Do you live in overdraft? Is your house a mess? Do you re-buy things because you can’t find what you already own? Do you impulse shop? Do you give gifts you truly cannot afford? Do your obligations feel like a burden? Would you like to turn this train to Crazy Town around?
It will take some strength and refusing to stop or give up, but, if you decide to get your home and finances sorted out, organized, and streamlined into a logical, balanced system, your stress levels will drop significantly. You will discover all sorts of happiness hiding in simple things. And, you may even lose a few extra pounds. Goodbye, overwhelm. Hello, savouring life.
I’ll show you some tips that have helped our family streamline our finances, live free from debt, and—gasp—resist the urge to overspend.
How to Declutter Your Finances and Your Life
1 Stop Everything
I’m trying not to make this sound like a recovery program but it kind of is. If you are overwhelmed with all you have to manage and the balance is out of whack, the first step is to stop. Stop everything you can. Stop spending. Stop going out. Stop everything you can. There must be some time to step back, look at everything your life entails, assess what’s working and what’s not, get your home and finances in order, and press the restart button.
It’s going to be completely different for each person, but, I guarantee you, the things that are causing you the most stress and overwhelm are the ones you have probably been afraid to stop. This could be out of fear, expectations—your own or someone else’s, traditions, or habit. But nothing changes unless you change it.
One Example of Hitting the ReSet Button
To give you an example, years ago, I was completely overwhelmed by gift-giving. Between birthdays and holidays, our list of people to remember and buy for was so extensive, there was no way I could keep up. The pressure to be creative, thoughtful, appropriate, and on-time in a huge circle of family, friends, and co-workers was just exhausting, and, quite frankly, not affordable either in money or time. And, in this culture where most of our homes are overflowing with items that never get used or enjoyed, it seemed kind of ridiculous. And it’s very hard when you love the people but not the process.
My idealistic self thought there had to be a way to love and care for other people that does not involve the overwhelm.
I struggled for some time but just could not figure out how to bring the whole thing into balance without making a radical change.
So I did.
Long story short, for my own sanity, I just stopped. The gifts (giving and receiving), the parties, everything that felt forced. It was sloppy and awkward and most did not listen enough to understand or accept it, but it was a decision that had to be made. It truly felt like hopping off an insane treadmill that never seemed to slow down. I stopped doing so many things out of obligation and instead started choosing what I did with willing intention.
Change is not easy, People do not like it when you rewrite your own rules. But it’s these big, bold moves that can turn your life around if what you have been doing is just not working.
2 Assess and Restart
No matter what it is you are trying mend, once you have stopped long enough to assess it, you probably have a good hunch about what’s needed. There’s a basic principle to an orderly home that can apply to anything: everything needs a place. A logical, easy-to-manage place. And the excess can go.
The turnaround comes when you take the time to create realistic, logical, sustainable systems to manage the flow, providing a structure and routine that does exactly what you need it to do to stay on top of things.
This is not about buying some bins at the Container Store or getting some financial management software and calling it a day. This is about really digging deep, questioning everything you are doing and why, figuring out what you really want your life to be like, letting go of the stressors you can live without, and enjoying life more.
These tips are all things I’ve started doing over the years to manage our finances properly, live within our means, keep on top of the clutter, and aim for contentment rather than consumption. Some may seem outdated or different from how things are where you live, but the underlying principle of taking stock of your life, getting things in order, and hitting the reset button should still be helpful.
Create a System to Monitor Your Bills
Our supposedly paper-less society has made it much more difficult to keep track of expenses and ensure that bills are accurate and paid on time. There are so many moving parts!
I came up with this system to streamline the process so I always know exactly what’s due when and keep everything monitored.
If your situation is similar to mine, it should just take a few minutes twice a month to keep on top of everything once you’ve set it up. And never pay late fees.
See how it works:
Question Your Expenses
At least once a year, it’s good to review every single household expense to determine if they are necessary or not. It’s amazing how many items sneak through automated payments or renewals and how many things we simply pay for without questioning whether we actually want or need them.
If an expense is truly necessary (or we do want them and can truly afford them), the next step is to determine whether they can be tweaked to reduce the cost and/or improve the quality or value. It’s really not a huge task to compare prices and services to figure out the smartest deal.
Here how I lower our bills:
Always Get the Best Deals
And what about one-time purchases? How do some people always manage to find the best deals? Part of living debt-free is putting in a bit of work to save some money—if it’s more money than the time is worth.
It’s not always about the lowest price but also about the best value for the dollar.
Here’s how I do it:
For frequent purchases like groceries and other household supplies, I rely on the Flipp app on my phone. I love it because it does all the work.
Great money-saving phone app:
Live Within Your Means
I started gardening on a budget because I had to. I continue because it’s enjoyable. Sure, money can buy just about anything but what it can’t do is buy the satisfaction of creating a thriving organic garden over many years. And that happens to also be a great money-saver.
Here’s some tips:
If you struggle to turn off the urge to shop, sometimes the cure can be found in truly getting your home in order. Most of us own way more stuff than we could ever make use of. Getting rid of the excess and having an organized, functional home can be the ticket to becoming a happy, unshopper.
It All Adds Up
Here’s a recap:
- Stop everything. It’s time to step back, assess, reorganize, and hit the reset button.
- Create an easy-to-follow bill paying and monitoring system to keep on top of your finances.
- Once a year (or more), review all your expenses to make sure they are necessary, desirable, and affordable.
- When you do shop, know how to find the best prices. Sometimes a little effort really pays off.
- Get real. Live within your means.
- Love what you have. Declutter your home and keep it in order. Let go of the urge to shop for unnecessary stuff.