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Why Can't I Get Ahead?

    With so many areas of responsibility, it seems like many of us always feel behind with our organization and with our finances. That leads me to answer the question, “Why Can’t I Get Ahead?” This question can be asked about many areas of our lives. Laundry? Meal Planning? Work? Teaching certain skills to our children? I mean, the list truly seems never ending.

     Personally, I'm finding myself writing this article with a baby inverted across my lap, a toddler nearby at her kitchen set that needs the batteries to the overhead light changed, and the dinner dishes stacked up from last night's fly-by-night specialty.  

     Life sometimes seems like a blur, and you wonder why you can't get ahead?  But in this article, we will discuss how to get ahead financially and organizationally with one short word that will make it all happen.  (And no, thankfully the word is NOT discipline . . . though it will take some of that on your part as well.)  

A Need to Simplify

    The word is SIMPLIFY.  Why do we find ourselves living paycheck to paycheck, paying bills late (even though we had the money in the bank) and/or buying items we know we already have but just can't find?  It's because our lives have become so complicated that our finances must help us play catch-up and we are barely keeping our heads above the murky waters of busyness.  The madness must STOP.  Nobody is going to do this for you; it's up to you and your family to simplify for yourselves.  

Keep it Simple Sweetie

    Just the other day, I was visiting my friend and her husband.  They had just finished moving a good portion of furniture out to their garage, when I thought to myself, "I wonder if they're cleaning the carpets?"  In fact, they were not cleaning the carpets but had finally decided to claim back the KISS principle, which is to Keep It Simple Sweetie.  Any furniture that they truly use on a daily basis they kept, but everything else (including extra TV's) they are selling and not because they're in dire straights for money.  

     They've just come back from spending a simple vacation away from the rat race and decided that they needed to take control and get rid of the things that are not used.  We're trained up to horde (and not like our grandparents during The Great Depression because they thought they may not get anything else).  No, we horde because one of the American mottoes is "Whoever dies with the most toys, wins."  Not true!!!  Whoever can leave this earth with peace in their hearts and homes WINS.  Plain and simple.

Getting Started: Steps to Simplify

    So how do we get started?  It's really easier than you think.  

  1. First of all, identify and begin with one room of your house.  I usually start with the most lived-in room.
  2. Then pretend like you're a clock.  Start at the 12 o'clock position and look up and down scanning for unused or barely used items.  Continue to move clockwise and remove any items that are UNNESSARY or UNWANTED, and place in a yard sale box or bag.
  3. Then, place anything that you really want to KEEP  (but don't need out in view) in a box marked specifically for that, so that if you need it, you know where to look.
  4. Finally, bring your family members in to do a final sweep over that room (repeating the yard sale and keepsake procedures).
  5. Then move to another room the next day and do the same thing.
  6. At the end of two weeks, have yourselves a BIG ol' yard sale.  Better yet, find a church or school in your area that's having one; the traffic moves more consistently through larger sales like those.  You will be amazed at how much money you will make and how much more space you will have.

Organization Saves Money

    Now, with this process, you have also eliminated a HUGE problem that a lot of families struggle with.  Not being able to find things.

     Our son owns two long sleeve white shirts, two pairs of black dress shoes and two dressy black belts— because when it came time to get ready for his band concert, we couldn't find his outfit and had to rush to the store to purchase new items. That is money wasted!  My son NEVER dresses up but because we couldn't find the original band clothes purchased at the beginning of the year, VOILA, we were caught having to spend more money on something he was going to grow out of before his next band concert next school year.  AAAGGGHHH . . . . I'm sure you understand this frustration, and I know that a system is only as good as the family members who follow it.  But first, lets follow it ourselves!

Establish a Regular Time to Pick Up

     Every night at a specific time, you can have the alarm clock go off, the music get started, and just like in Preschool and Kindergarten, there can be a designated clean-up time.  When items get put away, everyone benefits!

If You Want to Save Money: Don’t Spend

    It sounds simple but the best way to save is simply not to spend.  Here are some tips to help limit your spending.

  1. Write down everything that you and your family members spend in a week.  
  2. At the end of the week, evaluate what you're spending it on.  Some things are luxuries and needed for sanity (I can't seem to part with my Select-a-Size paper towels, but I do buy them in bulk).
  3. Evaluate what things are wanted but not needed.  
  4. Have a discussion time, as a family, about the difference between needs and wants.
  5. Establish a plan for the next week to see how much each person can save as you make the spending decisions ahead of time.
  6. Follow-up:  You can even make this a contest.  You can follow up with one another and be amazed at how much money really is saved when some of the "wants" are cut out.  

Note about Contentment

     Does that mean God wants us to be paupers?  Absolutely not, but we do need to combat society's lie of "We deserve it."  We are a rich nation compared to most of the other nations of the world.  We must count the many blessings that we have and surrender those areas where we need help to the One who can truly give us what we need.

My Personal Challenge

     Well, the baby's now burped and getting restless, the kitchen set has lost its flare for the evening with my little girl, and I'm starting to get motivated to get rid of a few more things.  I see something across the room that's an item I've been wanting to get rid of for some time now.  I know it belongs to my husband, but . . . No.  No.  A word of special caution . . . only find new homes for your stuff.  Remember the verse about looking at the speck in your brother's eye when you have a plank in your own?  Well, the same applies to looking at the junk in other people's closets.  Just stick to your own areas!!!  I guarantee you'll have plenty to sort.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Cindy Aitken

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