Imagine you need a quick extra $100 for groceries this month. You aren’t able to take that money from any other account but your grocery budget. Could you make that happen?
This is a big lesson we have learned the past couple of weeks.
You need margin in the budget. Creating margin, or a buffer, in your budget gives you another level of comfort, breathing room, to Drive your MoneyBus.
How to create budget margin:
How filling the accounts to provide for the family and your needs has given us more freedom.
When the cost of gas goes down, continue putting the money in the account to give you some breathing room for future purchases.
Taking time to make the budget gives you opportunity to make your choices and set yourself up for success
Living your most enriched life, within your means, you are creating freedom for yourself.
Find ways to create margin within one portion of your budget will give you more freedom.
When you change the focus and look to consume less, you are living enriched.
The March challenge:
This month we are going to downsize from our rental home to an apartment.
40-50% of size decrease in the home is the goal. I am working to eliminate 40-50% of our stuff. The junk.
You can read more about the challenge, and share your comments by following along here.
Week 1 is focusing on the bedrooms. I’ll eliminate the clothes we haven’t worn, the clothes that don’t fit properly right now, and the shoes we haven’t worn in years.
Determine your Emergency Fund
How much do you actually need in your emergency fund? After this experience, of an emergency trip home for Grandma’s funeral, consider;
Make a high-level plan. (remember those earthquake drills in elementary school…) Just a bare bones idea of the travel involved, the hotels, food, and other necessities and write out the numbers on a one-page form. Place this form in your budget/binder book.
Decide really how much will you need in the moment of crisis. Write it out on the page in your budget binder.
Open a new savings account specifically for this situation. Open the account today, either online or in person.
Start the savings for this. Make it automatic. $25/ a week can make a big difference in a quick year or less.
Editor’s note: I know that we are starting this on the 2nd of the month, with travel and family time, I am just getting started on this challenge. Better late that never and I am getting started!
So, this is a big one. We are making some changes. We have lived in our rental home for the past three years. My husband didn’t want us to move here initially as he was concerned that I would fall in love with the space and when it would be time to leave that we would be unable to find something similar in our price range.
Boy, have we changed. After our time here, research, and this incredible financial journey, we have realized that this is not what we want in our life right now. So, to help us focus on our financial situation, to give us the space we need and not just what we want, and to help us minimize excessive spending, we are ready to downsize. Here’s the challenge for March.
The March Challenge
Primary goal: move from a 4-bedroom, 3 bath, 2 car garage, 3,000 square foot home to an apartment from 1,000 – 1500 square feet. That’s a downsize.
Secondary goal: eliminate all the junk in our home by 40-50%. Room by room. Closet by closet. Shelf by shelf.
This is no joke. It’s time to roll up the sleeves, and get to work. Are you with me?
And while I’ve never been a minimalist, nor am I trying to be a minimalist at this time. I am certainly working to simplify our home during the month of March.
Here are the rules. (And please, just know that these are the rules I’m using to get my home in order. Please adjust as you deem necessary.)
Focus on one room at a time. This is where I have gotten off track in the past. You know, take this sippy cup into the kitchen, spend five minutes sorting mail while I’m there, then off to do laundry and… somewhere in there I lost a complete hour of good working time. I plan to use the Pomodoro timer app to keep me in the area, focused, and working on just the section I need to be working on to finish.
Cupboard by cupboard, closet by closet, item by item. I plan to do it like this to make the right decisions that will keep the home in order for a good, long time.
Eliminate 30-40% of stuff. Okay, everything I’ve read leads me to the 80/20 rule. But getting rid of 80% of our stuff? That’s huge. HUGE. I plan to start with 40-50% and see how it goes from there.
Week by week through different areas of the home. I’ll take a portion on the house, usually certain rooms and make the decisions of the day.
And, just arriving back home from our travel to my sweet Grandma’s funeral, I’m looking at the house with fresh eyes. Part of learning to live an enriched life means living below our means. For most of our marriage, we have tried to live “Right at our level of means,” or worse, “Just a smidgen above our means.”
Part of me dreams of being just a little OCD, so our home is stunningly clean and gorgeous at all times, in all seasons, and no matter who pops in for a visit. But, let’s be real about this. With all this, dare I call it, crap in the house we are never going to achieve that!
This is part a de-clutter, part a spring cleaning, and part purge of the junk. So, what would be the perfectly- appropriate-upbeat-title for that?
Spring Simplifying? Too vague.
Primavera purge? Sounds like a bad trip to Olive Garden.
Tidy up for the Tiny House? Who am I Stuart Little?
Ahem. I digress.
Even though we are without a catchy title, let’s get going on this challenge. (Side note: if you think of a name for it, please send it over. You’ll get all the credit, for sure!)
Week 1: Bedrooms. I plan to go through each closet, each drawer, each pair of shoes and make thooooose decisions. I just have stuff around the house right now that we don’t need, and probably won’t use for a very, very long time. I plan to ask questions like, “Have I even worn this in the past year?” “Will I need this in the next six months?” “Is there someone I know who could use this?”
You’ve seen those shows. The kind where the person who is a collector of waaaay too much stuff calls in a professional organizer and gets things in order. I plan to do that on a much smaller basis. I’ll have 2 bins set up: one for donations to Goodwill, the other for someone else to decide. (For example, if my husband needs to decide on clothes or if one of my daughter’s friends could use clothes she’s outgrown.) Other than that, it will go back in its place, nicely organized for a simpler, cleaner, clearer home and lots of organized future use.
Week 2: Bathrooms. This will include going through the medicine cabinets, checking expiration dates, chucking those half-used bottles of shampoo, the stuff that just seems to clutter up the bathroom counter and get us back on track.
Week 3: Storage Spaces. We have a study that is more like the “stuff and study.” We have an extra room that has been the place of “stuff we will need in a couple months,” that has been in there for 3 years. It’s embarrassing to say that aloud, but it is time to come clean and purge nearly all of that! I’m sure there’s a couple things that we might be able to sell, but we will get there.
Week 4: Kitchen, Living Room, and Playroom: You knew that was coming, didn’t you? Our kitchen is pretty organized. That’s where most of my OCD tendencies come in to play. The living room is pretty simple, and I want my little girl to see that we are donating a lot of stuff and are still okay, in fact, we are better so that she gets excited about donating more of her stuff. She’s done a round of donating items before, I think we will have much more success in the future.
This is one of those months where I’m going to share with you the stuff of my life. You know, the messy, ugly and all those nooks and crannies that just need to be cleaned up. In complete hope that it will be organized and I’ll have it documented here to never have it get this bad again.
Care to join me? What are you going to clean, de-clutter, and organize this month? Comment below and let me know. I’m delighted to hear about it and even more excited to cheer you on to your success in simplifying!