I save every single receipt. Every. Single. One. Just in case I have to prove I bought something. Anything. Milk and bread. Gas. A new Hollister hoodie. You can imagine the mountain of paper that builds. The receipts weren’t even nicely folded into file folders, but wadded into balls and stuffed into boxes. Over nine years worth, stacked haphazardly against the walls of my spare room, tetering over when you move them. I kept saying that I would capture each printout digitally, but that never happened. These days, do I really need a receipt to prove I made an electronic purchase? I rarely use cash. In the process of trying to save each scrap of paper, I lost sight of reality. And refused to look farther ahead.
Even worse, I had locked myself into this mentality of not deserving.
I was interested in the psychology of hoarding to see what it had to say about my fear of losing a $2 receipt. The fear of letting go has an almost universal meaning … fear of losing control. Yet, isn’t life ironic in that the tighter we try to control something, the faster it crumbles and slips through our fingers.
I definitely know I am not a hoarder because every year, I go through a purge right around Christmas to make our tiny home livable. Old blankets and towels go to sanctuaries and rescues. Old clothes and household items go to Value Village. The fridge, cupboards and closets are ripped open and cleaned out. If it’s broke, I don’t keep it. If it has lost its lid, out it goes. Cracked dishes are replaced. Worn socks are tossed. I’ve even learned to pitch the ones that are like new, but uncomfortable. Life is too short for pinchy underwear.
Clutter outside creates clutter inside … and there is a link. But that is another post on another day.
While I am sentimental, I’d rather have a photo of the eight reindeers my son made me every Christmas rather than keep every one. I do still treasure his tiny handprint in plaster. Some items are worth holding on to. But my paper trails were stuffed into every nook and cranny, squeezed into more and more boxes and busting out the seams.
As I streamline my life, I decided it’s time to let go of the stash. I’ve always had the idea at the back of my mind that I might need those receipts to defend myself. I buy everything we need to survive. Rather than hold on to it like a shield, I’ve decided to release it. It’s no longer my debt … but his. It’s not my disgrace, but his. Nor is it my karma, but his.
I would hang my head in shame coming home to our grimy apartment. I’ve even had friends tell me that they wouldn’t date me because I didn’t own a home. Never mind that I was nicely in the black and employed in six figures … which is becoming a more difficult position to remain in. I took money out of my RSPs to pay my taxes while keeping us afloat during a critical illness, still giving generously of my time, my love and my money. I have to pick my battles and decided … no thanks.
Thank God I had a good therapist who advised me ten years ago that “It’s only money.” Because … that’s all it is. It doesn’t love you or worry about you or read books on how to best parent your child. You may think it can buy you happiness, but it can’t. Security? Maybe. But what if that is an illusion?
We are forced to buy into this “dream” which is really a nightmare. Keep up with the Joneses. Drive yourself deeper into debt. Spend. Want. Save. Divide. For what?
I’m on a roll getting rid of anything weighing me down. While I will never be selfish with my money, love or my time, I will be smart. And fearless. And paperless.
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