Confession Booth time: I have a crushing fear of mail. Well, fear might not be the right word, maybe just laziness. It overwhelms me, all of it. Even a few pieces. Cue #firstworldproblems tag immediately. I let it pile up, I put it in bags to “open later”, I pay my bills online so I don’t have to deal with it and no cute organizing system from Target can probably make me change for any length of time. Two things about me: I don’t like calling on the phone and I don’t like mail. I adore technology for these reasons. The only exception is I adore writing thank you cards and invites. I refuse to use eVite, I know, I don’t get it either. Not sure if it’s the technology that made me this way or vice versa, but whatever, it is me.
I officially apologize to the Post Office.
What has this “fear/laziness” done to me?
- I just paid $2,000 for dental procedures that weren’t covered by my insurance because the dentist I chose was out of network. Had I opened my policy, I would have known my company switched providers & could have saved probably $1,000 or more. I found this out midway through a root canal.
- I was missing over $20k in my 401k due to a “administrative error” that I only found after I had to take out a small loan to cover my divorce. I would have known about it a YEAR earlier. I handled it and they paid me interest, but still. I cringe to think the money I lost in investments.
- I overpaid on a bill by a LOT and am now riding out a credit that I didn’t need to accumulate. (i.e. I could have used that money elsewhere more effectively.)
- I am probably not investing the way I should or could. I let “someone handle it.” This is the very opposite of me in every other aspect of my life.
- When I need something like tax returns or information for banking purposes, it takes me ages to find it and track it down. Often hunting through bags like a hoarder.
God, just writing that makes me feel incredibly embarrassed.
Lately I have been very very overwhelmed with life in general and decided to start at the “external spots” to get myself back in step. i.e. I’m kinda sick of my own internal voice trying to fix my thoughts, feelings and concerns, my relationships, etc. so I’m going for the exterior portion for awhile. It’s like a vacation from analyzing everything and still making progress!
I’m working out, I’m eating better, I overcame my fear of the dentist, I made a very strict budget for 2012 to get me on track financially, including some big financial goals (buy a house, fix my teeth) and now it’s time to get the clutter in order. I’ve been spending Wednesdays while my kid is away dwindling this down. I’m throwing out bags of baby clothes, getting my closet down to the bare essentials, I’ve started doing the No-Pants Challenge (HIGHLY recommend signing up for this e-newsletter, btw). It’s all working and I’m feeling lighter than ever. Physically and emotionally.
As for the mail…I’m tackling it too.
I’m currently going through bags of mail that I just never opened. I’d stash it in a plastic bag and hope for the best. Now I’m going through it to get things in order like my 401k, shred unwanted papers (which most of it is thank Goddess). I’ve been bringing in a bag every couple weeks and throwing it in the shredder at work after I leave.
However, a weird bonus feature is happening. I’m walking down memory lane and sweeping up the last few bits of marriage crud on the drive. I’m finding bank statements from when I first separated from my ex-husband, including tax returns, how we split the money, and his doctor bills that came through on my insurance. I just figured out I never took him off my car insurance so I’m going to call and see if it lowers my rate! (Note: It doesn’t. I lost the “marriage” discount. Oh well, best $20 I ever spent.) This feels so incredibly freeing. It’s like cleaning up scraps I didn’t know were there still. I’m literally cleaning house.
I found an old “bill box” from when we were married and it was FULL of all of his work-outs, screen-printing documents and my old budgets where I tried to piece together a life from our salaries and from when he wasn’t working so he could just “work out.” I can’t tell you how GOOD it felt to throw all of that out. I saw how hard I was trying to make our lives work with those budgets, the re-working and number crunching, our life blood. Me trying to keep us afloat while his concerns were himself. It felt incredibly good to throw it all away. I think I threw away the last bits of anger I had over it along with it.
I did give him his print-outs, but I kept the bill box and now it’s all labeled and organized with MY life.
I also found all my little lists when I first moved out: i.e. “What I want in my own place” and “What I need for my place” And I compared it to what I actually have in my place. It almost matches. I really did take care of myself for the first time in my adult life and I still am.
I never knew going through mail could be this scary and yet, comforting. This bagged way, once-a-month thing is better than any cute organizer from Target, for sure. Suddenly I’m only embarrassed about not doing this sooner.