The Best Way to Clear Clutter (Plus 12 Steps to a Successful Spending Freeze)
The essential first step
- hobby supplies
- décor items
- kitchen gadgets
- additional technology
- weakened relationships
A new way of life
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1. Set clear boundaries.
Decide how long your freeze will last (I recommend at least 30 days) and exactly what you can and cannot purchase during that time. You might decide that groceries, Netflix, and replacement clothing are fine, while restaurant meals, movie theater tickets, and those cute shoes on sale aren't.
Something as simple as an invitation to a wedding or baby shower could derail your spending freeze. How will you avoid shopping if an event occurs? Or will you make an exception? Think about possible scenarios and plan firm guidelines.
3. Find a sponsor.
Buying much more than you need is a habit – maybe even an addiction. You need an accountability partner. Tell a friend what you want to accomplish and why, and check in with that person every day or two to talk about how you're doing.
4. Say no to ads.
Immediately recycle marketing mail and unsubscribe from marketing email. Those coupons and sales alerts are designed to make you shop, even if you don't need anything. You don't want them.
5. Shop for real.
It's much easier to add something you don't need to your virtual shopping cart, so strongly reconsider purchasing groceries, personal care items, paper products, diapers, pet food, etc. through an online service. Instead, get in your car and go to a brick-and-mortar store when you need those things so you can spend less time browsing online. No more shopping in your pajamas!
6. Quit Amazon Prime.
The only things you need overnight are available in your local grocery, hardware, or drugstore (chemist).
7. Freeze the card.
Don't carry a credit card, and delete your card details from online shopping sites. If you want to purchase something, you'll have to pay with cash or a debit card in the store, and online shopping will require you to get the card out and enter all of the numbers. That extra step gives you time to come to your senses before you buy something you don't need.
In real life or online, make a wish list of items that catch your eye. What tempts you?
Once an item is saved on the list, don't consider it again until the end of your spending freeze. After a month, do you even remember the items you added? If not, that's a good sign your interest was merely a passing flirtation.
Congratulations! By waiting, you avoided buying something you didn't really need or want – clutter in disguise.
9. Get an allowance.
I've used this strategy for several years. After the spending freeze, create a new line item in your budget for discretionary spending. Keep using a wish list, and if an item stays on it for a specified amount of time (say a week), go ahead and buy it if you still want it and you have the money. This places a limit on shopping for extras, and makes the purchase intentional rather than impulsive.
If you're tempted to shop because you "need a break," "deserve a treat," or feel bored, sad, or under stress, the impulse will be hard to resist. But there are plenty of excellent ways to make yourself feel better, no purchase necessary:
- listen to your favorite music
- get some exercise
- make a cup of tea
- talk to a friend
- give yourself a manicure
- soak in a bubble bath
- take a nap
- watch a funny movie
- savor a small piece of dark (at least 70%) chocolate
- read an inspiring book
- browse through some old photos of happy times and loved ones
- work on a favorite hobby
- spend time in nature
11. Give thanks.
A focus on gratitude is really important when you decide to stop spending unnecessarily.
When we become aware of how much we already have, and give thanks for the fact that our needs are met, our whole outlook changes. We start to savor all of the good things we already possess, and our sense of abundance increases. Instead of feeling deprived of our treats and indulgences, we feel satisfied.
Dream about a different life:
- How would it feel to walk into your home and see belongings you use and love – and nothing more?
- How would it feel to fix meals more easily because your kitchen is more spacious and accessible?
- How would it feel to have more time and energy because you spend so much less of it managing all of your stuff?
- How would it feel to nag your children less because they have a fraction of the toys that now clutter your living space?
It feels good to imagine life in your clutter-free home, doesn't it?
It feels even better to live it.
Maximum Gratitude: Find Happiness and Contentment through the Habit of Giving Thanks (available on Amazon*) might be a necessary purchase? Part journal and part inspirational handbook, Maximum Gratitude is a fantastic tool to increase your optimism and appreciation for life.
You'll love the thoughtful essays, plus pages you can personalize with your own expressions of gratitude. Maximum Gratitude will encourage your thankful mindset and help you create a storehouse of positive memories and observations you can turn to again and again.
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