Sort It ~ Professional Organizing for the Toronto Area

I Don’t Like Shopping

I don’t like shopping. There, I’ve said it. I have many friends, and clients, who enjoy a little (or a lot of) retail therapy here and there, but I just can’t quite seem to wrap my head around it. I can still distinctly remember my last impulse buy, 3 years ago. We had family staying with us, and they had given us some money to contribute toward their share of the groceries. Money doesn’t tend to burn a hole in my pocket, by any means, but as I went out shopping that day, I saw it: Guitar Hero: Aerosmith Edition, on sale for nearly the same amount as I had been given. It was screaming at me, “DEAL! DEAL!” and so I bought it. When I got back, I told my husband, and he nearly fell over. He was just saying to the others that of the 3 of us who went out, I would be the least likely to buy anything (and it’s true!). So, did I use the game? A bit. But it’s collecting dust now… And I was completely disappointed in myself.

I asked him if we should return it. He asked me if I thought I would use it, and enjoy it, and I insisted that I would, so he encouraged me to keep it. But I still felt bad. You see, we are currently debt free (YAY!). When we got married we had some debt, and we wanted to get out from under it. You’ve heard me mention Dave Ramsey before, and we used his methods to snowball ourselves out of the comparatively small mess we were in. This purchase set us back a bit, but I realized then that I really don’t enjoy shopping.

Clothing? Nope. I have a “shapely” figure, so it makes it difficult for me to find jeans that will fit my hips. Toys/Games? Not really. I get bored easily, and I hate to spend money on something that I just won’t use long term. Makeup? I don’t wear any, except for maybe twice a year. Food? Well, that one I don’t mind as much, but I find myself getting frustrated at the quickly inflating prices. Jewelry? Again, I rarely wear it. Gifts? Oh! Don’t even get me started! This last Christmas I found myself calling my Mom in a panic, not knowing what to buy anyone (and only wanting to purchase useful items, instead of dust collectors).

You see, the only time I even enter a mall is when I have a specific purchase in mind. I make a beeline for the store that will likely have what I’m looking for, walk straight to my desired purchase, cash out, and leave. I can physically feel myself getting anxious as I walk in. Perhaps it’s the number of people (although I’m pretty outgoing). Perhaps it’s the frustration of seeing so many families inside on a beautiful day. But I think, largely, it’s the fact that people spend money simply to waste time (double waste, really). I was about to go on a tangent about ethical shopping practices, and how our consumerist society is spurring on poverty in other countries, but I’ll leave that for another day.

Today, I will say this: I don’t like shopping, and I’m okay with that. Generally, it means that I have more cash in the bank, and I spend my time doing other things that I enjoy, and that will give me longer lasting rewards (reading, gardening, spending time with the hubby, saving for retirement).

Do you like shopping? What do you like shopping for?

P.S. Anyone in Toronto looking to purchase a slightly used Wii Guitar Hero Game? 😉

If You’re Underwater, Start Kicking

Yesterday, I was listening to our local news station on the radio, and they said that consumers would be spending less this Christmas because they are not overly confident about our current economic situation, and they are instead opting to pay down debt. Great! I personally know how rewarding, and freeing, it is to be rid of debt, and I think that it’s fantastic that people are beginning to take a more serious approach. Little Jimmy might be upset that he’s not getting everything on his 40 item wish list, but reality has to set in sometime.

Then, I switched over to a news station that is broadcast from the U.S. They said that 30% of homeowners are currently underwater. (Underwater means that you owe more on the house than the house is worth, so if you sold your house and gave all that money over to the bank, you would still, technically, be indebted to them). As a homeowner, that must be an awful feeling. However, I want to offer you this piece of advice: If you’re underwater, start kicking!

Don’t give up. Your home will likely go up again as the markets recover. Don’t walk away. I’ve heard of people simply leaving their house key in the mailbox (usually when faced with foreclosure) – don’t do it! Start paying down your debt. Bring your costs down, and utilize the extra money to get those debt burdens off your back. Dave Ramsey, a popular financial consultant, suggests paying down the smallest debt first. This will give you the incentive to keep going, even when the going gets tough. He’s dubbed it the debt snowball.

Now, what in the world does this have to do with organizing? Lots.

First, if you can’t find it, you’ll buy another one. Don’t spend money on things you already own. If you have a system, you’ll be able to find things when you need them, instead of thinking that you need to buy more.

Second, you need to organize your finances. If you don’t keep track of your money, you will find yourself with more month left at the end of your money (Gail Vaz-Oxlade quote). There are plenty of great software options to help you keep track of your spending habits (we use Quicken). These programs allow you to sync with your various accounts, and keep track of them all in one place. You may come to realize that you are spending 30% of your money on food (eat out much?), 45% on your housing (including utilities), 25% on your car, and 15% on clothing. Quick math drill: add it up. 30+45+25+15=115% Too much? You betcha.

Third, being organized will help you to be more efficient. Rather than making three trips to the grocery store because you forgot this, that and the other thing, be prepared. Make a list, check it twice and shop once. Gas is too expensive to be wasting it on multiple trips to the grocery store. Also, try to streamline your errands. It will save you time, and money.

Do you find that staying organized helps you save money? How?

Financial Matters

Money doesn’t have to be a tough concept, but it does take organization to get your affairs in order.

First of all, it is essential that you have a budget. Look at what you bring in every month, and what your expenses are. If the expenses are greater than what you bring in, you need to reassess what your needs and wants are.

How does this relate to organizing? Keep a record! Keep track of how much you are spending on groceries, clothing, eating out, movies, etc. It is very easy for your money to get away from you if you aren’t carefully watching it. Next, assign yourself a specific amount of money for each category, and stick to it! Also, remember to save for those rainy days.

Have you noticed that tax season is right around the corner? I’m sure you’ve been keeping a neat file of paperwork that you will require, right? Organizing strikes again! Imagine how simple it would be to get those taxes done before the deadline, and get your refund cheque before people have even submitted theirs, if you had your important paperwork organized! Make it easy on yourself, and your accountant, and create a folder as soon as you receive that first piece of paper. As you accumulate more, keep adding to that folder, and you’ll be ready to go when you compile your tax return.

Almost everyone who knows me knows that my husband and I swear by the “Dave Ramsey Plan”. Really, it is a very straightforward approach to good financial management. Don’t believe me? Check out his book “The Total Money Makeover”. It will change your life.