If you’re like me, you may be spending this week between Christmas and New Years getting organized! There are a few areas of life that I focus on before January 1 hits to start my year off fresh and organized. I’m not one for resolutions as I don’t think you need an arbitrary date to make a lifestyle change or set goals. I think a more effective use of time is to evaluate certain areas of your life, make adjustments and plan accordingly for 2020!
5 Things to Get in Order Before the New Year Hits
1. Review your finances
After new jobs, raises or life milestones – you financial situation likely changed this year.
Before the New Year hits, S and I take an evening to update our financial planning spreadsheet. Sound boring? Make it fun! We will order our favorite sushi, have a glass of wine and light a candle to make it just a bit more enjoyable.
We just did this last night which allowed us to have uninterrupted time to be aligned on our financial situation, set/prioritize our financial goals (for us now and our future family) and just be a unified team.
It’s easy to say “I’m not good with numbers” or “neither of us are good at finances” and just avoid discussing or looking at finances, but even with the best paying jobs, that won’t get you to where you want to be 6 months, 1 year or 10 years. I’m not sure many people actually enjoy talking about paying for cable and tax rates, but it surely feels great once it’s done and you are on the same page working towards the same goals with your partner or just have clarity for your own goals if single.
If you don’t know where to start, I suggest creating a google sheet with the following five buckets. Under each bucket, you’ll list out specific line items for the things that fall under them –
- Gross income: your income (salary, bonus) before deductions.
- Deductions: the items removed from your paycheck like taxes, retirement contributions, health insurance, HSA contributions and more.
Note: your gross income minus your deductions is your net income (take home pay).
- Fixed expenses: these are your expenses that are set and don’t vary each month like rent/mortgage, car payments, student loans, cell phone bills, and car and home insurance.
Note: If you needed to save more money, these expenses aren’t the easiest to make a dent since you have less control over them month-over-month.
- Variable expenses: these are the expenses that easily fluctuate each month like groceries, cable/internet, dinning out, clothing, vacations, toiletries, utilities (heat, electricity) and gas.
Note: If you are trying to lower your household expenses, focus in on your variable expenses as you have easy control over these. You can set budgets in place to spend less in certain areas and in turn, save more.
- Financial goals: Want to pay off your car? Strive to have a robust emergency savings account? Do you want to buy a house? Hit a certain income in your retirement account? Once you have your financial goal(s) listed out, break that large goal up into attainable monthly actions. For example, if you want to pay off the remaining $6,000 you owe on your car by the end of 2020, you’ll budget an additional ~$500 each month in that line item expense.
The exercise above will allow you to understand if your current lifestyle allows for you to achieve your financial goals and if not, reevaluate each line item to see what adjustments or budgets can be made (primarily with variable expenses) to hit them!
Or, when reviewing it will allow you to truly see what you’re spending. Maybe you did’t realize you were eating out so much and want to focus on buying groceries instead. This exercise allows you to see your habits. A year ago, I decided to cut back on ordering Starbucks coffee and instead, make it at home six days of the week. That saved me $960 this year! The little expenses add up.
Not only that, but it allows you to prioritize your expenses too. For example, we were debating on finishing part of our basement in the Spring, but after doing this exercise we decided we would rather pay off our 2019 Jeep now to not have any car payments anymore and wait to finish the basement until next year or the end of 2020.
This spreadsheet is a great starting point and foundation! I prefer to do it in Google Sheets rather than a traditional spreadsheet because you can have one living document to share between you and your partner with real-time updates. Traditional excel sheets can get stale very fast.
After our financial spreadsheet is complete, I like to take this a step further by setting up the Mint app. Mint is a free financial planning and budgeting app that I’ve used this since college to manage my own finances and now our households. You’re able to set budgets and have a real-time view of your income and expenses. I think of our spreadsheet as our master outline and the Mint app as the tool to use to manage our finances on a daily basis.
2. Evaluate your wardrobe
While getting ready each day, it’s such a great feeling to look into your closet and only house pieces that fit you, are flattering and you actually enjoy wearing. I like to be able to reach in and wear every single piece that is hanging in my closet or folded in my bureau.
Ditch the leggings that have terms attached to them – like being so thin that you need to wear a certain type of top with it. Throw out the old white tee that’s too see through to throw on and go. Donate the blouses you haven’t worn in a year. Toss the socks that constantly fall down. And certainly remove the jeans or dresses that don’t fit.
When reviewing my wardrobe, I create three piles – keep, donate, trash.
The ultimate end goal is to have a functioning closet full of pieces that fit you and make you happy. You can reach in and wear any single piece in sight. For anything you keep, you need to feel confident in it without any exclusions.
While you are making your toss and donate piles, it’s a great time to take inventory of holes in your wardrobe. If you toss out old bras that don’t fit or donate the winter jacket that’s just not a flattering fit, note this down in your iPhone notes so that when a sale hits in the coming months, you’ll know what pieces you truly need.
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3. Clean out your email inbox
Who else dreads all the emails we receive post-Holiday?! I use the free tool unroll.me to unsubscribe from emails I no longer want communications from. It takes less than five minutes to see what lists and companies you’re subscribed to and you only have one quick click to unsubscribe.
4. Organize your bathroom drawers
There is something about being able to access what I need quickly within my bathroom drawers that allows me to have a smooth morning! If there is one area you focus on organizing, I think the bathroom area is a small, affordable space that makes a huge impact into your daily life.
I have an entire blog post dedicated to the products we used to organize our bathrooms here so definitely check that out!
At a high level, I suggest evaluating what you specially need to organize within each (like cotton balls, hair ties, bobby pins, etc.) and consider using these acrylic organizers. They come in many different shapes and sizes, allowing you to custom fit your drawers for optimal space and great organization. We used them in our kitchen drawers too!
5. Clean out your pantry
I’m sure we all have those refined carb filled holiday snacks and sugary gift basket stuffed into our pantry right now. When I have a pantry filled with junk food (that I didn’t even buy!), I may reach for it before grabbing healthier snack options from my fridge.
I love decluttering my pantry, stocking it with healthy foods and removing things I don’t want to eat, but may reach for mindlessly.
If you want to overhaul your pantry’s organization, I have an entire blog post on ours here.
Are you focusing on getting a particular part of your life in order before the New Year begins? Let me know below! Xo MindySHOP MY FAVORITE ORGANIZATIONAL PRODUCTS