One of the steps I take every New Year's day is to pack away the previous year's receipts. Usually it is a mundane process that takes just a few minutes. But, this time I decided to look at them a little more closely as each month went into the box. Suddenly, I had my own year in review through bills and receipts.
Cable cancellation: Last March we cut the cord of our cable company and went to an off-the-air antenna, Netflix, and DVDs for our entertainment. I found the receipt for the turn-in of the cable box, remote, and assorted cords. This was the first time we have been without cable for 35 years of marriage. It was a big step and one that changed our nighttime schedule.
Receipt for Cabin rental in Greer. As recounted in the end of the road post our family had reserved a cabin the northeast Arizona hamlet of Greer for the first weekend in June.The idea was a good one: escape the desert heat for a few days of 70 degree weather in the mountains. After a 5 hour drive we settled into the cabin only to see a a huge plume of smoke on the distant horizon. A massive wildfire was burning, out of control, heading right toward Greer and my family. Shortly after 1 AM we were awakened and told to get out of town. Packing everything in 30 minutes, we beat a hasty retreat and drove 5 hours home, arriving at 6 AM.
For the next few days we followed news reports as the huge Wallow fire ended up burning hundreds of thousands of acres, destroying dozens of homes in Greer and eventually burning its way into New Mexico before dying out. What started out as a quiet getaway became a story to add to our family's history.
Condo receipt for Hawaii. After a 10 year break, Betty and I made it back to Maui. The receipt for the condo in Kihei brought the 18 day dream trip back again. In fact, the first thing I did was go to the digital files to look at all the the pictures again. Just last week we made our vacation plans for this year. I mentioned the idea of going back, but Betty strongly suggested we do something different. Reluctantly I agreed.
Income slips for guide work. For almost 5 years I had an interesting part time, seasonal job: tour guide for business people visiting Phoenix/Scottsdale for conventiuons and seminars. I was paid to show people some of the sights, take groups on horseback rides, hikes through the dessert, cookouts, or kayak floats down the Salt River. I spent many hours exchanging stories with bus drivers and fellow guides. The job paid quite well and added a few thousand dollars to my pocket each year.
Through a combination of events I stopped the job last June. Though I will miss the people and money, I have found more satisfaction in other uses of my time: this blog, prison ministry, and more picnics, reading, and spending my nights with my wife. It is quite liberating to not have to make time for the job, but I will miss the money!
The repairs bills for our older car. Last year was not a particularly good year for our 8 year old car. I saw almost $600 in over-budget repairs, Betty and I wondered if it was time to cut back to one car, or buy a new one. The final decision was to do neither, but to keep the clunker running for another year or two. With only 81,000 miles it should be OK for awhile. Since depreciation instantly steals 30% from a new car, budgeting hundreds of dollars more for the 2003 Hyundai seems like a better decision.
It was an interesting experience - recreating some of the more memorable moments from last year out of a stack of receipts. I wonder if this year will have as many. We'll see.
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