Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The link between clutter and money

I've read numerous times over the years that getting your house in order will help get your finances in order.  As I think about the past 2-3 years, I have come to realize that for me it was the opposite reaction.

I think the money stress and problems caused a good majority of my messy, over cluttered home problem I have faced most of my adult life.  Not to say I have become a clean freak, by any sense of the term, but I have improved greatly.  I will never have a perfect, Better Homes and Garden's home like my Mom but my house no longer looks like I need to be on an episode of "Clean House" anymore, either!  I always had a pretty messy bedroom as a kid.  When I got on my own, sharing an apartment with a friend for a year, I think I did well keeping up with my share of cleaning and no clutter.

But, then I got married, too young of course, and stepped right into constant money problems - for over 20 years. And when the kids came along my house got even messier.  I could not seem to keep up with any of it and we just seemed to keep getting more stuff (toys, etc) and nowhere to put it.  As our financial life just kept spiraling into more and more debt over the years my house spiraled into more and more of a mess. Dh hated it, of course (though he grew up in a very messy house), but he also did nothing to help keep it clean. I am a saver and never imagined I'd be in debt up to our eyeballs. It made me miserable and obviously it showed in other aspects of my life - my home.

As the kids got older and less toys, it became easier to declutter some but my house was still a mess and too much stuff and our finances were still a mess.  When Dh had to stop working in 2009 is when things seemed to change. Our lives slowed down a lot, we were home a lot more (it was hard to keep up with cleaning and picking up messes when I was exhausted most evenings and gone most weekends) and I had more time to keep on top of messes.  As we have gotten our finances in order the past couple of years (a bankruptcy will do that to ya!) my house has gotten in order as a result.  Dh had more time on his hands, and while he still does nothing to help with housework (other than laundry) he did help with decluttering our family room, which all the junk had seemed to migrate to.  The room could still use another go through (we just need to get rid of a couple of big pieces of unused furniture), but it's 80% better.  The rest of the house is clean and clutter free and it now stays that way.

It didn't happen overnight, but I realized this morning as I was straightening up the living room, that less money stress has helped me with keeping my home clean. I now do this every morning, just a minute of two of putting throw pillows back where they belong, folding a blanket or two and cleaning off the coffee table.  I have finally gotten into a routine and good habits! It only took me until my mid 40's - haha!  But, I know it is because I feel so much more in control of my finances and calmer about them.  Not as much stress as all the previous years and it has helped me mentally shift that organization and calmness to my home.  I am never embarrassed now to have someone walk in my front door and see my living room, or the dining room and kitchen beyond that.  It's a great feeling to finally overcome my messiness.  We still have a long way to go to get where I would feel safe and secure financially, but I'm working toward it, better late than never.


  1. It is a proven fact that people who are filthy house keeper hoarders almost always have debt problems. Also people who have money problems usually have one or two messy hobbies that are very expensive and they do not spend time at the hobbies just spending. Like scrap booking! But not always. Your situation sounds a lot like mine.

  2. I don't seem to fall into either of those categories. I thought I was just a slob, but I think I was just overwhelmed by our financial situation. And I've never had hobbies that I spend a lot of money on to cause a mess in my house. I'm just odd I guess! :)

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  4. clutter and money.....ah, like salt and pepper. both can result from a lack of attention, or a lack of organization. And if you marry young and have a spouse who refuses to be responsible about both, it's like trying to hold back a wall of water with a teaspoon. And then the kids start coming and you are the only grown up bailing out a sinking ship.
    Less money spent on crap=less crap to store/organize/clean-up. You can have less money spent because of no longer spending(saving it) or being bad with finances(spent it and now broke) tho.
    I'd rather be the former than the
    Stress, as in the stress caused by being in a bad financial situation for many years, will also add to the clutter. Because when you are worrying about money, who can concentrate on cleaning? ;-)