~Expenses - Evil, Time Consuming, Hated Activity~
I am a devil for putting off things that I don't want to do and one of the things that I work hard at avoiding is doing my expenses. Last week I finally got round to submitting a claim stretching back to July and it took me half a day. How can I be so stupid about not claiming money? I've often delayed claims for more than £1500 which is just stupid. That's my money after all so why do I hate asking for it so much?
Undoubtedly it has a lot to do with the way I feel when faced with a mountain of crumpled receipts and credit card bills many of them for things I can't even remember buying. My heart sinks and when faced with a desk covered in receipts I get the overwhelming urge to do something else - in fact anything else will do. Even work!
I also have a problem with my wallet. Sometimes it's so stuffed with receipts that I can't close it. Sadly it's rarely filled with money. Of course I'll never find a receipt when I need it even though there can be dozens in there. It's fair to say that my life could and should be more organised and I'm always on the look out for things that promise me the chance to bring a bit of order into the chaos. The Moleskine Memo Pocket is one such item that is proving to be a little life-saver.
~Moleskine - A Fantastic Heritage Brand~
Moleskine is an iconic brand that associates itself with a rich and (in their words) 'legendary' heritage. The list of the great and the good who used Moleskine products is impressive - Van Gogh, Picasso, Hemmingway and Chatwin are the ones they pick out for particular attention on the little pamphlet that accompanies all the Moleskine products. The original company was French but closed down in 1986 leaving its many fans and users bereft. Twelve years later a publisher in Milan revitalised the Moleskine with a new range of products that built on the long and honoured tradition and heritage of its predecessor.
~ How I got Hooked~
I bought a Moleskine notebook after deliberating long and hard over whether such a small thing could possibly be worth a tenner. Notebooks are really important to me and I'm willing to pay if something really delivers a point of difference. I was lured onto the company's website in search of stationery inspiration and I fell in love with the Moleskine Memo Pocket system and several other of the new generation products.
I searched the internet to determine that the cheapest place to buy the Moleskine products was at The Book Depository website and I placed an order for several items. Like a kid preparing for a new school year by buying protractors and nice smelling erasers, I was in stationery heaven.
One of the key characteristics of Moleskine notebooks is that they all have a pocket in the back cover for keeping little 'things' in and the Memo Pocket is an extension of that idea. The Memo Pocket is in effect a titchy version of an accordion file that's disguised as a notebook. At first glance you will assume it's just another little notebook with a rubber band to keep it closed. Remove the elastic and open the cover and inside there are six little pockets to keep your receipts, tickets, love notes, stamps or whatever it is your life needs you to have to hand. I'm using mine primarily for receipts but I can see there are a few spare pockets that might well get redeployed for stamps, a few business cards and other bits and bobs.
My Memo Pocket is bright red but they are also available in black. My handbag is already full of black things so I don't need any more black items to get confused. This little red item won't get lost even in my ridiculously capacious bag. It measures just 14 cm high by 9 cm wide. It's a bit of a squeeze for a hotel invoice but perfect for restaurant receipts, tram tickets and plane ticket stubs - all the kind of stuff normally littering up the bottom of my bag. I also have the large size version which is roughly twice as big. This is too big to take everywhere so I just decant the paperwork out of the little one into its big brother after each trip. That way I can allocate one pocket in the larger folder for each of the key areas of my expenses claim - travel, hotels, food, misc. - and still have a space at the back to hang onto my ticket stubs until I'm sure that the various frequent flier schemes have credited the flights. Using the two together gives me portability on the go and sufficient volume to hold onto several weeks of paperwork in preparation for the next expense claim.
~ Pride in Production~
The quality of the product construction is exceptional. The hard cover is coated in bright red vinyl-like paper that doesn't seem to mark or stain and the corners are all neatly rounded. The matching bright red elastic strap if firmly affixed and flips over smoothly, without the need to stretch too far. Inside the cover I find lots of beautiful thick cream card. The cover is lined and has the name and website details for the moleskine company. The opposite side holds the 6 pocket accordion with a handy panel to enter your name and address and - if you wish - an amount you'd pay as a reward if the memo pocket were found. That seems a bit extreme - if someone found a notebook with an address inside, I hope they'd just return it and if they wouldn't, I doubt that offering them a tenner would make a big difference. Mine just carries my address and mobile phone number.
The six pockets have no tab system which is a bit of a shame - you need to be able to remember which you are using for what or to write your own code on the inside cover or below the address panel. If I were to suggest an improvement, it would be for there to be a way to identify the purpose of each pocket. There's a thumb-groove down the middle to help you open the accordion and the edges of each pocket are firmly glued in place. I particularly appreciate the beauty and practicality of the open ends of the pockets all being bound together with a bright red ribbon. The quality and attention to detail that goes into making the product really does hark back to an earlier era of hand made care and pride in production. This is the type of item that makes you feel good just by its use and existence. Like a finely made fountain pen or any other small object of desire, I just feel compelled to use the memo pocket and get a teensy buzz of pleasure out of it each time I snap back the stretchy band and slide something into one of its pockets. I know what you're thinking "This woman needs to get out more" and you might well be right - but you can be sure that when I do, I'll have my memo pocket in my bag and I'll have a fighting chance of finding my receipts afterwards.
~Money Well Spent~
I paid £6.46 for the pocket size and £8.30 for the large Memo Pocket at thebookdepository.co.uk - standard list price is £8.99 for the little one and £12.50 for the big one. If this stops me losing receipts and encourages me to get my claims in on time, they will pay for themselves in no time at all.