Monthly Archives

December 2016

In Home/ Not Unbeautiful

You Don’t Need Everything | How To Declutter For Good

How to Declutter

I needed to declutter because…

When I sold my house and downsized into a relatively small apartment, I was forced to accept the fact that I had way too much stuff.  Stuff I didn’t need or care about, stuff that nobody ever would need, and stuff I had wasted a ton of money on.  I didn’t just declutter.  I went to war with my possessions.

Since my cash buyer wanted to close in only 10 days, I had no time to recoup my losses by having a yard sale or putting my things on eBay.  I didn’t have time to sort items for donation or rehome stuff with family and friends. That was actually a good thing.

The things I got rid of…

I put a third of the items I owned in trash bags at the curb.  The things that I got rid of hardly mattered to me.  I cried my eyes out, not because I was sad, but because I was so mad at myself for being so stupid with my money.  Then I laughed at my neighbors who were stealing my garbage.  Suckers.  Now my clutter was theirs.

I tossed out my collection of Renaissance Festival steins.  Those things cost $65 each and I had more than 10 of them.  They were unused.  I got rid of picture frames that never had any pictures in them. They had been purchased because I had this silly idea that I would hang up pictures someday.  I lived in that house for 6 years and never hung up anything.  To this day, the only wall decorations we have were selected and hung by my husband.  They look really nice, btw.

I kept going because my stuff was endless.

Craft supplies.  Hah.  I had so many supplies for hobbies that I don’t actually have.  Art supplies, jewelry supplies, candle and soap making supplies. I also had a TON of useless furnishings. Accent tables for areas that didn’t need accentuation, end tables with no end to be near, extra lamps, and a giant recliner that nobody sat in because it didn’t face the television.

I had convinced myself that I wanted to craft and be a decorating diva.  As I was throwing all my stuff away, I realized that I don’t actually care about crafting or decorating. I blame Pinterest.  And myself, of course. All of that stuff went straight to the garbage. What a waste. I started behaving myself after I moved and I stopped buying things that I didn’t need.  Lesson learned.

Do’s and Don’ts.

There is really only one do. Stop buying stuff.  You have enough stuff.  You don’t need everything you have.  If you did, you wouldn’t be reading this and you wouldn’t need to declutter. For now, don’t buy anything you can’t eat.

Don’t donate anything.

Many people will tell you that you need to sort your items for donation.  That sounds like a good idea. I say screw that because you need this stuff out of your life right now. If you put something in a box to donate, it is going to end up back in your closet, and that box will mock you while it collects dust. Black trash bags are best because it isn’t obvious what is in them.  You will be less likely to change your mind about tossing things you can’t see.

Don’t sell anything, either.

Some will say that you should sell your items.  Don’t do it.  Trying to sell things will distract you from what you really need to do. If you put something aside for sale, then you have to actually go about selling it.  You could have a yard sale or post items online somewhere, but then you have to deal with people who might want to buy from you.  Do you really want to do all that?  You don’t really want strangers coming to your home to pick up that table, do you?  If you sell online, you have to waste time – time that you could be using to declutter like a badass – standing in line at the post office. Is that what you want?

Nope, you want to declutter your living area and selling your items will take too much effort to be worth it.  Yes, losing out on all that potential cash is a bummer, but if you have too much stuff, you probably don’t have an income problem.  My guess is that you have a spending problem. It’s okay to cry while you cram stuff into bags. Just breathe through it and you’ll be fine. Keep reading to learn how to decide what to get rid of.  We’re almost done.

Do you need it?

I mean REALLY need it. You need some cute underwear.  If you have a vagina, and if that vagina sometimes bleeds, you also need some comfortable period-panties.  You don’t need undies with stains and holes.  Clothing that doesn’t fit you right now has to go.  So what if it might fit you in the future?  Right now, you don’t need it. Right now, it is clutter. Duplicate items have to go, as well. No, you don’t need three black pencil skirts.  You might not even need one black pencil skirt.  I am the proud owner of exactly zero pencil skirts, btw.

Does it serve a purpose?

An actual purpose, other than being decorative? Remember the accent tables? I had one near my front door that was always in the way.  It was a flat surface that existed only to collect dust and clutter and I hated it.  Lots of people have a table in their entryway, so I thought I needed it.  I did not. Nobody needs an entryway accent table.  I hurt my back dragging that thing to the street.  The only thing that kept me from smashing it into a thousand pieces with a hammer was my fear that someone might think I was deranged and call the police. I kept my kitchen table because it serves the purpose of being a place where it is okay to spill things.

Do you love it?

Love is not the same thing as like and I tossed a million things that I liked. You should, too.  I kept things I loved, like the art project my daughter made in high school. She won a prize for it. I kept another project that my other daughter made in high school, too.  It didn’t win a prize, but it should have won because it is awesome. I did not keep things my kids had made that were not gifts to me or did not have great sentimental value.  Let’s be real, every crayon drawing does not have great sentimental value. Some of them do.  You can keep some of those but not all of them.

Don’t feel bad.

I know this all seems terribly wasteful.  You think that throwing away stuff that could be sold is just throwing good money after bad.  That is exactly what it is. You feel like not donating items that others could use is uncharitable. That is very true.  Do it anyway.  I promise you will only have to do this once.

Here are the steps in TL;DR format:

  • Don’t buy anything that isn’t food.
  • Throw away EVERYTHING that you don’t need.
  • Toss EVERYTHING that isn’t useful.
  • Get rid of EVERYTHING that you don’t love.
  • Don’t bother to donate or sell things.
  • Enjoy your decluttered living area.

Related: Resolutions You Need Now + How To Make Them Stick

In Home

Resolutions You Need Now + How To Make Them Stick

Piggy Bank Blues

Resolutions, huh?

We all know what happens to our New Year’s resolutions.  We make them too vague or too unrealistic and then forget them.  Remember last year when you resolved to live life to the fullest and eat only healthy foods?  Did you do it?  I didn’t either.

Perhaps your resolutions were concrete and realistic but you didn’t make them stick.  Did you know how? Don’t wait for a new year to start making important resolutions and getting your financial house in order. Don’t wait until next payday or next month, either.  Resolve to change RIGHT NOW.

Resolve to spend less.

Here’s how to make it stick.   Track your spending. Track every dime.  Make tracking a part of your daily routine. I do it before I go to bed because I am not a morning person.

Use your debit card. Don’t use cash because it is too hard to track.  Yes, I know this goes against popular opinion. I know that million-dollar financial gurus advocate a cash-envelope system.  I don’t know about you, but if I break a $20 bill, I may as well put the change in the garbage.  The rest of that $20 bill will be gone and I won’t know where it went. All of those envelopes don’t fit in my wallet anyway.  Sure, that same million-dollar financial guru can sell you a special envelope wallet, but you need to spend less, right? You can download my free printable check register at the bottom of this page to make tracking easier.

As you document your spending, ask yourself, “Was this purchase consistent with my goals?” If the answer to that question is no, don’t beat yourself up too badly.  Life happens and you don’t have to be perfect. The habit of tracking your spending makes you accountable.  When we are accountable we strive to do well. If you consistently track your spending, you will automatically begin to make better choices and start spending less.

Resolve to save more, or to start saving.

Here’s how to make it stick.  Understand that your savings plan doesn’t have to be fancy.  You don’t need to know what an IRA is, at least not yet. You just need a simple savings account.  Your bank probably has a free offering. If it doesn’t, change banks.

If you are employed and have your earnings deposited directly, it is usually really easy to add your savings account to your direct deposit set-up.  Alternatively, you can set up an automatic transfer with your bank to occur once monthly, every payday or whatever works for you.

Now, you really need to be realistic with this.  Really.  It makes no sense to try and save too much.  You’ll end up having to move the money back into your checking account and might incur fees.

The amount you save doesn’t matter, not right now.  If it is only $10 per month, that’s something.  Just do it. When you’ve developed the habits of spending less and saving, you’ll be able to go all in and start saving like a badass.

If you are already a habitual saver, it’s time for you to ramp things up.  Are you spending less?  You probably should be.

Resolve to plan your spending.

Here’s how to make it stick.  Notice that I didn’t say develop a budget.  I said plan your spending.  Budgets are wonderful and everyone should have them and I absolutely hate them.  Maybe one day I’ll be down with budgeting, but I’m not there yet.

Use the free printable that you can find down below or go grab a notebook or a legal pad or whatever you have on hand and start writing.  At the top of the sheet, write down how much money you expect to receive, depending on how often you are paid.  I get paid every two weeks, so I plan my spending in two-week increments. Under that, write down all of your regular bills and when they are due.  This means rent, utilities, daycare, car insurance, and anything else that you have to pay. A lot of my stuff is on auto-pay, so I put those items under a “pending” subheading and check them off when they clear. Now do a little math.

Whatever you have left after your bills, that’s what you can spend or save.  Essentially, you are paying your bills on paper, before you actually pay them.  Planning your spending keeps you from overspending. Sometimes, I transfer whatever I have left in my checking account prior to my payday deposits to savings. Sometimes I don’t transfer anything.

Doing it this way helps me to keep from overspending and reminds me to save.  I don’t have to stress about money anymore because I know what I have and where it needs to go.

Does that sound a little complicated?

Click here to open the example in a new tab, then come right back!

These are actual numbers, but my handwriting is so terrible that I can’t show you my actual sheet. Disclaimer – I wasn’t trying to reduce my spending when I recorded these figures, but writing everything down REALLY made me think.

Ready to try it? Download the check register for free and start tracking!

In Home/ Not Unbeautiful

Credit Repair 101: How to Repair Your Credit + Free FICO Score

I needed credit repair because…

The best way to have good credit scores is to use credit wisely. I was irresponsible and I got myself in a lot of trouble. After several years of spending money like I had a never-ending supply of it, after being forced to sell my home, after realizing that I was a total failure with money, I decided to change. Change meant getting my financial house in order.   I needed to repair my credit, too.  You don’t need to pay someone to fix your credit.  That’s usually a scam.  Credit repair DIY is the way to go. This is how I did it, and how you can do it too.

Credit Repair 101

I have to be honest with you.  Right now, my credit is still only fair.  And just barely so. But fair is better than terrible.  And terrible is exactly what my credit scores were.

My father-in-law is a super cool dude, a fount of financial wisdom, and just generally awesome. He told my husband and me that we should open Fingerhut accounts as an easy way to repair our credit.  The idea of applying for an account was pretty scary because I expected to be rejected and didn’t want yet another inquiry ding on my credit report.

I had nearly given up.

I was truly desperate when I applied. It was a huge surprise that I was accepted and even more of a surprise that I was given a $500 limit. Using credit had always been a total fail for me and I was afraid to use the account.  In the past, I would start out with good intentions but always ended up maxing out every account I had, ducking debt collectors until I got my income tax refund. I did that more than once, actually. Which is one of the main reasons why my score was so terribly low. I still hate the sound of a ringing telephone.

My first Fingerhut purchase was made about a month after I opened the account, and was for under $100. I paid it off immediately.  When I checked my score a month later, it had actually gone down 3 points. I expected that opening a new credit account would lower my score, but I was still pretty disappointed.

It started to work.

My next purchase was for $126 and I set up automatic payments for $8.99 per month. Two payments later, my score went up 30 points.  That’s right. Thirty. Freaking. Points. My actual FICO score, not some other weirdly formulated score.  In case you didn’t know, the FICO score is the important one.  It’s the one that matters if you want to buy a house or a car or some other thing that normal adults generally want to buy.

A little while later, Fingerhut increased my credit limit to $900. I don’t know what they were thinking giving me THAT much credit.  I wouldn’t give me that much credit. But having more available credit and a teensy weensy balance raised my score even more.  It is now sitting pretty at 601.  While some might not find that number impressive, I am ecstatic. In only six months, without doing anything else about my credit, having and using a Fingerhut account has raised my FICO score almost 100 points so far.

My husband opened his own account a little while after I did.  His credit score was not quite as terrible as mine was, but still very poor.  Becoming a Fingerhut customer increased his credit score to 623. Just under 100 points.

Wow! What?  It works?  It does.

Probably my favorite thing about having a Fingerhut account is that they give you your FICO score for free in your account details.  It gets updated every month. You can log into your account online and look at it whenever you want to. Another bonus is that Fingerhut doesn’t have much that I actually want.  There is little risk overspending with them since the majority of their items are so unappealing to me.

There are some things about Fingerhut that suck.

  • Just about every major brand item in their catalog can be purchased less expensively elsewhere. I wouldn’t shop with them if I wasn’t using the account to improve my credit score.
  • Perhaps being an Amazon Prime customer has spoiled me, but I HATE how slow and how expensive Fingerhut’s shipping can be.
  • Their constant catalogs stuffed in my mailbox annoyed me to no end. Because we each have account, we got two of everything.  There is no opt-out on the website.  You have to actually call customer service, and that can be painful if you are like me and don’t like talking to customer service reps.

Here are the steps in TL;DR format:

  • Open a Fingerhut account online.
  • Buy something.
  • Don’t spend over 20% of your available credit.
  • Don’t freak out if your score drops a few points the first month.
  • Make minimum payments.
  • Sit back and watch your credit repair itself very quickly.
  • Check your FICO score whenever you want in your account details. It updates monthly.
In Humor/ Not Unbeautiful

The Story of Skeletor | How I Found My True Cat-Love

Skeletor Blog Post

I am a terrible pet owner.

I do take my animals to the vet, give them quality food, and lavish them with affection. For a while. I always end up giving them away. I feel like such a shit when I do it, but I always convince myself that it is for the best. I recently got a cat.

My sister once told me that I don’t own pets, I rent them. Every pet that I have ever had has been just one couch-barf away from a rehoming.

For some reason, I decided I wanted a cat. My husband hates cats. He finds them creepy and disgusting. His cat-loathing is well known.

Continue Reading →

%d bloggers like this: