Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Organizing Your Home and Finances

This weekend I was talking with a friend of mine who had been through some difficult times over the last few months. His mother had been quite ill and he found that he had to care for her, along with some other personal issues. Fortunately things have stabilized for him and he was doing much better. One of the things I thought was interesting was that he specifically mentioned how much better he felt now that he was able to get his house back in order. In fact, he was hiring his niece to come in and clean once every two weeks to help keep him on track.

I'll be honest, at heart I am a fairly lazy person when it comes to cleaning, but I do it, and I do it often, because I firmly believe in the old axiom "a cluttered room equals a cluttered mind." My friend and I, (oh, let's call him Boris,) were talking about how hard it is to clean when you are depressed. Boris said that he would sit there and look around his apartment and want to tidy up, but he didn't have the energy, yet the clutter would make him more depressed, which just made him less likely to clean up - a vicious circle! And let me tell you, I have been there!

When I was first separated from my husband I moved into an apartment so small, I didn't have room for a couch. In fact, when my girlfriends came over we all had to sit on the floor because I only had two chairs, but honestly, it was the best thing for me. The place was so tiny everything had to be in its place. I only had 18" of counter space, so one plate sitting on the counter took up so much room I couldn't cook. It meant that I had to keep the apartment looking good which turned out to also be good for me emotionally. Now that I am in this gigantic house it is so, so easy for clutter to pile up. Sometimes it is because I am busy, other times it's because I am in a bit of a funk like I was last week, but whatever the reason, I have found that untidiness is bad for my mental health. It is always easier for me to think, be happy, and function in a clean house. When my house is messy I get distracted and what's worse - I feel guilty. Let's say I am having an incredibly busy week, I get home and try to unwind for a little while, something I need to do, but the whole time I am not relaxing and not unwinding, because the back of my brain is buzzing with the fact that my house looks like a wreck.

My friend Boris went through the same thing. He was dealing with a lot, physically and emotionally, and needed time and space to deal with it all. What he didn't need was piles of dirty dishes and dust bunnies under the sofa making him feel worse. So, what does all this have to do with personal finance? Well, quite a lot really...

One of the reasons we work hard on organizing our financial plans is so that we don't have to worry anymore. We want to make sure that when emergencies happen we can concentrate on fixing them, not on where we are going to get the cash. A good financial plan means we don't have to feel guilty about our spending or fret about creditors calling. An organized house works in the exact same way. It isn't bogging down our brain with guilt or fear that a friend might want to stop over. An organized home and organized finances means you can stop fretting.

Now, I am not saying that every house should be able to pass your grandmother's white glove test. Goodness knows mine wouldn't! But, I make the bed every morning, I keep things picked up, the dishes are done, the floors get swept. I don't spend hours on it - just a few minutes here and there. As I mentioned, I am essentially lazy when it comes to house cleaning, and I have found it is a whole lot easier to clean up a tidy house than to start from scratch trying to get a messy house clean!

This is ultimately what I hope to achieve with my finances. I want to be able to keep them well maintained. I don't want to have to spend hours and hours on it, I want to just have a few routine tasks that take a few minutes and then I can move on and live my life. I could "solve" my recent financial problems with getting the house painted by throwing the whole thing on credit cards, but without a plan to get them paid off, that would be just like asking a college frat house to throw a weekend long party in my home! I've come a long way and that would mean worse than starting over. I refuse to do that to myself. Even though it seems easier to let things pile up and not deal with them, the truth is, that just makes them all the worse and all the harder to clean up afterward!




Photo by: JulieLane Photography

9 comments:

Catie said...

I couldn't agree more! With my insane schedule, I have many weeks where it is so difficult to clean at all, and things pile up. I feel so much better when my house is at least somewhat clean. I'll tell you another reason it's a financial pitfall - I get so depressed about it that I will go out to eat instead of going home to prepare food. If walking into my house is going to emotionally exhaust me, then I will avoid it!

Dawn said...

Good point Catie!! I do the same thing - go out rather than coming home. Or just as bad, get home and then order in food to "make myself feel better" which never, ever works.

April said...

Disposing off trash properly would be very important. If you could segregate from bio with non-biodegradable trash would be very helpful to our environment. Cleaning out your stuff would make your house neat and clean. This would be very pleasing to the eyes and nose so you will have a very comfortable place to live in.

Dawn said...

April - Fortunately bad smells aren't a problem for me. I compost organic matter and recycle everything I can, so trash at my home is minimal. By messy homes I actually was just referring to the everyday clutter that can gather when - you know, junk mail on the counter, dust on the mirrors, dishes soaking in the sink, rugs that need vacuuming that kind of thing.

getting stuff done said...

oooh. so relate. although it seems a constant battle to keep this house clean and tidy. and it is only small.

I have just spent a good 2 hours giving it a bit of a going over. and photographed lots of stuff to sell on ebay!

RML said...

I SO agree with the connection between home organisation and financial wellness. I am struggling on both fronts- trying to improve everday :). I really enjoyed your post and your blog.

Dawn said...

Getting Stuff Done - Well, you have three folks in your home - the more you have, the harder it gets. Good for you on the eBay sales. That is awesome!

RML - Thank you so much for the compliment!! I struggle with them too. It is a constant push/pull between knowing I am happier if things are done and really just wanting to not think about it all. Good luck with yours as well!

Divorced Lifestyle said...

I totally agree about the messy house/depression connection. I also find that the state of my purse is a reflection on the state of my life. It gets more and more cluttered in direct correlation to the stress in my life. If I clean it out, my life seems less stressful.

Dawn said...

Divorced Lifestyle - The Purse!! I am in complete agreement!! Mine becomes a repository for junk, receipts and scrap paper. What you said, "If I clean it out, my life seems less stressful." - Exactly!!