They say that, whenever you pack for a trip overseas, you should put everything you need to take on your bed and halve it. Have you every tried it?
The idea is that we never really need everything we keep with us, whether travelling or at home, and could probably live very easily without it. This means you need to declutter.
‘Stuff’ has become a ubiquitous presence in our lives. We buy it, fill our homes with it, and carry it around with us, from job to job, from house to house. Some of it is important, a lot of it is just space-filler.
Clutter also fills our social lives, our commitment diaries, all of which can weigh in on our time and financial resources.
So what does this mean for our money and particular our savings?
Clutter in our lives comes with a cost, from the moment we purchase it, through to the moment we finally get rid of it. So if you’re looking for a way to start improving your finances, here is a comprehensive guide to decluttering your life and saving money.
Clutter in our lives can be both a cause and a symptom of stress. Consider your kitchen.
There is now a gadget for every single kitchen task, from coring an apple through to crushing garlic.
If we purchase them, we then need somewhere to put them. Eventually, we need to purchase more storage space. If this applies to every aspect of our lives, it’s not too far of a stretch to suddenly start wondering if we need bigger houses, more storage space, a bigger garage.
In Australia, we’re lucky enough to have disposable incomes in order to buy a second car, large lounge suite and king-size bed, but all these purchases need to be housed, stored and in turn cost us money.
Decluttering your life will allow you to:
Simplicity is a beautiful thing, and not too hard to achieve once you’ve started decluttering your life. Simplicity is synonymous with saving money; want less, spend less.
Research shows that clean and tidy areas are more visually and mentally relaxing than cluttered spaces. The less stuff you own, the easier it is to keep areas neat and smoothly functioning. Stressing less about your stuff; spending more time saving money instead.
Clutter can make us feel completely out of control. Can’t find your keys in the morning? That simple thing can leave you stressed and flustered before your day has even begun. If you declutter your life, everything has its place, taking the chaos out of the day and leaving you to do the things you really enjoy. Look up the concept of ‘opportunity cost’.
No duplicate purchases that waste money
A cluttered life makes it impossible to keep track of what you own, what you need and what you never use.
This means we are so often re-purchasing items we already own, buying groceries we don’t need and not using items we already own. A complete waste of money.
Decluttering to change your life
Nothing says ‘new start’ like getting rid of the baggage in your life. Is there a more powerful feeling than knowing you have everything you need at your fingertips, surrounded by things and people you love and not carrying anything extra on top of that? If you want to change your life story, start by decluttering your life for a fresh start.
How will decluttering save you money?
Buy less. Once you’ve committed to a minimalist lifestyle, you’ll find you will buy fewer groceries and fewer items for around the home or your wardrobe. Simplicity is the key to frugality.
Use what you own. You’ll also find you invest in what you already own, whether it’s fixing up your current car instead of buying a new one or using everything in your pantry instead of buying yet another bag of plain flour.
Sell what you don’t need. Selling extraneous items from your life is a potentially lucrative source of income, so you’ll be earning money and saving money simultaneously.
Stop impulse spending. By decluttering your life, you’ll end impulse spending in two ways. One, you become more conscious about purchases- where will you put them? Do you need them? – and less likely to spend without thinking it through. Secondly, by gaining control and simplicity in your life, you’re likely to feel happier and less vulnerable to impulse purchases for retail therapy. For those wanting to learn more about reducing spending, read about how to reduce your spending.
Live within our means. There are significant ways to declutter our lives that could save us enormous amounts of money. Do you need the extra bedroom? Must you pay rent on a big house, when it’s just you and your partner? What about the extra car? Do you really need it, or is just another thing that takes up space and costs you money? The savings on these changes are immense.
A guide to decluttering
Below is a simple guide to saving money by decluttering your lifestyle from all angles. Remember, less stuff means more money. On top of this, the feeling of keeping ‘simple’ is so empowering it forces you to enjoy life more.
Here is how to declutter your life.
Decluttering at work
Get organised at work; if you are going to spend 8 hours + a day at a job – you may as well simplify it.
- Desk. Anything you use hourly, put it in a pile. This might be your computer, your dairy, a pen and perhaps a stapler. Everything else should not be on your desk.
- Drawers. Don’t then put everything that was on your desk in your drawers. First, empty your drawers. File anything that can be filed. Throw out anything you never use, and be harsh about it. Then organise the remaining items into easily accessible and viewable sections.
- Computer. Clear your desktop. Trash any files you no longer use. You want to get to the office every morning and see clear, organised space. All the relevant information you need should be easily accessible within one folder, and then archived when no longer relevant.
- Email. Back up old emails on a hard drive and then clear it. Tag emails into categories to make them easier to organise, and unsubscribe from every single promotional or company newsletter you receive. You never read them, and shouldn’t have to spend five minutes every day deleting them from your account.
Decluttering your home
If you haven’t used it in a year, box it. This includes:
- Cleaning products
- Kitchen appliances
- Crockery/ glassware
- Bedding/ towels
- Kids’ toys
- Stored decorations
- Food (sauces, condiments etc)
Be brutal. Decluttering your life needs to be a commitment to a new start, and all this stuff is just weighing you down.
Room by room: Don’t try and do the whole house at once, hit it one room at a time. Go through your bedroom, and decide on every piece of clothing you wear. Every drawer should be checked, and anything you don’t need has to go. Then repeat that process in the kitchen, lounge room, laundry room and bathroom. If you haven’t used that face cream, then get rid of it.
Sort by usability: Everything you get rid of needs to be sorted into one of three categories:
- Trash. This is the truly unsalvageable items. Knickers with holes in them, toys that are broken beyond repair. This should be the smallest pile.
- Donation. If you don’t think the item is worth investing in, then it should head to the donation pile. This might be some old books, or clothes you no longer wear and aren’t likely to fetch much attention.
- Sale. In decluttering your life, you should be looking to make as much profit as possible off your items. After all, in all likelihood, you spent a lot of money on them in the first place. It’s a good idea to try and get some of that money back.
Don’t clean: You can clean at any time. Decluttering is a different process. It’s easy to start cleaning and stop organising and discarding. Commit to decluttering each room first, you can clean it later.
Cull twice. Once you’ve culled all your items, and sent them on your way, go through the cupboards again a couple of days later. You might find yourself being able to take even more out, and simplifying your life even further.
Use everything you own. This is most important in using cleaning products or items in the pantry, without doubling up. Base your meals plans around what’s already in the cupboard, and never buy extra until it’s all used up. You’ll be amazed what you can save.
Decluttering your life
Downsize. Have you considered whether you need the extra bedroom? The big backyard? Was it once relevant to your family, but is now an extra expense you don’t necessarily need to keep paying? What about the extra car? If your whole life is taken into view, could you save enormous amounts of money by simplifying?
Create space. Decluttering your life isn’t just about creating space in your home and office, but also about creating space in your life. How does this help you save money?
- Clearing your head allows you to connect with what is important, and discard what isn’t.
- Organising your life helps you to save money in simple ways. Weekly shops because of meal plans, eating out once a week with a friend or organising to have them to your place.
- Spending time doing what you enjoy will help you to organise and simplify your life far more easily, and at a decreased cost.
Turn off the signals. Organising a specific time to check your emails helps you to work more efficiently. Leaving all electronic devices, including televisions, out of your bedroom helps you get a good night’s sleep. Avoiding the temptation to multi-task all the time allows you to do every task quickly and well.
How to make money from decluttering
We’ve shown how decluttering will save you money, but can it make you money? The answer is definitely yes! Here are a couple of places to make money from your new, simplified existence.
Ebay. eBay is a fantastic way to make money from your collected items. Whether it’s old musicial gear, vintage clothes or kids’ items, list the items you’re looking at selling and see whether you can start making a profit from your items. Aim to sell items at 50% of the amount you bought it for, any extra is a bonus.
Gumtree. If eBay is generally for good condition items, often collector items, then Gumtree is the unofficial partner for more the more ordinary elements of our lives. Looking to sell old furniture, cars, household items? Gumtree is definitely the ticket, and you can make a tidy profit off items you never use.
Craigslist. Big in America, but still the new kid on the block in Australia, Craigslist functions in a similar role to Gumtree. It’s certainly worth advertising your items here as well, as listings are free and the more people who see your items, the better.
Second hand stores. If you have items that might fetch some value, approach a couple of second-hand stores (not charity stores, but dedicated antique or collectable stores) to see if they’re interested. You might not care for a Kafka second edition, but not everyone would agree with you on that one.
Garage sales. The bread and butter of decluttering, but still an effective way to make a bit of profit, especially if you have relatively good items to sell and a strong community base. Read about how to boost garage sale earnings with our garage sale tips.
Rethread. You might not need ten pairs of high heels, but may be in desperate need of a good pair of boots. Clothes swapping, trade-ins, book swaps can all save you a significant amount of money if you’re disciplined enough to invest only in what you really need.
Is decluttering worth it?
Decluttering your life will save you money, and make you money. Minimalism and simplicity allows you to live the life you want to live, avoiding purchasing unnecessary items and reducing stress in your life.
Imagine: a life where everything has its place, everything has its use and all works together in an efficient whole. Sound good? You’re only one step away from having it if you follow the above – so start today; simplify and save money.