Preserving Thermal Receipts

I am not a fan of thermal receipts, but they’ve taken over the word and now we have to deal withe them. Not even addressing all of the health an environmental problems with thermal receipts, my biggest issue is that they fade. Even if you are careful to put your important receipts into a folder or file, I’m sure you’ve had at least one time you needed a receipt for taxes or a warranty claim and when you went to dig it out you found a collection of unreadable pieces of paper. I have two suggestions for addressing this first world problem:

  1. If you have a camera enabled phone, take a picture of the receipt as soon as it is in your hand, and file it in a folder called Receipts. A digital copy will last forever, if you maintain decent backups.
  2. Before you file the physical receipt away, ‘laminate’ it with packing tape. I recommend 3M Heavy Duty Shipping Tape for its strength and durability. You still need to store your preserved receipt someplace cool and dark, but this will slow down the eventual oxidation of your receipt. DO NOT use a heat laminating machine, as that will turn your receipt black.

Our Gratitude for Sandy Spring

Our successful adventure owning a home in the San Francisco Bay Area began and ended with the help of Sandy Spring. Her expertise, patience, and relationships with competent vendors saved us from the downward spiral of despair we found ourselves in when we tried to navigate it all on our own.

We had spent several months researching neighborhoods and schools, visiting showings, and trying to find a house we loved and could still afford. We’d even put in one offer, with the help of a friend who was a ‘part time’ realtor, and that had gone poorly enough to sink our spirits and make us rethink whether renting wasn’t that bad after all.

A chance introduction at some friends’ housewarming party changed all that. Sandy had been their realtor, and they had nothing but praise. She listened to our tale of woe, and offered some very helpful advice. It was immediately evident that we needed Sandy as our full-time realtor.

Right away she helped us curate a list of viable houses and we were off and running again. And then the impossible happened… There had been a house that we loved, and could have afforded, but someone beat us to the offer. That offer fell through, and Sandy helped us craft an offer and ninja it to the sellers before they had a chance to schedule more showings. They accepted our offer, which was just the beginning. Sandy helped us arrange all the inspections, and personally attended to explain all the nuances. After all the inspections and a little more negotiating, we bought that house. We could have never done that on our own.

Seven years later we decided to take a leap and head off on a new adventure. We immediately called Sandy. She helped us build a list of tasks we needed to accomplish, and helped us prioritize them. This was no easy task because we were living in the house, sorting belongings between keep and sell, packing for an overseas move, and trying to sell our house all at the same time. I honestly think we’d still be spinning in circles in a cluttered house were it not for Sandy dropping by every couple of days and infusing us with her calm and helping us keep focused. Sandy helped us self-stage our house, and even loaned us furniture to make sure every room was suitably accentuated. Throughout the entire process she made us feel like we were her only client, such was her attention and focus on our success.

We accepted an offer on hour house the day we were scheduled to leave the country. Sandy rushed the offer over to us, thoroughly vetted it with us, and we had it signed two hours before we left for the airport. At this point, Sandy didn’t just go the extra mile, she ran a marathon on our behalf. She represented us during all of the seller’s tasks while we were in a different hemisphere. She attended the inspections, arranged to have all the staging removed, delivered our last boxes of donations and hand-offs to friends, and kept our landscaping watered.

With her very hands-on help we didn’t just sell our house, we started a new adventure. We owe our successful, and very profitable, adventure in Oakland home ownership to Sandy Spring. You couldn’t have a better realtor or friend.

Dum vivimus, vivamus!

Life is meant to be lived. We all get into ruts at times, focused on the day to day, and forgetting that this is a once in a lifetime adventure. When that happens, you sometimes just have to do something crazy to break the cycle. Maybe it’s take a sudden vacation. Maybe it’s packing up and moving half way around the world. Maybe it’s splurging on something you’ve always wanted but couldn’t logically justify. Maybe it’s a combination. ?

Earlier this year I was in a bit of a rut. We had things we wanted to accomplish, but we were caught up in the day to day and didn’t feel like we were making progress on our goals. I needed to do something, even if it was symbolic in a way. I needed to take control of something, that didn’t necessarily have to be important, but the longer I’d been waffling on it the better.

I opened up my web browser and went to a page I’ve had bookmarked for years.  It was something I’d talked myself into and out-of buying over and over again.  “Next bonus, I’m going to do it!” “I don’t need it, it can wait.”  over and over…  This time I placed an order. Looking at it rationally, logically, it was a very silly purchase. It wasn’t mid-life crisis sports car silly, but it was something I certainly didn’t need. Getting out of a rut means responding to more than just needs, and this was the perfect chunk of pipeline clogging indecision to clear out of the back of my brain.

I kid you not, things got crazy after that. Two weeks later I had a job offer in New Zealand and we were putting the house on the market. We made a lot of rapid fire decisions that were all about our desires, to Hell with our short term needs. It was like floodgates of change had opened up.

Was it the purchase? Of course not! It was the change in my attitude. It was getting out of the frame of mind of making decisions focused on the day to day grind. It was unblocking myself from making scary decisions.  The purchase was just the catalyst, and the bonus prize I received when we’d completed a rather major life shift. For even though I made the purchase months ago, it had to be hand made and only caught up with me yesterday. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, in that we are pretty well settled into the new house, in the new country, even if we have a garage full of cardboard boxes to get rid of. ?

So, what the hell did I buy? In a way it doesn’t matter, but I’d be a cruel bastard if you had read this far and I never said. I bought Lady Vivamus, my mental picture of the perfect sword, as described by Robert Heinlein in Glory Road. It’s a symbol of childhood dreams realized, much like moving to New Zealand.

It’s a reminder that “While we live, let us live!