Help! I’m Drowning in Minutiae

Guest post by Laverne H. Bardy whose humorous, often irreverent, slant on life in general, and aging in particular, draws a large readership. She has been syndicated with Senior Wire News Service since 2004.  Her book, How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old? was released in January, 2012, and is a compilation of the best of her columns. 

Every day I remove a ton of mail from my mailbox, lug it into the house and plop it onto my kitchen counter. I’m counting the days until the weight causes my kitchen to fall through to my basement.

Three pounds are bills, newspapers. Eight pounds are unsolicited address labels, brochures, advertisements, catalogues, coupons, flyers, credit card offers, donation requests, calendars, beautiful cards created by disabled people who paint with their feet, and invitations to seminars promising to lower my mortgage, and my weight, and improve my eyesight, hearing, blood pressure, credit rating, cellulite and erectile dysfunction.

I used to open everything, like those windowed envelopes covering pale green enclosures that look like checks. Once, even though I knew it was a gimmick, I felt compelled to open it, only to find it actually was a check. For $25. Good toward the purchase of a $40,000 car.

I have too much mail!

I was so gullible I regularly signed on to win $1,000,000 from Ed McMahon. Somebody had to win. Why not me? I finally got smart.

Every year I donate money to charities. What infuriates me is when, shortly after I’ve mailed my check, I receive another request from that organization with a note saying, “Since you’ve been so generous in the past we thought you’d enjoy giving again.” What past? Enough time hasn’t elapsed to have a past; I mailed my donation thirty days ago. All their audacity does is assure that my next donation will go elsewhere.

Another must-miss offer was from a bank asking me to open a $1,000 one year CD that would pay me a whooping 1 % interest. Like I’m really going to tie up my money for a year, for a $10 profit.

Simplify, simplify, simplify

Mostly I’m going crazy with coupons, rewards and discount cards. The weight of cards in my wallet and the tiny plastic ones hanging from my key chain, have my arthritis rebelling. I’m considering hiring someone to carry my purse for me.

I approach cashiers the way one might deal with a lunging vampire – with crossed forefingers and a clove of garlic. I know by the glint in their eye that they are preparing to offer me yet another rewards card and the promise of huge savings. My instinct is to flee, or to scream, “My wallet already bulges with so many cards, I can’t close it.” But, their well rehearsed spiel usually reels me in and I leave the store feeling diminished, because of my inability to resist their offer.

Do I need more stuff to put in here?

I have a $14.99 refund card for a return I made at Marshall’s. The amount is not printed on it so I wrapped the receipt around it with a rubber band. I have a similar card from Fortunoff’s, and another from Macy’s – all for returned items. Perkins punches a $5 hole in my card each time I eat there. Hallmark punches butterfly shaped holes when I buy greeting cards. I’ve got a Shop Rite discount card plus their coupon for $1.00 toward my next $100 food order. I have a Costco coupon I tried to redeem for an advertized cell phone holder, but discovered it couldn’t be redeemed for another two months. What are the odds I’ll remember that? Staples mails me coupons each time I spend a certain amount. Bed Bath & Beyond offers great savings monthly, with foot long cardboard coupons. I’ve accumulated eleven of them, which adds three pounds to the weight of my purse. Charlie Brown’s credits me with points every time I eat there. If I spend enough money over the year I get a $10 coupon toward a birthday meal, if I bring along someone who will pay full price for their meal.

Everywhere I shop cashiers ask if I have one of their cards. Then I hold up lines of people, breaking nails and a sweat, as I dump everything out of my purse in a frenzied search for the right card to present to them.

Why do I engage in this insanity? Is it worth the few cents I save? I don’t think so.

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Recently, a cashier at CVS offered me one of their little plastic cards for my key chain. I guess she caught me at a bad time because the next thing I knew I was banned from their store after I became unhinged, jumped onto the counter and tried to choke her.

Wait…..I just noticed I have only one remaining un-punched hole on my shoemaker rewards card. I’ve been carrying this card around for nine years. If I can find a pair of shoes that need resoling I’ll get a free pair of shoe laces. Yippee!

Other posts by this author:

Open at Your Own Risk

Up, Up and Away – Or Not

An Apple a Day Doesn’t Work

Vacationing with a Stranger

About Retire Early Lifestyle

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired two decades ago at the age of 38 and began traveling the world. As recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel, they have been interviewed about retirement issues by The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, The Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter, nationally syndicated radio talk shows and countless newspapers and TV shows nationally and worldwide. They wrote the popular books The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.
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