It’s Not All About the Money

Thank you to my colleague,  Keri Dickerson for writing this insightful guest post.

It’s NOT All About The Money

Through my work as an organizer, I help people get clear on what they want to have in their space and in their lives. We work together to make decisions that support their goals and we have to navigate around all the roadblocks that pop up, staying  focused on the desired result of having only what you love, use  and need.  But which roadblock comes up the most and is the most detrimental to both ourselves and organization in general???  It’s the one about the money!

We spend so much time and energy worrying about money.  But we don’t want to talk about money.  We don’t want to admit that we care so much about money, that money is driving our decisions and making choices for us around what belongings we keep.  But it does.  Everyday!

Here are a few ways it shows up:

  • There’s an emotional toll — We are worried about what we paid and that we wasted money, which creates guilt and shame, regardless of the fact we don’t like/want/need/use said item we paid for.
  • There’s the “I can’t possibly give it away” paralysis — We get stuck because we can’t donate, recycle or trash something that we paid for.  Something that we feel still has value.  So we keep these things or make a big project out of selling them.  Which, let’s face it, rarely happens in a timely manner.

Before we go any further, let’s get something clear — this comes up as an issue for me too!  I am not wasteful with stuff or with money, but getting organized is about surrounding yourself with things you value, love and use, for the right reasons. NOT for  the (often default) reasons — I paid for it, it’s still worth something or it was so expensive.

Here are some definitions we should think about:

  • Cost — an amount that has to be paid or spent to buy or obtain something.
  • Value — the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.
  • Investment — a thing that is worth buying because it may be profitable or useful in the future.
  • Consumables — products that consumers use recurrently, i.e., items which “get used up” or discarded.

Other ways to think about these words:

  • What are the costs of keeping this item — time, energy, space, guilt?  Is it worth it?
  • What do you value?  I bet most people would not say their material things.
  • What do you invest in — yourself, your friends and family, relationships, experiences?

So how do we get around this roadblock in the future?  We have to change the way we spend our money and they way we value our stuff and its usefulness.
When you’re making a purchase, any purchase, think about the following:

  • Am I consuming this or investing in it?  Rarely is anything you buy an investment.  Most things depreciate over time, not increase in value.  You need to be aware of this fact, and okay with it.
  • If this isn’t an investment, is this meant to be consumed?  Is it meant to be used up, within a certain time frame?  Does this item have a life-span?  Am I comfortable with the cost of this at the end of the item’s life-span?
  • Would you buy this if it were worth nothing ($0.00) tomorrow?  Once you buy it, it’s yours with no resale value.  Would this help eliminate purchasing mistakes and impulse buys?  Are you someone that thinks, “I can use this and if I don’t like it/when I’m done with it, I can sell it?”
  • Don’t buy something if you wouldn’t be comfortable donating it to charity or giving it away for free.  It’s nice to give to a good cause, but if the item’s “value” is dictating where your belongings go, then you’re focused on the money.  If you can afford to buy it, you can afford to give it away (with few exceptions).

So how do we arm ourselves to be able to part with things we already bought and are needing/trying to get rid of?

  • Let go of the guilt of a bad purchase, something that was a mistake.  Accepting that the mistake has been made, the decision is in the past and that it really isn’t that big of a deal is the key to moving on.  Let go of the item and the guilt surrounding it goes away too.  Do not keep the item as your punishment.
  • Amortize it!!!  If you have a $2000 sofa for 8 years then you got to have a place to sit and relax for 68 cents per day.  Now something that is so useful and important in your home and daily life might seem easier to rationalize and you can accept this example.  Yet some people will want to sell that sofa for $150+.  You can do the same with a pair of shoes.
  • Remember, you are primarily a consumer, not an investor.  You bought this item to use, not with the potential to sell it.
  • What if when you were done with something, you realized it has fulfilled its purpose to you? It has lived its useful life, gone through its own life-cycle.  This would take care of things that were broken, worn out, items you were tired of wearing or looking at, things you never liked in the first place.  How freeing could this be?????

A note about selling your stuff — Something  that has clouded our brains when it comes to getting rid of our clutter  is the internet and the ability to sell almost anything on Craigslist, Facebook, Amazon, Etsy and eBay.  Think about a few things before you decide to sell something:

  • Your time and energy are valuable too, probably more so than what you’re selling these used items for.
  • An item’s worth is only what someone is willing to pay for it, not what you paid or how you value it.  Resale value often starts at 1/3 of an item’s retail value and goes down from there.
  • Make a plan — set a time to list this item, the price you’d let it go for and the date for which it MUST be gone.
  • Ask yourself if you’d be happier if these items left your home, today.  No more clutter, no more projects.

Money is our currency and has value, but it should not dictate the value of your life, your home or your happiness. Instead, shift your focus and your energy to who you are and what you truly want, to what serves you and your goals. I can guarantee you will be happier for it.

2-12 photoKeri believes that organization is integral to living well. Having an organized home allows you to live with ease and less stress while giving you more time and energy to focus on what is important to you. In 2008, Keri created KMD Organizing, which combines her passions for organizing and working with people to help achieve their organizing goals, both in their homes and lives.

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