Do you look around your home and notice that piles of papers are everywhere and general clutter seems to be taking over? Are your closets bursting at the seams and in need of a makeover? Have you ever considered that there’s an energetic connection between the clutter in your home and the abundance in your life? Today, I’m excited to share a guest post with decluttering maven Leanne Pruett, founder of Let’s Ace Your Space and host of the Ace Your Space Summit in which I was a guest speaker earlier this year.
Leanne hasn’t always been an organized person. But after changing her habits and mindset around her space, she finally decluttered her home, plus the homes of many of her friends and family. Today, Leanne helps fellow Let’s Ace Your Spacers, declutter and organize their homes to free up powerful mental and physical energy, which helps them accomplish their goals. Take it away Leanne.
How to clear the clutter and manifest more money
I’m a firm believer that imbalances in our lives are related. I so often see people with clutter that have money issues, too! If you think about it, it makes perfect sense – there is energy around our money and around our ‘space’ (physical, mental, digital). When that energy is clogged or blocked in one area, it so easily manifests as blocks in other areas, too. I’ve seen so many of my clients clear out blockages in the clutter AND have financial breakthroughs also. Today, I want to focus on the connection between our clutter and our money.
The link between clutter and money
The link between clutter and money is not all esoteric and ‘energy’ related, though, so let’s jump over to the more practical side. There are some tangible ways that clearing the clutter helps you clear up your financial situation. Here are a few:
- Knowing exactly what you own (AND where to find it), stops you from buying duplicates of things
- Clearing up clutter often leads to finding lost money that you didn’t know you had in the form of gift cards, checks, or cash; note from Debbie: been there, done that!
- Organizing your space, files and papers prevents losing money by paying late fees and missing return deadlines.
Let me tell you about one of my clients (we’ll call her ‘Sally’). Sally had a huge problem with papers and mail clutter. This caused her to lose money in a few ways. First, Sally frequently paid her bills and invoices late because she couldn’t find things. And she incurred quite a lot of late fees.
Second, Sally ordered things online more than once and then decided she didn’t want them. But, the packages got so buried in the pile of papers and mail that she didn’t unearth them to send them back in time to get a refund. When Sally finally began to get a handle on her paper clutter, one of her biggest decluttering ‘wins’ was being able to easily find and return several items for a refund of nearly $1000. These were items she purchased for her goddaughter’s wedding. Sally sheepishly admitted that in the past she would have just lost the money because she wouldn’t have been able to find the items to get them returned in a timely manner.
Related article: 4 Benefits of Clearing Clutter (plus 2 free resources)
How long do you need to keep your financial documents?
Now, SPEAKING about that paper clutter, it can be really hard to get a handle on things. Because who really knows what we’re supposed to keep and how long do we keep things? Well, I’ve looked into that, and here are some guidelines for a few of those financial documents you may be holding onto. You can actually get rid of more than you think, and you can get rid of things SOONER than you think, which makes your record-keeping much easier.
Financial clutter to get rid of almost immediately
Here’s a list of the financial clutter you can get rid of almost immediately:
- ATM and Bank Deposit Receipts (once you’ve reconciled them with your account)
- Credit Card Receipts (once you’ve reconciled them with your account, and they’re not necessary for any returns)
- Paycheck stubs (once you’ve reconciled them with any end of year tax documents)
- Utility Bills (once you’ve received and reconciled the next month’s bill)*
*If you operate a business out of your home, you may need to save your utility bills for tax purposes to take any business deductions on your home
Financial statements that you should save the most recent version of
It’s a good idea to keep on hand the most recent versions of these financial statements:
- Annual Insurance Policy statements
- Retirement plan statements, year-end statements for your brokerage and investment accounts
- Monthly property mortgage statements (keep 1 year)
Financial statements to keep for at least 6 years
Keep and file these statements for at least 6 years:
- Home Improvement Documents and Receipts (keep until 6 years after the home has sold)
- Annual Tax Return (in the US, keep for at least 7 years; in Canada, at least 6 years)
- Tax Return Supporting Documents (receipts, etc.) (in the US, keep for at least 7 years; in Canada, at least 6 years)
- Bank statements and canceled checks (keep at least 1 year, up to 7 years)
Financial and legal documents to keep indefinitely
Make sure to protect yourself by storing these documents indefinitely:
- Legal Documents
- Pension or Retirement Plan Documents, Insurance Policies (i.e. the outline of the plan and program)
Create a filing system that works for you
Now, once you’ve figured out what to keep and what can go, the next step is figuring out a system to implement so that you don’t run into paper clutter issues as Sally did. As far as the perfect filing system? Well, it’s the one you’ll actually use! Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you set up your files:
- Keep it simple! Come up with a filing system that’s relatively easy to use – remember a filing system is supposed to relieve stress – not cause more
- Don’t subdivide your filing categories too much or over-organize your files – it actually makes things harder to find when you really need something
- Make SURE you really need to keep / file that piece of paper. Statistics show that 80% of papers filed are never used again, so if it’s not something you really need, get rid of it! Ask yourself this question: “if all my files were burned up in a fire tomorrow, what would I really miss?”
- Make filing a HABIT – set aside a periodic time to pay your bills, catch up on any paper ‘actionable items’ AND get any filing (and scanning, if you’re digitizing your files) done – you can do this weekly, bi-monthly or monthly – whatever works for you
Digitize your paperwork and create electronic records
One thing that I strongly suggest is that you get in a habit of digitizing your paper and saving your records electronically. That way you’ll have a backup in case anything happens to your paper copies. Moreover, if you get something electronically (e.g. a receipt or investment statement) don’t automatically print it out and create more clutter for yourself.
Set up a good digital filing system, similar to your hard copy paper filing system, and file the items digitally.
One caveat about keeping things digitally – make SURE you’ve got a good backup system for your data.
Remember, most of your service providers (e.g., utility providers, credit cards, banks, investment companies, etc.) store your statements and information electronically. In a pinch, you can typically access at least one years’ worth of receipts and documents on their websites. Today, it’s easier than ever to go paperless. If you’re ready to make the leap, do it!
Wrapping it all up (digitally, of course)
So there you have it! A few simple ways to clear the clutter and manifest more money. These few pointers will help you ‘tame the paper tiger’ and get you to a place where you’re not losing money because of lost bills, receipts or other items! And while you’re at it – look under the seat cushions – you never know when you’ll find some cash or a stray gift card!!