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9 organizing tips that will ‘magically’ create extra space and free time

It’s only funny because it’s true. Last year’s most popular New Year’s resolutions are some that you’re probably familiar with. According to a GOBankingRates survey for 2016, most of us vowed to start enjoying life to the fullest at 45.7 percent, making healthier choices at 41.1 percent, losing weight at 39.6 percent, spending more time with family at 33.2 percent, and saving more money and paying off debt at 30.1 percent and 27.5 percent respectively. Yet only a rumored 8 percent of people will actually achieve their resolutions for the new year.

Is your New Year’s resolution to buy a house? Find out what you prequalify for here.

How to guarantee your New Year’s resolution isn’t a flop

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As we start a fresh calendar year, having a goal in mind is a good thing. As that saying goes, if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. But maybe there’s a reason that most of the most popular New Year’s resolutions continue to be a spectacular flop. As Tory Higgins, professor of psychology and business at Columbia University, explained to Time in 2015, common New Year’s resolutions can be broken down into two categories: promotion goals based on hopes and dreams and prevention goals based on duties and obligations.

Prevention or maintenance goals, like going to the gym, paying your bills on time, and paying down debt, are more likely to be achieved since they aren’t so abstract. And if you want to achieve a promotion goal, i.e., a big goal like buying a house, smaller prevention goals are going to get you there. That is to say, breaking your goal up into bite-size pieces instead of loftier dreams could make it more attainable.

When setting a goal, knowledge is power. Our handy calculator will tell you if it’s better for you to rent or to buy.

Out with the old — and make more room for YOU

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So, we can all agree based on the research and expert advice that a reasonable resolution is better than a grand resolution any day of the week. Getting proactive in the new year is good, but it doesn’t mean there can’t be any icing on the cake. If your plan is to clean up your house, declutter your mess, and get your life in order, you can still tackle this prevention goal while bundling some loftier benefits along with it.

What we’re trying to say is — cleaning up and organizing your life with a focus on self-care could help you to achieve many of the most popular New Year’s resolutions listed above.

To give you a better example, if you start practicing some of our life-organizing tips below, you’ll automatically be getting back something for yourself. You’ll be taking actionable steps — like decluttering your home and restructuring your finances — that can provide tangible benefits in more space, free time, and money. These are all of those abstract New Year’s resolutions that are almost impossible to achieve without some actionable steps to get you there. Kansas City University researchers support this simplified step-by-step approach as a means to beat that 92 percent New Year’s resolution failure rate.

Keep all your paperwork really, really organized when buying a home. Use the Borrower Portal on our free LoanFly app.

A proactive New Year’s resolution with a twist (and 9 tips to make it happen)

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Whether you try one or all of these tips, it’s all about forward motion. Start putting one foot in front of the other as you tackle some of your biggest household projects and make a little more room for you. It’s a win-win:

  1. Toss out what you no longer need. There’s something so cathartic about taking inventory and getting rid of old items that no longer serve you once January rolls around. Make it your goal to give away or donate one large item each week until February 1 (and continue as long as needed). This simple act clears extra space in your home for you and your family.
  2. Sell items of value. Whatever you choose not to throw out or donate can be sold on Craigslist or Varagesale. Remember to set aside all the earnings to do something nice for yourself — something totally frivolous like a massage or a weekend getaway that you normally wouldn’t splurge on.
  3. Take a 30-day organizing challenge. Once you take care of all the major organizing around your house, you can take a deep breath and dial it back to maintenance for the rest of the year. As an added bonus, if you plan on selling your house within the next year, a standard decluttering with “everything in its place” will make it more show-worthy and much more attractive to buyers.
  4. Create a family chore chart. Using a shared Google calendar comes highly recommended, and it makes it easy to include multiple family members in on the cleaning “fun.” When it comes to self-care, this is one time when it’s critical to delegate and ask for help. If you feel like you’re doing everything and getting nowhere, dividing and conquering daily household chores could save your sanity.
  5. Keep things simple in the kitchen. As your realtor has likely told you, the kitchen is considered to be the most central, and most-used room, in the house. And if your New Year’s resolutions happen to include weight loss goals, decluttering your kitchen may have more benefits than one. Cornell Food & Brand Lab research confirmed in 2016 that a cluttered kitchen environment can increase stress levels and may lead to twice as much snacking.
  6. Make breakfast the night before. Premade and frozen breakfast burritos, a pre-chopped breakfast smoothie, or even high-fiber cereal can shave a good half hour off a hectic morning routine. Use that time to quiet down before you face the day — a daily meditation or prayer practice has been proven to reduce stress, regulate emotions and self-control, improve cognitive and school performance, boost immunity, enhance creativity, and more.
  7. Clear your calendar. Saying “no” is hard to do, until you get some practice. You cleared up your home, now clear up your life and your schedule by canceling or declining unnecessary plans at least once a week. This will free up some of that coveted unstructured time for rest and relaxation.
  8. Start saving money, a little at a time. Getting your finances in order, a major component of organization and self-care, is yet another thing that happens one step at a time. Changing your daily spending habits and setting aside money every month can make a huge difference in coming out ahead on your monthly bills, and then some. We recommend using this list of 100 ways to save money for inspiration.
  9. Create a financial plan. If you have financial goals, this is the year to achieve them. Every January, we recommend checking in with your loan officer about the state of your mortgage in an annual review. Crunching the numbers and reassessing will tell you what you need to do to streamline your bills and continue saving, whether it’s by refinancing or even downsizing your home. Then, you can put the money you save each month toward achieving your next big-picture goal.

Now you’ve got your home in order, and if you want to make buying your next house just as organized, we’ve got an app that you’re going to love. Try our free LoanFly app to find out how much house you prequalify for, search for home listings, and keep all your borrower paperwork in one place. It’s really that easy.

For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.

Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.