This is the year I get everything organized. Absolutely. Everything.
My house is a mess. Every room is swiftly turning into a catch-all room. And the finances. Well, they need organizing too.
Not to mention my blog, my health, and my mind! I’m not sure there’s any help for my mind though. Except that I remember reading somewhere that “Clutter confuses the mind and a confused mind shuts down.” If I don’t get this stuff under control, I may very well shut down!
I’m trying to be realistic. This didn’t all accumulate overnight, so I know it’s not going to go away immediately. But you have to start somewhere, right?
There is a lot to be done and I’ll be trying several different things simultaneously. I don’t want to exhaust myself, so I’m going to do a little bit in each category every day. Maybe health and home before work, money and business after. (Maybe I should work out a schedule??)
There have been several Home Organization Challenges online lately. A couple of them sounded very doable to me and I really have to have a list to go by. So I will be trying the “52 Weeks To An Organized Home” from Home Storage Solutions 101. My dream is that I can finish it earlier than 52 weeks. It’s always good to have a dream, right?
Clean Mama also has a #Clutter Free 30 Challenge that sounds interesting. It’s just for 30 days, so there is a chance I will stick with it! It tackles different areas than the 52 weeks challenge, so it might be a good idea for me to do both. That’s my plan anyway. We shall see. : )
As far as our finances go, well…I suck at money. There, I said it.
It’s the truth though and there is no use trying to hide it.
I guess, technically, I only suck at parts of it. I’m absolutely fabulous at spending it. It’s the budgeting and saving that give me fits!
I started a savings plan in 2014 and I did fairly well with it for a few months. Then life intervened and I needed that money, so by the end of the year there wasn’t much left in the Christmas savings or the Emergency Fund.
I have to change all of that in 2015. I just have to! There are several different ideas I’m hoping to implement, but I think I should probably do them a little at a time. Since I started a new job this year, I’m planning to put that income to work.
Our Emergency Fund is close to empty and we’ll have to build that back up. Part of it will come from my weekly checks and part from things I plan on (hopefully) selling. We have a ton of stuff and I would really like to pare it down before the crew from “Hoarders” starts knocking on my door!!
Money from my paychecks will be transferred to a Christmas savings account. I really liked doing the 52 Week Savings Plan, but I lost momentum when I had to use that money. It’s really hard to get back on track after you start drawing money out! There are a lot of variations of that plan–including a 26 week plan that starts you in the middle and builds savings from there. I’m hoping to have my Christmas fund full before the end of November and the shorter route seems an easy way to go. I’m really not sure that will work for us, so I came up with my own plan (see printable at the end of this post). I started out with a small deposit and built gradually. The best thing about these plans is that you can adjust the amount you deposit or stop saving whenever you feel like you have enough. This plan has a larger ending balance than some of the others I’ve seen, but I plan to divide ours between the emergency fund, Christmas, and travel.
Since a lot of people are working on their finances for the upcoming new year, there are more and more articles about how to save money and pay off debt. There have been a couple that really peaked my interest and I plan on implementing their ideas.
Jessi at The Budget Mama recommends making half payments. (You can find the half payment method here.) That’s a great idea for anyone who gets paid twice a month like the Super Trooper. With this method, you pay half of the bill with each paycheck instead of one huge lump sum. There is a little organization with this one and she recommends starting with one or two payments at a time. I love this idea though and will be doing it with several of our bills.
I’ve also decided to take it a step further and do weekly payments. Since Super Trooper’s pay is slightly larger than mine, I will be using my paychecks for some of the smaller bills, as well as some savings. I get paid weekly, so it makes sense to me to further divide those payments down instead of doing half payments. I definitely suggest making yourself some sort of chart to keep track of this one–even if it’s just jotted in a notebook!
There is another article that suggests rounding down your checking account balance into savings. I know, I was a little confused when I read the title, but it makes perfect sense when she explains it! Check out My Small Organized Life if you want to learn more. I promise she explains it well and it is such a simple thing to do that you might question why you weren’t doing it before. I know I had an “Aha” moment when I read it!! I may wait until I have a little bit more of our debt paid down before I do it though. It seems like I’ve already got a lot going on with this money stuff!
I also joined the 31 Day Financial Fitness Boot Camp from Live Like You Are Rich. I’m a little excited to have a set plan that will help me be accountable. I started a notebook (I’m obsessed with notebooks) just for the Boot Camp and I’m keeping notes as I go.
We do still have our Fun Money Change Jar and will continue collecting change for the year. It doesn’t add up to a whole lot, but it’s enough for a night out once or twice a year. It’s also great for those mornings when Spizzie remembers she is out of lunch money and I have no cash on hand!!
Another challenge I would like to try is the $5 Bill Challenge. That’s when you save every $5 bill you get for a certain period of time and then deposit them all at once or use them for a big purchase. I’d like to try it for six months and then use it to make a lump-sum payment toward our debt. I’m not sure how that will go though, because I really don’t get that many fives or tens unless I ask for them. Has anyone else ever noticed this?
There are several things I intend to try in order to save money this year. Most of them seem to center around food. (This should be interesting!)
We will definitely be having multiple freezer cooking sessions this year. I did it a couple of times last year and it was so awesome to just grab something out of the freezer and not worry about what was for dinner. I know this saved us money, because it kept me from ordering carryout or running to the grocery for one or two things and coming out with twenty! Eating out has been a big issue for us since I started working again. That can be a pretty costly expense, so I think having meals in the freezer will be very helpful.
A lot of our groceries come from Save-A-Lot (I like their meat better) and I try to remember to visit Aldi at least once a month. I plan on using those stores more and shopping the sales. I also plan on being more consistent with couponing–especially at the drug stores.
At some point this year, there will be a No Spend Month. (Even if only to prove I can do it!) Of course, we don’t have a choice but to spend money on bills and absolutely necessary items–like gas to get to work–but it would be interesting to see just how long I can go without buying groceries. Might be a good thing to do after I finish some of that freezer cooking!
One of my biggest money goals is to start earning some real income from That One Mom. I have some ideas and I’m working on it, but I’m slow!! According to my best estimates, an extra $300 a month would go a long way toward clearing our debt. An extra $1,000 would let me quit working outside of the house a whole lot sooner! Fingers crossed.
All in all, I don’t think I’m starting anything that is too incredibly difficult. It is just going to be a matter of not giving up! Considering how disorganized things are right now, I don’t think that is even going to be an option.
I’d love to have some people join me on this organizing adventure. Comment and share any other ideas you might have!!