In an effort to go green and streamline (you'll soon see the fallacy in this intention), I have gone paperless on as many bills and statements as I can. Unfortunately, every single account and website requires me to come up with a user name and password. This is where the trouble comes in, because as I have gotten older, my brain has slowly turned into mashed potatoes (I blame the children) and I am incapable of remembering all these little tidbits of information.
I finally started writing them all down (I know, I know, not supposed to, but if someone is willing to break into my home, get on all my various website and find the paper with the information, more power to them...they can have my tiny amount of worldly goods - they clearly want them more than I do), but didn't start this process until about 6 months ago.
Therefore, any accounts that I haven't heard from in a while have retained only a vague, hazy memory in my head, which is often somewhat less than accurate. Especially since some sites require numbers, some sites won't let you use numbers, some need special characters, etc. I know you all feel my pain.
Fast forward to today. I have put off checking on the kids' 529 college funds since the whole economy decided to tank, but thought I'd give them a peek yesterday. I couldn't remember the entire user name (for some reason, they won't accept partial answers...), so sent an email which was dutifully returned with my new info to log on. Over the years I have sent and received so many of these "reminder" emails (which should really just have the words "Here, idiot" in the subject line...) that The Professor has created an entire file in our email program for them.
The kids' accounts are held by the same company I have an IRA account with, leftover from my time teaching and actually making money. So, I go on to the site, and can't remember (imagine my surprise!) any of my log-in info. Luckily, they have a helpful section for those of us who are memory challenged. However, when I go to said section, it requires me to have my account number. Now, even though I keep just about every scrap of paper that has anything to do with anything in my little files, I have NO file for this IRA. So, I decide that maybe the username is the same as the kids' accounts. Then, when it starts asking me security questions and I get them all wrong and it locks me out of the system, I am finally forced to get on the phone.
The phone call goes something like this:
"Hi, I have an account with you, and have forgotten my log in information. I also don't seem to know my account number. And, I'm now locked out of the system for getting the questions wrong." This is not a particularly high point in my attempt to make others believe I am a competent human being.
The chirpy voice on the line says, "Oh, no problem. I'll just need you to answer your security question. In what city were you married?"
I have drawn a blank. And, I'm on the phone with a person who is doing her best to act like I am not a complete numbskull. I finally remember, and tell her the city.
"Hmmm...," she says, "that's not right." It actually is, so now I have no idea what I did when setting up my security questions. "How about this one - What's your paternal grandmother's first name?"
I am now so appallingly embarrassed that I make sure I take my time and figure out that, yes, this would in fact be my father's mother. Thankfully I get that one right, and am allowed access. I did ask her what I put down as the answer to the wedding question, and I seem to have given them the city in which I was born (you know, born, wedding, same difference). I also found out that I was not locked out of the system, meaning that I locked out some other poor, unsuspecting soul.
Sadly, I think I am definitely not smarter than a fifth grader....