Clear the clutter

It’s that time of year when we see garage sale signs popping up and flea markets start to happen every weekend and it’s very exciting. I subscribe to this membership of purging. I love it.

Just this last week I re-painted our daughters room and repurposed some household items in her room to better fit her needs. I stole a rug from our living room for her bedroom, used up extra paint we had for her walls and updated her bedding with money I had made from selling some pieces in our house that just don’t work for us any more.

However, I noticed another place in my life, specifically, where I could clear the clutter … digitally. Subscriptions, free trials, email lists, to-dos.

Like a lot of families these days we no longer pay for cable but have subscriptions to Netflix and Hulu. I had a free trial going for Amazon Prime (for the free shipping), and after listening to one of my favorite podcasts, started another free trail for a budgeting tool, You Need A Budget.

All well intentioned. Signing up for something for free to test it out is always a great way to see if I can really use something long term, but the kicker for me is, this generally means I have to add something else to my list of things to do or try to even begin making the decision about if I want it or not.

Case of the Monday's

And it works like a charm because suddenly the free trial turns into a paid subscription and I generally feel guilt over not using it enough, or “getting my monies worth”, if I don’t order from amazon frequently enough to cover the cost. Anyone else?

So I signed up for this budget tool and signed in, and got 3 more confirmation emails immediately. My inbox was flooded with “helpful tips to get started” and “remember your passwords” and all the things to go along with starting something new. But you guys, the entry (free or not) into this new budgeting tool was costing me time and energy I don’t have. We already use another free budgeting tool (Mint.com) and I love it. Everything is already synched up and it works just fine. WHY WOULD I TRY ANOTHER?

It might be nicer, more progressive, from what I’ve heard, it’s a great tool for budgeting. But the system I have in place works well for us. So why does a free trial sound like I’m missing out?

I had too many of these mind-cluttering systems holding me hostage. I even checked our Netflix and Hulu subscriptions knowing along the way I bumped up one of the subscriptions from the most basic to the next level for convenience. I canceled all the trials (pro tip, when you do this within your free trail period, you still have access to the membership until the end of your trail period and you won’t get billed accidentally beyond it.) and I downgraded the subscriptions I know we used and wanted to keep and suddenly the mental space I was occupying trying to get the best deal just vanished. Because I’m already getting the best deal for us by not buying in to the free trap on everything that sounds remotely interesting.

I follow AndreaDekker.com and love her mindset on so many of these organizational tools and systems. Often what we’re buying is the idea, not the ability to keep it all organized. We think we need more systems, more boxes, more labels to actually be organized when really – we often need so much less to stay organized. Less stuff, less things to have to clean or label or keep track of. Less.

Any way, it’s Monday and it’s Springtime and most of the time the lure to “save money” is actually spending it. Which is totally fine, I spend money and you should definitely spend the your money however you see fit. It was just really helpful the past few days to realize what it is I find helpful about what I’m spending money (and time, or energy – all equally valuable to me) on.

Free trials, I’ve found out, aren’t valuable to me. But buying flowers at the Farmers Market and spending a lot of time in our yard and on our yard – is extremely valuable to me, so I just won’t say no to perennials. Yet.

What would you add to the list of things to clear the clutter?

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