Monthly Archives

August 2017

Cleaning

How to Clean your House Fast with Speed Cleaning

Speed cleaning can be an efficient way to clean your home with minimal time.

Six years ago I moved out of my parents home into a house of my very own. I was expecting to be on top of this new adulting domestic lifestyle, but to my surprise that wasn’t quite my experience. Now don’t get me wrong I was no stranger to domestic duties. When I was five I was in charge of sweeping the floors, raking the leaves, making my own bed as well as tidying my own room. I was so fiercely independent that at five years old I’d climb up on our kitchen counter tops to reach the plates or what I needed so I didn’t have to wait for someone to get it for me.

By fourteen I was doing my own washing and vacuuming. I did try and get out of the vacuuming for as long as possible but my brother saw through this and taught me how to use our Kirby so I couldn’t get out of that chore much longer after that. I thought I was pretty well adept at this house work stuff and moving into my own home would be a breeze. I knew – I’ve got this!

Going from having the responsibility of looking after a bedroom and bathroom to my own entire home with a backyard was not so smooth sailing as I had hoped. We had a humbled sized abode with a kitchen with limited bench space which made trying to cook a juggling act. Add a newly vegetarian husband to the mix with limited bench space and you’ve got an even bigger challenge trying to keep up with separate meals and excess washing up.

Although we loved out new home, we struggled with limited bench space and cupboards for storage and had a lot of difficulty making our space work. Things were piling up on the bench that we were also trying to prepare food on. By the time we added a microwave, kettle and toaster we had lost half our kitchen bench space and 1/3 of the rest was taken up by our very necessary stove. For a while we just lived day to day through chaos. Being in our mid 20s, we had a busy social life on top of band commitments and full time work and finding the time to clean a home, even our reasonably sized one, seemed like some kind of alien task we were just never going to figure out.

It was at this point I just cracked it and knew something has to change. Trying to cook dinner with dirty dishes piling up everywhere and laundry mountains in multiple rooms had to stop. There had to be a better way and I needed to find it.

HOW DISCOVERING SPEED CLEANING CHANGED MY LIFE

I was determined to end the chaos that was our life and get back some control. I started researching everything I could about cleaning efficiently. Becoming a bit obsessed, I was soon watching  YouTube videos on how to clean your home (seriously Minimisers I was watching people clean! This included the How Clean is Your House show – oh the shame!)). Pinterest also came to the rescue and not before long I had stumbled across the idea of speed cleaning.

I am a massive fan of efficiency and let’s face it, who wants to spend more time than they have to on cleaning their home. This idea of cleaning your home fast really resonated with me. I hated the fact that to have any visitors we had to clean for an entire day and wipe ourselves out. Not to mention that visitors don’t always give you a days notice.

With nothing to lose, I went home that day and gave this speed cleaning a go. I set my timer for ten minutes and started speedily cleaning my kitchen. Looking at the mountain of dishes waiting for me I thought to myself who on Earth can clean a disaster of a kitchen in under ten minutes. I was pleasantly surprised that I managed to clean the entire space within the time allocated. After months of just trying to keep up and putting off the inevitable dreaded cleaning, I realised that this was not something I needed to put off, procrastinate or devote a lot of time to for results.

I had seen the light and this new discovery was not forgotten and certainly didn’t end at the kitchen. I gradually tested for each task until I had found the quickest way to clean all areas of my house in only a small amount of time each day.

HOW TO SPEED CLEAN YOUR HOME

The time is totally up to you and may need to be increased if you have a larger home or a two story home (check out how your cleaning time can be reduced with a smaller home) but anywhere from 5-20 minutes should get you well on your way to a tidy, visitor ready home!

Set your timer for fifteen minutes. Now get started  – you don’t have time to spare if you want to get back to enjoying your day!

1. Walk around your home and grab any dishes, cups and cutlery lying around and run them to the sink.
2. Scrape off any food scraps off your plates and bin any rubbish or anything else no longer needed in the appropriate bins (even with efficiency we still have to recycle :)).
3. Open your dishwasher and empty it as quick as you can if you haven’t already. If you can do this task in the morning it can save you the hassle in the afternoon. (Skip this step if you don’t have one ;)).
4. Start re-loading your dishwasher. If it is full chuck in your dishwashing tablet or soap and let it run. If you don’t have a dishwasher start washing up. Leave clean dishes on the rack to dry. Ain’t nobody got time for dat (hand drying).
5. Spray your benches and sink with your Home-Made All Purpose Cleaner.
6. Run to your living areas and do a quick tidy. Fold the throw rug, straighten up your cushions, put your shoes and any bags or toys, where they belong. Grabbing a washing basket can help you collate any stuff that needs to go back to it’s home elsewhere in the house.
7. Return to the kitchen and wipe down the benches, dining table, stove and sink and if time any marks on the kitchen cabinets.
8. Bask in your newly cleaned living space that hopefully took only fifteen minutes and get back to Netflix and Chill or doing whatever the hell you wanted to! 🙂

Speed Cleaning can be applied all over your home. Whether it be your bedroom, bathroom, laundry, garage – where ever. Just set your timer, get cracking and see how much you can tidy up in a small amount of time!

SPEED CLEANING TIPS AND TRICKS

Here are some extra helpful hints to making speed cleaning work in your home!

1. Speed clean a little each day.
A little goes a long way. If you spend 10-15 minutes a day speed cleaning you are going to make amazing progress in your home with very little time and effort!

2. Ask for help.
Can you imagine what you can get done with two speed cleaners???? I get my husband to help me when I set the timer which means we can cover a lot more in a smaller amount of time. And let’s face it, I am just a weirdo that enjoys racing the clock and any helpers only help you win! Involve your kids and make it a race. I recently watched my friends 3 kids speed clean their toys before bed and they seemed to love it and it was certainly entertaining to watch them race the clock.

3. Grab as you go
Save yourself some hassle by thinking ahead. If you’re walking past a dirty dish in the lounge room and on your way to the kitchen, take it with you! This will save you running back and forth grabbing them during your speed clean. Get your family to adopt this one habit and you’ll be on a path to clean-houseville in no time!

4. Minimise your clutter.
Having less stuff in your home is guaranteed to make your cleaning tasks that much easier. The less you have the less there is to wipe, dust, move, vacuum around and so on. Keep it essential! Check out this list of 101 Things to Declutter to get you started.

5. Apply speed cleaning all over your home and mix it up.
One day clean your bathroom in 10-20 minutes. Even if it’s just a tidy up and wipe down of surfaces. Spend one day on the bedrooms. Another on the living area and so on. If you went out to eat for dinner and the kitchen is spotless from last night pick another are that needs some TLC. Don’t save everything up for one horrendous cleaning day unless you prefer that. I prefer to do things in small chunks and find it more rewarding to have near instant cleaning gratification.

6. Take note of how long it takes you to do each cleaning task.
Knowing that folding a load of laundry only takes 10 minutes might make you less inclined to put off doing it and letting your pile get out of hand. Most chores feel like they take a lot longer than they actually do. You might dread cleaning the shower (isn’t it the worst job guys?! My number 1 disliked chore right there!) but realise that it actually only takes 15 minutes. Maybe your partner and kids would help out around the house more if they knew that vaccuming the entire house only took 18 minutes instead of whatever horrendous figure they have dreamed up.

Do you speed clean your home? Has this helped you to become more efficient in your cleaning routine? Has this helped you get your family on board with cleaning? Share your experiences in the comments below!

If you liked this you may like – How an Organised Space Can Save You Money + 10 Benefits of Natural Home Made Cleaners.

 

Budgeting

18 Tips to Help You Break the Debt Cycle

Are you ready to take action and break the debt cycle? A small amount of planning and new habit forming can go a long way to helping your smash your debt and get on the path to financial freedom. Photo: Alice Pasqual

Being stuck in the debt cycle can seem like a never ending treadmill of stress and struggle trying to keep ahead of what may seem like never ending repayments. Once you add a mortgage, car loan and a few credit card repayments to your budget finding any spare cash can become increasingly difficult and make it harder to break away from debt and get back on your financial feet.

If you are constantly making purchases on the credit card and not paying them off in full the following month you are going to eat up a lot of your hard earned income in interest payments. Money which could be better utilised whether that be saving for a new home or your kids education, your retirement or using that spare cash for enjoyment such as holidays or seeing your favourite band in concert.

No matter where you are on your journey to financial freedom there are methods to help you get on top of that debt. Even for anyone with significant amounts of debt, their financial story isn’t over and they can potentially have the most options for action in terms of retraining their habits and living within their means. No one needs to live under a cloud of debt indefinitely. There is a way out!

Here are 18 Tips to Help you Break the Debt Cycle.

1. Think about the interest 
It can be so easy to forget that the price tag of the item you are about to swipe on your credit card is not the final price you will pay if you don’t pay on credit. If your credit cards interest rate is a whopping 19% or more, every purchase you make on that card which is not paid in full will attract hefty interest charges. That $99 dress you just charged will cost you a hell of a lot more year that you don’t pay off your credit card balance. And it doesn’t stop there, that is just one purchase – imagine that interest on every purchase you make! That sale price doesn’t look as good now does it?

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! Stop spending money you don’t have. If you can’t show restraint, take the easy step of grabbing a pair of scissors and cutting up that card. It will only take  you a few seconds and save you a world of stress and hardship in paying off any extra debt. Don’t let it keep spiraling out of control. You can get out of this and you can start today by cutting up those credit cards!

If you are buying everyday purchases on the card and are not paying them off in full at the end of the month you need to reconsider your income and expenditure and spend less than you earn. The only reason to use a credit card is to have it as a tool to keep track of your expenses, to earn rewards points on everyday expenses and only if you are paying it off monthly! If you are disciplined enough to do this you can save yourself some serious money by keeping your day to day cash in your mortgage offset account or in a high interest savings account. Otherwise get those scissors out!

3. Stop trying to impress others

A lot of people get caught up in looking at other people’s lifestyles and attempt to keep up with them. I guarantee no one ever asks the same people they are trying to compete with – how much debt do you have? Yeah sure, Joe down the road might have your dream car but he probably also has a $200 weekly car repayment to make for the next 7 years which probably isn’t as appealing to your green-eyed monster. Yet so many people go out and buy new cars, bigger homes or brand name designer fashion to fit in with others without a thought for the struggle that is going to put on their finances, such as affording the basic needs of food, shelter, medicine or their education. Break the debt cycle!

Do you feel the need to buy the latest fashion and accessories? You might be surprised to find that other people are probably not that interested in what you are or aren’t wearing. People are too worried about their own lives to focus on your daily outfit choices or the fact that you only spent $50 on your handbag rather than $300. I have often had handbags under $50 and constantly got compliments – no $300 designer bag necessary!

If you are surrounding yourself with people who expect you to meet some kind of designer brand level of outfit choices your probably need to reconsider who you hang out with or reassess if those friends even care, maybe it is your own standards you are trying to keep up with.

4. Avoid the shopping without a list
Stop going shopping unnecessarily! You’d be surprised how little you’d spend if you didn’t step foot in the shops at all or open the latest sales email. If you have endless emails from clothing shops or stores that tempt you constantly, unsubscribing from them can help remove that urge to buy.

Make a goal of only going to the shops when you need to and go with a list of what you need to buy and from where that you have built up over a week or more. Don’t walk down the make-up aisle if that is not on your list. This alone can help you resist unnecessary purchases as most spending occurs when you are browsing which can end up with you buying something you don’t need and will later regret.

Shopping with a carefully prepared grocery list can go along way to saving money on your weekly shop that can be redirected to paying down your debts faster!

5. Take advantage of new credit card balance transfers
If you want a leg up to pay off your credit card balances, consider a balance transfer to a new credit card that will offer you 0% on the balance for a certain period of time, usually between 6 to 24 months. This can potentially reduce the interest rate you are paying to 0% and help you get on top of your debt in a short space of time.

Only do this if you cut up the new card immediately otherwise you will end up back where you started. Also be sure you will be able to pay the balance transferred onto the new card within the low interest period. The new interest rates can be significantly higher usually starting at 19.99% post the discounted interest period so you will want to pay it back within this time frame to avoid the increased interest rates.

This can be a great way to smash that debt balance in a defined period of time at the lower interest rate. Do not under any circumstances add to the balance of this new credit card. It is not for you to spend with, but as a tool to help you get ahead and pay down that debt!

6. Ask your credit card provider for a better rate

Alternatively to the balance transfer option, call up your current credit card provider and ask for a better, more competitive interest rate. If they want to keep your debt on their books they will have to meet your request and better your interest rate. This will save you on interest charges without the time limit of the balance transfer option.

7. Always pay more than the minimum on your credit card debt
When paying off your credit cards always pay as much as you can onto them each month – avoid only paying the minimum. If you can only afford the minimum find a way to change that – cut other expenditure, get a higher paying job, or a second job to increase your income if changing jobs is not an option. Temporary pain will be required to achieve financial freedom.

By only paying the minimum repayment you can add decades and thousands in interest to the debt you are going to have to pay off. Using Money Smarts Credit Card Calculator a $2000 credit card balance paid back at the minimum repayment of $41 a month would take over 21 years to repay and cost over $6500. That means you will in effect be paying for those $2000 purchases three times over for the next 21 years! And for some people $2000 is just one months expenses. Imagine if this is being charged, month after month.

Never settle for only paying the minimum repayment. It should read “what to pay if you want to be in debt forever and pay 3X the price of everything you’ve ever bought and have no desire for financial freedom”. The only time you should utilise the minimum payment is if you are using the Snowball Method and throwing all your spare cash onto the lowest debt and slowly knocking each one to zero.

8. Ask yourself is this purchase is a want or need.
It is important to consider what our wants are versus our needs. Every time you pull out the credit card or cash, ask yourself is this a want or a need? If it is a want, something that you’d like but could live without, ask yourself is this purchase is so important to me that I am willing to be snowed under by debt in order to have it. Is it worth paying potentially 3X the purchase price of the handbag or new runners over a period of years? Or would it be better just to hold off a couple of weeks or months and save up the cash?

If it doesn’t seem worth spiraling into more debt, rethink your purchase. Sometimes we can become so desensitised by buying things with a simple tap that we forget to stop and ask ourselves these important questions. Being more mindful with everyday purchases can aid us significantly to break the debt cycle! Shops are designed to make us want to spend money, whether it be the loud music throughout the shop, the vanilla caramel scented candle wafting through the store or pushy, “extremely helpful” sales staff. Take a moment to stop and assess whether buying this item is going to add to your long term happiness or take away from it.

9. Channel your excitement into your savings
Make the decision to buy things in cash going forward. By buying in cash and saving up for highly desired items you can give yourself the time to save up money gradually for it. You will be surprised how easy it can be to save for something that you really want when you know that after all that hard work you will have that item you desire – debt free.

When you really want something, you will know if it is worth your hard earned money as you will be making the necessary sacrifices to get it. You might start spending less on eating out each week or skipping regular drinks nights in order to save to go on that first overseas holiday.

When you save towards something you want and worked hard in order to acquire it, instead of feeling a sense of guilt or buyer’s regret, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and joy knowing that you worked hard and saved for something meaningful that was going to add value to your life and that you paid for in cash. There will be no looming debt hanging over your head for months or years to come.

I can’t imagine anything worse than going on an amazing two week holiday and coming back to deal with the debt that remains after the fun is over. It’s going to be a lot easier to be motivated to save leading up to that amazing experience than once it has been and gone and you are dealing with the debt consequences.

10. Buy what you can afford not what you can borrow

When we bought our first home we were surprised to see how much the banks were willing to lend us. As I did our actual budget (not the made up ones the banks use to justify lending you a mortgage at 50% of your combined wage) we could see how borrowing the larger amount was going to be a huge financial strain.

Instead we stuck to a mortgage that would be well within our budget which will go a long way to help us break the debt cycle. This included built in safe guards that gave us some extra financial security in case rates went up or in the event that we had to live off one income. Only you know your true spending habits and what you can reasonably afford to pay back. Don’t let others convince you that your borrowing power is bigger than it really is. Check out the benefits of a smaller home and mortgage here.

11. Don’t become accustomed to the mentality of having debt repayments
I have seen this happen time and time again with young and old alike. They pay out their perfectly good car after 5-7 years of repayments and immediately start talking about what car they want next.

Even though they have a perfectly functioning car, with time on their side to save for the next one, the thought of saving up for a car over time, or having a slightly older car is considered too painful, so they go out and get a another car loan.

Break the cycle! Be weird and say no to debt!

If your car is reliable and not that old and mechanically sound, it is so bad that you hold onto it for a couple years more and save up to buy your next car in cash completely debt free? Paying $100 or more a week for the next 5-7 years is a big commitment and is going to get old fast!

12. Reassess what you are willing to get a loan for
Be selective with what you are willing to go into debt for. Only go into debt for purchases that increase in value or are considered an investment. Getting a degree in your chosen career can lead to a higher salary, a house can provide a return through equity.

On the other hand shopping sprees on the credit card, holidays and a new car aren’t an investment and don’t hold their value so going into debt for items like these should be avoided. Do you want to be paying off that shopping spree years down the track after the clothes are out of style and most likely already donated to charity or sitting in the back of your wardrobe?

If you need to get a mortgage for a house that will increase in value over time, that can be considered “good debt” but a $2000 credit card balance for your new sound system is not a good idea and should be avoided.

13. Put every spare dollar that you can to pay your debts down

Most people when buying their first home are signing up for huge 25 to 30 year mortgages. If your mortgage is a 30 year mortgage, it doesn’t mean that you have to wait that long to be debt free. Aim to pay it off as fast as you can.

Are you prepared to stay in your full-time job, particularly if it is a job you don’t enjoy, for the next three decades until you are 60 to own your house? By adding an extra $50 a week to a $500,000 mortgage you can reduce your mortgage by over four years and save $65,000 in interest. A huge saving! Imagine what you could do if you could add $100 a week to it in additional repayments! Break the debt cycle and avoid letting your bank or credit card provider dictate what your repayment timeline will be.

14. Save up an emergency fund of $2000
Part of the never ending debt cycle is attributed to not planning ahead. Suddenly your car dies on the freeway and you need to put $1200 on the credit card for repairs. The hot water system goes and again you are stuck without a leg to stand on and putting that on the credit card.

Plan ahead. Budget emergencies are just as likely as the chance of rain. Find a way to save up $2000 as quickly as you can and keep it in an account for emergencies only. This does not include a nice hand bag that is on sale or last minute drinks with friends. This is only for genuine emergencies like a break in occurs and you need to change the locks or you have a severe tooth ache and need to get it looked at. Get organised and sell your clutter if you have to. 

If you have to use this fund you will need to build it up again. Next time you have a flat tyre you won’t have to panic and stress about finding the money and won’t even need to think about  bringing out the credit card.

15. Prepare a budget and stick to it.
Knowledge is power when it comes to finances. If you are aware of what your budget is you can be more mindful of your spending and more likely to break the debt cycle. If you know you have a $500 electricity bill every quarter start budgeting for it every week. Don’t wait until the bill comes and then try and figure out where the $500 is going to come from and end up paying your bill late with an added late fee.

If you own your home, be prepared to spend regularly on maintenance. Living week to week can put you in a bind when your home needs urgent repairs and you haven’t planned ahead and put away money for such events. Check out these Everyday Savings Tips to help kick start your budget and free up some cash to break the debt cycle!

16. Learn to be content with what you have
Once you realise how little you need to be happy the desire to consume more diminishes. You no long feel as big of a rush buying things. The thought of parting with your hard earned cash will make you more mindful of what you are buying.

Learn to be content with what you have. This alone can go a long way to break the debt cycle. 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.

Maybe having that spare money each week could allow you to go on an overseas holiday each year, cut back your work hours to spend more time with your family or allow you to retire earlier. Sometimes more stuff is not the answer to contentment.

17. Find new past times that don’t involve shopping.
If you are finding yourself constantly browsing online shops or at the mall you may need to pause and recognise the habit and ask yourself – Is there something more valuable I could be doing with my time? How often are you shopping, for how long and how much are you spending? Keep note of it.

Gradually retrain yourself to stop the automatic habit of logging into your favourite stores site or browsing aimlessly on your lunch break. Think about all the things you could be doing instead of shopping; reading a new book, going for a walk, meeting a friend for coffee, learning a new skill or hobby, catching up with family or seeing a new film.

If you have friends who you shop with regularly make a suggestion to do something different together. There are plenty of things to do that are more enjoyable and often free that you could be doing instead of shopping and wasting money.

18. Review your credit card statements 
In order to break the debt cycle and get your finances back on track you need to establish where you are spending your money and wracking up debt. Check your credit card statements monthly and analyse them. When you know where you are spending your money you can become more mindful and take action to stop it. Is it at Kmart on clothing and homewares? Are you spending too much on eBay or Amazon?  Are they stores you are visiting in your breaks for something to do? Is your spending occuring on the weekend because your friends work and you don’t know what to do with your spare time?

Work out where you are spending and place yourself on a ban of going to that shop or buying from that shop online for a month. Just pick one spending problem area. If your weakness is buying makeup avoid shopping for any new make up for that month and see how you feel after a month. Maybe you can stretch it out for two months without too much pain. Then you can add another store to the ban list until you can retrain your mindset to shop as you need things not as a past time or unconscious purchase.

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

Don’t forget to sign up to the Minimise With Me Mailing List for your free copy of my ebook “101 Ways to Save Money Whilst Still Living Awesomely!

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Organising

12 Easy to Maintain Car Organistation Tips

A little effort can go a long way when it comes to car organisation. Photo: Karlis Dambrans

Does your car resemble a highly portable rubbish tip? I know your struggle. I used to struggle to keep my car neat and tidy and often shuddered with sheer embarrassment at the thought of having anyone looking into my car let alone entering it.

When everyone was arranging car pooling on a work lunch outing I would wait silently, hoping someone else would volunteer and save me the impending doom that awaited me once anyone saw the state of my commuting “situation”.

When other people would give me a lift I often marveled at the beauty or their organised back  seat, not a thing out of place. I wanted this car sanctuary for myself. I wanted to walk into my car and feel relaxed knowing I could find everything I needed, when I needed it and take on unexpected passengers without ultimate fear of being judged.  

After decluttering my home, I began to transfer the organisation habits I had developed in my home to my car. It was a space that I drove around in every day, and was visible to the world. I felt the need to bring it into alignment with my new-found love of organised spaces.

After implementing these small changes over time I have managed to keep my car tidy on a continual basis which allows me to stay unexpected passenger shame-free and enjoy a space that I spend on average 10 hours a week in.

Try these 12 Easy to Maintain Car Organisation Tips to keep your car organised that only take a small amount of planning and very little work week to week.

    1. 1.

Utilise Note pads

Keep a note pad and pen in your middle console to have handy for any quick notes you need to jot down. This will save you having random pieces of paper strewn around your car (and handbag).

2. Make a plan for loose coins 

Keep a small coin purse (even a zip-lock sandwich bag will do) in your middle console for loose change. Whenever you get any change through the drive through etc, put it in this bag for handy change for next time or parking.

3. Get a bin for your car

Use a large cereal container for a bin. It will only need to be emptied once or twice a week and will keep your car looking much tidier than having rubbish thrown all over the floor. Each time you get to the petrol station or walk past your outdoor bins at home (ours are right next to the driveway) assess your car quickly for any rubbish and take it with you. It’ll only take 20 seconds and make a huge difference! Since becoming more involved in recycling I now generally empty my rubbish each day so I can recycle it if possible.

4. Get some compact reusable shopping bags

Ditch the large re-usable shopping bags for small fold-able ones that fit neatly in your glove compartment or boot and save valuable boot space!  

5. Store loose items in a container

Keep a small container in your backseat to collate loose items like books, kids toys or jackets. Having them in a container is a lot more appealing and practical than having them fly around the seat and floor of  your car.  

6. Organise your returns

Keep a medium sized container in the boot to store any returns you need to take back to the store. It’s pretty amazing the number of times I’ve been at a store where I needed to return something and realised I had left it at home! This way when you are at a particular shop and you know you need to return something you can easily return it and grab it from your boot on the way in. This can also be helpful to store things that you need to give to a relative or friend and keeps it from cluttering up your home.

7. Keep your electronics together

Have a small cosmetic bag or similar to keep all USBs, cables and media that you have in your middle console or glove compartment. This will make them so much easier to locate and save tangled messes.

8. Prepare for unexpected passengers

Leave a microfibre cloth in your car for those last minute emergencies when you need to pick someone up and the car is looking a bit dingy. If you keep a small spray bottle of water handy for those unexpected lifts, most of the marks and dust will clean right up in a flash.

9. Go digital

Digitise your music collection or limit the number of CDs you keep in your car at a time. After buying a car which had no CD player (I somehow didn’t realise this until too late but have adapted ;)) I now keep all my music on USBs or copy them onto my phone to minimise the CDs that seemed to be strewn about the car previously. Before this I used to keep about 8 in my car and swap them out as I needed. You can also get CD wallets to help store extra CDs you want to have handy, whilst avoiding the mess.

10. Consider alternative organising solutions 

Use back seat organisers for organising additional items such as car air fresheners, pocket tissues, kids snacks, stationery etc. Or consider repurposing a cleaning caddy to keep in your boot for longer trips and to keep pens etc tidy when not in use. 

11. Limit what you store or leave in your car

Keep accessories to a minimum. By all means, have your Pop Character, bobbling head or stuffed toy on display but avoid cluttering up your vehicle with excess plush toys or trinkets. Aim to keep only what you need in your car, this will also help make it a lot easier to keep tidier and presentable. Don’t use your car as storage for your stuffed toy hoard.

12. Do a stock-take of your car regularly

Clearing out your car on a regular basis can go a long way to keeping your car organisation in check. Remove your gym clothes from your last session or the clothes you got changed out of on Saturday night at the end of the week. Ask yourself do I need three jackets and 2 pairs of shoes in the car or would one of each be enough to save you in an emergency. Don’t let your car turn into a closet or laundry basket. If it has started to look like that it’s time to clear out the excess!

What tips do you have to keep your car organised? Share them in the comments below! Please share this article if you found value in it 🙂

If you liked this you may also like 13 Budget-Friendly Organisation Tips for Your Home or How An Organised Space Can Save You Money 

Minimalism

13 Benefits of Living in a Smaller Home

Downsizing your home doesn't have to be a bad thing. A smaller home can free up your time, money and mental space for more enjoyable things! Photo: Scott Webb

Living in a smaller house can have some often overlooked benefits. For some time there has been an increasing trend in housing towards larger homes. This was certainly evident in Australia during my upbringing in the 90s and 00s. The average size of new homes in Australia surged by 50 per cent between the mid-1980s and 2010. For a period of about 15 years prior to 2012, the average new house in Australia was bigger than that in the United States.

This trend has since reversed, with homes built in 2015 averaging 231 square metres, down from a record 247.7sqm in 2008-09. With house pricing in Sydney and Melbourne achieving above 13% growth rates annually it’s no wonder the trend for smaller housing is growing. The large home dream with double garage, outdoor entertainment area, and two or three bathrooms is now falling out of even the above average income earners reach.

This may not be ideal for some, but I wanted to share some of the benefits of living in a smaller home to those who might be considering downsizing or who aren’t pleased at the thought of buying a smaller home when the larger ones are outside of their budget.

In 2011 we bought our first home. It was a humble three bedroom home with study, one bathroom, one lounge room and a single garage and most importantly was within the budget we had set. We have been here for 6 years and plan to stay here as long as we possibly can. Here are 13 Benefits of Living in a Smaller Home and why we at least for the foreseeable future plan to stay in our cozy abode.

1. Your mortgage or rent payments will be more affordable
You can’t argue with that. The smaller the home the less you are going to have to fork out for it in rent or mortgage payments each week. I’ve never really understood the mentality where people buy huge homes, which come with huge housing expense outlays each week.

Those same people then proceed to work more and more in order to keep up with their mortgage repayments, leaving them with less time to enjoy their beautiful home or spend time with their family.

2. You’ll buy less stuff to fill it up

What happens when you have two lounge rooms as well as a theatre room, three bathrooms, a guest room, on top of four bedrooms and a study? You inevitably fill it up with stuff. Have you ever walked into a lived in home that left rooms empty? Of course not, who wants an empty room? We don’t want to look poor.

Buying all that extra stuff adds up. The extra lounge at $2000, extra buffet or hutch at $700, another bed $1500, quilt $150, rug $300, TV  $2000 and so on. Think of how much money could be saved if you had less space to fill.

3. You’re not throwing money away in unnecessary storage space

I am a massive fan of housing shows and always find it so bizarre that people insist on buying a huge homes with excess space, no matter how many people are living in the home. One episode a bachelor bought a 4000 square foot home just for him. The logic is baffling.

Others pay for a guest room week after week year after year for the two weekends in a year they have guests. If you work out the math, say 10% of your floor space x your weekly mortgage payment x 52 weeks in the year you could be throwing away $2600 a year on a guest room on a $500 a week mortgage that is only utilised 2 of those 52 weeks a year.

Others pay for a third garage to store boxes of unused stuff they probably don’t need and could just donate or sell. If they bought a home with only two garages or one, they could be savings thousands a year in mortgage repayments (not to mention the money they could earn from selling that unnecessary stuff!)

4. You spend less time cleaning it

There is nothing I love more about having a smaller home than the fact that it only takes me 35 minutes to vacuum and mop my entire house. We have one bathroom and one toilet to clean. One living area. On the weekends this couldn’t be more ideal as we can get our cleaning done fast and go our and enjoy our day.

If you pay for a cleaner it is going to cost you extra each week to cover the additional spaces you need cleaned, so although the house doesn’t take you longer to clean personally, it will cost you more on your cleaning bill.

Got a huge backyard? Well you’re going to be stuck mowing that football field for a couple of hours every few weekends. If you are not a huge fan of that chore it is going to get old fast.

5. You spend less on repairs and maintenance

The more space you have in your home, the more it will cost you in repairs and maintenance. If you need recarpet it, you will be paying a lot more to cover the extra floor area than you would have in a smaller home.

Having a smaller home gives you the ability to save on renovations. Get the renovation you want without spending as much as much as you would of for a larger home.

6. You’ll save on council rates and insurance

By having a smaller home and land size you will pay less in council rates (or land taxes) that are calculated on the size of your land. Your home and contents will also be reduced if your home is smaller and less costly to re-build and you have less possessions to replace in the event of an emergency.

7. You can pay off your mortgage faster

When you have a smaller home, the smaller mortgage that comes with that makes it a lot easier to pay it off and achieve financial freedom. Instead of slogging it out for 30 year you could pay off that mortgage in 20 or 15 years or sooner saving you tens of thousands of dollars in interest.

8. You can invest the mortgage savings

Imagine your $750 weekly mortgage repayment on a house that is possibly a bit on the big side for your or your families needs. It’s got a spare room that you don’t need, you don’t use the backyard and you’re sick of cleaning three bathrooms.

Let’s imagine for a minute that instead of repayments being $750 a week, you downsized to a smaller home and your new repayments are only $650.  Consider now what you could do with that spare cash each week. It’s real money that you can utilise.

If you were willing to downsize to a smaller residence you could invest that $100 a week. Over 15 years and with only a 3% return (Ubank and ING Savings Maximiser current rates) you would have accumulated over $98000. If you invest it elsewhere with a higher return that amount will only increase!

Or even putting that $100 a week away would give you $5200 a year to take your family on an annual holiday or put onto your mortgage to pay it off faster. When your money isn’t tied up in your housing you have more options.

9. You’ll save on Utility bills 

The larger your home the harder and more costly it will be to heat and cool it. I’ve heard stories of bill shock where people have moved into a larger home and see the first electricity bill has doubled from the prior one. If you downsize, you will get the added benefit of downsizing your utility bills.

10. You’ll have more time 

Having a larger home means working more hours and for more years to make the mortgage repayments, keep up with the rates, maintenance etc. The bigger it is the more time you are going to spend cleaning it. Downsize to a smaller home and watch your time free up for more enjoyable activities.

11. Your home will fell more cosy and connected

Having a large home can often feel a bit isolating. One of you is at one end and the other at another end of the house. I find comfort knowing that our home is more cosy, homely and compact and less isolated and empty.

12. It will help you to avoid the clutter monster

Having limited space for stuff will help you to have reasonable limits for how much stuff you can bring into your home. A three bedroom house sets the limit of your stuff to those three bedrooms whilst five gives you the ability to clutter up an additional two rooms.

13. You can free up money for other enjoyable activities 

Minimalism helps you revalue your priorities and find what is truly crucial. This helps you to minimise the excess and focus on the essential. When you realise that you don’t need a huge home with excess storage and a theatre room and gym with a basement you can find the money for more meaningful pursuits.

For us that is travel. We would not be happy with a larger home if that meant that we had to travel less, if at all. Maybe spending less on your housing will free up some cash to spend on your child’s dance classes or be the difference in going out as a family once a week as opposed to once a month.

Do you live in a smaller home? Share the benefits that you have found in the comments below!