Organizing the House and the Money!
Are you an organized person? I try, but I’m just not good at organizing. In all honesty, I say this practically every year: “This is the year I get everything organized. Absolutely. Everything.” It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m not giving up. This house and our money need it in a bad way!!
I’m going to be real with you here. My house is a mess. I have two rooms that are catch-all rooms for anything and everything and the rest of the rooms are “a-filling” up. I swear our stuff multiplies!! And the finances? Well, they tend to be all over the place.
Having so much clutter is not good for anybody. It’s bad for our health and it does something to our minds! I remember reading somewhere that “Clutter confuses the mind and a confused mind shuts down.” That’s a totally realistic statement, but I need my mind…I don’t want it to shut down!
How many times have you walked into a room to start a project and walked back out because you were so overwhelmed? I’ve done it bunches and let me tell you, it’s a horrible feeling. We’ve got to get rid of this clutter before we do more damage!
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 know we all generally like to do several different things simultaneously. Hopefully, there will be some ideas here that will help you, but please don’t feel like you have to do it all or do it all at once! It’s not about competition, it’s about freeing up resources (time, money, energy) so that we can all live better lives.
There are all kinds of Organization Challenges online. You can search just about anywhere and come up with at least a dozen. Three of my favorites are:
- My own Clear the Clutter Challenge. It has a variety of different activities to help you clean out the clutter in your home and a free printable to keep you on track. It’s designed to help you conquer different areas on different days, but it’s not necessary to do it in the exact order it’s written!
- “52 Weeks To An Organized Home” from Home Storage Solutions 101. In my dream world, I could finish this in less than 52 weeks. It’s always good to have a dream, right?!?
- #Clutter Free 30 Challenge from Clean Mama. This is a 30-day challenge and it has some good tips.
Finances and Savings
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’ve started savings plans several times and I always do really well for a few months and then it seems like something always comes up that I have to use the money for. Although that’s the point of an Emergency Fund, sometimes it’s hard to start over. And there’s been more than one Christmas where I came up short just before the Holiday season.
Living paycheck to paycheck was never one of my dreams and I’m determined to change that this year! Here are a few things that I’m doing:
- Building our Emergency Fund back up. Part of it will come from my business sales and part will come from used clothing and household items I’m getting rid of. 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!!
- Transferring a specified amount monthly or weekly into a Christmas savings account. I really love doing the 52 Week Savings Plans, but I lose momentum whenever I have 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, but 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. (Check out Simple Money Saving Tips for more Savings Plan Printables!!)
- Making half payments on our debt. I learned this from Jessi at The Budget Mama. (You can find the half payment method here.) 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 Jessi recommends starting with one or two payments at a time. I do this with several of our bills and the plan is to eventually implement it with all of them. It actually saves money on interest so it’s great for credit card payments. Weekly payments would be even better if you get paid that way!
- Using my income from blogging and printables to pay smaller bills, contribute to savings, and pay for extras like eating out or going to the movies. The amount I make fluctuates, so I definitely can’t depend on this income completely. It’s nice to have a little extra though! If you have this sort of income, make sure to keep track of it even if you just jot it down in a notebook!
- Rounding our checking account balance into savings. Some banks offer to round up each purchase to the nearest dollar and deposit it into checking. There are different apps for this, as well as apps that randomly take a small amount from checking and save it for you. Either kind would probably be helpful!
- Saving quarters and nickels in our Fun Money Change Jar. We do this every year and always have at least $60-$70 dollars when I cash it in. Dimes and pennies go into their own jars. I’d love to do the Dime Challenge where you fill a soda bottle, but I feel like that would take forever. We don’t have a ton of change to cash in at the end of the year, but it’s enough to buy a Christmas present or have a dinner out a couple of times!
- Saving $5 bills. This is a great challenge if you can get five-dollar bills back in change or at the bank. It seems like it’s rare to get them unless you ask specifically. I guess I could count out five ones each time instead! I did this challenge before and saved quite a bit in a short amount of time, although I did have to ask for the fives most of the time. This is a great way to save for a big purchase or make a lump-sum payment. My grandmother did this one year (she specifically asked for five-dollar bills when she got change from the stores) and saved enough to pay for Christmas gifts for all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren!
Saving On Living Expenses
Of course, it’s impossible to put money into savings or pay off debt if you don’t have any extra money. Ideally, we would all find a way to earn extra income, but in addition to that, we should try to save money on living expenses. There are several ways I save money and most of them seem to center around food!
Here are a few ways I save money:
- Freezer cooking. It’s awesome to be able to grab something out of the freezer and not worry about what’s for dinner! It also saves money because it keeps me from ordering carryout or running to the grocery for one or two things and coming out with twenty! Eating out has always been a big issue for us. That can be a pretty costly expense, so having meals in the freezer is very helpful.
- Shop at Save-A-Lot (our local one has better meat than some of the other stores here) and Aldi (definitely hit them up for veggies, dairy, and ethnic foods). I also shop at Kroger for a lot of my staples. They have good sales on several of the things I use and they send me coupons all of the time!
- Be consistent with coupons. I get so excited when my coupons save me money, but sometimes I forget them at home. They are definitely helpful, so try not to forget!
- Have a No Spend Month. This is probably just to prove that I can do it. It would take some planning, but I think it would work if I did it after a freezer cooking session!!
In truth, there are so many different ways to save and organize that we could fill book after book with them! Don’t let it overwhelm you! Use a few of my ideas or others that you find along the way. The important thing is not how we get organized or how we save money, it’s simply that we do it!!
Remember to print your copy of the 52 Week Savings Plan and visit Simple Money Saving Tips for more printables. Then drop me a line and let me know how your home/finance organization is going!