As revealed in a post I haven’t written yet, I’m currently in debt from our string of overseas holidays. I am also, as I only realised in the last few years, possibly OCD. Or maybe I’m just chronically neat. Whatever it is, I’ve developed a fascination with the Cult of Declutter and attempting to declutter every aspect of my life. In that time I’ve never realised there was a connection between Debt and Clutter, though. Until now.
I received this link from the amazing Ramit Sethi – whose personal finance blog you really should check out – to a no-nonsense, hard truths article on debt and how to get out of it. Contrary to almost other piece of personal finance and saving advice I’ve read, Jesse’s article on YNAB (You Need A Budget) effectively recommends that, to pay off your debt, you basically need to drop and cut every single extraneous expenditure you have down to the very bare bones. As the article says;
“Your house is obscenely large. Because of that obscenely large home, you pay through the nose to heat and cool the thing so you can enjoy your debt-fueled lifestyle at a comfortable 78 degrees. Your vehicles are insanely expensive. Your restaurant budget is killing your health and your finances. Your grocery shopping approach is aimless. Your “guilty pleasures” are used to avoid confronting tougher emotional issues. Your closet is full of clothes you don’t even know you have. Your garage is full of stuff you can’t even recall. Your holiday spending is a reflection of what you think others think.”
The article goes on to outline various strategies for paying off your debt, with the underlying refrain of “You’re spending too much! Stop it!”. I’m not going to call them tips because they’re not, it’s almost a call to arms against debt, and includes orders to stop eating out, sell all your stuff and cancel your vacations. It’s all verging on the gung-ho but it’s a straight down the line wake-up call that a lot of people need.
“De-cluttering will give you visibility into your consumption, because you’ll now notice every new item that you mistakenly purchase.”
Where it connected for me was Jesse’s paragraph on decluttering and an idea he touches on that clutter is not just a physical problem, it’s also a cognitive problem. This is something I’ve been toying with recently with the revelations that clutter, in addition to making your house look messy and overcrowded, can also make you fat and generally all round ruin your life.
It makes sense because debt is a form of mental clutter. Everything you do, every decision you make, somewhere in the back of your mind is that looming debt, limiting and affecting your enjoyment of all aspects of your life. Remember the last time you paid off your credit card and how good that felt? Imagine that feeling of freedom all the time.
The post in its entirety is damned inspiring and well worth the full read. Jesse goes out of his way to point out that this post is from him personally and not necessarily representative of the general content but You Need a Budget is still full of great advice and well worth following. Bear in mind, as always, the advice is only as good as the amount of effort you put into following it.