So, I got some paperwork in the mail on a class action settlement for foreign-exchange surcharges and conversion fees for credit and debit transactions. This settlement covers the period from February 1996 to November 2006. There were 3 ways to submit a claim:
- Easy refund $25.
- Total estimation refund. 1% of typical foreign transactions. Input needed: # days outside the US during the period covered by the settlement.
- Annual estimation refund. 1-3% of actual transactions. Input needed: amount of foreign transactions per year of the settlement.
Since Dave and I lived in England for the first year of the settlement period, I knew option #1 was too small. If I kept extra-detailed records, #3 might be possible, but not without a lot of interactions with the credit card company to dig up missing statements and the like. So, today, I settled down to do #2. The method I used was my personal journals and a spreadsheet.
I am a journal-writer. I write for sanity and clarity. I write to write, and I rarely read my journals. I don’t write every day, or even every week, but I do tend to write on vacation and on airplanes (recording the flight number and the departure and destination cities). So, I had a pretty good record of when I traveled to England for that year abroad, and when I was in Canada at the family cabin, and when I was elsewhere.
Here are the results – 592 foreign days, 222 of which were spent up north in Canada at the family cabin. 274 were from our year abroad, and the others from various vacations.
Along the way, I read more than just the date stamp and location of my entries. I was charmed to see me writing my hopes of my now-husband proposing a full two years before he did. Apparently I am patient, and the wait was worth it. I was sad to see myself struggle with a work situation that ended poorly. I didn’t recall that it dragged on for as long as it did, and I felt sadness seeing myself force it for so long. With hindsight, there are a few moments where I wish I could now intervene to give myself the advice to “cut and run” sooner than I ended up doing. But, in general, I did alright, more alright than I thought at the time.
On a semi-humorous note is I captured the comment of an adjacent passenger when I was on a flight. The guy saw me writing furiously, and he said that he was a therapist and he cautioned me not to use my journal as a way to process emotions so I didn’t act on them. It was good to recognize more action and less stewing as the years went on.
I felt tender and friendly towards the me in the past that was writing, I wanted to be her friend and comfort her distress. Now I realize I did comfort “her”, by journaling, and it was better for it.