By: Revanche

Irregular File Maintenance and Memories

October 23, 2007

My file maintenance leaves much to be desired. There are no regularly scheduled purges or reviews, I don’t have an actual plan for when papers are to be destroyed. I just go by the “I can’t fit any more in this old desk drawer” method.

I’ve been thinking that for the past several months as I winced pulling out the hefty 4 inch files, and again when I crammed them back in, hoping that the drawer rollers wouldn’t fail me each time. Finally the thought occurred to me that I still need to order my annual credit reports and that when I received them, it’d be a good time to go through the drawers and make some decisions about which credit cards to consolidate and kill. Also, which records to pull and shred.

That highly logical thought was followed by an OCD-like reaction: no, let’s just go through it now. Just a file or two. Just the ones you have to pull out anyway. An hour later, surrounded by piles of papers to shred, cards to shred, paper clips to reuse, and a few more files to go, I’m struck by reminiscences of my first forays into finance.

They’re all right here.

“DO NOT USE UNTIL PAID OFF.” Printed in large block letters on the paper that new credit cards come in, my first balance transfer was in 2004. I used a Citi Dividend Select Platinum card to pay off two Capital One balances for my mom. Back then, I only had a $5000 credit limit on that card, and it was only the first $5000 of many thousands of dollars worth of debt that I would ultimately pay off for them. I remember being nervous and excited, chock full of my discoveries on Fatwallet Finance, and so full of optimism and youth. Maybe I couldn’t save the world, but I was going to rescue my parents, dangit.

Careful records of credit card statements, with every single associated receipt clipped to each statement. Color coordinated highlighting to distinguish between household charges and personal charges.

An application to enroll in the Citi Driver’s Edge Drive Rebates program. One of my many failures to take advantage of a program that could have netted me a LOT of rebate cash. *sigh* I still feel stupid about letting that slide, month after month. It looks like I still have $78.94 worth of Driver’s Edge rebates to use. That’s good to know.

IngDirect, 2004. My first online savings account. Oh, how I loved it. The stack of orange statements eventually become intermingled with the white statements of Emigrant Direct, slowly, gradually. Now it’s mostly Emigrant Direct, even though I don’t think I’ve gotten a paper statement from them since 06/30/07. I can see when I started getting careless, too. May 31, 2006 was when I stopped hole punching and filing the pages. Just slipping them in atop the previous statements was good enough for this gov’ment’s work.

A Notice of Action or Payment from the dentist. ARGH! I still haven’t gone to the dentist this year! *ashamed* I have dental insurance, I’m payin’ for it, and haven’t used it once this year. Shame on me!

Cell Phone: I’ve had my 1000 minutes/month plan for at least 2.5 years. I’m spoiled, even though I haven’t paid more than $50/month at any point.

There’s also a page ripped out from an Entertainment Weekly 2000 Year-End Special featuring a 21-year-old Kate Hudson on one side, and 32-year-old Hugh Jackman as Wolverine on the other side. I love them both, so that’s staying in the drawer. ’til we meet again!

Trends: Credits to my accounts. I’ve flipped through about 4 files containing at least 8 credit cards’ worth of statements. Sure as the sky’s full of ash tonight, I’ve made some dumb mistakes but it appears that I’ve not really hesitated to ask for a credit on my account, deserved or not. The credit card companies, Citi, Chase, American Express, have all obliged.

I’m really selectively organized. I’ll update all these files from years and years ago without missing a single one, but keep small piles of things to file on my desktop for weeks. It annoys me, but there they stay, gathering dust, until I’m good and ready to put them away. And then there are times like now, when I can’t find my darned paperclip box to put away the pile of reclaimed paperclips.

It’s hard to believe that I started this crusade 3 years ago and many a harsh and bitter lesson has been learned. Some of the lessons are quantifiable: I’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars in rent. I’ve paid for just as much debt, not my own, but still, debt. I’ve finally learned to pull back and stop throwing money at the problems, especially since I never made that much, and started throwing it at my savings. At investing, and at the future. That’s resulted in a healthy sum of retirement funds, and a humble pile of emergency savings. That’s progress. Other lessons aren’t so measurable: don’t trust BroDucky farther than you can throw him. Don’t don’t don’t! lend money you can’t afford to lose. Stop blindly trusting your parents, when they’re out to protect you and you just need the truth: you will clash.

I’ve been scaling this edifice of familial duty for 7 years, and I still haven’t learned that I can’t save my family. To be honest, I have to laugh at myself for thinking that I could. How naive! Things have changed, yes, but more for the worse than the better. But, maybe it’s not a lesson I’m meant to learn. After all, families are messy. They’re demanding, they’re character building. Most compelling of all, they’ve been my motivation. Without them, I bet I wouldn’t have felt the call to explore financing, to cut bills down to the bone, to really bear up under all the needs of a family and find a way through. These are all skills that have contributed to my growing up. Like Reba McEntire said, “How was I to know I’d be ok?”

It’s been 3 years. I’m still doing alright. I’ll be ok. I think I have what it takes.

Oh, but I still haven’t ordered the dang credit reports. I’ll get right on that.

4 Responses to “Irregular File Maintenance and Memories”

  1. Matt says:

    At least you had everything in one place. For a couple years I had multiple piles for things and the net result was I couldn’t find anything.

    I just invested in a shredder and I wish I had one when I did the big purge of paper bills and reciepts.

  2. SavingDiva says:

    It sounds like you have your stuff together! My stuff is all just jammed into a box.

  3. At least you’ve learned some important lessons. Albeit the hard way, but then again.. those are the lessons that REALLY stick with you in your gut and soul forever don’t they?

  4. ~Matt~ *shudder* That’s my biggest fear about those little piles on my desk. I swear I’m going to keep forgetting to file them, and it’ll rise up and eat me one day.

    ~Saving Diva~ Hey, a box is a start! After all, check out Matt up there 😉

    ~FB~ There’s nothing like experience to REALLY learn something. If you told me, three years ago, that my parents and I would have major differences in opinion and actually argue about money, I probably would have fallen over dead. Serious. I never could have imagined that my own parents (dad, mostly) wouldn’t get past their pride to do the sensible thing.

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