Catherine Gracey

Living Life, One Misadventure At A Time.

The Paperwork Shambles (Probably Part 1)

on January 25, 2012

I’m in Melbourne for a few days, staring at the list of things to do, and vaguely wishing I hadn’t given up alcohol. The past year and a half has not been the most organised of my life. When I first became sick I was working full time and studying, so a lot of things had been put on the back burners with an I’ll-get-to-it-later timeline. Add in a debilitating illness that I am still recovering from, and a lot of important things simply haven’t happened.

I just activated my new Visa card. They apparently sent it to me in November 2010. This isn’t as bad as it sounds, since my old card was still working, but not fabulous since this was the second bank card I have activated in the past week (the other one was from May 2011). This evening I realised I have more than twenty letters from various companies that I have not opened. Somewhere in my paperwork shambles I even came off the electoral roll, and I really need to get myself back onto that.

Ugh. I want to go back to Canberra.

The sheer amount of little things that I have to deal with is impressive. The calm, rational side of my brain is happy to deal with this, breezily shrugging and acknowledging that everything can be dealt with one way or another. The stressed out, overwhelmed side of my brain is wondering if I should just borrow the shredder I bought for Mum and quietly feed my problems into it.

In some ways, this mess is a blessing in disguise. I am at a wonderful point in my recovery where I am able to do complex things in short bursts, and most of the chores I have waiting for me in Melbourne fit that category perfectly. I need to reconstruct my own timelines, figure out where I am, decide where I need to be, and go from there.

One of my one percent realisations was that my structure determines my outcome. This realisation has had the impact of a hundred percent change, but is in itself a very small shift in my mental attitude. Once I have a solid framework to build off, everything from that point moves towards the goal. If I take a few extra hours at the start to plan what I want and need, I can save myself weeks or months in repairing work later.

My paperwork is reminding me of many structures that I can build, all of which will give me a greater chance for success. Each little shift in these structures will have long lasting implications for my prosperity and happiness, which can only be a good thing. They are one time shifts, so they will sustain themselves. I can review them as often or as infrequently as I like once they are established.

First on the list is my banking. I have activated all of my cards, so my accounts are once again fully functional. Over the last week I have reviewed the interest rates for accounts I have and accounts I could set up. I am moving my money for better returns, which is essentially giving myself a lovely little pay rise. I am consolidating accounts, which should save me the ridiculous fees that Australian banks feel entitled to charge. Fewer accounts means fewer statements, and fewer statements means I won’t have so many unopened letters sitting on my desk in the future. My time investment here will be approximately one day, spread over a few weeks. In financial terms, it is a gain of over $400 per year with the increased interest and the reduced fees. In future effort, I will probably reclaim the spent time within a year with less monitoring to do.

There are some accounts out there with a higher short term interest rate than the one I have chosen to go with. The catch on these accounts is that after four months my interest rate will drop considerably. It is the banks’ way of luring me in on the gamble that I won’t remember to move my money at the end of the term. They are right, I won’t, and so I have chosen to ignore their game and go for one that offers a middle rate of return. I don’t need to set myself reminders. I don’t need to lose a few days of interest payments with each account shift. I can calmly plan for a new budget and move on with my life.

Once I have everything set up, I plan to automate my money transfers and bill payments. I don’t want the hassle of having to remember to pay a certain bill by a certain time. For an investment of five minutes per account, I can save myself the late fees I sometimes get stung with since I became sick.

I feel positive about the opportunities in my situation. There are still so many things to be done, but I can get to them one item at a time. I just need to focus on sub sections of the list and not stress out. Hopefully the government won’t call an election before I get there.


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