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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Decluttering a Child's Room

My child's room has been overflowing with junk for some time now. Quite a bit of it has come from other people, but a lot of it has come from us too. I let her buy a toy here and there when we are at yard sales or at the flea market. I especially don't mind when she finds things that can be used to be creative - markers, crayons, craft supplies, etc. However, this has all become too much! We now have hundreds of crayons! HUNDREDS! Markers and paper lay strewn all over the floor. Her art easel had been overrun by paper and paints. It's insane!

She generally likes to play in her room, but lately that has become impossible. I had asked her to clean her room, but where is she supposed to put everything? You could see her become overwhelmed the second she walked in her room. Her version of cleaning it was throwing everything in her closet and calling it a day. Who can blame her?

I finally found the solution - I think.

Yesterday morning, I took almost everything out of her room. I boxed it all up and took it to our basement storage. I left only some craft supplies, all of her books, puzzles and clothes and a few of her favorite toys. The rest will be sorted through over the next couple of weeks. I will only replace the things that she genuinely misses. The rest will be divied up and sold or given away.

Strangely, I had begun to feel kind of sorry for her when I would see all the junk she has. Why? Because she can't really play with it all and she can't spend creative time in her room. It was just too much and was just another sign of how overconsumption can truly take over your home and your life.

Here is what I did:
1. I cleared everything out. I threw away everything that could not be reused. I then boxed everything else up and took it to storage. This will be sorted throughout the week and labeled for yard sale or given away.
2. We designated certain areas for her room. She does crafts at her desk and she will do homework there this year as well. Her bed is for sleeping. She now has a bean bag next to her bookshelf for reading.
3. The closet and dresser are for clothes only.
4. We have a hanging storage thingy for toys and some are under her bed. She has a dollhouse, art easel and a few random stuffed animals. That's it.

I know I feel better and last night she disappeared into her room for hours. She was enjoying all of her new found space.

P.S. She hasn't complained once about all of the toys leaving her room.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Visualization Board

I mentioned my visualization board in my last post and you may have been wondering what in the world I was talking about.

My visualization board is where I put the things that I want where I can see them and visualize them. I have this year’s savings goal posted on the board. I also have photos of how I want my backyard space to look or pictures of my dream house, etc. Some people call it the law of attraction. Kind of like if you think it, it will come. My belief is that if you think about it, you will open yourself up to ways to reach your goals.

Example: I have a friend/former co-worker who visualized her dream job. She kept imagining what this would look like and wrote it down. She is now my former co-worker because she is working at her dream job. She would talk about her dream job and one day she mentioned it to another co-worker. This person reminded her that she had an acquaintance that worked where she wanted to work and so she called her up and they were looking for someone. Had she not spoken of her goal she might not be there now.

This same person wanted to buy a campsite at a particular campground. She also wanted the money to purchase the land so she could permanently place her camper on it. She wrote her goals down and visualized this happening. Within a few months, her husband came home with an older camper that he fixed up and sold. The land that was once not available suddenly became available and she was able to purchase the land with the money from the camper sale.
This kind of thing happens to me all of the time. Four years ago, I was visualizing myself in a different job, being accepted into graduate school and being able to buy a new home. In the same week, our offer on our home was accepted and I was offered my current position. The same day that I was offered my new position I said to a coworker, “Now all I need is to be accepted into grad school.” I got home that day and the acceptance letter was waiting for me in the mail. PS – my current job also paid me quite a bit more than what I used to make which helped my house payment become super affordable.

None of these goals would have come true if I had not put forth some effort. I had to apply for my current position. I also had to work on getting a home loan and applying for graduate school. These things did not just appear out of thin air. When you write your goals down and imagine them coming true, you will find ways to make it happen. It’s not magic.

Create your own visualization board. It can be just a piece of your wall where you tape things up or use your refrigerator. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Cut out photos of things you are wishing for or write down your goals and place them where you can see them every day. Then think about your goals and let yourself be open to finding ways to achieve them. You will find yourself reaching your goals in no time.

Setting Goals

When was the last time you put your goals down on a piece of paper? I put mine down fairly regularly. I don’t always achieve my goals, but they are usually the ones that aren’t in line with the rest of my goals. When I find goals that don’t fit, I take them off or adjust them.

I have been working diligently on my financial goals for the past year. My first goal is to save a certain amount of money by October. My husband and I are right on track to do this. Our next financial goal is to pay off all credit cards and other small bills by next year. We are working on paying off everything except the mortgage and my student loan. Then my ultimate goal is to begin saving/investing half of our income every year within the next two-three years. This will be feasible when most of our bills are paid off.

Nowhere on my list do I ever mention attempting to make more money to reach my goals. Would I like more money? Sure, but I don’t want the hassle that goes along with making more money either. Therefore, I plan my goals around what I make currently. If I make more money, than I will start using the surplus to pay more bills. I don’t want to count on it though.
The point here is that writing my goals down has helped me achieve them. I look at them regularly and we even have the first goal posted on a visualization board (for another post) in our bedroom. My husband and I discuss our goals on a regular basis to make sure we are still on the same page. We also discuss any purchases that we make that are over a certain amount and do not help us reach our goal. On our own, we consider whether smaller purchases are really worth it. So far, this is working out well and has even brought us closer together. It has taught us to communicate more often and money is no longer a topic that brings anxiety. The topic actually brings us joy and excitement now.

Get out a pen and paper or your computer. Sit down with your significant other and discuss each of your goals financial or otherwise. My husband and I found that most of our goals were the same, but some were different. That’s okay. My goals were mostly creative goals like learning to paint and learn to do pottery (I have since been learning to paint with acrylics and I am enrolled in a pottery class). If you are married, you should have quite a few common goals to reach together. You will need to compromise if they are not exactly the same. Set reasonable and attainable goals especially for now. If it is a money goal, start with cutting back on something or saving a certain amount per month. It doesn’t have to be lofty. You could also try reading a financial book like “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey. We did and that is what made us get gazelle intense about all of this. Check it out.

Just get your goals where you can see them and think about them often. The more they are on your mind, the more likely you are to start doing things that are in line with reaching these goals. Good luck!