The Declutter Days Are Here! Look How Much of a Bozo I Used to Be…

by J. Money - Published August 1, 2016

declutter mission

Today marks the first day of The Weekly Declutter Challenge!

Every week we’re sorting through one box or tote or container, until our storage room is completely free of junk and organized. And we’re starting with the biggest beast of them all – our file cabinet!

Gonna feel so good throwing away and shredding stuff! Wanna join me?? :))

We’ve actually had a great system implemented over the past couple of years with my ghetto style desk contraption (see below), however everything pre-2014 has been haphazardly crammed into the “archives” cabinet dating all the way back to the 2004/2005 era. I’m literally going to have to go through them an hour or two a night until we’re fully sorted, ugh.

filing system desk

BUT – over the weekend I got a nice head start just to see what we’re dealing with, and I’m proud to say I’ve already knocked out 4 entire folders worth, uh thank you.

Only 34 more to go now! Haha… Half of which are exploding at the brim!

But while it is pretty boring, I must say I’ve gotten a kick going down memory lane and really can’t believe some of the stuff I found… And to think I was a financial blogger the entire time too – hah!

Here are some of the nuggets after clearing a “utilities” folders, “mortgage” folder, “pet” folder, and one of what looks like half a dozen “home stuff” folders from every place we’ve lived* in the past decade and a half… Which is at least 5 or 6 places that I can think of off the top of my head!

I’m sure glad I’m not me anymore…

  • AT&T cell phone bill from October of 2010: $240.70 — I’d like to say this was a fluke, but after sorting through dozens of other bills I had kept, unfortunately that was not the case. They ranged from $155.00-$250.00 a month, and what was crazier was that I was okay with it!! (We’ve since switched to Republic Wireless saving us over $100/mo and haven’t looked back)
  • Comcast bill from April, 2012: $221.31 — Same thing here – not a fluke, though most bills hovered in the $180.00 range at least. I can’t even tell you how many years we were okay with this either – it must have been a good 12 or 13?? Talk about being Triple PLAYED! (Bah-dum-ching). We now pay $60.00/mo for internet only + $15’ish for Netflix/Hulu.
  • Saving account statement from December, 2008: $-3.00 — That’s right, a negative number! Because apparently I didn’t catch on that there were monthly “inactivity” fees, nor that it would be smart to close down an account I stopped using forever ago… I’ve since become pretty anal about collecting bank accounts and now run my banking through only one kick-ass place – USAA.
  • A pile of old store credit cards…. I can only hope I was trying to build up my credit back then as I remember learning about that hack right around this time (having as much open credit as possible but not using any of it so your debt-to-credit ratio was really high!), but regardless I only stick to the bare minimum now and literally just have one card for personal use and one card for business use. The simpler the system the better I seem to be. (Though on the down side, I also don’t earn a ton of rewards or miles like some of y’all card hackers get!)
  • A letter from our mortgage company saying our HELOC was frozen — Another hack I was experimenting with back in the day was paying down a chunk of my HELOC to save interest, and then pulling the $$ back at the end of the month to pay all my bills with. I thought it was genius after reading about it on a number of finance blogs, only to then get hit w/ a frozen account when everything crashed which tied up a month’s worth of cash along with some of my emergency fund :( It’s not surprising how dumb it was looking back, but boy was that a wake up call when it hit! Made me realize just how much I didn’t know about the world or real estate/finances in general.
  • Cat bills from January, 2010 through December, 2011: $417.55, $392.50, $477.71, and $673.65 —  Out of all our bills these were the ones less in our control, but I was actually proud of myself for taking care of my pets for once and doing the best we could until the very end of our poor cat’s life :( That’s the only reason the bills stopped coming, really, except for the last one for $205 to have him cremated and put in a pretty box… I was okay with paying it at the time, but now kinda wondering about that, haha… Anyone else have their pets on their mantle? :)

So yeah – we were paying close to $400/mo for cable and cell phones back then, and then apparently opening up a ton of bank accounts as well as store credit cards… what a hot mess.

I also came across a couple of interesting mailers from back in the housing crisis days too… Both from Chase Bank where we used to have our first mortgage at:

125% mortgage refinancing

This looks crazy cuz who’d want to refinance 125% of their loans?, but remember this was back when gobs of people were underwater and couldn’t refinance to terms they could actually afford. I was one of them, at least in the underwater department (fortunately I could afford my payments!), but I remember how awesome it was to finally be able to refinance where as previous rules didn’t allow… Was such a wild time back then!

bi weekly mortgage payments

This one was cool to see too, which reminded people there were other ways to help pay off your loans faster than just the standard monthly route. All the banks were naming it something and rolling it out as a service to customers (usually for free, though some were charging!!!) but all it came down to really was just mailing in half of your payment every two weeks instead of the full one once a month. Over time this sent in more checks since there are extra weeks over the year vs only 4 per month, and I know tons of people still use this trick today. Might be worth a shot if you haven’t considered already?

And then there was this clever offer from GMAC Mortgage circa 2007:

gmac mortgage credit card(They’ve since gone out of business rebranded as Ally Bank after filing bankruptcy)

All of this has reminded me of a few good things so far…

#1. No need to keep every last piece of paper! As you can see, I used to save everything. With things going digital now, I’m finding less and less a need to hold onto stuff anymore outside of things like taxes and business docs. It’s a little nerve wracking shredding some of this old stuff because you’re always wondering if the next day you’ll need something!, but considering I haven’t pulled anything out of that cabinet for the past 5 or 6 years so far I’m thinking the odds are pretty favorable :) And if we sort it right, there will never be a need to spend an entire week on it ever again – woo!

RE: Receipts — I will say that I am still stubbornly keeping all of our printed receipts though. I always find a need to go back and find one every few months so I’ll probably continue doing so even though I do wish I could kick this habit too. Fortunately though I have a much better system going on here, and they’re all cleverly disguised into a pretty drawer unit :)

receipt storage

(Once a drawer is filled up, I move it to the next one below and then shred the one at the bottom which gets moved back up to the top to fill its place. Works like a charm!)

#2. Always be aware of what you’re spending, and why. It took me years to finally realize it wasn’t cool to spend over $400 for stuff I could get much, much, less, but I was too lazy and care fee to care. It wasn’t until doing the Challenge Everything mission the other year that I shook myself awake and actually spent the handful of minutes to research! You won’t always get lucky and find massive savings lurking below, but setting up a calendar item to remind yourself to check in every now and then never steers you wrong. And the beautiful thing is that it hardly affects your lifestyle! You’re just tweaking it!

#3. Managing your money doesn’t have to be complicated! Sure, you can score some interest here and there and find some quick hacks to improve your finances, but by and large the money game is pretty straight forward: spend less than you make and bank the rest. If you literally just did that you’d be better off than 95% of your peers. (And if you want to up it a notch even further – then just widen that gap between spending and earning which will give you even more to stash away! That’s the bulk of everything you need to do!)

#4. Nothing’s ever permanent – you’re always going through a certain phase in life. I wanted to strangle my cat for the year of costs he brought, but it was only temporary just like our credit card debt back in the day or our mortgage bills that I thought we’d never get rid of. Even now, taking on a car loan for the first time in a decade, I’m reminded of how easy we can get back into a phase again. Things come and go for better or worse, and the more we can except that the better control we’ll feel. Even if it’s something outside of our control!

So yeah – it’s been a helluva start to the decluttering so far :) And I hope you’ll join me in getting rid of some junk too! One box a week and we’ll be clutter free in no time…

Happy Monday!

———-
*Finding all my old addresses gave me an idea for a new tab to start tracking in the ol’ spreadsheet – an “everywhere we’ve lived” one! I’m not sure when it would ever come in handy outside of a background check, but for whatever reason it excites me to no end, haha… Am I all alone in that?

Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 91 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The Green Swan August 1, 2016 at 5:43 am

Those are some pretty entertaining letters/offers from the finance companies! “Pay off your mortgage without even trying” uh yeah ok!

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2 Brian @ Debt Discipline August 1, 2016 at 6:18 am

We’ve slowly been decluttering too for the past cough-cough two years. What’s your take on how long to keep paper and files? Year or two? I have moved to mostly electronic, but still have some paper statements and also struggle will how long to keep them hanging around.

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3 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:02 pm

Well, I used to keep everything for like 6-7 years, but now I’m only doing that for Tax stuff. I’m gonna still keep important docs for a few years as they don’t take up much space, but def. not going to hoard statements and everything else for years and years on end. With my current “desk system” I keep everything for a year, and then start afresh again when the new year comes. The important stuff goes into the “archives” cabinet that I’m clearing out now, and the rest gets shredded.

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4 Elle August 1, 2016 at 6:53 am

Hopping on this challenge- we need it!

Our file cabinet could use a good purge and cleaning. My mom just gave me a magic wand – no that kind – it’s a portable scanner so it may be handier as I digitally store some of our receipts and records ;)

Looking back at the old credit card statements, I can only shake my head and laugh (and not repeat the same mistakes)!

Kudos on the de-cluttering, hope it goes well this week :D

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5 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Awesome! Welcome to the cool kids table :)

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6 ZJ Thorne August 1, 2016 at 7:04 am

I just bought a new plastic filing case so that I can sort through this 2015’s stack of papers that are cluttering my desk and floor. I still haven’t been able to trash the old stuff, because I’m convinced I’ll be audited for absolutely no reason. There is no reason to have 10+ year old paperwork when I don’t even own a house. I’ll try to use you as inspiration to finally get it done.

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7 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:06 pm

Haha – agree :)

I’ve been asking myself “what is the worst thing that can happen?” when I’m torn between keeping and ridding something, and so far nothing too major has come up. Most of the financial stuff can be tracked online in archives, and the rest by calling and re-getting what’s needed from places. (Though of course it would be a bitch to have to do all that)

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8 Roy Largo @ Band of Savers August 1, 2016 at 7:05 am

I think that we’ve been pretty good about not holding onto too many unimportant paper items, mainly because we don’t have a filing cabinet to fill up so they end up in piles that we have to take care of on a frequent basis. But one of the clutter items that I have a hard time parting with is all of my notebooks from college. I feel like I worked so hard in those classes and there is a degree’s worth of information written in that pile of notebooks that I might need to refer to someday to remind myself about. But honestly, when am I ever going to dig through notes about multi-variable calculus?

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9 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:09 pm

Haha…. You must have taken great notes! The only ones I have left are love notes and other random doodles, haha…

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10 Matt @ Distilled Dollar August 1, 2016 at 7:07 am

Sign me up! I didn’t bother reading the fine print on those offers but I trust those banks! ;)

#4 on your list hits close to home. I feel I’m always transitioning into a great phase and have been fortunate that things are constantly getting better in my life. I still won’t take a day for granted and am glad to see things are going well for now. No morning sun lasts a whole day as they used to say.

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11 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Yup! And always easier to stash away a lot of money when times are good vs when they’re not! I’m so glad I invested so much before the kids came around, haha…

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12 Kate @ Cashville Skyline August 1, 2016 at 7:14 am

I kind of love discovering old bills that are no longer part of my budget. I can’t believe I wasted so much money on a home warranty, gym memberships, or super high insurance premiums for so long. You’ve inspired me to embark on my own de-clutter challenge! :)

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13 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Good! You’ve gotta tell us what insane things you dig up too please. It’ll make us all feel better :)

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14 Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor August 1, 2016 at 7:50 am

We’ve done a bunch of paper decluttering and shredding over the past year. Last summer we found all Neil’s cell phone bills from Alltel. That company hasn’t existed for years! Paper doesn’t take up that much space but it can be so time-consuming to go though. It does feel good to make a dent in it, though, and it makes filing and finding documents easier in the future.

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15 Greg August 1, 2016 at 11:52 am

Paper takes up a lot of space and it’s very heavy. Get rid of it you’ll never need it save for tax docs going back 7 years. Keep those burn the rest

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16 DIY$ August 1, 2016 at 8:11 am

Love de-cluttering!

Side note: GMAC is still around, but changed their name to Ally Bank after they came out of bankruptcy.

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17 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Woahh really?? Ally is GMAC?? They’re so popular/famous in the $$$ blogging world!

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18 Savvyshpr29 August 1, 2016 at 8:12 am

My daughter just moved out so now I’m an empty nester. One of my projects now is to start going thru all those boxes of “stuff” hiding in closets and the basement. I had a yard sale in July which cleaned out a ton of things, now on to the old paperwork. The less stuff hanging around, the less I have to deal with :) And yes, I have our beloved “Cookie” on a shelf. She was the cat my kids grew up with and they couldn’t bear to have her just “disposed of.”

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19 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:21 pm

Awwwww….

Great name for a pet too!

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20 Miss Mazuma August 1, 2016 at 8:29 am

I’ll be pushing my boyfriend to join this challenge. He saves EVERY paper statement and not one of his bills are on autopay or electric statements. It drives me insane!! We also have to work on his cable bill which rivals your old one…one step at a time. ;)

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21 Crystal August 1, 2016 at 9:28 am

My boyfriend is the same way. It drives me crazy!!!! He is self-employed so I can see the need to keep stuff but he still gets paper credit card statements and cell phone bills.

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22 Greg August 1, 2016 at 11:54 am

Sounds like a lifelong project ladies. Good luck, you’ll need it.

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23 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Haha…

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24 Lindy August 1, 2016 at 9:27 am

Re: collecting all your old addresses…do you ever find yourself scratching your head pulling your credit report and when they check your identity they ask you if you lived at A, B, C, or D-all of the above? I sure do! So I think it would be brilliant to have that listed somewhere safe and protected!
Why yes, I did move a lot myself in my younger days.

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25 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:23 pm

Haha yup! Especially when they pull from a place yearrrrrrs ago. Another great perk to tracking it all – good call :)

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26 Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies August 1, 2016 at 9:52 am

My husband moved into our house with a jumbo Rubbermaid bin full of old receipts, triplicate copies from old checks, and so on. And the CDs. Oh my gosh. I finally got him to part with the 3,000+ burned CDs. We don’t have a player for them, and when he tried to put one in his computer, it jammed. Thank goodness! Or we’d still have them, I’m afraid. I’m currently weeding through my hundreds of shoes. Then purses and clothes. If I wasn’t more organized, I’m fearful that someone would have put me on hoarders by now. You know who needs their dress from an 8th grade dance? No one. Even if it still fits.

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27 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:25 pm

At least it’s organized!!! My wife makes fun of me for thinking things are clean when they’re nice and in order :) To me that looks clean, even if nothing’s sweeped washed down, etc haha… I’m always randomly telling her how nice the place looks in case she did something recently since I can never tell the difference! But with organizing?? Instant satisfaction.

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28 Stefan @Mllnnlbudget August 1, 2016 at 9:56 am

Hey J not sure if you know but there is an app where you can scan all of your receipts and save them online in the cloud. Not sure if you want hardcopy or just access to them but this may be an option, although it may be time consuming to scan everything via your phone.
Looking at your bills it is amazing how much pets have become part of our family as it was the only bill you had little question about!

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29 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:27 pm

I bet there’s an app for that! Very smart too. I know I’m too lazy to scan in everything and don’t mind having some papers filed away, but I’m totally impressed with those who do electrify everything on a daily basis… I’ll wait until I start living out of an RV or my hotel room to go that route :)

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30 Apathy Ends August 1, 2016 at 9:59 am

I think the only paper statements I get now are our quarterly 401k ones, I have switched everything to online only.

I remember the days of crazy high phone and cable bills – they charged for everything back then!

I have had to track down old addresses for background checks – it’s not a bad idea to keep them handy

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31 Preston @TheDrunkMillionaire August 1, 2016 at 10:03 am

I’m sure I have a lot of junk in my trunk too! I would hate to look at our old Verizon bills before we switched to Google Fi!! ;) It’s always good to look back and see how you lived your pre-PFNerd life. I just hope I don’t look back in 5 years to today and think the same thing!

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32 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Haha – yeah!

Cool you’re rockin’ Google Fi too – you like so far? Last I checked they weren’t in our area but def. intrigued by ’em… Even though they were late to the game ;)

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33 Preston @thedrunkmillionaire August 1, 2016 at 5:07 pm

It’s kick ass! I think the prices are similar to your plan but no overages for overseas trips! Can’t beat going from $150 to $30 a month.

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34 J. Money August 3, 2016 at 4:21 pm

Well done!

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35 Linda @ Brooklyn Bread August 1, 2016 at 10:15 am

My husband has been wandering around Brooklyn in search of someone with a shredder. Our local office supply shop has shredding services but he was not cool with the fact that your documents are stored in a locked box until the shredding company comes once a week to collect them. This sounded like “identity theft waiting to happen!” to him. If he only knew about the statements and documents I am constantly and recklessly throwing away in my paper recycling trash. I keep telling myself I am going to stop, but then there it is, my Schwab savings account statement, which for some reason, they won’t send me digitally, just staring at me and mocking my clean surface. I can’t stop myself from tossing it in the trash. My brain chooses cleanliness over common sense every time.

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36 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Haha… there could be worse things!!

We found this tiny powerful one at a thrift store the other year for like $5.00. Maybe keep your eyes open for one you can hide at home? I know there’s no way I’m taking all my papers anywhere to be shredded, just out of pure laziness than anything else. I never shredded a thing until we picked up a home one. So easy now!

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37 Fiscally Free August 1, 2016 at 10:55 am

It’s amazing how this type of thing can be so cathartic.
I recently went through our folder of insurance documents and got rid of many years of old statements. I don’t think I will ever need them.
I need to set up a recurring calendar item for sorting through receipts and such. If I don’t do it regularly, it becomes really unpleasant.

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38 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:32 pm

Insurance docs are the worst! And probably the one area you DO need to watch as they’re always screwing up stuff, ugh… Though I’m still trashing everything that’s not within the past year.

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39 Shawna August 1, 2016 at 10:59 am

I recently decluttered papers – including a shoebox of “memories” from college. I ended up chucking half of the things in the college box, but it was a nice trip down memory lane! I also scanned a few things and saved them to my google drive (cards and things) so I can always keep them but get rid of the paper.

And I think recording your addresses is a great idea! In college and the ~5 years after, I moved pretty much once a year (sometimes to a new unit in the same complex) and keeping all my prior addresses straight was a challenge. Especially since I always needed it on the housing applications for the next place.

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40 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Yup – great use for that list there too!

I came across at least 7 bins full of “memories” during our move – had no idea I had so many! Probably because my mom started giving me some of hers since she went on a decluttering phase too, haha…So at least this should be EVERYTHING since I don’t plan on going back in time and adding more to it ;) The hardest part for me will be getting rid of all the notes and letters from friends/ex’s… All cleverly folded up too into different designs – remember that?? So much more fun than email!

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41 Amanda @centsiblyrich August 1, 2016 at 11:24 am

Wow! Great work. Thanks – I needed a push to go through the paper clutter. I have my files “organized” but keep way too much of the mail. I keep paper receipts too – I know I could scan/organize them electronically, but I’m kind of set in my ways. Maybe someday…

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42 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:36 pm

I feel like as long as you have a good system down – and aren’t bothered by it – it’s fine however you track. Before my system I never knew where anything was and was miserable. One quick change moving to those drawers and I haven’t been frustrated yet.

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43 Done by Forty August 1, 2016 at 11:37 am

Small world. We did our “paper” cleanse, ala Marie Kondo, this past weekend, too. Boxes and boxes of paper made their way into the recycling bin, old bills and receipts and random docs I thought would someday be helpful. It really is crazy how much of this paper stuff makes its way into our lives, right?

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44 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:37 pm

Cool! And it sure does! And if we’re not careful a lot more will be coming in too!

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45 slacker jo August 1, 2016 at 11:44 am

My mom freaked out me when I tried to toss a 5 year old TV guide.

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46 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:37 pm

Hahahhahahhaa…..

Moms.

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47 Richard August 1, 2016 at 12:08 pm

I got rid of the store credit cards but still have an awesome points method. It works like this:

1. Sign up for a club card at a local grocery store that offers fuel points. Watch for special dates where $1.00 in purchases of a gift card equals 2 or 4 points.
2. When that happens buy cards for other stores you would like to shop at. Pay with a credit card that gives you cash back. Go home make a credit card payment equal to the gift card purchase!
3. Take the gift cards and go looking for items you want at the stores. Bonus – watch for sales and use the gift cards on discount merchandise.

I travel some for work and do this to get points on my card, points for gas and still only spend what is in the budget. It works great for Christmas shopping. I shop on line, figure out what cards I need. Go buy the cards and then order gifts. Amazon Prime Day was excellent as well. My best haul ever? $300 in Starbucks gift cards bought for someone else. It was a 4 fuel points per dollar spent weekend. I got 1200 fuel points (100 points equals 10 cents per gallon savings). My tuck has a 26 gallon tank so I can save a lot! I also got 450 points on the credit card for future cash back. And I was repaid for the purchase so no actual cash out of pocket! Usually it’s just a 2 to 1 ratio, and I am the one paying. But every little bit helps.
A few warnings
• STICK TO YOUR BUDGET – Don’t get carried away thinking about points and blow up the budget
• Learn the rules at your grocery store. Follow them so there are no surprises. For example, buying Safeway Gift cards at Safeway won’t earn you fuel points
• Beware Visa and Master Card gift cards that charge you a fee to activate

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48 J. Money August 1, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Impressive!!

I feel like you get really good at it too after you invest a little time up front, even though it always looks overwhelming in the beginning. I sign up to all the grocery cards but then just use my cell # so it keeps my key chain clean. I don’t pay attention to what bonuses go where there but I probably should!

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49 Gary @ Super Saving Tips August 1, 2016 at 12:50 pm

It’s been a while since our last decluttering, but believe it or not, it was on our calendar for this afternoon. We haven’t decided what exactly to tackle yet, but I’d be afraid of going through our documents and receipts since we’ve had no organization of them for the past couple of years. Thankfully like you, we haven’t had to track down any of those items in the last several years, but they are taking up an inordinate amount of space. But we’ll get them decluttered, if not today, then soon.

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50 J. Money August 3, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Cool you had it on the calendar too :)

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51 Scott @ Couple of Sense August 1, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Decluttering is such a time commitment but can be a great source of entertainment. I have a box of old paystubs from the jobs I had going through school – I made SO much less money but spent way more on life. I gasped when I saw the Chase Bank offer..in…cray…able!

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52 J. Money August 3, 2016 at 4:23 pm

HAH! I bet we’d all find the same going back that far! Good thing we’ve since smarted up! :)

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53 Mysti August 1, 2016 at 1:38 pm

Our beloved cat (he was out first….we still have 2 more) passed away 4 months ago at age 17. We spent $1500 trying to save him. Don’t regret it at all. He is in a pretty box on my dresser, with his collar and tags on top.

I need to do a paper purge myself. I purged alot when we moved but I know I can do better.

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54 J. Money August 3, 2016 at 4:24 pm

Awww, sorry to hear :( Our guys are probably playing with each other up there in pet heaven! :)

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55 Jessica D. August 1, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Great post! Now I have an itch to go through my version of Monica’s closet and get rid of stuff!

My parents still have Sacha, the dog, and Benny, the cat, on their mantle. Sacha was cremated when I was 12 and Benny (the replacement pet) died three years ago. I’m 30 now. :)

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56 J. Money August 3, 2016 at 4:25 pm

Haha… seems like we’re not alone here :)

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57 Melanie Healey August 1, 2016 at 7:11 pm

We began this journey some years ago. Where I can lean towards a keeper, my husband is hardcore minimalist… to a fault. So we’ve balanced each other out. We just recently moved from 1024 sq ft to 775 (family of 4) and we got rid of SO MUCH STUFF. The last hold outs are my files, which I was able to get down to a small file box. But it still has useless stuff. We also have rules associated with new things, like shoes, toys, and purses – when a new one comes in, an old one goes out. The kids actually base their purchases on this rule sometimes, too.

Way to go, J and company! Chaos in your space is chaos in your mind – decluttering can lead to peace! I know… I know… I’m an organizational hippy at heart.

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58 J. Money August 3, 2016 at 4:26 pm

I love the “one in, one out” rule! Such a great way to prioritize what you bring into the house! Also that all your files are in one small file box :) I hope to be there someday soon!

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59 Dollar Engineer August 1, 2016 at 9:25 pm

The best part of decluttering has to be seeing things you no longer want (massive cable and cell phone bills)! In my case, it’s usually clothes I no longer wear from like 8 years ago that I somehow still have. It seems like this happens every time I move, but after my last move I think I’ve gotten my closet down to only things I need and regularly wear.

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60 Jen August 2, 2016 at 8:28 am

I found your site a few weeks ago – You are my new favorite money blogger!

My father is turning 73 this week and still works full time in construction, building schools and office buildings. No, I’m not kidding. He refuses to get his pay by automatic deposit and still gets a weekly check. He has saved every paystub from over 50 years of working. This article made me stop and think… that’s over 5000 paystubs!!!! since they pay weekly instead of biweekly. He wont get rid of them though. He likes to look back and see how little he made when he started. I grew up in a house of people who don’t get rid of anything “because they might need it someday.” Somehow I turned out to be the complete opposite. I have no clutter other than that which comes with having kids. One of my friends told me when she was pregnant she would confine the toys to just one room. I couldn’t help but laugh.

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61 J. Money August 3, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Welcome to the fun! So glad you’re liking it here so far :)

HILARIOUS about your father. And, actually, pretty damn cool at the same time if I’m allowed to say. You should have him put it all in a spreadsheet so we can tally it up and then write one epic blog post around it, haha… Or does he not even use computers either? We better buy him a stack of notepads! :)

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62 Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore August 2, 2016 at 9:17 am

I went through a bunch of old bills last year and found some dumb things too. It’s funny to look back and see some of the stupid things you’ve done (as long as you’ve learned from them and don’t repeat the mistakes).

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63 Aaron @IncomeHoncho August 2, 2016 at 9:43 am

Question about Tax Docs though. Do you REALLY need to keep it? I have a ton and I feel like if i throw them away, something is going to come up and I’ll need it and then I end up keeping everything!

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64 Richard August 2, 2016 at 11:19 am

Aaron, keep a copy of your completed tax return and the documents you used to do it for at least 5 years. The IRS has 3 years after you file to audit you. (longer if they suspect fraud). I keep my documents in large envelopes labeled by year. Ten years worth takes up very little space in my file cabinet. Easy to sort and shred every few years . Alternately, a scanned copy of the return and supporting documents works as well. It b actually works better on receipts as some fade over the years.

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65 Aaron @IncomeHoncho August 3, 2016 at 9:40 am

Good point, thanks Rich

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66 J. Money August 3, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Agreed! I actually have the last 10-15 of mine just cuz I suppose I’m paranoid, but if you use an accountant they keep files of everything too – and usually electronically. Def. safe to hold onto the past 5-7 though for sure. Same with business tax/files as well!

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67 Mom @ Three is Plenty August 2, 2016 at 2:09 pm

Fujitsu Scansnap – best investment I ever made for scanning. And, the IRS will accept PDFs (that you will have to print out) in case you are audited, so you can get rid of some of that paper as well :) Yes, I know this from personal experience…

Over a year later, and we’ve still got a few boxes in the basement that haven’t been emptied – they’ve at least been opened!

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68 Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions August 2, 2016 at 5:50 pm

We’re saving the total declutter for when the weather gets bad. It is way too nice out these last two weeks (like the nicest summer I can remember) – but I love knowing the IRS will accept PDF’s! From personal experience…that’s not good! My guess is the first year I did that, I’d get audited! Thanks for the tip!

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69 J. Money August 3, 2016 at 4:33 pm

Good idea on doing them on crappy days!!! I’ve been pulling files out while sitting around or waiting for things/people, but man – doing it on a rainy day actually sounds kinda cozy! As nerdy as that sounds!

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70 Sandy August 2, 2016 at 4:23 pm

I started decluttering a few years back and in the process became a minimalist by accident. I scanned all of my important papers and keep a digital copy now. All my photos also became digital copies. Got a photo scanner second hand and scanned all my photos and then sold the scanner for more than what I had bought it for on Craig’s list. Only a few actual documents like the title to my car and paid off note for the mortgage remain. Most of my cabinets and closets are empty by choice. In the process of decluttering, I decluttered a few relationships as well, which opened much space in my time. A few people also decluttered me out of their lives once they heard of my condo being half empty by choice. They thought I was nuts and could not understand why two thirds of my walk in closet was empty. Positive things come as a result of decluttering and I know many people postpone doing it because a lot of decision making goes in to keeping or tossing things and it can be exhausting after even an hour. Many thanks for this post. It makes me want to get up and look in my closets and cabinets for things to throw out but I know there is nothing there. :)

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71 J. Money August 3, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Love it!!! People are so crazy sometimes – way to filter themselves out! :)

Kinda goes along w/ the post I wrote today. They def. weren’t $100,000 friends!

http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2016/08/how-much-friends-worth/

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72 Laura @ Savvy Family Finance August 2, 2016 at 5:27 pm

Oh.my. I can totally relate – should see our office. I did a mini declutter session a few months back and was finally shredding college phone bills, stuff from our first apartment after getting married, etc. Was having to convince DH that no, we didn’t need the last 8 yrs of credit card statements. There is so much more room in the filing cabinet now :)

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73 BAMFmoney August 2, 2016 at 6:54 pm

If you have a bunch of old tax returns and forms like I used to, you should scan them and shred the originals. Saves a whole box of junk being stored. Takes up minimal space on your hard drive. Just burn a copy of the files to a cd for safe keeping.

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74 J. Money August 3, 2016 at 4:37 pm

I know – I really should!

But baby steps! :)

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75 Liz August 2, 2016 at 7:03 pm

This is exactly why my previous life as a nomad was so good. I rarely found myself in a house full of clutter as moving regularly forced me to do that naturally.

Now, after 6 years in one country (a record!) And having moved into a home pre-cluttered, the urge to purge is growing.

I can’t join you yet, but the dumpster (yep!) Is arriving late August. Oh happy happy day!

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76 J. Money August 3, 2016 at 4:37 pm

Hah! Sounds like you have an adventure brewing :)

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77 Andy August 2, 2016 at 7:29 pm

Good Evening,
I’ve been trying to declutter off and on for quite some time now. Love that bit about receipts. I thought I was the only one who kept all my receipts:-) Keeping receipts helps me track what and where I spend but I am a little wary about this because my debt card was charged for items that I did not get. I went to the bank and they are supposed to refund the money back into my account. Which is great but still feel like i’ve been violated… I tried to do a little investigating myself and have run into some snags :-(
Anyhow, I love your blog! It has put a :-) on my face today

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78 J. Money August 3, 2016 at 4:41 pm

Thanks for stopping by! Sucks about the card stuff – I’ve had to get three cards replaced in the past few years due to theft and hacking, not fun. At least with credit cards you don’t get any funds pulled out of your account so it’s easier to get resolved than using debit. Though I see the appeal of not using credit cards :)

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79 jolie August 2, 2016 at 9:32 pm

I went through the school pictures box at the start of July. Sad how much money I spent on too large packages of school photos, hockey photos and soccer photos. I gave tons away and still have at least a dozen from each grade/activity. I am also cashing out the rest of the RESP next week so I shredded all the quarterly reports and just kept the original document from when I signed up. That was only one picture and one file folder.

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80 J. Money August 3, 2016 at 4:42 pm

Why are you cashing out your RESP? I hope everything’s okay!

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81 superbien August 2, 2016 at 10:33 pm

Nice! You rock! Good job cleaning up.

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82 Finance Solver August 2, 2016 at 10:43 pm

Ah what memories that these must have brought you, seeing how far you came from before to now! I always love digging through my old stuff before realizing that I’m way too messy and throw them away. It makes me tear up. Guess I’m a sentimental guy..

Lol @ the mail from Chase. I had no idea that it was actually a thing where people have gotten letters to get offered over 100% of their home value. I had heard of it from professors but seeing an actual picture from an actual person is another story. Hopefully the banks learned their lesson and it doesn’t happen again.

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83 J. Money August 3, 2016 at 4:43 pm

Hah! You give them too much credit! (no pun intended)

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84 Prudence Debtfree August 2, 2016 at 11:39 pm

I’m glad you’re getting a bit of a kick out of your de-clutter mission. I’ve made some brutal discoveries in de-cluttering – including a graph of a big debt-repayment we did from 1994-1997. Why didn’t we learn from that episode?! I shouldn’t have stashed it away in the first place. Keep those mistakes visible, and they’re less likely to be repeated. (Can you frame those cell phone & internet bills?)

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85 J. Money August 3, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Ooooh I want to see that graph!!! Will you please take a pic and send over or blog about??? Sounds fascinating! :)

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86 Nathan August 8, 2016 at 2:22 pm

I was a loan officer from 2005 to 2013, so I witnessed the height of the crazy and the depths of the pain. 125% wasn’t uncommon, but 110% was almost standard back then.

Cudos on the progress with bills. My wife and I cut cable a couple years ago and the only thing I miss is SEC Football. We’re on antenna as our internet is really slow, but I’m kinda glad that my 10 month old will grow up on PBS and Andy Griffith re-runs instead of the trash on TV today.

I tell my wife all the time that it’s not a sacrifice, it’s addition by subtraction. You make gains in your life by what you cut out, not what you add to it.

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87 J. Money August 8, 2016 at 3:22 pm

Amen, brotha.

If you ever start a $$$ blog over there, you totally need to do a series on all the madness you saw as a loan officer :) It would be fascinating to read!

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88 derek August 12, 2016 at 7:40 pm

I swear to God every time I have an idea I pop over to your blog and you JUST did it.

Are you spying on my brain from the future?

-d

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89 J. Money August 18, 2016 at 9:51 am

I sure am! And you’re about to REALLY come into a bunch of cash over there – I’m glad we’re rooming up at Fincon again so I can get all those free beers off you! ;)

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90 Cari Lemme September 1, 2016 at 10:20 am

‘Just discovered your blog and am completely addicted! Seriously, it’s becoming a problem-I have a bunch of stuff I need to be doing right now….can’t ..set…phone down! Especially tuned-in to clutter issues as we are moving soon and nothing is stupider than moving a bunch of crap that needs to be thrown! I just started utilizing an app called UFYH (Unfuck Your Habitat-for real :0) and it is awesome for motivation and breaking up projects into bite-sized pieces, tracking your progress, encouraging you, etc. But never mind all that. Just try it cuz the name. Trust me :)

Thanks for all your terrific ideas. Please keep it up!

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91 J. Money September 2, 2016 at 3:21 pm

That’s hilarious! Totally googling it after I send this :) So glad you’re enjoying the site!!! You have another 2,000+ articles to go until you read all of them, so your addiction can carry you pretty far still :)

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