In college, soon after I got my first bank account and a credit card with a $300 credit limit, I started keeping every receipt for every purchase I ever made. At the end of every calendar year, I would box up an annual pile of receipts. This continued until a few years ago when my husband decided he could no longer tolerate me forcing us as a family to save every receipt filed away into individual envelopes for necessities, frivolities, groceries, gifts, etc. He was right, outside of certain big ticket items and shoes from Nordstrom, there really was not any reason to “hoard” receipts (his words, not mine).
It’s been a tough habit to break. Now, when I empty out my wallet after a few days I scan the receipt for what I purchased and then cringe as a toss it. Every. Single. Time. Not sure if it’s just me still trying to break the habit or some weird paranoia that I will truly someday miss having proof of purchase for that t-shirt from target or that gallon of milk.
In any case, during some spring cleaning yesterday I came across all of my receipts from those college years. It was a fascinating lens into my past habits and routines. He’s what I remembered/learned about myself all these years later.
- I bought a lot of feminine hygiene products. A lot.
- I spent a lot of money on photocopies and laser printing.
- I ate out. Often. And, surprisingly I can remember who I ate with for each of those meals away from our usual two or three go-to restaurants. Making the effort to go somewhere more expensive or (gasp) leave the general vicinity of campus = a special occasion and I found myself imagining everyone who I thought was special to me all those years ago.
- I didn’t, however, indulge in snacks at convenience stores or similar. This is notable only because I am married to someone who definitely did.
- I always love to shop, it seems.
- I never paid more than $19.99 for any of my shoes or clothes back then. Typically, my stuff came in well under ten bucks.
- I owe a special thank you to the Wexner family of Columbus, OH. Were it not for their Limited/Express stores back in the day I might have had to go through college naked.
- I even once purchased something at an Abercrombie & Fitch store. This must have been before I developed migraines in response to strong perfumes or colognes. I won’t allow my daughter to shop there (at least when I am with her) because it’s some sort of moral stand I decided to take for reasons related to the forced inhalation of strong smells as I walk by their stores in the modern American mall. I have always denied ever shopping there; evidently, I am a big liar.
- I never bought anything that would be considered athletic. Nope. Not a thing in which one could workout. This is regrettable, not only for the fact that it is evidence of my complete lack of physical self-care back then but also because it likely led to the backlash known as my current Athleta problem.
- I got just a bit nostalgic that Caldor, Lechmere, and Filene’s no longer exist.
- I evidently was also the kiss of death for any bank I decided to do my saving with. None of the three banks I used during those years exist today.
- I used to listen to a lot more music than I do now. Today I could stream constantly if I wanted to but honesty I don’t ever listen to music outside of my car or on workouts. Back then between mail order and the local Tower Records, I bought a lot of CDs.
- I enjoyed live music far more often than the concert every couple of years I enjoy today. But, there was no genre in particular that called my name as was evident from my ticket stubs for House of Pain, Duran Duran, James Taylor, and They Might Be Giants. And, as with those special dinners, I remember exactly who I saw each of those shows with.
- If there wasn’t live music to be enjoyed, I went to the movies. I saw some great films and some mediocre ones. I often sought out art house cinemas for limit release films. I didn’t just seek out the big screen for films whose effects would warrant the time, effort, and cost of going to the movies [read: the only movies I have seen in the theatre in the last 3 years are the 2 Star Wars movies.] I simply enjoyed going to the movies back then unfettered by the logistics of sitters and evening little league games or by the gravitational pull of my pajamas at 7:30pm.
- Occasionally, I went to a play but I was not so much a theater person. Rather I was an ardent supporter of my friends who ran the set, played in the pit, or were making their acting debut on their way to become ophthalmologists, lawyers, and Drosophila experts.
- I clearly went out a lot. But when I was in, I spent a lot of time on the phone at substantial cost. If I had invested the money I spent on hours of late night calls with my best friend from home, she and I would be enjoying some really tricked out girls’ weekends now. Calling friends came at a premium back then. Now, we have unlimited minutes to talk yet we rarely do; and, if we do it’s for minutes, not hours.
- I was proud of the fact that I worked to finance all of these “frivolities” that lightened my college years. I made $65/week at my work study and always deposited $40, spending about $25 on the typical weekend (Thursday night through Sunday brunch back in those days — never paying for a brunch until years later because, well, dining waffled were just that good) and putting away the rest for my phone bill and summer adventures.
- I didn’t really have any real adventures, though. I visited my sister and my best friend in New York a lot. I had a great trip to visit my roommate on the west coast our first summer after college. And, yes I saved every boarding pass and bus ticket. Greyhound and Peter Pan still exist but wow my TWA ticket for the *non-smoking* section was a real blast from the past. As was that boarding pass for my first every Southwest flight in 1993 — an experience that kept me from using this airline for the ensuing nearly a quarter of a century until driven by desperation about 2 years ago.
- I wonder what has happened to the carbon paper industry. I miss the satisfying mechanical sound of the credit card impression maker thingy. The screeching feedback that it’s time to remove my chip is not the same.
- I also miss my original signature with first, middle, and last name fully legible.