5 Tips to Control Clutter

5 tips to control clutterAn interesting thing about clutter is that it creeps up on you. It doesn’t magically appear one day; it took time to become clutter. Think about each and every time you used something and didn’t put it back where it belonged, or you purchased something you really didn’t need. If you didn’t need it, then it never really had a specific place in your home. That’s how clutter begins.

Here are some tips to help you control clutter in your home.

  1. The best advice I can give to control clutter is to perform daily maintenance. It doesn’t have to be an all-day affair, just a few minutes each day. It really only takes about 15-20 minutes per day. You can use this time to focus on one specific area or the entire house. If you take the time to put items back where they belong, it will help you start your day off right. You will know where to find the things you need and you’ll be able to get out the door faster.
  2. The next tip I have to control clutter is to put things away after you are finished using them. I know it is so tempting to just leave that glass on the table and move on to other things, but if you take the time to put the glass into the dishwasher, that will be one less thing for you to do when you perform your 15 minute daily maintenance. Have everyone in the home practice this tip, so you are not the only one putting stuff away.
  3. Don’t bring anything new into the house until you know exactly where its home will be. If you are about to purchase something and can’t figure out where you will put it when you get home, leave it in the store. If it is something you really think you need, go home first and find a place for it, then go back and get it. You may have to get rid of something or move items to other rooms, but any new item must have a designated place in your home before it enters.
  4. Regularly purge the items you own. If you set up specific times of the year to purge, it will be easier to remember. For example, when you perform your fall and spring cleaning, that would be a good time to purge clothing, shoes, toys, and linens. Make a note of any new items you will need to purchase to replace the purged items. The fun part about this tip is that you get to go shopping!
  5. Before birthdays and holidays, ask your children to donate a specific number of toys/books/items that they no longer want and take the kids with you when you donate them. This will help teach your children the spirit of giving, but it will also free up room for the new items that will be coming.

I could go on and on about ways to control clutter, but if you begin implementing these 5 tips, you will be well on your way to controlling the clutter in your home.

If you have any other tips to control clutter, feel free to leave them in the comments below. :)

**Image courtesy of varandah at FreeDigitalPhotos.net**

10 Items on Sale in April

items on sale in AprilThe following items generally go on sale in April. You should be able to find deep discounts on these items this month.

  • Jewelry- Just in time for Mother’s Day!
  • Gardening tools and supplies
  • Electronics
  • Kitchen cookware
  • Gym memberships  ;)
  • Spring Clothing
  • Winter clothing on clearance
  • Bedding
  • Spring produce
  • Major appliances like refrigerators and ovens

If you have any other deals to add to the items that will be on sale in April, let me know in the comments below!

**photo credit-KrazyCouponLady**

Declutter First-Organize Later

declutter then organizeOn many occasions when I’m called in to organize a room in a client’s home, he/she expects me to swoop in and immediately begin organizing. After assessing the situation and asking a few key questions, they are quite surprised to find out that our first task is to declutter.

Once we remove the clutter that is taking up valuable space, we are then able to clearly see what needs to be organized. It’s usually a slow-go for my clients in the beginning as they are unwilling to part with their items at first, but once they get going, watch out! I love when we reach this point because the organizing process will go much quicker. :)

If you are looking to declutter a few rooms or your entire house, my advice is to take it slow. Tackle one room at a time and try to complete that room in one day. If you stop and say you’ll come back to it tomorrow, you probably won’t and the whole process will be stalled. If you stick with it and finish the job in one day, you will feel enough satisfaction to continue to other rooms.

I also suggest that you declutter all of the rooms before organizing. This way, as you’re going through the process, you can mentally note (or jot down) what organizing solutions you will need.

Let’s go through the process to take when you are ready to declutter your home:

  • Pick a room.
  • Grab a trash bag and a box and pick up every item in the room one by one. Ask yourself if this is something you LOVE. If not, place it into the trash bag or box to donate. I only believe in two categories when sorting: 1) Donate and 2) Trash.  You should only have things in your home that bring you joy.  Fill your home with things that make you smile.
  • I don’t recommend boxing up items to see if you’ll need them later. In my opinion, that is still considered clutter because it’s taking up valuable space in your home and you’ll need to deal with its contents at a later date. I believe you should deal with an item only once.
  • If you are focusing on a closet, remove everything from the closet and replace only what you intend to keep.
  • If you are working in your kitchen, create zones: drawers, upper cabinets, lower cabinets, pantry. Work with only one zone at a time. This will keep you from getting overwhelmed. Take everything out of that zone and really ask yourself if you need, use or love that item before putting it back.
  • When working in kid’s rooms, declutter the oldest child’s room first. Examine every toy and article of clothing to determine if your child has outgrown it. If so, and you have younger children that could use it, feel free to pass it down to them. This is the only time I allow you to put items in a box for later. You’ll go through it more in depth when you reach the younger child’s room. Repeat the process for each child. When you get to the youngest and you have toys and clothing that they have outgrown, place them in the box to donate.
  • If you pick up items that belong elsewhere in your home, put it there now. If there are children at home with you when you are going through this process, ask them to help returning items to specific rooms.
  • Remember that it is ok to get rid of gifts and mementos if they no longer give you joy or make you smile. The point is that it made you happy for a period of time, but you are now ready to welcome new items into your life that will bring you joy now. You will probably feel a sense of relief after letting items go that no longer bring you joy.
  • If there is a thick layer of dust on an item, that is a sign that it hasn’t been touched or admired recently and may need to go.
  • Once you feel like you have finished with the room and cannot declutter it anymore, kick back and find a small way to celebrate! In the future, remember that anything that comes into the room/house must be something you LOVE and makes you smile. Remembering this will help keep your home clutter-free!

For my clutter-free friends: What additional tips can you offer to those who are looking for quick and easy ways to declutter their homes? Feel free to comment-We’d love to know! :)

**Photo: bhg.com**

FREE Dave Ramsey Budgeting Tool

Budgeting Tool Dave RamseyDave Ramsey just released a FREE budgeting tool called Every Dollar. This new tool helps you create a budget in less than 10 minutes. Just set up a new account and you’re off!

Prior to learning about this tool, I was budgeting my money the old-fashioned way. However, I am always eager to try new things to see if my system can be improved.

I tried out Dave’s new budgeting tool and was immediately impressed! It was very quick and easy to create an account and I was up and running in no time. It’s very easy on the eye and user friendly. It’s nothing fancy, but it looks like it will help you keep track of your expenses during the month.

To use the tool, you would enter the amount of money you are expecting to receive that month and then enter in your expenses. As you enter your expenses, a running tally lets you know how much money you have left to spend. The objective is to reach zero-where your income minus your expenses equals zero. Dave calls this a “Zero Based Budget”.

Many account expense names are already inserted for you and you can add any that are special to your circumstances. The accounts are grouped into categories like: Savings, Housing, Transportation, Food, Lifestyle, etc. There’s also a handy chart that shows you the percentages so you can see where most of your money is going.

Other features include a Baby Steps tracker so you can keep track of where you are in his 7 Baby Steps program. The seven baby steps are: 1) Save $1000 2) Pay off debt 3) Save 3-6 months in your emergency fund 4) Invest 15% for retirement 5) Save for college 6) Pay off the mortgage 7) Build wealth and give.

My husband and I have been following Dave Ramsey’s plan for a few years and we are nicely chugging along and making progress every day. His book, Total Money Makeover, is a great resource to begin with if you’re unfamiliar with Dave Ramsey and his philosophy.

The Every Dollar budgeting tool can be downloaded as a free iPhone app.

So far I am enjoying Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar budgeting tool. Only time will tell if I’ll still be using it in a few months or if I’ll revert back to my old ways! ;)

Have you tried this budgeting tool? If so, would you recommend it? If not, what method do you use to track your income and expenses? Let me know in the comments below! :)

Organizing 101- 7 Quick Tips

Home Organizing 7 Quick StepsWelcome to “Organizing 101″! Here you will learn 7 quick steps to getting your home clutter free and organized.

Your home should be a place of rest and rejuvenation. If you’re buried in clutter, I’m sure you and your family are not excited to come home every day.

Here are a few quick steps to get you started on the road to organizing your home:

  1. Start by keeping a trash can in each room (office, kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms). You will be able to discard trash right away and not set it down on a table, counter, or worse, the floor!
  2. Until you are able to get to some serious organizing, don’t bring any new items into the house.  You may be surprised to learn that you already have the items you were planning to purchase… they were just buried or put away somewhere. Wait until you are done organizing the items you currently own before purchasing any new items. Remember, the more things you have, the more things you have to take care of. Less is more!
  3. Place a trash can and shredder where ever you collect the mail. You can immediately shred or trash the mail you don’t intend to read. Place the mail you intend to keep in a basket or tray to be sorted later.
  4. Do a quick pick up each day. Each night before bed, do a quick run through of the house and put things where they belong. Have the kids help as well if their things are laying around. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes, then enjoy the rest of the evening. In our house we live by the expression “Everything Has a Place”. If you can keep this saying in mind it will help you maintain order in your home. Everything that enters your home must have a home of its own…if you use something, put it back when you are finished with it (kids included!). It may seem like more work to stay on top of things, but in the long run it will save you a lot of time and stress.  If you don’t tend to the objects in your life, they will easily turn into clutter.
  5. Place hampers in everyone’s closet or bathroom. This will eliminate the need to throw dirty clothes and towels on the floor and will make laundry day much easier.
  6. Put a hook near the entry door. Hang your keys on the hook when you enter the house and then you’ll know where they are when it’s time to leave.
  7. Ask for help! You are not the only person in your house capable of tidying up. Keeping your house organized should be the entire family’s responsibility. Show everyone how to pick up after themselves and your load will feel a little bit lighter. ;)

If you commit to following these simple organizing tips, I am sure you will feel the stress of clutter beginning to melt away. You and your family will begin to feel calmer and possibly more connected. Hopefully this feeling will inspire you to tackle the entire house…a little at a time…room by room.

What are some organizing tips you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments! :)

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net