January. A time to reflect after Christmas and catch a breath before the busy work and school year gets underway. And unless you are still on holidays, a time to declutter.
After THREE people told me that they were decluttering this weekend, I decided to post something on Facebook and Instagram talking about my own decluttering. More people added to the conversation and currently the number of people I know who are decluttering stands at ten. Are you one of them?
I consider a ritual purge now and then is important. When we returned from Taiwan I spent nearly two months decluttering: unpacking at least one box a day and sorting out what I needed and what I didn’t. I gave away carloads to op shops and through Freecycle and met new friends through the Buy Nothing project. Yet STILL I am surrounded by things that are superfluous to my life and block out unnecessary space.
Nor is this surprising. My life has changed so much in the last one, two, five, ten years and even fifteen years since I first landed in Canberra with lots of books and not much else. I went from being a student, to having a stable public service job, moving in with my boyfriend, buying a house, becoming engaged, welcoming homestay students, getting married, having babies, watching them become toddlers and school aged children and get bored with their toys, getting separated … And with each change in life stage has come a need to get rid of the ‘stuff’ that I needed at that time but that I no longer require.
I consider decluttering important for many reasons, but I do believe there is a link between decluttering/living simply and creating affluence. How? Well, here are some reasons.
- Rich people are organised. In the Millionaire Woman Next Door, Thomas J. Stanley documents how most mega wealthy women track their money. Every single dollar. Every day. They know where the money goes. They don’t surround themselves with clutter that distracts. As you are decluttering, take a leaf from Suze Orman’s Women & Money book and see if you can find money – lose coins in pockets or the car, doctors bills you haven’t sought a refund for Medicare for, coins under sofa cushions, things you can sell on Gumtree (or your work noticeboard) to make a bit of extra cash.
- You find stuff you need when you declutter. I am always amazed how I find something I was just about to buy new when I declutter. This is because things just get lost in the nooks and crannies of a house, and even I forget where I put them. Do you find that you are always buying sticky tape but can never find any when you need it? It happens. I was shocked when we packed to move to Taiwan that I had seven pairs of tweezers (and no, I could rarely find tweezers when I needed them). Get rid of what you don’t need and know where what you do need is.
- Decuttering clears your mind and opens it to new positive possibilities. As you declutter, visualise your emotional problems also sorting out. I especially like Lousie Hay’s affirmation to say as you are decluttering: “I am cleaning out the cupboards of your mind.” It is difficult to remain emotionally positive and suddenly have a million dollar idea (and implement it) if your mind is stuck dwelling on awful things that happened in the past. Like a breakup with an ex boyfriend or husband for instance. While surrounded by pictures and memories associated with that person. Of course you might be a creative person and need to be surrounded by a bit of artistic creativity. But just junk and you won’t be able to find anything. Or feel inspired. Clear out the negative and make room for the positive.
- Less is easier. More clothes doesn’t necessarily make it easier to decide what you are going to wear in the morning. Really. More choices mean more decisions. Get rid of the things you never wear and concentrate on those thing that you feel sexy and confident wearing. And remind yourself when you next shop that more stuff just complicates your life. (Note to self: implement your own advice). In his book Does This Clutter Make my Butt Look Fat celebrity organisation expert Peter Walsh suggests throwing out all of those ‘one day I will be thin’ clothes and focusing instead on what you actually wear. Oh, and clean out the pantry of junk while you are at it.
- Order can bring joy into your life. Well, that is the theory behind the work of Japanese decluttering queen Marie Kondo. She writes about surrounding us with those belongings that spark joy and getting rid of those that don’t. I would add that with less stuff around you that you don’t need, you will waste less time looking for things and more time to work productively on say, that book you are working on or your two blogs (note to self: declutter more, focus on the joy).
- Have a spare bedroom filled with junk? You can make money from renting out spare room in your place. Seriously. It doesn’t have to be all the time, perhaps just occasionally with through airbnb. Or perhaps you could have an au pair live with you to help manage the kids in that room that is now clean and inviting. Or maybe it could be your office where you implement your crazy business idea you have always wanted to do that enables you to leave a job that you hate. I calculated that if I rented out my front room (full of junk I don’t need) I could earn around $7,800 a year. Were the things in there worth that much? Not even close. For that amount I could buy a new tent every time I went camping (just kidding!). And I could certainly afford to pay for more help around the house to keep me sane as a single mother of two active and not so tidy boys.
- Do you live in a bigger house than you need? Are you paying rent or mortgage on a house that is bigger than you actually need? And are you paying excess travel costs to get there? Are you spending your time working to provide a house for your stuff? If so you would not be alone: Australians live in some of the biggest houses in the world, and the trend is only continuing. A counter trend is tiny houses. That might be a step too far for many, but there are some nifty space saving ideas out there, including from IKEA. You will save money by spending less on heating and cooling as well, and have less space to clean.
As I continue my decluttering next week I am thinking abundance. My new affirmation as I discover new jems: “I am grateful for the abundance in my life.” And truly, I am.
I would love to hear about your decluttering journey. Is it helping to create affluence and joy in your life? Or is it just all a lot of work.