Downsizing can seem crazy overwhelming, especially if you have a lot to do. So many people know they will have a huge weight lifted if they can just get past the clutter, but often never get started because the amount of things that need to be done seem impossible. As an expert declutter-er I have some great tips to help get you started. If you were hoping to have 2018 be your year of more freedom, it can be and it doesn’t have to be hard. Well, one funny thing is about downsizing your stuff is that downsizing other areas of your life actually help with the whole process. I’ve gotten together 18 practical ways to downsize and simplify in 2018 to help you start achieving your goals and feeling a little bit less cluttered.
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If you have areas in your house or life that you want to declutter, downsize or simplify, choose one area per week to focus on. Trying to do too much at once will most likely leave you feeling totally overwhelmed and that is the opposite of what simplifying is all about. If you want to start with a room, I have got some of my top recommended posts to help you out.
Downsizing is often seen as a material problem, but really it can be downsizing your wasted time as well. I know for me personally, the days I spend wasting my time in front of a TV screen, phone or laptop are the days that I’m more likely to be angry and accomplish less in my life. When I fail to step away from screen time, I get crabbier, lazier, more frustrated and I’m also less likely to ever get up and do anything about it.
Take the time to declutter your brain a bit and get some time back on your plate. Maybe get a workout in, take a walk, a nap, meditate. Just find something that allows you to relax and recharge. Because your time is valuable and so are you. (Beat that Mr. Rogers.)
Meditation doesn’t have to be setting aside 20 minutes to burn sage, play chimes and sit cross-legged in a room lit only with candles. Although that sounds like a pretty great time to me. Taking the time to be mindful or meditative can happen anywhere throughout the day. My mother in law always insists on hand washing the dishes by herself after every family gathering. Seriously. It calms her down and gives her a little time to just be still and quiet.
This could be done with your morning coffee or tea, on a walk or…sitting cross-legged in a quiet room lit with only candles. Whatever you choose or wherever you find your quiet, make some time to do it daily if possible. Doing this every day can help you get seriously focused on what you want out of your day so that everything you do is intentional and aligned with what you want most out of life.
A capsule wardrobe is a great way to clear out clutter without being too permanent. This is easily done during the change of seasons. First, of all, take the time to go trough all your clothes and clear any away that you no longer wear. As the months start to get colder, go through your shorts, tanks and all things summer and fold them up in a big container. Find a good place to store the container for winter. Doing this clears some clutter from your closet and can trick you into feeling like you just bought a whole new wardrobe when it comes time to rotate your outfits again. The best part is, you can do this as often as you want; most people aim for every 3 months which is usually pretty close to the change of seasons throughout the year.
Paying off debt is pretty much the greatest way to downsize. Nothing feels more smothering than bills that constantly show up in your mailbox. I personally know the feeling of making large payments toward a credit card only to see that barely any of that money was applied to the full balance because the interest was so high. You feel like you will never win. So, it’s time to get smart and get a strategy going.
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I know this might sound cheesy, but getting a dream board together is a great way to remind yourself about what you want the most out of life. Doing this can help you work toward achieving your goals and not paying attention to any clutter that tries to get in your way.
To make a dream board, you can either bust out your favorite markers, your favorite magazines or anything that brings you joy. Take the time to write down or cut out pictures of the things you want to see materialize in your life.
Yup. Go ahead and quit. There are two things that are no good: being a quitter and being someone who tries to do it all. The most important thing is knowing when to quit and when not to. If you are feeling stressed, overworked and overwhelmed, there is a good chance that you have something in your life that you need to quit. That’s when the little steps like mindfulness and dream boards can be crazy helpful. Do you have things in your life that you are putting big efforts toward that might actually be holding you back from reaching things you want to accomplish? If so, it might be a good idea to get a quitting strategy together.
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Taking the time to plan your groceries makes an actual trip to the grocery store much quicker and so much more efficient. It’s easy to get in and get out when you know exactly what you’re going in to get. I often base my purchases off of what coupons or deals are available at the time. An app I frequently use is called Ibotta. Ibotta not only gives you $10 just for signing up, but it also gives you money back on your purchase and pays you $5 for every friend you recommend. You can go above and beyond this by doubling coupons or using any additional perks and offers that a store might have. Like Target’s Debit Card that gives you 5% back on all your purchases.
This one goes hand in hand with planning your groceries ahead of time. Planning out what meals you’re going to make for the week allows you to get a grocery list together so you know what to shop for. I do this while still keeping my coupons and rebates from Ibotta in mind. Preparing meals ahead of time in bulk saves you time throughout the week because you won’t have to constantly think of what to cook. There are less dishes to be done throughout the week this way as well. Meal planning takes a lot of time from one of your days but winds up saving you tons of stress throughout the week.
Of course, meal planning might not be your thing. It’s not for everyone, after all. If that’s the case, there are programs like $5 Meal Plan that literally do all the work for you! They will plan out your meals and get your grocery list together for you! Talk about simplifying! The $5 Meal Plan literally takes all the guess work and stress out of creating healthy meals while still sticking to your budget.
If there is some area of your life that you have been spending money on without reaping any of the benefits, it might be time to cut that money sucker from your life. I know Tom and I personally have been contemplating the idea of switching gym memberships. We would get major discounts through his insurance if we switched, enough to save us over $70 per month! See all my best ways to save when it comes to fitness.
There are other places to save, like cable and phone bills. More and more people are ditching cable and opting for services like Netflix or just getting a digital antenna.
Get some clutter out of your life by going through your kitchen and bathroom. There might be other places as well, but these two are the most common.
If you have cupboards stacked full of pots and pans, clear out the ones that are the least used or any same sized multiples. Most people have a whole bunch of utensils that are totally unnecessary. Get through those spatulas, spoons, and old plastic cups.
In the bathroom, I know I tend to hoard travel sized shampoos and conditioner that we have brought home from vacations. Things like old perfume containers, lotions I don’t use or even ample amounts of floss (that I probably should have used more of!) Anything that is easily considered excess should head out the door.
Going through your stuff to find things that you can sell is perfect for starting the downsize process and also getting a little extra cash in your pocket. Get stuff together in boxes and start planning a yard sale, maybe even go in on one with a friend. Personally, I am not a fan of the yard sale idea because I wind up just creating heaping piles of crap in the corners of my house for months. Then I have to label everything, make signs, spend money on those signs and then when people don’t buy stuff, I still have to donate it anyway! That’s when the internet comes in handy. There are sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Personally, I am a big fan of the site Decluttr that makes selling as easy as one trip to the post office. With Decluttr you can easily sell your old items without any shipping costs!
If you’re taking your time to get your home and stuff organized, why not let the rest of your life follow? In the last year I have gotten seriously organized by using the Simplify + Planner . It has everything from budgeting, fitness, daily schedules and long term goals. You can read my full story on it here: Organize Your Life for the New Year.
I have even gotten more organized this year by making a simple bullet point to-do list on my bathroom mirror. I know that sounds so silly, but I know it’s the one place I will look every day. There are so many tools these days to make organization easier without dirtying up your mirror. Here are some of my favorite tools for easy and effective journalling and organization:
My favorite thing in the whole world (ok, I might be exaggerating) is making old things new and improved! My best friend originally introduced me to spray paint and I haven’t looked back since. Spray paint is great for a quick fix like turning a simple glass vase into a more modern pot that fits with my decor. For bigger projects, my new soft spot is for chalk paint. When we first moved into our house, I knew I wanted a new stand to go underneath the TV. We were also working on our Snowball Method debt payoff so I didn’t have a lot of extra cash that I wanted to put into new furniture. Then one day it happened; there was an old dresser on sale for half off at Goodwill. I brought it home, slapped some chalk paint on it and instantly my dream of a white distressed dresser came true for right around $40.
A great way to practice gratitude is by buying nothing except the necessities. You could try this out for one month or the whole year! Not only would this allow you the chance to be grateful for all that you already have, but it would definitely be a great lesson in discipline!
When it comes to the things you have to buy anyway, there are apps like Dosh. Dosh is an app that links up to your credit cards (or qualifying debit cards) and gives you money back on purchases you make. It works like other cash back apps by refunding you money on qualifying purchases. Only you don’t have to keep track, it scans discounts and gives you money back automatically!
Another way to avoid spending, but still make your space feel brand new is to try rearranging your furniture in order to make the room feel new and fresh. Keep in mind, you don’t have to limit yourself to one room either. Take a chair from your bedroom and try it out in the living room. Move around side tables, switch up the curtains. The possibilities are endless. Doing this can be a great way to give your home a “fresh start” kind of feeling without spending a dime.
When I think back on my childhood, most of my favorite memories are ones that cost nothing. Things like building snow forts in the back yard with my dad or when my mom would set up a tent in the backyard for my friends and I. Life is seriously an adventure if you choose to see it that way. On weekends where we want to find something to do but are trying to save our money for other adventures, I will Google “free stuff near me.” I can easily find local calendars of events as well as things closer to the cities.
What better way to enjoy life than on vacation? I won’t lie, my main purpose for saving money is so that we can go on more worry free vacations. There are still so many ways to do this on a budget as well. When we are looking at flying somewhere, I always check Google Flights. They have an option of searching “flexible dates” which means you can visually see which days are going to be the least expensive to fly.
I also frequently scan Groupon for discounts around the world at various hotels and resorts. Even if we wind up staying somewhere that isn’t offered as a vacation spot through Groupon, Groupon usually has discounts on things in the area. Things like wine tasting, brewery tours, restaurants and excursions.
On top of any discounts you can get from Groupon, BeFrugal is a site that often partners with Groupon to give you even more cash back! So if you spend $100 on a Groupon, BeFrugal might reimburse you 8%. While that might not seem like a lot, using your BeFrugal on frequent purchases like food, shopping or vacations, you can really start to see a profit. In fact, you get $10 just for signing up.
To take it one step further, there is still the Dosh app that will give you cash back on any qualifying purchases you make. They often partner with local businesses as well. So, on vacation if you decide to try a new little dinner, you might just get some cash back!
OOFTA! That’s a lot of stuff. But, my way of thinking is that if I’m going to go on vacation, you better bet your bottom dollar I’m going to save (or make) as much money as I can!
Whatever ways you find to downsize or simplify, just make sure you’re being true to you and sticking with your ultimate life goals. Take it easy on yourself. One thing I know for sure, there more pressure I put on myself to enjoy life…the less I seem to enjoy it!
$5 Meal Plan – The $5 meal plan was created by a busy mother of 4 for other busy mother’s out there. Get access to healthy meal plans that take all the guess work out of what to make for your family!
BeFrugal – Be Frugal is an online resources for the best coupons around. In stores, online or in restaurants.
IBotta – IBotta is a totally free app that pays you $10 just for signing up. With this app you can get paid for the things you already plan on buying!
Love and Money – Online courses to help couples and family get finances together in order to stay together!
Paperless Home – The paperless home guides you step by step through how to start creating a home where all of your most important information can always be in one place and always at your finger tips!
Simplify + Planner – Abby Lawson from Just a Girl and Her Blog has a great and inexpensive planner to help you get intentionally organized. Starting a blog can be very overwhelming and getting a little organized can go a long way.
Target Debit Card – If you shop at Target as much as me, you should definitely get in on the debit card if you haven’t already. All it does is remove money from your regular checking account like a regular debit card, but saves you 5% on your purchases every time you use it!