Recently I found myself compelled to carry out a major re-organising project in my home. I finally admitted that I had run out of space to keep some important items, so I decided that it was time to take control of my chronic storage issues. With spring in the air, it presented the right opportunity to take on a comprehensive clean-up challenge.
At first, I thought that the simple answer to my dilemma was to purchase a few more containers or another cabinet to house all the stuff that I needed to put away. However, a quick audit of my closets revealed that I already had more than enough storage bins; the real problem was that I was keeping too many things in them that I no longer needed.
I realised that there was only one solution — some of my stuff had to go. As I went through the slightly traumatic process of unpacking, sorting and deciding what to keep or dump, I thought that most of us could probably benefit from a clean-up campaign on our finances. Upon further reflection, I began to see some lessons that spring cleaning can teach us about money success.
Get rid of the past
In clearing up, you may come across items that make you wonder, “Why am I still hanging on to this old stuff?” Similarly, we often hold on to our financial failures and allow them to hinder us from moving forward. The credit cards which we maxed out; the savings accounts which we cleaned out; the investments in which we lost out; we need to learn from our mistakes and let them go.
While you need to release your past disappointments, it’s just as important not to get stuck in reliving your past successes. In The Greatest Salesman in the World, author Og Mandino declares, “Nevermore will I be satisfied with yesterday’s accomplishments, nor will I indulge, anymore, in self-praise for deeds which in reality are too small to even acknowledge.”
Whether your past has been difficult or delightful, be mindful that you have the ability right now to make use of your wealth of experience to accomplish great things. Your best days are ahead of you, so stop looking behind; focus your thoughts and actions on what you need to do in the present, to create the financial future that you desire.
De-clutter your life
Cluttered closets can be very frustrating, because you can never find what you want with ease, and searching for your stuff just wastes your time.Disorganisation, in any arena, brings chaos and confusion and prevents you from seeing your way forward clearly. However, having a cluttered financial life can be more than a petty annoyance; it can actually cost you dearly.
Are you clueless about where and how you spend your money? Do you forget your bill payment dates and constantly have to pay penalties? Have you lost track of your deposit amounts scattered across different financial institutions? These are just some of the ways in which you can become trapped and confused in a disorderly money muddle.
Remove your financial clutter forever by getting your money organised. Create a budget (you can download one at www.financiallysmart.org) and use it to make informed spending choices. Record your bill payments a day or two before they are due in your diary or mobile phone calendar. Seek expert financial advice to create a structured savings and investment plan to achieve your goals.
Prioritise and live simply
The hardest part of spring-cleaning was deciding which items should go and which should remain. My rule of thumb was that if I hadn’t used it for a year, I was highly unlikely to ever need it again. In fact, I decided to make the garbage can my most valuable piece of furniture; no new item would be put in storage if it didn’t have a clear and important purpose.
Too often, we become overwhelmed with our lives because we continue to accumulate more and more unnecessary things. The never-ending pursuit of mindless stuff will only bring discontent and an unquenchable desire to outdo ourselves and other people. When retail therapy beckons, ask yourself: “Do I really need this new pair of shoes? Does my home really need another decoration?”
Consider all the better uses for your money that will bring lasting benefits, such as saving for your goals or donating to worthwhile charities. Choose to spend below your means and live a more simple existence. When you leave space in your life, you actually give yourself enough room to receive new opportunities and blessings that would otherwise have passed you by.
While it’s great to live the good life, sometimes the simple life can bring more long-term satisfaction. Spring-cleaning has inspired me to let simplicity be my new way of being; where less can be more and true wealth is not dependent on all the stuff that I have.
Copyright © 2012 Cherryl Hanson Simpson.