By Kara Stevens
I get really reflective around this time of year. Even though I know January 1st can make as much of a difference in your life as any other day of the year, I still love the idea of leaving everything that I don’t want or don’t need behind as one year ends and a new one begins.
Here are nine easy ways you can declutter your life before January 1st, 2018.
1.Unsubscribe from blogs that no longer pique your interest. Sometimes you subscribe to a blog to help you solve a problem like getting out of debt. But once you learn how to get out of debt, that blog no longer serves a purpose. Unsubscribe. You’re a better person now with different problems.
2.Let go of ideas you never followed through with. Sometimes it’s okay to quit. Instead of losing those last 10 pounds and getting back into your skinny jeans, go a size up, ditch the guilt, and move on with your life. Maybe it’s time to realize that you’re not going to build that online business since you haven’t When you admit that you really don’t want to do something, you clear space in your emotions, budget, and calendar to do things you really want to do. There’s no shame in being who you are right now unless you don’t believe you’re enough as you are. You don’t have to be successful, toned, wealthy, or overly ambitious to be worthy. You’re fine just the way you are.
3.Merge systems when it comes to your finances.
- Create a Financial Freedom Fund (FFF). I coined this terms years ago. Your FFF is a bucket, empty cookie jar, or jug used to house all of your loose change. I used to recommend keeping several throughout your house. This is still a great idea for those of us with large homes. But if you’re living a small apartment or single family home, identify one place in your home to keep the FFF. Designate a day each week to collect all of the loose change you have in your coats, purses, pockets, and car and place it there. Once it’s full, redeem the coins for cash so you can save, spend, or invest as you see fit.
- Clear out your wallet. Take the time to clean out your wallet thoroughly. You have find you have old receipts, expired credit cards, debit cards, library cards, and insurance cards that need to be shredded. Cleaning your wallet allows you to collect loose change and earmark it for the FFF. Once all of the clutter is removed, you’ll be able to designate key areas in your wallet for important financial tools and identification.
- Rollover your previous employers 401(k) to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). If you have money sitting in a 401(k) your old jobs, maybe it’s time to think about centralizing all of those funds. Speak to your HR representative or financial advisor about your options. It will give you peace of mind to know where all of your retirement money is.
- Automate payments and savings. Set up automatic savings so you build your emergency fund without thinking too deeply about the process. Likewise, schedule payments using technology so you never lose money because of late fees. If you’re extra responsible with credit and have a rewards credit cards, systematically schedule payments to your credit card and checking account so you can receive bonus rewards points without accruing the ugly interest.
4.Kill your apps. There are some apps that have no business on your phone. If you find yourself questioning why you ever downloaded a few of them, it’s time to let them go. In less extreme cases, you may find you have some apps you use more than others. Rather than clutter your primary screen, reserve that space for the most important and used apps. Push all other apps to the second and third pages of your phone’s screen.
5.Delete unused or underused email accounts. How many email accounts do you currently have? If it’s more than two (one for your professional life and one for your personal life) than you probably have more email accounts than you need.
6.Come to terms with your inner product-junkie. I love my girlie products as much as the next girl, but it gets a little ridiculous when you fall into a financially foolish cycle of always “trying out” something new just for the sake of trying something new. Before you buy another lip-gloss, body product, or hair pomade, take a look at what you already have. Use those things first, identify which work the best of your style and lifestyle, and stick with that brand until kingdom comes.
7.Create a 80-20 spilt for buying books. Physical copies of books are my Achilles heel. I love writing in my books. It helps me feel connected. I don’t think I’ll ever stop buying physical copies of books, but I want to reduce the amount of clutter they create in my small home. A new friend of mine struggled with the same dilemma so she created the 80-20 rule for herself. Eighty-percent of books are electronic and the other twenty-percent are physical copies. With this approach, she’s able to read several books simultaneously without breaking her back, killing too many trees, or weighing down her book shelves. And the most obvious solution to the book clutter debate is to borrow books from the library. This only works if you never want to write in your books, though.
8.Prune your closets. If you’re a clothes horse, a fashionista, or self-proclaimed glam girl, then you have a ton of clothes you’ve bought, but never wore. The good news is that whatever you decide to keep will be flawless. The bad news is that you’ll never look your best because you don’t have a great handle on what you actually own or what you’ve sartorially outgrown. Dedicate a weekend for this project and enlist the help of some friends. During your “Pruning Project,” you will make four piles of clothes. Pile 1 will be for clothes you love and will keep. Pile 2 will be for the trash because they are damaged. Pile 3 will be for the “After-Prune Project” party you will throw to sell (and donate for unwanted pieces) to your friends and acquaintances. Pile 4 will be for sentimental pieces you will place in a box and store until you’re ready to part with them. In six months, you will revisit Pile 4 to determine if you’re ready to part with them.
9.Shake up your friendship roster on and offline. Here’s the truth: It’s in your best emotional, financial, and spiritual interest to leave some of your friends in 2017. This may mean you cut them off completely or you reduce how often you communicate with them. This strategy will also serve you well for your Facebook “friends,” memberships in Facebook groups, Meetups, and on friend-finding sites.
I’m claiming 2018 to be my “Year of Luscious.” I’ve used each of these strategies in 2017 to clear the way to ensure 2018 is another awesome year. It can’t be left up to chance.