Debt & Decluttering

Oopsie...it's been a while!  I hope you are enjoying your summer!  We sure are.  However, we just finished up our taxes (we have to file an extension every year...long story) and as I was hunting down write offs, I began thinking about debt. 

While JT and I are finally debt-free (other than a mortgage on a rental house), I've managed to rack up credit card debt numerous times over the years. Retail therapy and all.  Turns out actual therapy is cheaper and more effective in the long run, but I digress. I LOVE shiny things.  Beautiful things.  Decorating and redecorating our home. But if I'm down, or anxious, I buy out of habit.  Suddenly I NEED to have something that quite frankly is nowhere near a need.  Or better yet, I "deserve" it, after my long, hard day in the trenches.  

I think a lot of us fall into this category.  I can't think of a single home I've worked in where not only were there beautiful things, there were far too many beautiful things. 

So how do we break this cycle?  How do we decide we're done with the excess purchases?  

I'm far from perfect, Amazon just said my 1 gallon jar for brewing kombucha was just delivered, but I've learned a few tricks over the years.  

Tracking: Using Mint to track our purchases using monthly budgets.  Rather than putting my head in the sand and ignoring the mounting credit card bills, I now look closely at my spending throughout the month.  June was a success, but we failed miserably in July after having a bit too much fun in San Diego and San Francisco.  Those restaurant bills sure do add up.  So do "have to have it" mindless purchases.  I used to spend a few hundred dollars a month on dumb crap.  I could never figure out why I was always broke, even though I hadn't gone out and bought a new Louis Vuitton purse.  In hindsight, it was because all the small stuff added up in a big way. 

Watching: I look through my belongings weekly - if I don't, they seem to multiply.  This doesn't mean you need to set aside a whole day to look at all of your stuff.  When I get dressed in the morning, I make a point to really look at the clothes in there.  2 years ago, I'd find something that didn't fit or that I didn't like on a weekly basis.  Now it's more like a monthly basis, and I have a greater appreciation for the few clothes I do have because they fit and I love them. Same with the kitchen, just start noticing your stuff when you cook. As you reach toward your utensil holder to grab a spatula, maybe you notice a wooden spoon that's all splintery that you can toss.  By really looking at your belongings, you'll both know what you have and appreciate what you have. No new stuff needed.

Avoiding: As we continue to pare down our belongings I find that avoiding stores helps to keep costs down.  Because, trust me, I can always find something pretty that I just "have to have".  Looking at you, yellow throw pillow that perfectly matches the color scheme of our canned ham trailer.  Recently though, I find myself getting more and more anxious when I go into stores. Like, almost on a cellular level my psyche is saying "Don't do it!".  This actually happened a few days ago. I was near Home Goods and it was like my car parked itself and I was suddenly browsing the aisles.  After 20 minutes of browsing, I could feel my chest tightening up and it was hard to catch my breath.  Stuff overload.  I had to flee the store.  

For this reason, I try to use Amazon Prime or Google Express to deliver the things I need to me.  Need, not want.  But I find that if I absolutely can't avoid going into a store, and while grabbing the necessities something cute and decorative winds up in my shopping cart, I use my Mom's trick and "own" it for a while as I go through the store, all while asking it "where will you go in my house?".  Usually the answer is nowhere, it's just going to be clutter, there isn't room for another tchotchke.  Back on the shelf it goes.

 

I'm not perfect, I love stuff, but I love my sanity more.  I love the deep breath walking into a clean, clear room feels like. Hopefully these tips will help you rein in the stuff and enjoy what you have more.  

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