The Story of My Short-Lived Freedom From Paperwork.
Paper Work, I Hate It!

by James Glaser
January 18, 2011
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Yes, I hate paperwork. I hate getting envelopes in the mail that have those little windows in them. That means it is a bill, and while I don't mind paying my bills, I hate the fact that I have to keep a record of that payment for years to come.

I also hate all the paperwork that I save, not for recordkeeping purposes, but because I have some sort of personal attachment to them. My Marine Corps orders to Vietnam, My son's grade school report cards, all the receipts for oil changes for the truck, an instruction pamphlet on how to run my stereo—which I am not sure is the one I currently use.

I have boxes and boxes of paper work, and there is very little chance I will ever need it. But when I go to throw some of it out, I still have to go through the box again just to make sure I am not throwing out something important. I met a guy who owns a storage facility who told me that paper work storage by companies and corporations are a big part of his business.

But, back to my story about my short-lived freedom from paperwork. Actually, it happened after I moved down to Florida several years ago. My home in Northern Minnesota sold, and all the purchasing paperwork was done by FAX machine. It was winter, and I didn't want to go back up North during my first winter in the South. However, the conditions of the sale stipulated that when I received my money, I would have 30 days to get my stuff out of there. I really didn't want to go back, so I got a couple of friends to move everything I had from the house to a storage facility, telling them to take whatever they wanted. I had my tools and the basic things I really wanted with me already.

That next summer I went back and started giving everything away that I couldn't get into my pickup truck. Then I realized that I couldn't find my file cabinets, or any of my paperwork boxes. Thinking that my friends had probably stored them at their house for safe keeping, I asked them where all the paperwork was. I should have braced myself for they told me they went through everything and took out all the photos and burned all the paper work.

I was in a little bit of a panic for a week or so wondering what I had lost, and really I couldn't remember anything of value. There might have been something, but I couldn't remember what it could be.

Yes, there was a short time of worrying about what if this or that happened, but nothing did happen. All that paper work accumulated over many years was just gone, I guess like if my house had burned to the ground. I did have car titles, bank books, land titles, I guess all the truly "important" stuff, and I had my wallet and check books. Of course that was a few years ago, and now I have a new collection of saved paperwork. Between the two of us, Wanda and I have a small storage building filled with saved paper work.

Why do we save all this paper? I guess out of fear. The IRS tells us to keep everything for seven years. You would think now that since we are in the computer age, paperwork would be a thing of the past, but that is not true. I still remember the Paper Reduction Act that was put into law by some past president, but I guess that didn't work.

Right now banks are playing "Mortgage, Mortgage, Who's Got the Mortgage?" having a hard time foreclosing on some homes because they can't find that piece of paper called a mortgage. I'm sure they know it is somewhere, but mortgages got bought and sold and passed around so much, nobody knows just where those pieces of paper are.

I spent some time this morning going through all the paperwork that covered my desk and overflowed onto the book shelf. It was hopeless. I have been trained my whole life to keep everything, and I figure I got rid of only about 1/16th of what I have. It was hardly even a dent in the pile.

One time back in the early 1970s, I needed paper proof of paying a debt. I had it, and saved myself $188 dollars, but methinks that perhaps that one little experience has caused me to obsess about keeping all my paperwork for nearly 40 years. Was it worth it? Maybe not so much.

I think what I need is another paper-burning, kind of like a clean start. I thought about this, we are honest on our taxes, and we don't have any hidden assets or large sums of money. So even if the IRS came after us, it isn't like we would owe millions or even thousands. The banks and credit card companies have some records, and I am sure for a fee they would print ours out for us, so we could get some of the records we needed without having all these boxes of paperwork piled up in our lives.

I tell you, I have reached a point in my life that I just don't really care if I have all the payment coupon receipts with the date, amount, and check number for the payments on a car I sold three years ago. I don't care if I have the receipt for the money I gave at church, we didn't even deduct it. Why do I keep receipts for the paint we used on the living room and hall last year? Somewhere here in all this, I just need to yell, "Enough already. Stop it!"

I think it all boils down to this: I have learned over the years that... I hate paperwork! Now, where are those matches.

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