In which Percy gets a spring clean.

Printed 05/11/10.

You might notice that I'm walking a little more lightly on my feet today. There is a spring in my step, a serenity in my smile. I can see clearly, now the receipts have gone. Because yesterday, readers, was purse clearout day.

I don't know how often you replace your purse/wallet/sporren/velvet pouch, but if your money-storing habits are anything like mine, you'll know that the day you get a new one is a Big Deal. 

Transferring the contents over is like rebooting your life. It's immensely cathartic – you sort through the crumpled remnants of your being and create new order. Purse zen, if you will. I've always liked to think that Eminem's 2002 hit Cleanin' Out My Closet could have worked just as well as Cleanin' Out My Wallet, though his receipts stash might just have been too scintillating for young ears.

Some of you might be reading this, saying "but don't you just move it all from the old purse to the new one?" * The answer, dear philistines, is NO. That would be like buying a new house and filling it with the broken sofa bed, stained rug and half-eaten packet of bran flakes from your old house. New purse day is an opportunity for reflection of a kind that doesn't come along very often, and should be taken full advantage of. Think of it as a much-cheaper therapy session, with a lovely new-leather smell.

Yes, it's a process that produces many different emotions. From confusion ("When did I spend £55 in B&Q?" "Why do I have a business card from a kitchen fitter named Clive?" "When was I ever in Cheam?"), to misty-eyed nostalgia ("Ohhh, the time we bought that cheesecake from Londis then ate it on that bus before that mad bloke weed out the window… good times guys, good times.").

There's a fair bit of self-examination inherent in purse clearing-out as well. You don't want to be doing it in a vulnerable frame of mind, in case you just can't handle the truth. The truth being that the reason you're skint isn't, as you tell everyone, the ruddy government/Student Loans company/rocketing council tax rates, but because you spend £37 a week on Frijj chocolate milk. 

Then there's all the things you bought because the changing room mirror lied, only to stash away in your Wardrobe Corner of Shame as soon as you got them home. You can't hide from them on purse clearout day. You must confront your reckless purchasing and vow to do better (come to think of it, was the Wardrobe Corner of Shame what Eminem was actually talking about? Must google.)

And forget looking at someone's iPod as a window into their soul – I'd rather rummage through the wallet of a potential beau any day. What's this, a Holland and Barrett habit? £62 in Millets? Alas, it clearly wasn't to be. Likewise, anyone with a nearly-full Nandos loyalty card would be worth sticking with. At least until they worked up to the half-chicken.

*Others of you might be reading this saying, "But I throw my receipts and old train tickets and things away as I go." If this is the case, you probably need to find another columnist. There is nothing here for you.