In Minnesota, spring is right around the corner, and with it, spring cleaning! Everyone I know has stuff that they don’t need, or maybe more accurately stuff they don’t use. Stored in garages, attics, basements, and storage lockers across the country are piles of stuff that are taking up space, forgotten, unused, and unappreciated. Instead of your old stuff wasting away in a dark corner, you can dust it off and sell it to someone who can put it to good use. Not only will it create more space in your house, but it can help you get started saving money and build an emergency fund.
Emergency Fund = Financial Foundation
An emergency fund is a great first step to building a solid financial foundation. According to Dave Ramsey, it is the first step toward true financial freedom. The entire purpose of creating an emergency fund is simple; it is a reservoir of savings meant to help your family through unexpected emergencies. These can include a wide variety of things such as car repairs, hospital bills, or broken household appliances. When an emergency hits, most people are unprepared. I recently read an article from Market Watch that says 62% of Americans do not have more than $1,000 in savings. That means if the furnace stops working in the middle of winter, a lot of people will have to rely on credit, loans, or build a fire every day to get by. If you already have debt, the last thing you want to do is add more to cover emergencies.
A simple way to combat unexpected expenses is to plan for them to happen, because trust me, they will. Just last summer my car started making a bunch of scary clunky noises and the repairs were about $900! It was the least stress I have ever felt with a car problem. I simply transferred money from savings and it was covered. Then we set to work to rebuild our emergency fund back to where it started. Without preparation, this could have turned into a stressful situation that would have set us back on paying off our loans. Instead of a giant crater in the road, it was a small speed bump. Trust me, creating an emergency fund will go a long way to setting you up for future financial success. Let’s see how decluttering can help get you there.
Declutter Like Crazy
Back to the basements, attics, and garages. If you don’t have an emergency fund, you probably have your jump start laying around waiting to be sold. A favorite quote of mine is from Jim Carrey’s Grinch, “One man’s toxic sludge is another man’s potpourri” is a perfect way to sum it up. (Or you may be more familiar with “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” :)) If you aren’t using it, it serves no purpose to you, so why not sell it. My wife and I like to go through our house a couple of times a year to reassess and reevaluate what we still want and what we are ready to get rid of. In the last month, we sold a snowboard with a bag, an electric guitar, and some old beanie babies for $150! It was basically free money since we hadn’t used them in years. We have a few more items waiting to be sold that can make us another couple hundred bucks.
And it is so easy to sell your stuff today! There is Craigslist, Ebay, and even Facebook. If you use Facebook, there is a garage sale type group on Facebook for almost any community across the country. The bigger city you live in, the higher probability you will find someone who wants your old junk! But even if you live in a small town, all you need to do is find the right person. I’ll bet if you declutter with a sense of purpose, you can make $1,000 within a few months and viola, emergency fund complete!
Inspired by Minimalism
When I first began taking control of my finances and started living on a budget, I was highly inspired by the blog Becoming Minimalist. The entire premise is to declutter your life and focus on what is truly important to you. They have a lot of articles about practical steps to declutter your possessions and become a minimalist with your finances as well. Part of our debt free journey has involved being minimal with how we spend our money. We say ‘no’ to a lot of things that our friends and family don’t and choose to live very simply. I believe this has helped us stay focused and motivated to get out of debt and provided a basic framework for our financial philosophy. Give his blog a read and see how it can apply to your own attempts to declutter and start your emergency fund.
Wrapping it Up
Creating an emergency fund is a big first step to prepare for the unexpected and set your finances on the right track. Spring cleaning is the perfect opportunity to not only declutter, but to get a jump-start on your emergency fund. It may be hard to part with some things, but if you can say goodbye, you can earn some serious money basically for free. Then as a side benefit, you may be inspired by your new life of being more minimal.
Let Me Know in the Comments
How has an emergency fund saved your finances? Tell me a fun decluttering story.
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