I remember a very hectic and dark time in my life when I was facing bankruptcy, paying child support up the wazoo and getting by with actual financial help from my parents each month. Back then I needed every dollar I could lay my hands on. I was so deep in debt and stressed out though, that I would take mail that came in, assume it was a bill and then just toss it in a drawer or on yet another pile of paper. In this particular case, the mail that I thought was a bill was actually a check for $300! Had I opened it then and there, I would’ve known. And boy, could I have used that $300 then. I didn’t find out until about 8 months later when I was going through my papers and decluttering. When I opened it up, my heart sank. I had a limited time to cash it or I forfeited my claim in this particular case. Needless to say, I was pissed and vowed never again to let clutter cost me a dime!
We’ve all paid the price for clutter at one time or another. A junk drawer, a cluttered room, a disorganized desk at work. Whatever your particular brand of poison, you know what it is. But what you may not know is that it’s costing you in ways you might not suspect. Clutter is the enemy of clear thought, productivity and financial freedom. Having clawed my way out of the clutter hole and experienced its terrible costs, I am sharing with you just a few ways I’ve known clutter to cost me or others I have coached in various ways. Listen up, it might save you some cash and some grief.
Misplaced Funds. In addition to the personal example I related above, I can’t tell you how many times I have decluttered a home with a client and found at least a hundred dollars in the form of change, cash dollars and uncashed checks. One way to fix this is to have a landing pad for your mail. Always put it in that designated spot and sort through it as soon as it comes in or as soon thereafter as you can schedule the time. Have a trash can and shredder nearby to dispose of any excess and unneeded paper. That way you can stay on top of your mail and it doesn’t get sucked into a black hole that costs you.
Wasted Time. How many times have you wasted time looking for something? Each and every day, people lose time looking for things. And sometimes those things are right on their heads, on their feet or in their pockets. I recently had a friend who posted that she spent something like 20 minutes looking for her socks only to find they were, you guessed it, on her feet! My clients constantly tell me they waste 20 minutes or an hour looking for stuff every day. You can easily waste 15 minutes or more each day looking for things. This can make you late for important events or take away time from other more pressing things you should be doing. Eliminate this time waste by setting up zones for items and always putting them back there when you’re done. One thing I do is I have a tray on my dresser and every night I empty my pockets and put my change, wallet, gum, business cards and keys in that tray. The next time I need to leave the house, I know where to go to get that stuff. I’m never wasting time looking for those basic things. Try it, you will like it.
Peace of Mind. Why do we go away on vacation? Isn’t it to get away from it all? And isn’t some of the things we’re getting away from is a messy environment? When you put that key card in your hotel room door and open it, you expect to be greeted by a nicely made bed, a well-arranged room and a neatly arranged bathroom. Even the toilet paper is finished with a nice design! There is a reason for this. An orderly environment relaxes the mind. In the absence of clutter there is peace and rejuvenation. When you come home and open your door, are you greeted with peace or disorder? If it’s the latter, you are robbing yourself of peace of mind. Don’t you get irritated when you have to step over junk on the floor or see dirty dishes in the sink? Do yourself a favor and get started decluttering your home. Turning it into an oasis of peace will make a huge impact on your peace of mind.
One tip to get started is to pick a spot in your target room and start decluttering, working in a clockwise fashion, 15 minutes at a time, or more if you can spare. Keep working in a clockwise direction until you come back to where you started. That way you can see the progress you make and use those little victories to spur you on. Get bins to sort things into Keep, Sell, Donate, Trash and Shred. When you are done move on to the next room and repeat the process. By dedicating just a few minutes each day to decluttering you will be surprised at how much you can accomplish in a relatively short time.
Lost Opportunity. There are people who say successful people are just “lucky.” They are lucky, in a sense, but they make their own “luck.” You see, luck is simply when preparation meets opportunity. If you are disorganized, disheveled and lacking clear focus, you cannot possibly be prepared when opportunity comes knocking. In fact, opportunity might be staring you in the face right now, but you can’t even see it for all the clutter you have accumulated in your life in one form or another. Can you think of any opportunities you may have missed to improve your life because you simply were not organized enough and ready to take advantage of them? If so, shake off the clutter and get your life in order.
Relationships. I have seen actual relationships strained to the breaking point because one spouse or the other refused to let go of tons of unnecessary junk. I’m talking magazines, books, collectibles, rusty old tools that no longer serve a purpose and all manner of other things. And when you ask them when was the last time they used it, they couldn’t tell you. Or when you ask them if it’s such a valuable keepsake, why is it buried at the bottom of all this junk, they look at you like a deer in headlights. And all the while the other mate is threatening to end the marriage if they can’t get it together. This is serious. Don’t be the unfortunate soul who is willing to sacrifice a loved one for material things that can burn up tomorrow and have no lasting value. Learn to let go and you will open up your life and your home to peace and rest.
These are just a few ways clutter can cost you. If you saw yourself in any of the above examples, you are not alone. But the good news is you can fix it since you caused the mess in the first place. The Max Money Mind is dedicated to providing timely advice on how to organize your life and finances so that you may gain financial freedom and peace of mind.
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