Stuff. We’re all surrounded by it all of the time. Frequently, we end up with so much stuff that we don’t know what we have. Have you ever found yourself buying something, only to find you already owned it? This happens all too often with me when it comes to kitchen and cleaning supplies. “Oh, I’m almost out of olive oil. I should buy more.” And then when I go to put the new bottle of olive oil away, I realize I already have a spare bottle. When things like this happen, I know it’s time to start the 30 Day Decluttering Challenge.
The 30 Day Decluttering Challenge is an easy one. On day one, you get rid of one thing. On day two, you get rid of two things. Day three, three things, and so on. If you do the math, that’s a total of 465 things. That is a lot of stuff.
What should you do with these things? Any time I do a big declutter, I like to have three categories – trash (or recycle), donate, and sell. Most things end up in the trash or donate bags, but every so often, I find something that I can put onto Ebay or Craigslist. (I also currently have a box going for the annual neighborhood yard sale, but if, like last year, I can’t participate, I’m just going to take the whole box to Goodwill.)
So what does this have to do with finances? Obviously, some of the things you get rid of can be sold, and having some extra money is good. Items that are donated can lead to a tax deduction. But more importantly, taking a look at what you have and really making the hard decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of can help you figure out ways you can save money.
Do you realize that you keep buying books at the local library book sale only to never get around to reading them? Stop buying them! It doesn’t matter that they’re cheap!
Have you amassed a huge collection of cleaning products, always looking for the next best thing? Use up what you have. All of it. Then limit your purchases (or look into making your own – vinegar and water is a phenomenal combination).
Are you a collector? Have you been a collector in the past? Maybe you have a collection that was once important to you that you no longer love the way you did. Perhaps it’s time to consider selling that collection or gifting it to someone who will love it the way you once did.
I think that much of what you will find are small inexpensive things cluttering up your space. It’s so easy to drop $5 or $10 on something, because it’s not that much money after all, but over time, those little purchases add up. (For example, I’m embarrassed by the number of lip balms I own, mostly because I’m forever misplacing them, then finding them again.) No, you won’t get rich on those tiny savings. But you won’t be wasting money, and that’s the important thing. Plus, I think you’ll feel more satisfied in the space around you now that you’ve cleared out a bit.
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.