Lesson in Financial De-cluttering : The clean-up act

The mess isn’t a mess till it start stinking, isn’t it?

I realised the mess I was in when I saw that my monthly telephone bill was Rs 12,000. In 2014! I realised the mess I was in when we had just Rs 1500 left in our account!

And I finally realised I needed to do something when we could not control it even with regular salaries!

And many a times, you do see warning signs of upcoming disaster but you ignore it because you have no idea how to deal with it.

In my post on controlling the chaos I did tell you the sequence I found to make sense. But then I realised, I did not share the very basic prerequisite to starting that sequence – De-cluttering.

It is similar to re-setting your wardrobe.

I used to stuff and stuff my wardrobe till clothes start spilling from even a closed door and then one fine day, I would make it a full day project (sometimes two day weekend project) to reset my wardrobe.

A bad habit is a bad habit everywhere and it tends to sneak into other spheres of your life too. Nowadays, it is all over my laptop screen!

Anyway, Financial de-cluttering is pretty much the same as resetting your wardrobe. But better do it on time.

Money does not overflow, it tends to vanish if not managed.

So let’s start the cleaning.

By the end of this you will know how to clean your financial mess and your wardrobe too!

Take everything out!

Wardrobe : take all your clothes out, just let them drop to the floor. No issues. Make sure your wardrobe is absolutely empty.

Finances : take all your statements out. All account statement, credit card bills, Swiggy bills, Amazon shopping bill everything.

Just let everything come out from the darkest secret corridors of your messy palace.

Make sure, you have been honest and there is no expense slip that is not laid out in open yet.

Categorize

Wardrobe : stack your clothes as per office wear , evening wear , night wear , lowers, useless etc

Finances : Now be tough on yourself, take a notebook and draw two columns. The good old need vs want. Essentials vs desires. Yes.

And just to keep a check on yourself, phone is essential in today’s times, iPhone X is not.

Food is essential, Swiggy is not (the food one I still struggle with).

Donate and Sacrifice

Wardrobe : All the useless stuff – that you never wore, that you plan to wear when you lose or gain some weight, that is expensive but at the same time so RanveerSingh that you can never pull it off – let it go.

Donate, Sacrifice.

Not only will you make some space in your wardrobe, you will also feel good after a month or so (truth be told, initially you will feel miserable specially for the RanveerSingh piece)

Finances : All the unnecessary or expensive desires need some sacrificing.

You will find some useless payments you are doing for things/subscriptions you don’t use.

You will discover a surprising Swiggy bill that will also explain your mysterious weight gain in past few months.

You will finally realise that the drink and smoke causes a deeper damage than just to your liver and lungs.

You will see that most often than not, the only people benefitting from Big Bonanza Sale are the people selling stuff at discount and not you.

You will realise to your horror that if you continue to travel like this, you may have to stop completely in 3-4 years.

Get rid of as many expensive desires as you can.

Some checks I can suggest – Swiggy every weekend is okay. Drinks every 15 days is okay. Shopping once every 3-4 months is enough. Travel twice a year is not that bad.

iPhone X you can hardly do anything about now. So keep it and pray it does not break.

Re-stack

Wardrobe : Now that useless is gone, re-stack your clothes back in your wardrobe. Assign a place for each category.

Put it back nicely and smile at all the free space you found in your wardrobe. Click a few pictures and post on Instagram for social validation. Because, that was the whole point duh!

Finances : Time to re-stack your finances.

You now know what are your essential expenses. Make note of that.

You also know the budget for your luxury expenses. Note that too.

And now smile at all the extra money left with you after cutting back on unnecessary luxuries.

Automate

Wardrobe : Decide to place the items category wise only from now on. Casuals go on casual stack. Office wear goes in that stack and so on.

For someone like me who struggles with keeping things back at the same place, I litter clothes on my bed and then on weekends I take my sweet time to wash or put them back on respective stacks while I groove to 90s Bollywood songs.

Either be disciplined or devise a hack. (I have to think of new one now. M was away so I could get away with it. Now it won’t work.)

Finance : Essentials are non-negotiable. Automate the deduction every month for your essentials. Rent, Electricity, Telephone, Help, Internet, TV/subscription, groceries.

To keep check on yourself, automate savings too.

What is left with you will be luxury expenses that you can now spend guilt-free.

Re-visit

Wardrobe : In all possibility, the wardrobe will be back to the mess it was in a few weeks.

Repeat the entire process again. Don’t forget the 90s songs and a bit of your crazy moves.

Finances : Being in similar financial mess has a lesser probability of occurrence than wardrobe mess.

Trust me. It has got something to do with your brain. Financial de-cluttering is addictive.

But still, if you do find yourself in a mess in few months, repeat the entire process again.

I have deliberately not mentioned the percentage of your salary that should go in essentials, luxuries and savings. Because a) it gets too intimidating to follow the numbers and b) it is more a part of budgeting, which I will write separately about.

I started by doing what I could. And I would suggest the same to you.

Among other things, the financial decluttering I did now ensures that my savings are deducted even before I can think of an excuse and I know exactly what money I need in a month. There is no guesswork anymore.

I find that very peaceful and I feel a sense of control.

Last and most important, it resulted in my Swiggy bill reducing from 9000 per month to 3000 per month and 7 kg weight loss – free free free!


Also published on Medium.

5 Comments

  1. Very sensible advice. Present day card culture has given a feeling that we don’t have to pay. money. This way they tend to spend way above their ability. Besides, a delivery from Swiggy is not only tasty it is effortless. Who’s is going to cook something that no one likes. I guess one needs to set priorities right.

  2. Another post from you that should be a must read for everyone wondering about where to start from. Indeed sometime all we need to do is tale out everything rearrange and restart.

Leave a Reply