Dreaded Financial Reports

Often I have tried to give you an interesting, unique view into my missionary life, and today is no exception. It's time for me to file my financial reports. Each quarter, I have to report all of my business expenses, as well as give an accounting of my use of my STL car.

This involves multiple forms and a pile of receipts. First I do the mileage log for the car. Every time I drive it anywhere I record the mileage (in my case, kilometrage) in a little notebook. Then each quarter I type up a master list of where and when I drove, noting if it was personal use (shopping, errands, going to church or work) or business use (going to conferences). Then I determine how much of the gasoline used was for business or personal use.

When I do the financial report, I start with my receipts. Usually, I have receipts from rent and utilities, STL car insurance, business calls, meals/hotels while traveling, postage from newsletters, and any ministry supplies. Each of those receipts has to be translated into English, and the price of the item translated into dollars (with whatever the exchange rate was on that particular day between the euro and the dollar).

Then I start filling in the form, placing the total amount of the quarter's rent, for example, in the little box for "rent." Each part of my budget has its little box on the form. After that detailed list of expenditures is filled in, I fill in another master form with running totals for the year. Each quarter I update those running totals.

Then I fill out the form with just the totals of how much support I was given in that quarter compared with how much I actually spent. I sign my name on every form and make sure all my receipts have my name and information on them (in case they were to escape their staples). The last step is to photocopy everything for my own files, and I mail off the bulky envelope with the originals to the missions office in Springfield.

Sounds like a laugh riot, right? Just typing this put me to sleep! Its dull and long, and since I'm not into math, its the number one reason for me to procrastinate. ("Do fin. rep." is written on my to-do list for about two weeks on the average before I actually sit down and do them). As a result, I am often slightly late with turning my reports in. Apparently this is a common problem with the other missionaries, because they give us deadlines: the date it is due, the date it is officially "late," and the date when your financial support is completely cut off until you get them sent in! Thankfully, I've never waited that long, but I better get them sent out today!

In other news . . . do you have Coke Zero yet in the States? It has just hit Europe in a huge marketing blitz, targeting men as its primary consumers. Apparently, Diet Coke is too "girly" for real men who want a sugar-free soda, so Coke Zero in its shiny, black can is more macho. It has a slightly different taste than Diet Coke, even though they are both low-calorie drinks. There are commericials, articles, etc. flooding the European media; in England, they call it "bloke coke," and its proving to be quite popular. I felt compelled to try some this week, when I saw it displayed in the store, and its pretty good. But I guess since I'm female, I should stick to the "girly" silver canned Diet Coke, or I will mess up all their marketing research.

The picture above, of the famous Dutch/French haircut, is to make up for boring you with my financial report information.
Ariel Rainey