Three Decluttering Goals

One of my main goals for 2018 is to declutter my apartment. I aim to do that partly by looking for things to give away, and partly by not buying things in the first place. Here are three things I need to focus on.

1. Books

This picture should be self-explanatory:

When I first moved to London, one of the first things I did was go downtown and sign up at the main library. I’ve always been a big reader. I mentioned this to a co-worker, and he told me about a used bookstore downtown. So every weekend, I’d go to the library and then check out the used bookstore. I’d arrive home with 3-4 library books, and at least a couple of used books. I had to read the library books first because they were due back in three weeks, so the other books got put aside. Then I discovered another used bookstore downtown. With one of those twenty-five cent bins out front. Those things are deadly. A couple of months later, I discovered a thrift shop nearby. Books are $3 apiece, and the fifth book is free. So I kept buying more books, and putting them aside because I kept going to the library. But the good news is that I’ve finally gotten bored with the library, so it’s time to tackle my to-read pile at home. After I’ve read a book, I’ll most likely give it away. I’ll only hang on to my absolute favourite books.

2. Candles

Whenever I donate a bag of stuff to the local thrift shop, I usually go inside. I try hard not to buy things that will only create more clutter. So in order to keep myself out of the book section, I distract myself with the candle section. Candles will eventually get used up and they come in handy when there’s a power outage. I learned that a couple of months ago when I got home from work and the lights were out. I’ll be sure to keep a couple of candles to use if that happens again, but otherwise I will not buy any more candles until most of the ones in this picture are gone.

3. Writing Instruments

I’m not sure how I ended up with so many coloured pencils, gel pens, highlighters and regular pens. I will definitely not be buying any more until most of these are gone! I may donate the highlighters because I can’t see myself ever needing them. I’ll have to find a college student to give them to. (See what a good frugal person I am? I re-used drink containers and ice cream cartons, haha).

So these are three areas that I will try to work on this year. If I remember, I will post before/after pictures at the end of the year to compare! Now I just need to find time to read all those books…

My Goals for 2018

Is it too early for New Year’s resolutions? Well, I’m going to tell you what mine are anyhow! I only recently came to the realization that early retirement was a real possibility for me. And I think that’s why I’m thinking about resolutions: because these resolutions will set me free even earlier!

My first resolution is to get my finances in order. I’m not talking about paying off debts: I don’t have any. I’m talking about being a little more organized when it comes to managing my money. I’ve always been good at saving money, but I’m also good at throwing money away by not strategizing.

About two years ago, I finally made the decision to move all of my money into dividend-paying stocks, and to DRIP everything. The problem is that I’ve always done all of my investing in a taxable account. A pretty bad decision, of course, because I’m losing money to taxes. I’ve just opened a Tax-Free Savings Account-better late than never! I still need to get some paperwork to the bank before the account is officially mine, but I’ll be taking care of that next week. Then I’ll move all of my REITs over.

I’m also going to start putting money into my RRSP again. It’s been years since I’ve touched my RRSP, but I’m going to have to put some money in this year in order to avoid getting hit on my taxes in April. My dividend income is up $6000 from last year, and I’ve taken about $7500 in capital gains. So I’m a little nervous about income tax time!

My second resolution is to continue downsizing and decluttering. My goal is not to be an extreme minimalist, although I do envy people who have so few possessions that they can fit them all into a couple of bags. But I want to get rid of things that I don’t need or don’t use. The hardest part will be getting rid of things that have sentimental value. The big challenge will be to part with my Cabbage Patch Kids. I got seven of them when I was a kid and they’ve always been the one thing I thought I’d always hang on to. But then I remember something that I’ve heard various people say at various times: we spend most of our lives accumulating stuff, and then we give it all away when we reach old age. Those dolls will all end up in someone else’s possession eventually, so it might as well happen now. And I have to remind myself that they really are nothing but cloth and stuffing!

My third resolution is to track my spending a little more, which I hope will help me decrease my spending. I used to track every penny I spent. It was especially good at helping me with my grocery budget. I quickly memorized all the regular prices for items, which meant that it was much easier to spot a deal. I go to grocery stores now and I have no idea if a store is overcharging or undercharging.

Tracking my spending will also show me how much I’m spending on unnecessary items. I went to the grocery store today and stayed out of the bakery, ice cream and junk food aisles. And I spent a few dollars less than I would normally spend. Imagine how much money I could save if I stayed out of those aisles every time I was in there. And how much that money would grow if I put it into dividend-paying stocks and let it compound!

So those are my three main goals for 2018: to track my spending, to organize my investments, and to get rid of things that I don’t need. The first two goals should help me bring my projected dividend income up to about $13,500 by the end of 2018. And the third goal should help me out mentally. Less physical clutter means less stress, which should mean less spending!