It is that time of year again!
The clocks have been moved forwards an hour. British Summer Time is officially here, even if the weather doesn’t yet realise it all the time, the birds are singing, the bulbs planted in the autumn have poked through the ground, and little pops of floral colour are appearing throughout our gardens. This means, along with an abundance of chocolate in the name of Easter, and an ever changing weather forecast, that it is time for Spring Cleaning, not just for our homes, but for our household spending budget!
Across the country, we open the windows wide to get the fresh air in. We put our favourite music on loud as we go about our mission. We go full steam ahead as we clear kitchen cupboards of out of date packets and split bags of lentils.
We climb perilously on a kitchen chair to wipe down the tops of cupboards that haven’t been revisited for 12 months, and we make sure that our windows are as smear free as they possibly can be, so that we don’t miss a single opportunity to invite the much awaited sunshine to enter into our homes!
We go through toy storage boxes, airing cupboards, wardrobes and chests of drawers, being ruthless as we purge our homes of things we no longer need, and clothes that we finally accept we are never going to fit back into….or where we are tired of waiting for that particular style to come back into fashion!
Even the dreaded cupboard under the stairs gets the spring cleaning treatment – we are on a mission, channeling our inner Marie Kondo, and nothing is going to stop us!
Everything that has life left in it is divided into piles – for eBay, Marketplace, the next car boot sale, as we offload our clutter and anything that no longer gives us joy or serves us a purpose. There’s another pile destined for the local charity shop, and a couple of black bin bags ready to chuck in the wheelie bin or take to the local tip.
We might be pretty good at keeping on top of our housework generally, we might feel that we have a fairly well organised home, and we might tell ourselves that we’re only holding onto those things that are important to us or have use. We convince ourselves that we are only keeping those clothes that are “classic” in style, or that we have a real chance of fitting into later in the summer…..but we know that once a year, we are drawn to the big declutter.
The big fat Spring Clean!
Having committed to the spring clean, we launch ourselves into the project, the mission. Half way through the day we are surrounded by piles of “stuff” as they are yet to be allocated to their eventual destination of the bin, the charity shop, or eBay. The kitchen worktops are now full of the tins, jars and packets that we have taken out of the cupboards, waiting for us to decide whether we ever will make marvellous meals with Jackfruit after all.
Crockery and glasswear are piled up on the kitchen table while we work out whether we will really ever make use of the sherry glasses that Great Aunt Mavis gave us 20 years ago, and deciding just how many odd shot glasses we really do need.
At this stage, we feel surrounded by chaos rather than calm. We are feeling overwhelmed, rather than in control, and we wonder why the heck we ever started this. At least, before we embarked on this Spring Cleaning madness, everything was hidden away and we could shut the door on things, pretending that everything was ok. As from the outside, at least, it appeared that way to anyone looking in, even if we personally knew the battles that were going on behind closed closet doors!
But we persevere, and we make progress. Cupboard by cupboard, room by room, we get into our stride, stopping only for the briefest of breaks. Slowly but surely, the piles get sent to their new homes, the cupboards and closets have order to them as we no longer have to worry about rails and shelves buckling under the weight of unused stuff, and worktops, floors and other surfaces become clear and workable once more.
We start to feel a sense of achievement, of accomplishment and pride. Not only do our cupboards look alright from the outside, but we know that behind that door is order, efficiency and space – nothing we need to hide away, or be ashamed of. To add to our feeling of success, we know that even those things that no one really thinks of – the tops of the cupboards, the back of the fridge, the skirting board behind the TV unit, are all sparkly as 12 months of ignored dust and general grime have been eliminated.
We can sit down now, with a cuppa, or a glass of something chilled, and survey our re-found space, feeling the energy flowing around the house in a way that has been missing for some time. In turn, we might walk taller, with a bit of a bounce in our step, we feel somehow lighter and, despite the hard work we have undertaken, we don’t feel exhausted with the work but energised and invigorated.
So what’s this got to do with my money?
If we can feel this good with a day’s spring cleaning in our home, think about how beneficial it would be to carry out a similar exercise with our finances!
Much like those kitchen cupboards and bulging closets, to the outside, we might look as though we are perfectly well contained and in control. People may see us and think we are incredibly efficient, that we’ve got everything in place, financially.
But what they don’t see are the stresses we somehow manage to contain as we have forgotten, again, that our credit card bill is due, that we have a pile of unopened statements in a drawer, or haven’t checked our online bank accounts for so long we don’t even know what the balances are. They don’t know just how many unused subscriptions have crept in, how many things are on our list of “I’ll get around to cancelling that later”, or how much wasted cash we are spending on our utilities and insurance policies because we haven’t made the time to go on one of the comparison sites to switch. They don’t hear the tone in our voice as we try to avoid the awkward conversation around money again, or witness yet another attempt to hide an item we have bought on impulse that we know we don’t really want but we’ve already lost the receipt or gone past the date by which we needed to return it for a refund. Like the spring cleaning of our home, it is a job we put off, we might dread doing it, but if we allow ourselves a day – just one day – to launch ourselves into a financial spring cleaning mission, the impact, just the same as those clear cupboards and sparkly windows, can be significant. Even better, it can be profitable!
Gather all your information together
Find your paper statements if you have them. Log onto all your online accounts and portals. If you’ve been putting this off because you have forgotten your passwords, now is the time to pick new passwords and get yourself back online. Why not create passwords that are motivating for you? It might sound silly, but if you know that everytime you log onto your online bank account, you are entering in a word-number-symbol combo that excites you, you are building up that feel good feeling with no additional effort!
Know your numbers.
Take a good look at the situation in front of you. Pay attention to your balances – savings, credit cards, current accounts. If you’ve been burying your head in the sand for a while, you may not know what your true financial position currently is. Now is the time to look at this – just as you might have been avoiding the cupboard under the stairs, their comes a point when you just need to take a deep breath and face it!
Knowing where you are is the first step in being able to deal with things efficiently and effectively. What is the point of stressing about something that you’re not even sure of? Are you holding back on the money conversation, for fear of awkwardness or embarrassment when, in reality, you are actually in a better place, financially, than you thought you were? How can you admit defeat, when you haven’t even looked to see what you can do to make things easier and better for you? How will you know that you are improving your financial situation, building on your wealth and creating a higher level of net worth, if you don’t know where you are starting from?
Plug the money leaks:
Just as you don’t need to be holding on to those unused sherry glasses, or that pair of jeans that just doesn’t suit your figure, check to see if there are things in your finances that you don’t need to be holding on to. Go through each and every statement and ask yourself whether everything on there is serving a purpose. Monthly gym membership? Great if you love the gym and go 3 times a week, but an expensive waste if you joined 2 years ago with the best of intentions, have been half a dozen times when you have your new year-new you, or pre-holiday panic, and really prefer working out at home or going for a long walk with the dog to get your exercise endorphins.
Subscriptions after free trials are a classic money leak – you know the sort….6 months free of Audible or Disney+ with your mobile phone contract, that you forgot to cancel before the free trial was up. How about that upgrade from the standard Spotify to the Premium version that you convinced yourself you would use, but that you haven’t utilised since that first week of paying the extra monthly fee. Or that magazine subscription that you never got round to cancelling. These are all costs that have likely crept in over time. Perhaps they actually served a purpose once upon a time but, be honest, how many do you actually get value from money from now? Get cancelling! Then, add up the amount that you are going to save each month, multiply it by 12 and amaze yourself with the wealth that you are automatically creating for yourself just by this one exercise! It is not unusual for this type of exercise alone to cover the cost of an extra holiday in the sun each year….and I know which I would rather have!
Diarise your renewals:
Ok, so your gas and electricity are on a fixed plan, and your home and car insurances are not due to be renewed for a few months yet….but take a few minutes now to put the renewal dates on your calendar, or in your phone so that when you are getting close to your renewal dates you can spend a little time on the price comparison sites making sure you are getting the best deals. Be honest, how many times do you say you will do this, but then you forget, leave it til the last minute, and just end up going with the renewal quote your existing supplier provides you?
This exercise can save you hundreds of pounds in the course of a year – and even more if you utilise one of the many cash back opportunities – either attached to your bank account, or through the cashback sites like *Quidco or *Top Cashback which can significantly boost the benefit of switching!
Like the spring cleaning of your home, this exercise can feel daunting at times, there may be times when you are surrounded by statements, highlighter pens, your calculator and have been on hold to cancel that magazine subscription for 20 minutes already, when you wonder why you ever started it.
But, persevere, have that financial clear out. See it through and when you’re done you will feel lighter, happier and wealthier. Now, your biggest challenge is going to be deciding what to do with all that money you have “found”!!
Having the right mindset will make this much easier to face, will prevent you falling back into old habits and will help you make good choices with the money you save. In turn this will help create a solid foundation on which you can build your financial future. To maximise your potential, get in touch and we can discuss the ways in which I can help!
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