The paper chase has ended

I’m overwhelmingly happy to report that I’ve finally managed to stash, file, record and otherwise recycle the mountain of paper that I have been accumulating since late May.

A week or so ago, I’d confessed that I’d allowed receipts, mail, anything paper to pile up. This isn’t really my personality. Months ago I also let you know I like neat and organized. Normally, I take a fair bit of friendly teasing from my friends about being so together. The pile that recently appeared in my house caused me a certain amount of anxiety.

Over the last week, I have managed to tackle the beast. I’ll be honest – this was quite a challenge. It took four runs at it in order to truthfully declare I’d conquered the beast.

How’d the pile accumulate? It was frighteningly easy. In late May I spent a few days at my rental property in Barrie to do some cleaning, repairs and get a new tenant. This took me out of my routine, and added a bunch of new pieces of paper. Of course I returned home to my regular routine, which didn’t leave me with enough time to sort out my receipts.  Only a few weeks later, add another situation where I spent a couple of days at the rental – more receipts. Between visits to the rental, and since I already had a little pile of paper, it seemed perfectly acceptable to me to add my day to day receipts and mail to the pile, rather than deal with it as I routinely do. That’s how a mountain was born.

As I approached the pile, I totally thought a couple of hours would have it licked. Man, was I delusional. A couple of hours got me about half-way through it, and only afforded me with the ability to record information in my spreadsheet, and then hunt for the appropriate spot to file receipts. Since it had been so long since I spent some quality time with my spreadsheet, I had to be confident that I was actually picking up where I left off. I’d forgotten where I left off. It actually took me a while to understand that since I had rolled-up results for June, I must have recorded everything until the end of June and prior. Hindsight is pretty clear, isn’t it?

I’m relieved it’s finished, but I’m also a bit shocked at two things: how quickly it grew to be a problem, and how many expenditures I incurred without realizing the accumulated impact.

Honestly, if I don’t write down my expenditures, I can’t track them. It’s that simple. I have to assume that most people are the same. How can anybody possibly recall every expenditure? This is why it’s so easy for otherwise intelligent people to utter “I have no idea where the money goes.”

Sorting through my pile helped me to discover that I’ve been on a little spending spree with clothing. I recall every instance, but because I hadn’t collected the information and changed my spreadsheet, I wasn’t aware of how much I’d spent overall. In early July, two different bras tried to kill me when the under wire came through the fabric and tried to enter my ribcage. Since I’m not overly well stocked with lingerie, I took myself to Winners to buy two more bras. I could argue that was a need. What I didn’t need was the couple extra pair of undies. That was a want.

My youngest daughter’s birthday was a week ago. We were out and I bought her a new dress (not a birthday gift) from a street vendor. She’s madly in love with it and has already worn it twice. I bought it because it would suit the theme she’s having for her upcoming birthday party with friends. Not expensive at $30, but not budgeted either. Insert guilt that I spent money on one kid and not the other. Yes, this last weekend the eldest daughter saw a lovely little dress, it was also $30, so I bought it for her. Both girls are over the moon about their new dresses.

Since I had a dinner date, somehow I convinced myself I needed a new top. Seems I had that conversation with myself twice, and actually purchased two new tops. Neither was more than $20, but still…..

Lastly, a colleague I work with had purchased a new pair of Puma’s, and found later they were a size too small. She’d worn them outside once and couldn’t return them.  I adored them and tried them on. Dang it all they fit me perfectly. I offered to buy them from her and paid half-price, which is a great deal for little leather shoes that I’ll get a lot of wear from, but didn’t have the $65 in the budget either.

While I do recall each instance of spending, what I wasn’t doing was accumulating those totals in my head. That’s the problem. That’s the price I’ll pay for not keeping my spending tracking up to date and letting papers pile up. I hope I’ve learned my lesson for a while.

I shouldn’t expect that I’ll never let papers pile up again. That seems like expecting perfection, which I’m not capable of delivering. Perhaps what I can  do is promise myself that I won’t permit a paper mountain to build for more than one week. Perhaps that way I won’t be so detached from the numbers.

What do you do to keep your paper work in order?

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