One of the things I am most appallingly tardy about is filing expense claims. I’m really bad about this. Not just in terms of the amount of time it takes me to get to it, but in the actual amounts that need to be claimed. People who are smart about this take less time to file their largest expenses… it is usually the opposite with me. I know people who are essentially doing their expenses as the trip they are on proceeds, and by time they’ve landed back at their home city they are putting the completed forms and bundled receipts into the mail (internal or external) with one hand while still holding their luggage in the other. I on the other hand, find myself forgetting to do it again and again, losing track of what I actually spent and can claim back, and so on and so forth as the trip fades from memory. Yes, I have forgotten to claim for entire trips, in the past, remembering years later that I was supposed to (happily that has not happened too many times). I’m not sure why this is, but it is partly as a result of the immediate re-immersion back into local life after the trip. The trip is done and now I’m back to the everyday routine. Figuring out the expenses becomes a sort of distraction from moving forward. Or it just keeps slipping my mind.
It’s pretty stupid of me, and I acknowledge it every time, but I still end up doing it. Sometimes at great cost. Right now, I have four big trips I have not claimed my expenses for yet, including some of my Summer 2008 travel! Reflecting on the cost of the flights and accommodation alone, I think I’m owed at least $6000. Yes. I’m stupid. It is not like my cash flow likes such a big hole in the balance sheet. Why do I do this? It is not like it is painful, really. I’m actually pretty good at keeping receipts – because of one of my other handy flaws: I can’t throw stuff away – and so I know that (with a bit of desktop archeology) I can find all the bits of paper I need to do the task. I think it is just… well, I don’t know really.
As with other ground-in habits, I need to identify a way of fixing this flaw, as it is expensive. It needs to be a way that fits naturally with the other routine things, and not some wrenching change that is unsustainable. I began simply already a few years back by at least trying to make sure that I put lots of fiddly bits and pieces of paper into a single envelope when on longer trips (some of which I find in the study years later, stuffed with little fragments of memories, including a little of the smell, from somewhere on the planet). But to get the filing itself done, I think I am going to have to do something like schedule on the calendar a period shortly after the trip with the sole purpose of sitting and doing the expenses for the trip. Actually schedule it. Put it in my calendars on the computers at home, work, and my phone. With reminder beeps. (I should do this with things like fully unpacking the bags too. That can sometimes take weeks.)
Really got to stop procrastinating when it comes to expenses. I could start with… not blogging about it any more.