By Melissa Tosetti
For many years, I couldn’t relax in my own home. It was so cluttered that I always felt on edge. Each room was a visual reminder of all the cleaning and organizing that I needed to do – cleaning and organizing that was never finished. I continuously felt my energy being drained away and my stress and exhaustion intensify. I would get so frustrated that the only time I felt relaxed was while on vacation staying in a hotel. I kept thinking, “Shouldn’t I be able to relax in my own home?”
In the back of my mind, I knew the clutter was also an indication that I didn’t have my financial house in order. Yes, I was paying my bills on time and staying debt-free, but I wasn’t managing my money once it transitioned from cash to a possession. I would go shopping for clothes and what I would purchase would stay in the bags on the couch for a week. If I really wanted those items, they would have been taken out of the bags and hung on hangers as soon as I got home. The clutter would not let me find the black shoe polish I needed so I would have to buy another bottle. Inevitably, the next day I would find not only the original bottle of shoe polish, but the two other bottles I had purchased the last time I couldn’t find the original bottle.
It sounds dramatic, but I would literally panic any time someone would knock on the door. My mother-in-law was one of the most organized, neatest women I had ever met. Several times she caught me at home with my house in embarrassing order. I found myself constantly apologizing to my friends for the state of our house. After a while, I couldn’t fake that it was a temporary situation.
When we would entertain, I would do marathon cleaning sessions prior to the party. By the time our guests arrived, I would be exhausted and a tiny bit cranky. I knew there had to be a better way.
The sad part about the situation is that I actually enjoy housecleaning. I knew how to clean the house, I just couldn’t stay on top of the cleaning and get it uncluttered and organized.
I finally hit a breaking point and decided to take a few days off from work to focus on the problem. The week before my grand makeover, I was psyched and excited about the clean up. I even cleared my schedule the evening before that first vacation day so I could jump right in. I likened my cleanup project to the makeover shows that were becoming so popular at the time. I knew it was going to be hard work, but by the end of the weekend, my house was going to be magically transformed into a Zen-like retreat.
When I got home from work that day I changed clothes, pushed up my sleeves and immediately — became overwhelmed and started crying.
I didn’t know where to begin. Within 30 minutes I made the excuse that I needed plastic bins to organize my “stuff” and left the house. I didn’t come back until after 9:00 pm, because I couldn’t face it. I ended up spending a silly amount of money bringing more stuff into my home – the plastic bins and other “organizing tools”. Ultimately, I wasted my vacation days, accomplished nothing and my depression grew. The following Monday I found The Flylady.
Marla Cilley, a.k.a., the Flylady, is the founder of the Flylady.net website. She offers advice on how to organize your home and ultimately, your life. She breaks the decluttering and cleaning process down into small, manageable steps, which is in direct contrast to my “get it all done in one long weekend” tactic. No wonder I became overwhelmed!
As I started following her decluttering process, I began to feel an ownership of my home that I had never felt before. As the clutter left, I started to feel control over our house. An almost immediate result of this process is that I became very conscious of what I brought home. I started to get extremely selective about what I purchased; only picking up items that I fell in love with and that reflected my personality. I had been unconscious of how much money I was spending on random stuff for the house.
A surprising byproduct was the immediate positive impact on our finances for being so selective. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was one of the initial steps that lead me down the path of building The Savvy Life. The importance of looking at your finances from a lifestyle perspective.
Yes, Savvy Living is about money skills such as tracking spending, but a large component of it is in smart spending around your Home, Food, Travel, Clothes and Entertainment – all of the areas where we have a tendency to overspend, with the least amount of satisfaction. By being purposeful and understanding connections such as housekeeping and money, we’re able to fund the life we want to live.
Since then, I’ve enjoyed the philosophies of Marie Kondo’s The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up. Between the two resources, I’ve managed to create my own habits and systems to stay on top of my housekeeping. I still occasionally get thrown off here and there, but stay on track 80% of the time which I take as a win!
Even if you have a housekeeper, you may still be struggling with clutter. If so, check out The Flylady and The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up to help you get rid of what no longer serves you. Their resources also go a long way to showing you how to make smarter spending decisions in the future.
The state of your home does influence your personal finances. Taking the time and energy to make your home the relaxing refuge where you want to hang out reduces the likelihood of you spending money to find relaxation externally. Knowing where everything is prevents those “shoe polish” purchases of buying duplicate items simply because you cannot find things in your house. Finally, buying with intent and purpose, ensuring that items pass the “Do I love it?” or “Do I need it?” test makes sure you are spending your money on what is truly important to you.