The other day, in the midst of what looked like becoming an ongoing conversation about tightwaddery, I posted about decluttering for the first time in months. That’s no coincidence. There are four aspects of my life that I tend to get antsy about at the same time: money, clutter and mess in the house, my terrible time management, and my terrible organisation. These subjects are closely related: my disorganisation and clutter affect my ability to budget effectively; my poor time management affects my ability to budget, but also my ability to increase my income and my ability to fix the other problems.
Last evening, I did some financial decluttering: I went through the many files in the desk safe and threw out:
- anything that was more than 10 years old (10 years being how far back an audit might go in theory);
- anything sent to me by the Tax Administration, the local authority, my insurance company that was strictly informational except the very latest version of the document in question;
- anything that was the debris of my financial administration, i.e. empty tax return papers, "sketches" of my old tax returns, scribbled notes, etc. It’s possible that these things might be involved in an audit in the future, but I’ll take that chance.
I also sorted everything that was unsorted, which I’m afraid was a lot. It was the most tedious way I could think of spending a Friday night, but it did help me feel better about a number of things:
- I found out that I had everything I need to be able to file my tax return quickly so I can be on time for the extended deadline of September 1 (budgeting, time management, organisation)
- I also found out that I had paid National Health Insurance advances over 2007 and 2008, which I should be getting back now that I’m on a salary and paying taxes/national insurances by the month. (budgetting)
- Looking at my bank statements, I realised that for all the disorganisation in my budgeting cycle, there’s one thing I’m pretty good at doing, which is saving. I put € 1600 in savings the month after I came back from Aggie’s, and have enough saved up to cover a month and a half’s frugal living expenses, a plane ticket (return) to the US if booked early and coverage for the financial time bomb I mentioned earlier. That time bomb will be defused once I’ve filed my taxes (budgeting)
So that’s making me feel good about myself. I’m still not done with this round of decluttering and it’s going to be a difficult one, because the last one was less than six months ago. But I need to do it just so I can move all the stuff from the studio there. There’s a lot accumulated there over the past seven years.
More proof that the improvement areas in my life all relate: because I did not allow myself to go to the supermarket over my lunch break this week (budgeting), I was able to have shorter lunch breaks (time management) and I could use the time to make phone calls, dealing with some studio-related issues and contacting a driving school (organisation). That made my lunch breaks the one moment during the day when my own disorganisation didn’t bite me in the ass constantly.