member suggested it to someone else. In the past, if I had too little left when I counted it up, I would have to take it from another category. That led to resentment and beating myself up. But by creating a category specifically to address this problem, I am admitting that I am powerless over sometimes making mistakes and have a clear solution to the problem.
I only count up my cash three or four times a month. As precise as I am with my numbers, I have to admit that cash seems to evaporate in my pocket no matter how rigorous I am. Usually, it’s a penny or two, rarely a dollar or two.
But just the other day, I had $6 less than my spending plan said I should have! I know my spending records are correct and reconciled with my checking accounts. So what the heck happened to this money?!
In the past, I would have freaked out and made myself ill trying to reconstruct where that $6 went. I might have lost the entire day in this effort, not to mention peace of mind.
The agreement with my sponsor is that I can always make up the amount from the Lost and Found category. But since $6 is a significant amount, it was worth the effort to be a bit rigorous, to at least go back through my notebook to see if I made an error. Lo and behold, there were two cash transactions that totaled $5.99 that I hadn’t entered into YNAB (but had committed to my sponsor). And luckily, I found a penny a few days before. So there was no need to use this category. But I’m very grateful that it is available if I need it.
By the way, this cash magic works both ways for me. In February, I had $1.27 more cash and in March, I had .25 more cash than I thought, so I was able to add to that category, which now has $16.60 in it.
Checking Accounts are Different … Sort of
Let me say that I would never do this with money coming out of my checking account. In that case, I would move Hell and high water to get to the bottom of it. There is ALWAYS an explanation (usually that I forgot to enter the transaction into YNAB or entered something twice, etc.). But even then, I have had experience myself and with sponsees, that after a certain point, it is pointless to continue reconstructing. Instead, we will, as a last resort, adjust the spending plan to the bank account.
Humility is Part of Spiritual Growth
This post is embarrassing to write because I have often written that I have 100% clarity with my money. So it is a humbling experience to recognize and admit that this is not always true. It just shows me that no matter how rigorous I am, being human, I will inevitably make mistakes with numbers sometimes.
For today, I have to remember that I am not perfect, that we all make mistakes. But I will continue to try my best to do my HP’s will with financial accountability. I am grateful that other members have shown me a sober way to deal with this very human problem in a manner that doesn’t harm my DA program or make me feel humiliated.