Your Bank Account and Decluttering; How Do They Relate?
Does decluttering your home and managing your finances go together? Absolutely! Realizing what you already have on hand to use and what items you no longer need, helps you declutter and get your finances in order at the same time. We all have experienced changes this year in some way to the economy, our lifestyles, jobs and what we consider normal. It is so important to make sure our finances are in order, we are maintaining peace of mind with our money, and we are being resourceful with the choices we make.
I recently interviewed Mike Kinealy, Master Financial Coach, with New Money Habits. If your finances have been affected and you are dealing with a loss of income, or wondering what to do to keep grocery bills down, we have some great tips for you. Maybe you are wondering what to do with your stimulus money you have been saving, or you already had to use it for expenses and now you are wondering how to navigate these next few months. Creating a plan and a budget will help reduce stress and anxiety, while helping you regain control of your finances.
This year has been full of unexpected situations and for many, these unexpected events have impacted their finances. If you are wondering what to do with your stimulus check, unemployment money, or finances in general, Mike recommends the first things you take care of are your four walls:
You need to pay the rent/mortgage, keep the lights on, and especially here in Arizona, keep the AC running.
Next, look at your spending and review your debt.
Determine who you are going to pay and how much you are going to pay them.
If you are unable to pay someone, don’t just stop paying them and assume it will go away. Creditors are very forgiving right now and are willing to work with you because of the pandemic and extreme circumstances. Communicate that you are unable to pay your bills and try to renegotiate terms.
Speak with a financial coach such as Mike before choosing to stop paying your mortgage.
The most important thing you need to provide for your family other than shelter, of course is food. You have to take care of your family and make sure they are fed. With children remote learning and you/your family members possibly home more, it is easy to snack and feel like there is nothing to eat in the house.
Take inventory of what you already have and shop your pantry!
Make your budget for food stretch! What will your kids actually eat and what can you stretch to last longer? See what meals you can make with the items you have on hand before going to the store.
Pull all of your items out, see what you have excess of, and meal plan! You can search online for simple recipes using those ingredients, and may even discover a new family favorite recipe! This is a great opportunity to purge your pantry and use up items you have purchased.
If you find items you don’t see yourself using, box those items up and donate them to a local shelter or offer them for free on your local Facebook marketplace.
Speaking of food, don’t go to the store hungry! Impulse, hungry purchases add up and don’t help your wallet! Have a plan and shop smart!
Learn to extend your pantry! If you have special dishes, china, or items you only use a couple times throughout the year for special occasions, box those items up to store in a different place in your home, so you can extend your shelf space. It is a great idea to have your everyday pantry and an overflow pantry area. Before you go to the grocery store, take inventory and pull items from the overflow. Now you know what you need to replenish and are rotating your items, while using more of what you have on hand!
If you are in the position to do so, work on keeping a supply of frequently used items on hand. This does not mean hoarding items or having a year’s worth of toilet paper stored away. The goal is not to panic and live in fear, but if you are able to budget in a little extra for grocery and toiletries, you can build a reasonable inventory of non-perishable items. Designate an area for these items, so once you open the last toilet paper or paper towel roll, you have a spare supply on hand. Then add it to your grocery list so you know you now need to replenish that item. It’s also a great idea to do this for perishable items, such as extra meat. We all experienced how quickly the store supply can run low, and it is a nice feeling knowing you have some cushion for meals and needed products at home.
Because so much has changed this year, you may realize you are spending less on eating out or less on gas. Reallocate this money to a different area of your budget where you may be spending more. Your budget is always going to be planning ahead and looking forward, while also reviewing and looking back. Look at what your spending has looked like the past few months. For example, if you see you usually spend $200 on fuel, but only have been averaging about $100, you can move that $100 to food or electric where there may be more of a demand for it right now.
If you need to make additional cuts, look at how often your family is eating out. Mike mentioned you can expect to spend 2-3 times more eating out with your family, than it would cost to feed your family at home. YIKES! It’s all about finding balance. We do have to eat, but it may be time to focus on what is important, knowing that it isn’t always going to be difficult.
Here’s a simple idea to make an ordinary night special at home that won’t cost a lot! Next time you are grocery shopping, pick up a box of brownie mix or a bag of popcorn. When your kids are wanting a treat or you are thinking about going out for something, pop some popcorn for movie night, or make some yummy brownies with your kids! Get everyone involved and make it fun while creating memories. It will be yummy and save you money!
My clients often ask me as we are scheduling their decluttering session what bins or supplies they should go out and purchase beforehand. I always tell them not to. Don’t go out and buy more items to put your stuff in. You will find as you declutter and purge, containers that once were full are now empty and ready to be used. Keep things simple and be resourceful! Don’t spend more money just to store your stuff.
If you don’t have a plan, when the unexpected occurs, your anxiety is going to show up. The unknown is not your friend and will cause stress, anxiety and fear. Work on building your emergency fund. Remember, it doesn’t take a pandemic for your finances to be negatively impacted. Mike mentioned, build into your budget the lifestyle you want, while also working toward achieving your goals. I love that! What is holding you back or working against you? We have the ability to change our finances! It may take time, but little changes add up to big differences! Create new money habits. Once you have a habit, you can own it for the rest of your life!
It’s not telling your money what you can’t do, it’s telling your money what you can.
Live within your means, give yourself the ability to set money aside for a college fund and retirement, while reducing your debt, so we can enjoy our lives with our family and truly collect memories and experiences, not things.
You can also view this podcast here.
If you are overwhelmed just thinking about decluttering, or don’t know where to begin, contact me to schedule your FREE, 20-minute consultation! Let’s be resourceful and regain control of our finances and our homes!