Monthly Archives

May 2017

Cleaning

4 Daily Habits For a Tidy Home Now!

A few years back I was in a bit of a cleaning and organisation rut. It seemed as though I could never get on top of anything. The dishes would pile up on all of our extremely limited bench space. We would fish out our clean, now wrinkled clothes each morning from the bottom of the basket as there never seemed to be time to put them away. Just hoping that what we were looking for had been washed that weekend. If we had guests coming over it was a huge ordeal getting the house into guest-ready status. We were convinced we needed a bigger home. One with more bench space and bigger area to wash up, a larger laundry room and more cupboard space. It would surely solve everything.

I quickly realised that more space was not the answer (in fact more space = more cleaning and work!) and seeing as we were hoping to own our home sooner than later up-sizing was not going to be an option either. I had to find a way to make what we had work. Coming home to mess, attempting to cook and make dinner with dishes everywhere and trying to use what scrap of bench space I could find could not go on. Life wasn’t meant to be this hard, surely!

Let me tell you it is not! There is a way to get on top of things before they get out of control. The key is to not let is get out of control in the first place and to do a little bit each day. A small amount goes a long way. And it doesn’t take hours and hours! Read on for 4 Habits For a Tidy Home Now! 

  1. Do a general tidy daily

Let’s not build cleaning up to be more difficult than it is. Sure vacuuming and mopping and the rest take a lot of time but we don’t need to have show homes 24/7. A daily habit of doing a general tidy up is good enough. Spend five minutes a day doing a general tidy of the main areas of your home. You’re not going to be able to clean every space, surface, crevice but you will make your home look much more tidy with a small amount of effort.

Set your timer. I use the one on our oven so I know when to stop. During your general tidy go to each area of your home and pick up what doesn’t belong. A clothes basket can work great so you can chuck everything in there and move a lot of things quickly.

THINGS I DO IN MY GENERAL TIDY

  • Hang up the towels in the bathroom and clear the vanity counter.
  • Make the bed.
  • Straighten up the couch cushions and fold the throw.
  • Pick up any clothes on the floor and either throw them in the hamper or hang them up again.
  • Put anything away that’s lying around.
  • Bin any water bottles
  • Move any cups or plates to the kitchen
  • Pick up mess from the floor

If you just do five minutes a day or even just as often as you can, you will be amazed at how much tidier your home will look. If your spouse or kids can help out you will make even more progress. Everyone living in your home adds to the mess- get them involved, delegate!

If after your five minute general tidy is up and you are on a roll then keep going. You’re better off tidying when you feel like it or have the time than to leave it for a day where you just rather not move from the couch.

2. Clean as you go

This is such an important tool for keeping your home tidy. Get in the daily habit of cleaning up as you go. When you are finished with something in the bathroom of a morning, put it back in the drawer or vanity. When you are walking from one room to the next take a second to look around and see what doesn’t belong and grab it to take with you on your way. Are you going out to the car? Grab that bag of donations you’ve had sitting at the door for the past week.

If you want to save time on cleaning and getting back to more enjoyable tasks think ahead and find ways to be more efficient with your time. Are you waiting for the microwave for five minutes? Go and clean up the mess from your meal prep or empty your dishwasher. Utilise what little time you have! Once you get used to this daily habit it will become part of your routine.

>>  If you are interested in getting organised you might find value in

4 Tips to a More Organised Life!

3. Clean your kitchen daily

For me, cleaning the kitchen was the one daily habit that drastically changed my cleaning habits and stress levels. I used to feel completely overwhelmed with dirty dishes and marks on our bench tops that had hardened and become difficult to clean. I would struggle to cook and prep dinner with our limited bench space covered with last nights dishes that I just had not got around to yet. And try cooking anything when your sink is over flowing. It’s just going to make your daily life much harder than it needs to be.

A chaotic kitchen can add so much unnecessary stress and being the hub of the home, it’s rare that you can ever walk past without seeing the mess piling up. Set yourself a new daily habit of tidying the kitchen. I used to put this off as it would get so out of hand that I would need a good half hour to get it back in order but now i set the time for 7-10 minutes and knock it out as fast as I can. I find it a challenge to work against the clock and love how efficiently I can clean my kitchen with a bit of forethought.

ALLOCATE YOUR TIME

Work out a time each day where you can spend 10 minutes on your kitchen.  Whether it be in the morning, when you get home from work, or before you go to bed. Whenever is most convenient for you. The key is doing it every day so there is no mass of dishes you have to sift through. Set the timer and get started.

MY KITCHEN CLEANING METHOD:

  1. Grab all your dirty dishes from wherever they may be (save yourself some time and effort insist on a rule after meals all dishes and cups are returned to the kitchen!). Soak any in hot soapy water that you need to wash.
  2. Spray all surfaces with an All Purpose Cleaner so that can break down your stains whilst you get onto the dishes.
  3. If you have a dishwasher quickly unload it (if you unload it in the mornings and load in the afternoon this will make like easier :)) and put all your dirty dishes in. If you don’t have one, quickly arrange your dishes into plates, cups, cutlery and bigger items like pots and start washing.

I let my dishes dry on a drying rack and put them away when they are dry (hey ,we’re trying to save time and make life easier here, let’s not do things that we don’t have to ;)).

4. Then wipe all surface areas. The stains should easily come off after being broken down by your All Purpose Cleaner.

Hopefully you’ll be done before your timer goes off. If not I promise you it won’t be more than a few extra minutes and the next morning when you see your beautifully clean kitchen and when you go to cook the next night you will not regret the effort 🙂

4. Don’t let your laundry pile up

I’ve never really understood why people have wash days and tackle their entire laundry pile in one horrible sounding day. I like to plan ahead for my washing. I certainly don’t wash everyday (thank you Minimalism!) but I prefer to do it in manageable chunks.

Make it a daily habit to do your washing. Now I personally don’t have enough washing to wash daily, but it’s certainly a daily habit to check if I do or don’t. I normally throw on a load of washing on Friday before I go to work and hang it out in the afternoon (Love that timer function!). By Friday I have a full load of darks so hold off until I have a full load.

Saturday morning I’ll then wash and hang out another and set another load to go before I head out for the day. Sunday is then just a catch up day for towels, sheets and anything else that needs to go in. Again get someone to help out if that is possible. My husband and I both do washing. I work full-time and have more important things to do than spend hours each week washing.

BONUS TIP

Consider decluttering your wardrobe! If you have 50 shirts to wear and 10 pairs of jeans you are going to be washing 50 shirts and 10 pairs of jeans in a never ending pile of washing. Set yourself a more realistic laundry limit and wash regularly.

Don’t let that pile get a mile high whether that be washed or unwashed, as it will just be so much harder to tackle and get motivated.

If you chip away at your washing, load by load, and make it a daily habit to at least check your clothes baskets to see if you have enough for a load, you will save yourself the stress of endless baskets in your laundry and waiting to be folded.

These are the four daily habits I have implemented in my routine and I have never felt more on top of things in my home.

Try them and comment below to let me know if you feel things are getting less overwhelming!

Feel free to share any daily tips that you use to keep your home tidy! My goal is to help you minimise the excess in your life so you have more time for the essential!

Budgeting

How the Debt Snowball Can Get You Debt Free Faster

There is no faster ticket to financial freedom than being debt free. Having  debt can weigh us down and keep us from making changes in our life for the better. Whether that be freeing up money to add to your retirement savings, taking a new role that you love but that involves taking a pay cut or even the improvement in your health from the reduced stress that comes with being debt free.

About a year ago I came across a book called the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. It was here that I first came across the Debt Snowball Method for reducing your debts. I’d always considered focusing on the interest rate the smart way to go about debt repayment. It seemed more financially savvy to me to focus on the dollars involved and interest saved. If you are paying more interest on one debt over another, why would you pay the one with the lower interest rate out first? Since discovering this new method I can see the advantage in paying off debts from the lowest to highest balance over focusing on the interest rate.

Paying off debts is a hard slog. When you see how many years and repayment periods are left it may seem like there is no light at the end of the tunnel and you will be paying them off indefinitely. The key to the debt snowball is building momentum. Building new habits is tough and we often need instant rewards in order to keep us working towards out goals.

When we want to lost weight we join a gym and closely watch the scales. It can be hard to stay motivated when those scales don’t budge in the beginning. If you lost a kilo that first week, it would help you stay focused and more determined on your weight loss journey. This is why the debt snowball can be so effective at helping you get on top of your debt. It focuses on knocking down the smallest and easiest debts to tackle first. With each debt repaid, you can see your progress a lot sooner than if you attempted to pay out a much larger debt just based on the fact that you were paying a higher interest rate.

>> If you like this post, you’ll love: “10 Easy Tips Save Money Groceries Budget“<<

Before I go into the debt snowball method I want to mention another step that is equally important before starting your snowball.

BUILDING AN EMERGENCY FUND

Before attempting the debt snowball it is best for you to save an emergency fund. Dave Ramsey and a lot of other finance experts recommend having and emergency fund of $1000. I would suggest going a little bit further and aiming for $1500. In my experience if your hot water system goes or your car dies and needs an expensive repair $1000 doesn’t always cover your emergency costs. Just having that little bit more will give you piece of mind especially if two emergencies rear their head at the same time!

This $1500 is a reasonable savings buffer to help you in times of emergency when you would normally throw those amounts on your credit card. There is no point trying to pay down your debt if you are going to be wracking them up again and living paycheck to paycheck with no plan for unexpected expenses. You’re just going to end up back where you started.

And let’s face it, there are always going to be budget emergencies. Just like it rains on the weekend, there are going to be rainy days where your best intentions to budget are going to take a hit. Do what it takes to save up your $1500 emergency fund and ensure that it is only used for emergencies. If you have to dip into it because your had to replace a tyre or you have a dental emergency, the money will be there for you. Just be sure to save up your emergency fund again as soon as possible.

Once you have saved your emergency fund you can move onto your debt snowball.

THE DEBT SNOWBALL

With a few minutes of planning you can be well on your way to paying down your debt. Here are the four steps to use the debt snowball method:

Step One:

Write down all your current debts in an excel worksheet or piece of paper (Exclude your mortgage, this will be tackled once you have paid back all of your consumer debt and saved a 3-6 months expense fund). Go back to your loan paperwork, online banking or credit card statements and work out what your current debt balances are for all outstanding debts as at today. Then, take note of what rate of interest you’re paying (for full awareness of your debt) and your monthly minimum repayment.

For the Australians out there, getting a current HELP loan debt statement is not possible as these are only sent out annually with your tax return. Instead, enter the HELP balance that was on your most recent Tax Assessment paperwork and make a note to update this when you get your next one.

Step Two:

Once you have written all your debts down, number them from  1, 2, 3 from the smallest balance to the largest. Debt Number 1, the smallest debt balance will be the one that you are going to pay off first and attack with your debt snowball. The last and highest debt balance will be the last.

Work out based on your current budget, how much extra on top of the minimum repayments you can afford to put on your smallest debt for that month. If your lowest debt has a minimum monthly repayment of $25 and you can spare another $100 a month, start paying the $25 minimum repayment plus the additional $100 repayment, or whatever it is that you can afford.

Continue to pay Debt Number 2, 3 and so on as minimum repayments. Continue to do this until Debt Number 1 is full paid off. If you get any additional income, a bonus for example, or you were under budget for the month putting that extra money as an additional top up payment on your Number 1 debt will help you knock it down even faster.

Step Three:

Once your smallest debt is repaid, take the minimum payment for Debt Number 1, in the example above, that would be $25 a month and add your additional repayments of $100 a month and add this to the minimum repayment for Debt Number 2 – your second lowest debt.

This means you will now be paying a much larger amount on your second debt – saving you significantly in interest and getting you to your debt free goal much quicker. If your monthly repayments for Debt Number 2 were $40 you will now pay the minimum amount of $40 plus the $25 and $100 you were using to pay of debt number one. Continue to do this until debt number two is paid.

Step Four:

Continue to do this for each of your debts in the snowball until the last one is paid off. For each new debt paid off you will be taking the past minimum repayments plus your additional repayment and carrying it forward to the next debt in your snowball. Like a snowball, the repayment for each will grow and pay off a bigger chunk of each debt as it grows and moves to your next biggest balance.

There are no short-term solutions to paying off debt. It is going to be a slow and difficult journey but one that will be well worth it. Imagine all the things you could be doing with your cash if you were debt free. Put a deposit on a house, go on that dream six month holiday. Maybe you want to start your own business or invest for your retirement.

Keep these dreams at the forefront of your mind! Every time you feel like giving up ask yourself if you are willing to give up on your financial dreams.

STOPPING THE DEBT CYCLE

Here are some tips to help you stay out of debt and to help you get to your debt free journey sooner:

  1. If you can’t afford it don’t buy it. Are you about to buy something on the credit card? Stop! Whatever you are buying you are paying a 19% interest amount on top each year that balance is left unpaid. Does that sale price look so good now?
  2. Cut up your credit cards. If you are the kind of person that can’t resist a good deal and doesn’t pay your credit card off in full each month it is time to cut those cards up!
  3. Stop trying to impress others. No one cares what brand clothing you wear. People are too worried about their own lives to focus on your daily outfit choices.
  4. Learn to be content with what you have. Do you really need a brand new $35k car on finance on your $50k salary when your current car works perfectly fine? Are you willing to pay x dollars every month for the next 60 plus months? In good times and bad – when you are unemployed, when you are trying to live on one income, when you decide to cut back hours at work to study for a new career – that debt is going to still be there.
  5. Stop going shopping! It’s surprising how little you spend when you avoid going to the shops unnecessarily. If you have endless emails from clothing shops or stores that tempt you unsubscribe from them! Instead of going shopping, meet a friend for coffee, read a book, watch a movie. There are plenty of hobbies that are much cheaper and more valuable uses of your time.

For tips on saving more money to help you free up cash for your debt snowball check out 11 Everyday Tips to Save Money.

What are your debt goals? Do you have a plan in place to become debt free? Are you using the debt snowball method to pay down your debt? Comment below your goals and wins to achieve financial freedom below 🙂

Organising

4 Tips to a More Organised Life

Cathryn Lavery

I’ve always been a keen organiser and to do list maker. Some time back my organisation needed an overhaul. You see, I was an avid post-it-note user. As you can imagine, this wasn’t the most effective means of staying organised, no matter how well intentioned my efforts were. Most of the time my post-it-notes would end up at the bottom of my handbag, scrunched up or would just disappear off the face of the Earth. Worst case, I’d end up with something leaking in my handbag ruining my organisation attempts. (Just a quick disclaimer, I am more organised these days, but after spilling 20% of my coke zero in my handbag earlier today I am definitely still working on that side of things ;))  

I still use a mix of handwritten and digital methods to keep myself organised. I find a balance of both helps. There’s no greater satisfaction than ticking off completed tasks on paper but I also enjoy the convenience of having 24 hour access to my digital organisation versions.

Here are 4 Tips to a More Organised Life I recommend to help you on your journey to kick-ass at organisation!   

  1. Start a Bullet Journal

I discovered bullet journals about a year ago and have been keeping one ever since. It helps me to keep all my thoughts in one place and have a plan for action. Even better you can personalise it to suit your needs and schedule. I like to do a week to a page as well as a page for the monthly calendar and monthly goals. In the weeks plan I include the following:

  • To do list
  • Weekly Meal plan
  • House tasks chores I need to do
  • Monday to Friday Weekly schedule with dates for plans and appointments
  • A ‘To buy’ list for any items I need to buy that week such as birthday gifts
  • Exercise plan to mark in gym days and other exercise

On my monthly page I mark in any upcoming appointments or scheduled plans for the month ahead so i can see my month at a glance. I also make note of my goals for the month on the page to the right. It certainly beats my old post-it note system and I find it extremely satisfying ticking things off my list as they are done. Is there any greater joy? 

You can make your bullet journal as simple or creative as you like it’s totally up to you! If you love drawing or are artistically creative I’m sure yours will look a lot better than mine 😛 

For anyone else a bit stuck on what to include in their bullet journal or how to get starter there are many Pins on Pinterest to help you get some cool ideas and inspiration.

And of course the organisation doesn’t end here. There are a myriad of things you can use your bullet journal for:

  • Tracking your debt journey
  • A habit journal to record your achievements e.g. exercise daily, water intake, taking your vitamins, eat fruit
  • List such as books to read, books I’ve read, documentaries to watch
  • A record of things you want to do around the house
  • Keeping track of your savings balances
  • Weight goals
  • Recipe ideas
  • Cleaning schedules
  • Favourite quotes

The greatest things about the bullet journal is you can tailor it to suit your life and sometimes it feels nice to crack out the texters and coloured pens (stationery lovers I’m looking at you!).

 

  1. Three Item Task List

Sometimes our to do lists can look so overwhelming that we don’t know where to start. Looking at a list of ten things might make it hard to prioritise what is the most important and can be an extremely unrealistic goal. And let’s be honest trying to do a large number of things in a small space of time can often mean we make not progress on any.

The key to achieving our goals is to set realistic ones. If you try and attempt 10 things on your to do list today you are probably going to fail. A good tip to limit the fear of your to do list is stick to a list for each day of the 3 most important to do tasks.

Pick the three things that you feel are the most important to be done today. The ones that if left incomplete have the most consequences. Once you have completed those three most important tasks, you will feel a great sense of achievement that you met your days goals. If you feel like you’re on a roll and could do more than three go for it, but only do this once you have done your top three items. By the end of the week you could have up to 21 tasks on your to do list cleared off. For more on list organisation method read Joshua Becker’s Accomplish More with a 3-Item To Do List.

>> If you like this, you’ll love: “12 Simple Bedroom Organisation Tips!

  1. Google Calendar to keep track of your schedule

I have been using my google calendar for years and would be lost without it. Although the bullet journal is great for writing down your tasks and plans, there is nothing quite like having access to your calendar no matter where you are. I don’t carry my bullet journal out with me on nights out and there is the chance you could leave it at home one day. A wall calendar just never worked for me. You can only view it when you are home and it’s not ideal for making plans or appointment on the go.

Typically you will always have your phone or access to a PC so there will be very few occasions where you aren’t able to check your calendar. Each time I make any plans it goes straight into my Google Calendar to make sure I don’t lose track of it and forget. There is so much to remember day-to-day and we should utilise what tools we have to make our life easier. Another advantage of the Google Calendar is you can share it with whomever you need – your spouse, team, colleagues. It can help everyone stay on the same page as to what is happening when. I’m sure there are other digital calendar out there but I have found this one the easiest and most reliable.

 

  1. Utilise Organisation Apps 

There are a whole range of organisation apps out there to help you get organised. Apps such as Google Keep, Wunderlist and Colour Note are great for organising your notes and to do lists.

My personal favourite I love to use to keep track of notes is Colour Note app. There is an option for notes or check lists. You can make as many notes as you need and copy and paste information easily. It’s great for those times when you want to make a quick note like a movie recommendation or if you come across a book you’d like to read. I like to make notes in mine such as what I have planned for the day, my shopping list and where I am going to shop, recipe ideas, travel packing lists and so on. Even better, it syncs with your phone so you can back-up your notes – no fear of losing your phone and your important notes. You can easily send the notes to your email or share it with others.

Another organisation app I love is Google Drive. It offers a to-do-list where you can list your to dos by category, record due date, enter a description and mark them as completed when done.

Try a few out, research your own and find what works best for you!

 

For more tips on getting organised check out my article 13 Time Management Tips to Get Organised . I share my tips for getting on top of your to do list and tools and techniques for becoming a master of your own.

What are your favourite ways to stay organised? Do you have any apps to recommend? Please Comment below with your tips.