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My 2003 Receipts
February 13, 2014 6:16 PM   Subscribe

Brian Finkelstein got all of his receipts from 2003 following a credit card dispute. He is reposting them every day with commentary about what he was doing at the time.
posted by reenum (38 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
My mom has a receipt for everything she has ever bought me. Everything, ever (i'm 37, and christmas gifts were probably the latest addition). Health insurance payment receipts, yup, pants from the second grade, yup. I suppose it might make an interesting project for me one day if it weren't such a shitty overall memory growing up when your mom would in fact pull out receipts to show just how much she is spending on you, and no she can't afford the next thing.

She was an accountant, and really lively at parties.
posted by efalk at 6:27 PM on February 13, 2014 [16 favorites]


"I bought DVDs of This is Spinal Tap (special edition!), Planet of the Apes, Heathers (THX version!), and Fight Club. Solid! Though, in retrospect, $20.24 for Spinal Tap seems pretty expensive."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:30 PM on February 13, 2014


I'd like to do a similar project, but in 2003 drug dealers were still hesitant to give out paper receipts. I can only imagine that policy has changed in the decade since - what better way for ensured customer satisfaction than to have a paper trail back to your point of purchase?
posted by item at 6:40 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is a pretty neat project. I was reading a paper the other day that discusses consumer spending and suggests that recycling memories and simply noticing things you've purchased is an effective alternative to buying more stuff. Here's the paper if anyone's interested, apologies if I've boiled the thesis down too much.

I love how he comments on his tastes in the past: "the old me had better taste than the new me."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:40 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think sorabji.com has been doing this kind of thing (albeit more enigmatically) for about 20 years.
posted by Dimpy at 6:40 PM on February 13, 2014


I hate (kind of) to be snarky about this, but who cares? Is he someone I should know about? On the other hand, would it make a difference if he was? I had receipts for everything I bought for the last ten or so years too, but I just burnt them a couple months ago (shredding is a pain) and they were just as mundane.
posted by Curious Artificer at 7:04 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


This takes me back. City of God. Chicago.

I used to cram my receipts into business-size envelopes, only to throw them away when it came time to move house. Until recently I would keep a stack of grocery receipts on the unabashed mess that is my kitchen table, but I have managed to kick the habit.
posted by Standard Orange at 7:10 PM on February 13, 2014


This is exactly the sort of thing that I am talking about when I say in response to any given NSA outrage or Snowden revelation that privacy died long ago , during the Cold War. That the people have either implicitly or explicitly allowed and even asked for all of their lifes data be a matter of public record. In a recent article for an alt weekly rag here in town that was reporting on the use of identification card scanners at popular clubs and bars that collect the data including photograph of everyone who enters, the resulting data can be accessed by law enforcement without a warrant. Getting a quote on the matter from a younger demographic, one replied "Millenials do not have an illusion of privacy that past generations have had. We were raised with the presumption that all we do can be tracked and used by the government if they need."

It does not make it any less upsetting, the passivity or even nihilistic defeatism of younger people who operate under the natural assumption that they are being watched. But I admire the honesty of those whose entire lifes story can be generated by a social networking algorithm when they do not complain, since 99 percent of that data was willfully disclosed to anyone and everyone with an internet connection.
posted by mediocre at 7:19 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I hate (kind of) to be snarky about this, but who cares? I had receipts for everything I bought for the last ten or so years too, but I just burnt them a couple months ago (shredding is a pain) and they were just as mundane.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:04 PM on February 13


It is difficult when one fails to live up to one's name.
posted by srboisvert at 7:22 PM on February 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


That CVS receipt wasn't 200 ft long.
posted by birdherder at 7:34 PM on February 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


This site was big fun back in '97 or so.
posted by mintcake! at 7:41 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


After 65 years I've determined that anything I put in an envelope to safe "for future reference" should have been discarded when I received it.
posted by HuronBob at 8:08 PM on February 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


Whole Foods was pretty fancy/expensive food for me in 2003. I suspect the trip to Whole Foods wasn’t my idea.

Is Whole Foods not considered fancy/expensive in Cambridge in 2014? Genuinely curious.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:25 PM on February 13, 2014


Oh holy hell, I got into a dispute with Fleet in 2003 too. They suck. I have scans of pages and pages of receipts and nobody except my attorney is ever going to see them.

But I love little time capsules like this. We all must have piles of crap that are mundane junk, but somehow got preserved as little time capsules. I found one baggie of assorted junk left over from when I moved out of my artist's loft in downtown LA. I photographed it all, bank receipts and all, and put it on my blog. The whole point of documenting it and blogging it, was so that I could record it for some irrational reason, then throw it all in the trash. Somehow I couldn't throw it out, it's all back in the bag.

I know I have another two or three bags like this in boxes somewhere, and I will photograph them too someday. Even now, I have a few bags of this assorted junk being created in junk drawers right beside me.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:30 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is Whole Foods not considered fancy/expensive in Cambridge in 2014? Genuinely curious.

It's still both everywhere, no doubt, but certainly there were times when I couldn't afford it at all and times when I really shouldn't have afforded it but indulged once in a while, and times where I actually could afford it. It's like a little rite of passage in its own weird way.
posted by padraigin at 8:32 PM on February 13, 2014


This is weird behavior to me as a twenty four year old American by the way. When I buy something from a store, I hold on to the receipt for no other reason than to prove that I have already purchased the things that I am carrying. Most of the things I'd return either don't need a physical receipt (like an axe or a screwdriver), or have been purchased online (like a book or a computer part).

Why do people hold on to their receipts?
posted by oceanjesse at 8:36 PM on February 13, 2014


Why do people hold on to their receipts?

Why do they give you receipts? You're supposed to keep them for your records. They may be useful if you get in a dispute with your credit card company.

I generally don't keep receipts anymore, unless it's required for warranty or something. I take pics of them with my iPhone.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:39 PM on February 13, 2014


"assorted junk being created in junk drawers..."

You have those drawers, too? I can't seem to stop mine; they just keep on producing. Only yesterday I noticed a packing slip poking out of one of them.
posted by Anitanola at 9:00 PM on February 13, 2014


I hate (kind of) to be snarky about this, but who cares?

This led me to remember that the now-threadbare sweatshirt I'm wearing as I type this was bought at Brine’s Sporting Goods in September 1992, just after I moved to Boston. I pulled it up on Street View, and that triggered a long-dormant memory of coming out of the store into a chilly fall dusk in Cambridge, pulling on the sweatshirt, and heading to the Brattle Theatre for a movie.

That was back before Boston broke my heart repeatedly, and it made me a little wistful. More than I was expecting from some stranger's receipts, really.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:24 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hah, I just shredded all my checks from 10 years ago. It was mildly curious when I found them, but ultimately way too morbidly nostalgic.
posted by rhizome at 9:26 PM on February 13, 2014


You have those drawers, too? I can't seem to stop mine; they just keep on producing.

They never stop, and they never stop following you around. I have one junk drawer in an end table that has been unopened for 20+ years, I can't bear to open it, I know it contains one tragic memento of a lost love. I have no idea what else is in there.

I should probably link to the most interesting junk boxes I know of: Andy Warhol's Time Capsules. There are 621 of them.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:28 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh hey, I knew there was a project this reminded me of, I finally remembered it. During 1976, Chris Burden did an artwork called "Full Financial Disclosure." He made every financial transaction by check, and then framed and mounted all the canceled checks. He wrote the purchase on every check. There were a lot of $50 checks labeled Drugs. You could buy a lot of drugs for $50 back in 1976.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:34 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Why do people hold on to their receipts?

For expensive shit it's because you need it for warranty purposes here.
posted by smoke at 10:51 PM on February 13, 2014


Why do people hold on to their receipts?

I hold on to the ones that I'm going to use to claim things on my taxes. Those are receipts for things like textbooks, moving expenses, etc. It's easiest just to chuck them into a file until tax season rolls around, and then once I get my refund I trash them. Supposedly, you should hold onto your receipts for years and years in case of an audit but considering how banal and small my deductions/credits are and how often I move, I don't figure it's worth it.

Also, if I'm spending a lot of money on one sort of thing for a while (like, I'm really into buying plants for a few months or something), I'll have a place on my desk where I put the receipts for those purchases when I get home from the store. The point is for the huge, messy pile on my desk to give me a panic attack every time I see it, which is supposed to keep me from blowing yet more money on whatever the non-necessity it is that I happen to be blowing a lot of money on at the time. It sort of works, though online shopping is just a bit too paperless for my taste.

My mom has a receipt for everything she has ever bought me. Everything, ever (i'm 37, and christmas gifts were probably the latest addition). Health insurance payment receipts, yup, pants from the second grade, yup. I suppose it might make an interesting project for me one day if it weren't such a shitty overall memory growing up when your mom would in fact pull out receipts to show just how much she is spending on you, and no she can't afford the next thing.

First of all, you must have been a very sweet kid, considering you obviously listened to your mother about not playing with matches (and didn't make those receipts disappear in a snap).

Second of all, wow, that's awful.

Third of all, did she account for depreciation?
posted by rue72 at 1:14 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I love looking at my old Amazon purchases (via my account online); I just went and checked, and was gobsmacked to realize my first order was placed in April 1997 - back when they sent travel mugs and magnets as thank-you gifts with every order. And Handsprings! A colleague of mine had one, and it bowled me over, especially that it could "sync" with my computer, and that I could wave it at someone else's and transfer data. It was the cool PDA underdog to the more ubiquitous Palm Pilot (like Firefox vs. IE, or iPhones vs. Blackberries of yore).

Ah, I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 1:27 AM on February 14, 2014


My mom has a receipt for everything she has ever bought me.

You should sit down with your mother and turn all of that into a family history. Scan it all, figure it all out, explain it all to a non-accountant. Add old photos, interviews, etc.

"When you were five, you were crazy about [something] and you just had to get the [whatevers] you saw on the television. They were quite expensive at the time, but I had put aside a little for Christmas, so I went out to the old [name of store] on [street] and got two of them to put in your Christmas stocking." etc.
posted by pracowity at 1:40 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Most of the things I'd return either don't need a physical receipt (like an axe or a screwdriver),

Curious: why wouldn't you need a receipt to return those things?
The reciepts I keep are for items that I am more likely to need to return (often, coincidentally, tools and DIY stuff if I discover I bought the wrong thing), or something expensive enough that I would definitely need to take it back to the shop if it was broken/not working (e.g. electronics). For day to day shopping I throw them away when I get home.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:54 AM on February 14, 2014


I keep the receipts for everything but meals for at least a couple weeks, if for no other reason that I might need to return or exchange something. I'm still paranoid enough to hold onto ticket stubs in case I need an alibi for something I'm accused of, as useful/less as that may be.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:09 AM on February 14, 2014


My mom has a receipt for everything she has ever bought me.

Just a caution, I had a friend who had to take a week off work after his mothers passing to sort out what in the 50 years of accumulated paper was important, and what was not.
posted by Xurando at 4:10 AM on February 14, 2014


I lived right in this guy's neighborhood in 2003; I know that I saw The 25th Hour at the Kendall Cinema right around the time he did. But why are there so few receipts for groceries? I wonder if his roommates did most of the grocery shopping.

I love looking at my old Amazon purchases

Huh, my first Amazon purchase was, apparently, Star Wars Episode I Racer for N64. $9.99 + shipping in November of 2000.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:00 AM on February 14, 2014




mintcake! This site was big fun back in '97 or so.

I had my fingers crossed that somebody would bring this up -- that's me, I'm the Derek of Derek's Big Website of Wal-Mart Receipts! It's nice to be remembered in what is, apparently, an unforeseen glut of people posting their receipts online.

BTW, it was only regularly updated from around 1999 to 2003, I just had receipts going back to 1996
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:51 AM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Curious: why wouldn't you need a receipt to return those things?

At most of the big box stores you can return stuff without a receipt. You just give them the card you bought it with and they can find the purchase record that way.
posted by yoink at 8:34 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Why do people hold on to their receipts?

I just bought some LED bulbs at Home Depot. To take advantage of the ten year warranty should a bulb fail, I will need to send in the original receipt. What will actually happen: the bulb will fail and I will just pitch it in the recycle bin and get another one.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:49 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just got some LED bulbs a few weeks ago and one has failed already despite the promise to last for years. It's worth keeping receipts for a while.
posted by pracowity at 10:47 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


(Speaking of LED bulbs, I actually had to return one of them since there was a piece of paper skittering around -inside- of the bulb (only visible when the bulb was on and viewed from below). So, yeah, keep your receipts when you buy these things, people.)
posted by longdaysjourney at 1:02 PM on February 14, 2014


I had my fingers crossed that somebody would bring this up -- that's me

HOLY COW that's cool. If you were keeping track in summer-fall of '97 and noticed a spike in northern NJ that was my weirdo friends and me checking in pretty obsessively.
posted by mintcake! at 8:58 AM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Why do people hold on to their receipts?

From hard-won experience, I tell ya now that you need them for filing an insurance claim when your stuff gets stolen. If you have no receipts, you get bupkis. If you have receipts, you get at least twice as much bupkis.
posted by whatzit at 9:49 AM on February 15, 2014


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