For many, spring is a great time to get organized. It can also be about more than just cleaning up your home. It’s a chance to declutter and organize your finances, too, and introduce new habits that can set you up for success.
Minimalism is trending, but for good reason: it’s a practical mindset that can help you focus, relax, help the environment and save both money and time. Even IKEA agrees that we’ve arrived at ‘peak stuff’1 – in other words, our homes are jam-packed with things we don’t need, and aren’t making us happy. So, it’s a good time to think about your priorities.
Here are some tips:
1. Go paperless
- Sign up for digital statements with your bank and bills. Make sure you have a secure and accessible way to back up your files.
- Paper flyers and coupons can easily pile up. Instead, use a shopping app like Flipp to help you price match and find the best deal.
- Receipts can easily build up over time, so avoid keeping too many. An app like Receipts by Wave can help you photograph them and extract the data. Check with your accountant to find out which originals you need to keep.
Becoming minimalist doesn’t mean living a Spartan life – it can be quite the opposite.
2. Cut the cord
- Television advertising can tempt us to buy things we don’t need. Decide if you can get the content you want at a lower price through streaming services.
3. Look at recurring costs
- While big-ticket items can make a dent in your budget, recurring costs can have a long-term effect.
- Evaluate gym memberships and subscriptions – cancel if you’re not using them.
- For housing, utilities and phone bills, see if you can save by moving, refinancing or switching providers.
- Consider automating your bill payments for recurring bills to avoid late fees.
- Go through your living space and decide what you want to keep, sell, donate or dump. If you haven’t used it within the past year, consider whether you really need to hang onto it.
- Avoid keeping stuff you think you might need ‘someday’. If you can replace this ‘someday’ item for under $20, it’s probably not worth storing.
- Look for high-quality classic basics (like shoes and coats) made to last in neutral shades. (Use colour and trendy items to accessorize!)
- Haven’t worn it in the last year? Doesn’t fit well? Donate it to a friend or host a clothing swap to trade for something more your style.
5. Take out as much as you take in
- Every day we bring more stuff into our home, whether it’s purchases, mail, packaging or something else. Over time, this stuff can pile up. Challenge yourself to take something out (to the curb, the donation bin or the garbage) for each item you bring in.
6. Don't let your stuff own you
- Remember: The more space you have, the more you have to clean and maintain.
- When you have too much stuff, your best and favourite items can get buried and unused.
- Think twice before paying for storage. About to move or go on an extended trip? Reconsider renting a storage locker. You may find you’re paying a lot to keep furniture that will quickly become dated.
Becoming minimalist doesn’t mean living a Spartan life- - it can be quite the opposite. Studies show people are happiest when they buy experiences over “stuff”.2 And if you save money, you may be able to afford the experience you’ve always wanted.
1Chris Sorensen, “Have we hit ‘peak stuff?’ Ikea says there’s room to grow.,” Macleans.ca, Jan. 28, 2016.
2James Hamblin, “Buy Experiences, Not Things,” TheAtlantic.com, Oct. 7, 2014.