Friday, July 8, 2011


I only have two credit cards in my billfold – any more than that and I’m just asking for trouble. A few weeks ago I decided it was time to clean it out. It’s been years since I carried it in the back pocket of my pants (promotes poor posture), but it was becoming too thick even for a coat pocket. The small amount of cash I carry with me was not the problem. It was the other items that stretched it beyond its original design.

There were business cards from people I don’t know and will probably never contact – those I threw (the cards, not the people). I also had some expired coupons (I never remember to use them – therefore they become annoying clutter). There were shopping lists of things I purchased or have done without so long they no longer matter – they were tossed.

I have a membership card to a store that I hate going to. It’s easier to vote than it is to get in that store. They never remember who I am. I have to show them the card every time I enter, plus they don’t trust me. Before I am allowed to leave the store after I have paid for my stuff they require me to show the receipt, and then they rifle through the items I just paid for 30 seconds ago. I reluctantly kept that card because once in a while I am sent there to “pick up a few things.”

The frequent movie-goers club card expired without winning the free pop and popcorn combination. I blame the folks in Hollywood because they haven’t given me reason to go to the movies with any recognized and rewarded frequency.

I saved the outdated pictures of my family. There are also gift cards and in-store credit cards with unknown balances. Those are saved. I also kept my library card, driver’s license and the two credit cards.

Most everything else I tossed. But then I discovered that the billfold had become so bloated by carrying around all that unnecessary junk I was no longer able to hang on to the important stuff – it just slipped out and fell to the floor. So instead of stuffing all that junk back in I got a new one, one that is designed to hold just what I need. But now I have to be careful and not fill it beyond its limits because once that happens its hard to get it back into its original shape.

I think that explains my Dad’s billfold. He must have kept stuffing more cards into it to keep all the other stuff in place. He had every major credit card (including Diner’s Club – for eating out I guess), and individual cards for all the major gas stations at the time: Standard Oil, Gulf, Texaco and Conoco. He also had credit cards for Sears Roebuck (as he called the store), J.C. Penny, Donaldson’s and Dayton’s.

All credit cards have a limit (even Dayton’s). You can only spend so much and that’s it. And the bill always comes due. The State of Minnesota shut down because we have maxed out our credit limit and don’t have enough money to pay our bills. As of Independence Day Governor Dayton and our state legislature still could not agree on how to get us out of this mess. We can’t keep increasing spending when we don’t have the money to pay the current bill.

We can continue to spend at the rate we are and raise taxes on other people to pay for it. But eventually we will all pay for it. As British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once said, “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money. “

Our government has been stretched beyond its original design so it no longer functions well. Let’s get the lights back and begin the work of cleaning out the clutter before our bills fold us for good.

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