Cash In on Clutter in Your Life
New season, new you, right? And with the start of something new, it’s time to clear out the old. Clutter’s no sign of success—and it brings layers of confusion and chaos. So let’s ditch the disorder!
For our September challenge, we’ve got some helpful steps for clearing out the mental, physical and financial clutter in your life. You might just find that doing so will help you save money and give your budget a boost. Here’s how to cash in on the clutter:
1. Clear out some mental clutter this fall.
- Stress less about your finances. According to the APA’s latest Stress in America survey, 72% of Americans said they felt stressed over money at some point in the previous month.(1) Those worry-filled thoughts can easily clutter up your mind and keep you from success in all sorts of areas. Attack that anxiety with a budget. A money plan will help you find a better mental and financial balance.
- Exercise. Why would we mention working out as a way to clear out mental clutter? Because time spent taking care of your body also takes care of your brain. This idea isn’t new. An article from Harvard Medical College explains the healthy body equals healthy mind concept dates back 2,000 years!(2) Healthy minds make better choices overall—including money decisions. So get flexible with yoga. Take a walk. Run, baby, run. Just do something. You don’t have to be drenched in sweat after thirty minutes—unless you’re into that—for the brain and body benefits of exercise to kick in.
- Organize your life with calendars and to-do lists. Get all the things floating around in your brain space on paper. Know what, when, where and why—and be ready for the day, week, month and year. For example, when you’ve got your social calendar set up, you can space out those pricey tickets to seeing your favorite bands or stand-up comedians. That way your entertainment budget won’t explode.
- Prep ahead. ‘Twas the night before work, and all through the house, you ought to be laying tomorrow’s clothes out. Oh. And making your lunch, grinding your coffee beans, and the lot. If you get a few things ready ahead of time, your groggy morning brain will thank you.
- Get real. Realize you can’t be everything to everyone at every moment. And that’s okay. Which brings us to our next point.
- Spend less time on your phone. Unsubscribe from promotional emails to lessen the inbox overflow while also reducing your temptation to buy. If you’re feeling really determined, remove social media apps from your phone. Then, spend that extra time being present, reading and enjoying your life—not the personas people are posting on social media. You’ll still want to keep up with your EveryDollar budget, of course. For that, you can set up notifications so you can interact when you need to.
2. Cash in on that clutter and ditch the disorder.
- Pick areas (closet, extra bedroom, attic, etc.) or categories (books, clothes, your old toy collection, etc.), and hit them one at a time. As you sort through all those self-help paperbacks, shirts and Super Soakers, ask yourself three questions:
- If I had the money, would I buy this again? Things that were fads should fade away from your life. You probably wouldn’t re-buy that pog collection, right? Some things served their purpose for that time in your life, but they’re superfluous now. Scrap ‘em.
- Would I need to replace this if I got rid of it? Don’t sell the crockpot if you’d need to buy another crock pot (unless it’s time to upgrade—but that’s not what this declutter article’s about). Don’t toss your mowing shoes if you’d have to buy new ones just to get dirty. If something’s still doing the unique job you need of it, keep it.
- Is this really useful anymore? How often do I use it? If you make waffles every Christmas morning, do you really need that giant waffle maker taking up 75% of your upper left kitchen cabinet? Do you even like waffles anymore? (That was a dumb question. Who doesn’t like waffles?) It might make more sense to change a tradition, make some money, and free up that precious and limited space.
- Organize your discards into three piles.
- Select prices for items to sell. You can do some research online to see how much similar used pieces are going for. Make sure your prices are appropriate.
- Pick your vendor. Are you going to list your items online with thredUP, Poshmark, Facebook, craigslist, decluttr, or the like? Or are you going old school with a physical garage sale?
- Get things looking good. Clear the cat fur off that black pea coat. Disinfect that three-story dollhouse. Spruce up that circular saw. The better things look, the better things sell.
- Set goals for the money you’ll make. Are you saving for something, wanting to pay down debt, or building your emergency fund? Feel free to enjoy a night out to celebrate cluttering down and cashing in, but don’t fritter away all your newfound earnings. Make the most of that money!
- Get the donate and toss items out of your house—pronto. We suggest two trips: one after you’ve made the initial donate and toss piles, and one for everything you couldn’t sell. If you don’t get this stuff out of your house ASAP, your sentimental side might try sparring with your sensible side. But I need to keep my busted, one-eyed Teddy Ruxpin. Oh, the stories he used to tell! Nix the nostalgia and dump the junk.
3. Organize your finances.
- Give your budget a fall makeover. Do any line items need to be taken out or added in? Are any amounts setting unrealistic expectations? Do some of your utilities always fall short or go over budget? Adjust where you must.
- Make tracking your expenses a habit. If you don’t know where your money’s going, it’s going to get away from you. Tracking your expenses will reduce the receipt pileup and keep you up to date with your spending. You should enter expenses right after they happen, so you don’t forget. Because forgetfulness . . . ummm . . . where were we going with that? It happens!
- Make organization easier with EveryDollar Plus. If all that expense entering has you a little overwhelmed, you should upgrade to EveryDollar Plus—it connects your bank to your budget. Just log in to view recent spending and drag transactions to your budget categories. Use that extra time and headspace to soak up the serenity of your new, decluttered lifestyle.
After all, you don’t need more—you just need more efficiency.