Living with clutter is like living with debt

With inflation on the rise and growing economic uncertainty, it can be tempting to hold on to things with the thought that ‘this may come in handy one day’. Maybe we can justify having seven corkscrews or four potato peelers just in case we lose all the others? Or perhaps we should keep all those old clothes we no longer wear? From this perspective, clutter can sometimes feel like the prudent, responsible thing to do and a way to save money.

You won’t be entirely surprised to hear that I disagree.

In my experience clutter actually costs a lot. You’d be surprised, or maybe not, to know how often people buy something they think they need, but already have. Why? Because the thing they are after is buried somewhere amidst all the clutter and is nowhere to be found. Once you have slimmed down your possessions and have established a place for everything and have everything in its place, it is far easier to know exactly what you have and where you can lay your hands on it.

But the biggest cost of clutter and disorganisation is not monetary, as I’m sure you know. Living with clutter is like living with debt. It takes a huge amount of mental time and emotional energy to be constantly stressing about and dealing with (or avoiding dealing with) unfinished business from the past. And, like debt, clutter charges interest in the form of the extra cost of the mental load you carry by keeping stuff beyond its natural lifespan.

One of the first suggestions that money advisors give to help people get their finances in order, is to clear the debt they’ve accumulated over the years. That way their income can be directed towards their ongoing daily needs and saving for those treats, or a rainy day. And it is the same when it comes to organising your home. Once you have cleared the physical and mental clutter you’ve built up, you can invest your time and energy in your future and focus on living in and enjoying the now.

In times of uncertainty, we can feel compelled to hold on to what we have. And I understand how hard it can feel to let go of things that we may have spent a lot of money on in the past. But we live by growing, not by staying where we are. And, like plants, we need space in order to grow.

Clutter robs your home of space and light and steals your valuable and limited time. Now is the perfect moment for you to let it go and move forward unencumbered.

What would you do with a little more space and time in your life? Let me know in the comments.

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