For some reason I still get surprised by bills that arrive in the mail. I’ve lived out of home for over 4 years now and yet I’m never prepared when my water bill comes, or when the rates arrive or anything else. It’s never an issue of not having money, it’s more that I want to be more prepared for these things.
So this is what I’m going to do.
- Print out 2 calendars with all the months and dates on them.
- Write down all payments that happen on a certain day of the month in each month on both calendars
- Go through the last year of bank statements and write down when bills were paid (I generally pay all my bills within a couple of days of receiving them).
- Write them down on the one of the calendars and Ta Da! I have a list I can work off for the upcoming year.
- Write down on the unused calendar at the start of the month when bills can be expected.
- Stick it up somewhere and cross them off as they start arriving and noting what day they are paid/due.
- Add any new bills to the calendar.
The good thing is that once this is done, it’s done. I don’t have to do it again until the following year and it’ll be a much easier process as I’ll only have to refer to the previous calendar. It’s also a good method because you don’t have to rely on a calendar year or a financial year. You can start and end at any month. I’m planning for my current calendar to be from September 2017 to August 2018.
I hope this helps to minimise the surprise of bills arriving. Lucky for me it’s never been an issue to pay bills but I’d just like to be more aware of when they’ll arrive.
Decluttering can be a really overwhelming idea. It seems really simple as a concept but when you’re faced with space after space of stuff it can get really daunting.
To help ease that overwhelming feeling I like to start with smaller spaces. These tend to be spaces that you can clear in under an hour and still feel a real sense of accomplishment. Do enough of these spaces and you’ll feel like you can take on anything.
- Bedside tables. This is one of the easiest to clean out. I tend to fill mine with stuff that I can’t be bothered getting out of bed for so it’s usually filled with lip gloss, books, wrappers/packaging from books and a few other bits and pieces. Some of it actually belongs in there but most of it doesn’t.
- Shower/bath area. Most people I know keep their necessary products in the shower/bath area. These things are usually shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, loofahs etc. But its important to narrow it down to what you actually use. Pre-renovation my partner and I had probably about 15 products in the shower between us. Post-reno we have 2 toothbrushes, toothpaste, 2 cleansers and soap.
- Bathroom vanity. This depends on the size of your vanity and storage but this is another one that is easy to do. Go through your products and throw out those you simply don’t use. You’d be very surprised how many you rack up. If, like me, you keep cleaning products in your vanity, go through those too and see what you actually need. If there’s anything that you’re not sure about find another place for it with other ‘like’ items.
- That junk table. We all have one of these. Whether it’s a buffet, coffee table or kitchen table, we all have a flat surface where everything goes that doesn’t have a specific place for it. Ours is usually overflowing with mail and stuff that doesn’t belong anywhere.
- Linen. Go through your linen and see what you actually need. For a spare bed you really don’t need more than 2 of everything. In fact you can get away with having just the one set if you’re happy to wash and dry quickly. For my spare bed I kept two sets and this is simply because I am lazy and live in Melbourne where any day can have 4 seasons in a day. I used to have 7 sets because my fiance’s mother bought so many for him (it was his bed before it became ours) but it was just taking up space and I didn’t like any of the sets. For my actual bed I have 3 sets. I can get away with 2 but this bed was the first bed we had bought as a couple and the first bed where our linen wasn’t chosen for us. So I found some really good deals and splurged because I could.
- Towels. Same deal as linen. Many people have more than they really need. Again we were given so many sets when we moved in together that we had about 20 at one point in time. We whittled that down to 8 and now we have 12 because I bought some new ones when we renovated the bathroom. Again these 4 were the first that I had actually bought for us and weren’t a gift. A few of the older towels will be donated to an animal shelter shortly so I can put the new towels into rotation. I know I can do with less but in our house the towels take around 3 days to dry so I’d prefer to have a few spare on hand just in case.
- Cutlery Drawer. Its amazing how many things you have in a cutlery draw that you do not use. We used to have so many knives, forks and spoons. We had 3 whisks, 4 wooden spoons, 8 tongs and about 20 cheese knives. Go through and take out anything that you have multiples of that you don’t need. Go through your cutlery sets and see if you really do need 12 of everything. We narrowed ours down to 8 sets as we entertain a lot but my sister has 6 and that’s enough for when she invites myself and my partner and our parents over. Otherwise she’d just have 4.
Clearing these spaces can make such an impact. As mentioned earlier, they’re small enough to be handled in mere minutes but big enough that they can really change the way you feel about your space.
Whilst it’s a really great feeling, my big issue with decluttering is that I remember how much I spent on each item. But it’s important to separate the financial aspect with what your end game is. Trust me, I know how hard it is to let go of items that cost a lot of money that aren’t used and I know what it’s like to think “but one day I’ll use it.” If this is you this is what you can do – Get a box. Store all these “one day” items in the box. Close the box and put it away somewhere out of mind. In 3/6/9/12 months get the box back out. If you have not once opened the box in the time you’ve allocated, get rid of the contents. Make a promise to yourself that on opening the box you won’t assign fake sentimentality to items or worry about the monetary value of them. Promise that you will find a new home for the items or throw them out if they can’t be given to someone else.
It can be hard and it’s ok if decluttering is hard for you. It is difficult to let go of things especially if they have sentimental value but it’s always a good idea to start small and to trust yourself. If you’re having a really hard time letting something go, then don’t. Deal with it next time you declutter. Or don’t – it’s perfectly ok to hold on to things if they add value to your life.
It’s my birthday today and I am now 31.
Each year I use my birthday as a reminder to do all those things that I hate doing – mostly doctors appointments. This year I actually had the appointments on my birthday and I knocked out two of them – my skin check check up and a general check up at the doctors.
I was pretty proud of myself because for some reason despite health being a priority for me this year, I still tend to put it off. Frankly the money side of things kills me. My skin check was $80 which I’ll only get back $21 (honestly, for a country with such a high rate of skin cancer you’d think the rebate would be a bit more generous) and for the doctor I paid $82 and will get back around $37. I know that with the doctor I could go to a bulk billing but I love my doctor. She is so great so I begrudgingly to hand over the cash to see her.
And whilst I was giving props to myself for being so adult I got to thinking about a conversation I had a few weeks ago about failing as an adult. Generally I think I’m pretty good but there are a few things a friend mentioned that she read that really demonstrate it. It’s mostly to do with cleaning and hygiene.
Here’s a few of those things
- Changing your bra daily
- Fresh towel after two uses
- Changing bed sheets every week
- Changing pillow cases after two nights
- Throwing out or cleaning your kitchen sponge once a week
- Washing your hair twice a week
- Being able to cook 5 meals from scratch
Here’s what I do
- Changing your bra daily – I had no idea you were meant to do this. I mean you obviously do for underwear but I just didn’t think bras were in the same vein. I definitely don’t do this.
- Fresh towel after two uses – yea no, I’m lucky if I switch towels after 5 days. I can just never remember to get a fresh one although now that I actually have room to store them in the bathroom I might get better at this.
- Changing bed sheets every week – again, no. Again, lucky to do this twice a month (but more like once a month).
- Changing pillow cases after two nights – So I totally get this one but again I definitely do not do this.
- Throwing out or cleaning your kitchen sponge once a week – yea no. Occasionally I’ll soak them in a vinegar/baking soda mix but usually not. I do throw them out once they get a bit manky but it’s definitely not once a week.
- Washing your hair twice a week – now I think this is one of those contentious ones because some people wash every day and some never. My fiance hasn’t washed his hair in about 10 years with shampoo. He wets it and gets rid of a lot of the oil with hot water but he doesn’t wash it. I haven’t actually washed mine since April either. I just ‘wash’ it with hot water as well. It does mean brushing my hair more often and with multiple brushes that do different things but according to this, I’m definitely failing.
- Being able to cook 5 meals from scratch – well my meals are pretty basic but I can do it. I can do lasagna, beef and veggie stew, pasta with mushroom sauce, roast lamb with veggies and mac and cheese. Win!
The thing that really gets me about all this is that there is so much washing involved! Do people not know how hard it is to do washing in Melbourne especially in winter? NOTHING DRIES! EVER! My wool jumper that I washed on Saturday morning is still on a clothes horse slightly damp.
It seems to me though that no matter what you do there is always someone out there who thinks you can do more and/or better than you already are. But I kinda just figure, if it doesn’t bother you or make you ill does it really matter if you don’t follow the script? Not really. Do what you need to when you can and that’s all that really matters because honestly I don’t think anyone really does most of those things that I mentioned above.
What’s something you mastered where you though ‘Ah, yup I’m an adult?’
I realised today that apparently I don’t know how to schedule posts on WordPress. I thought I had them all lined up for last week but alas, it seems my scheduling has failed. Which funnily enough ties into this post very much. Following on from my post about Productive Days Off, I discovered that I really crave structure. Well to be fair, I crave the illusion of structure. I love having to do lists, I love knowing what my day will entail (and lets be honest, my weeks and months as well), I love being able to schedule things in way in advance (except sometimes that doesn’t work!) and I love being able to visually see what that looks like.
I realised I’ve been craving structure because other than work I really have no obligations with my time and find that I’m wasting more and more of it and when I look back, I wish I had used my free time more effectively.
So I’ve used the habits I developed from Productive Days Off post to give me the structure and routine I desire during my off days.
I know these items will be more guidelines rather than absolutes but I’m really ok with that. It means that I have something to look forward to, but I can choose to ignore it if I want to.
First I start by writing down a list of things I want to do during the week. I include all the boring things like cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, paying bills, grocery shopping etc and pick the day during the week I want to do those tasks. I then add the stuff I actually want to do to the list and start allocating those to certain days.
Whilst this can seem very structured it’s actually not. It just gives me an indication of what I wanted to achieve during the day but really it’s up to me whether I want to fulfill that or not.
Here’s a snap shot for my Sunday last week:
- Lunch at mums
- Dinner at the in-laws
- Move furniture
- Clean Bathroom
- Grocery shop for work lunches
- Vacuum downstairs
- Buy new jeans
It’s by no means an extensive list but it helps me use my time efficiently and effectively. Being Easter Sunday the first two things on the list were non-negotiable but the last 6 weren’t but I know that if I don’t get them done that day I’ll have to find another day to do them. In the end I didn’t do yoga or buy new jeans which is fine as they weren’t things that had to be done.
Some days doing this doesn’t work at all but I find that the majority of days it does, simply because I love ticking things off a list.
One of my biggest challenges when I have a day off is what to do with my time. There are some days where I’ve taken the day off simply because I’m not feeling up to doing anything and those days I end up sitting at home, drinking tea and reading in the sunshine.
But there are other days when I want to be productive but I get overwhelmed with what I actually want to do. So I’ve developed ways to help combat the overwhelming feeling and actually accomplish something.
- Sleep well and get up early. I find sleeping in usually means I’m going to have a lazy day. I truly believe that how I wake up has a massive impact on the type of day I’m going to have. When I haven’t slept well, my day tends to be lazy and I end up doing things haphazardly.
- Exercise. My exercise of choice is yoga but sometimes if I’m not in the mood for a full practice I’ll do a few stretches just to loosen my body. Sometimes I walk the dog. This step can take up to an hour of my day but I feel that I have so much more time in my day when I’ve exercises – almost like the hours have slowed down slightly.
- Have a meal you look forward to eating. I love breakfast even though during the week I tend to skip it but I love nothing better than getting up early, exercising and then having poached eggs with avocado on toast. Not only is it delicious but its nutritious and unlikely to leave me feeling bloated and yuck.
- To-do lists. I love to-do lists. I love crossing things off that I’ve accomplished. I get lazy if I don’t have one and it helps to see what you want to achieve before starting.
- Prioritise your tasks. I find doing the task I least want to do first the best way to approach my day because once it’s done, I can cross it off and (hopefully) not think about it again.
- Dress appropriately. This can mean getting back into gym gear, or dressing up in a suit but choose clothing that reflects what your day will look like. This will inspire you to actually complete your tasks.
The point is, come up with options that will work for you. These are simply things that work for me but there’s no reason why you can’t find ways to work for you.
What are your tips ?