Anyone that knows me will tell you that I am VERY organised and our apartment looks immaculate. Despite this, I have never been able to shake my childhood habit of collecting stuff – newspaper clippings from footy grand finals, years worth of Women’s Health magazines, eBooks I have purchased and then printed, bags full of old ribbons and gift bags, electrical cables and gadgets from my old phones and cameras. Given we live in a small space, naturally everything is neatly organised and stored in the appropriate place so I always know the location!
Over the Christmas holidays I came across the website and podcast created by Josh Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists. The first quote that hit me was –
“Being well-organised is a form of hoarding.”
I was caught off guard – am I really a hoarder like those people from the TV shows who end up drowning in their stuff? Why do I feel the need to hold on to stuff? How can I reconcile my desire to keep things well-organised, with my instinct to keep things “just in case”?
It occurred to me that the New Year was a great opportunity to evaluate my priorities and determine what “stuff” I really needed to achieve my goals, being:
- CLARITY of mind to focus on one task at a time
- SPACE to relax and enjoy life
- PURPOSEFUL purchases and commitments to maintain the clarity and space.
Why is it important to reduce the amount of stuff we have? One key reason is that each item comes at a monetary cost, including the purchase price, maintenance, cleaning, space and time. This is where the accountant in me came alive. Reducing the stuff in my life will not only create more space, but it will save money!
So where do you start? In terms of setting priorities, I really like The Minimalist’s process of categorising stuff into:
- Needs – what we need for survival (e.g. basic meals, mortgage or rent payments, electricity)
- Wants – what adds value to your life (these really depend on the person – for me it is my mobile phone, laptop, magazine subscription to The Collective, etc)
- Likes – what can be considered impulse purchases that give you instant gratification but add no long-term value (e.g. my monthly visits to Lorna Jane!, that second takeaway coffee, the personal development eCourse I signed up to but never finished)
Once you have categorised your expenses, the next step is to reduce the likes and work your way to the wants. What generally happens over time when your priorities become clear is that many of your “wants” are recategorised to “likes” and they are easier to eliminate.
After an initial declutter of my apartment, including the bookshelf full of magazines I never read, I am presently undertaking the process of categorising my expenses/stuff. From this exercise I will be creating a cash flow budget tool to help you prioritise expenses and identify savings. I can’t wait to share it with you, as I know many of you struggle with understanding and taking control of your finances.
I will keep you updated on the release of the budget tool! In the meantime, I would love you to share in the comments below any particular questions you have about budgeting and finances. I will attempt to address as many of these concerns as I can through the budget tool and future materials.
Does the work of The Minimalists resonate with you? I would love to hear about any personal experiences you have with decluttering.