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24 life-decluttering tips that really work

Bethany Ramos Finance, Homeowners, Lifestyle, Organizing, Refinance

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Don’t start this new year off with that not-so-fresh feeling. Make room for all that lies ahead by ridding yourself of what you no longer need.

In some cases, parting with the excess may be as simple as giving an armchair to Goodwill. Other times, it can look like paring down the parts of your life that feel out of control. Read on for our tried-and-tested tips you can start using today to tame your closets, your bills, and your social presence.

Streamline your life and restore your sanity

If you want to feel financially fit, socially balanced, and less chaotic at home this year, here’s where to begin:

Home

Getting your house organized isn’t just for vanity. Taming clutter can restore a sense of personal control, so much so that it could help to curb compulsive behaviors, like impulse spending.

Start to:
  1. Chuck anything in sight you don’t need. This one’s easy. Go from room to room and fill up a trash bag with papers, broken toys and knickknacks, and torn or stained clothes.
  2. Don’t buy something you don’t need just because it’s on sale. Turn a small profit by selling your gently-used items on Craigslist or VarageSale instead.
  3. Download electronic manuals to all appliances/devices and store in the cloud. Dig through junk drawers and filing cabinets for hard copies, and throw those bulky paper product manuals out.
  4. Make it a family affair. Ask kids to pitch in, take on their own rooms, and participate in a charity drop-off. (Charitable kiddos are likely to grow up into happy adults.)
  5. Prioritize your memories. Only keep gifts, pictures, art, and furniture in good shape and with good memories attached. Everything else can be thrown out or donated.
  6. Set up a swap night. If you truly can’t bear to part with some of your prized possessions — like your paperback book collection — make a night of it. Invite friends over for wine and cheese, and swap your favorite books, toys, and accessories.
  7. Try the rule of five. Get rid of a minimum of five items in each room you clean, whether it’s a pile of paper, a broken lamp, or outdated electronics.
  8. Use a timer. No need to tackle all the mess at once. Just set a timer for 30 minutes, see how much you can toss from your overstuffed cabinets until the timer dings, and then revisit the exercise again tomorrow.

Finance

Managing debt won’t just boost your bank balance. It may also improve your cognitive and psychological abilities, helping you make better decisions.

Start to:
  1. Cut out all extra subscriptions. You may be subscribed to a monthly publication, digital magazine, streaming service, or video game service that you’ve totally forgotten about. Any of these silent money-suckers can add an extra $10 to $20 per month to your household bills.
  2. Make a list of debts by interest rate. Begin paying against the debt with the highest interest rate — the one costing you the most money — before paying off those at lower interest.
  3. Quit the gym. If you don’t have time to go to the gym, end your contract, and stop paying for it. Consider signing up for an online fitness program, joining a local and free running group, or working out at a low-cost community center.
  4. Sell your car. Can you downsize to a one-car household? If so, try sharing a vehicle or using public transport. Allocate that $300 to $400 car payment toward any outstanding debt.
  5. Start putting money into an emergency fund, if you haven’t already. Set up automatic contributions from your checking account to save toward a $1,000 goal; every little deposit counts.
  6. Talk to your loan officer about a refinance. If you’re a homeowner, you may be paying a higher-than-necessary interest rate that can increase your monthly mortgage payment. Refinancing can be used to potentially reduce a monthly payment, change or shorten loan terms, or consolidate debt.
  7. Tune in to debt management podcasts. While excited may be too a strong word, it’s possible to get more motivated to pay down debt with the right finance guru in your ear. Download popular picks like the Dave Ramsey Show or Debt Free in 30 for inspiration.
  8. Use a grocery list or app and stick to it. Even small impulse purchases at the grocery store can accumulate by the end of the month.

Clean up your mortgage by reducing its length or lowering your monthly payment: Use our free calculator to find out when refinance pays.

Social media

As you probably know by now, having more friends on Facebook does not a happier person make. Studies show that social media activity appears to have an inverse relationship with personal wellbeing, making an argument for assessing your use and its impact.

Start to:
  1. Schedule a break. For some people, this may look like deactivating or silencing Facebook for a week, a month, or permanently. For others, committing to unplug for even an hour each day can work wonders in reducing stress.
  2. Silence notifications. Many times, you’re subscribed automatically to the apps you download and the countless blinking notifications they bring with them. Deleting all apps may not be necessary if you take the extra step to go into your app settings and manually turn off notifications.
  3. Try a new hobby. The time you spend strumming a guitar, hiking, volunteering as a Big Brother or Sister, or knitting is time that can’t be spent scrolling. #brilliant
  4. Unfollow and unfriend. Take a spare hour or two to walk down memory lane. Go through your friends list, and unfriend those acquaintances you haven’t spoken to in years (or can’t remember).
  5. Unfollow the media. If you’re no longer interested in a website or business, there’s no reason to have them on your feed. Unlike and unfollow to manage the daily content you’re exposed to.
  6. Unsubscribe from email lists. Feeling bombarded by sales or newsletter emails you no longer need or want to read? The end is nigh. Simply click “unsubscribe” at the bottom, and make sure you’re removed from each list.
  7. Use a social-media-limiting app. When you need help getting off social media: There’s an app for that too. App Detox, as the name suggests, lets you set rules and even lock apps you find particularly enticing.
  8. Write or journal. Give your brain and thumbs a rest from screen-time, and pick up a pen to jot down your feelings. For extra credit, write a narrative. Writing a meaningful story about a tough life experience, like a divorce, could help reduce the negative effects of stress on your body.

Here’s one less thing to worry about this year

Leave homebuying hassle in 2021. Use our practically paperless mortgage process to make it easy and fast. Just download our free LoanFly app, plug in your details, and prequalify to buy or refinance in minutes.*

*During normal business hours.

While refinancing could make a significant difference in the amount you pay each month, there are other costs you should consider. Plus, your finance charges may be higher over the life of the loan.

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

Sources deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

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