The tie between living simply and financial peace

This giveaway is now closed. Check here for the winners!

Phew. I admit it… I’m glad Project: Simplify is over. Don’t get me wrong — I was so inspired by all your hard work, and I’m happy with the results in my own home. But after five weeks of writing about home organization, I’m ready to explore another topic. Plus, I still need to visit a lot of your websites and check out your before-and-afters.

Before Project: Simplify, we talked money. From redefining a budget, to reiterating why being debt-free means withstanding the tidal waves, to showing you how my family budgets, we covered a lot about the green stuff.

Today, I thought it would be fun to sort-of merge the two recent topics — organizing and money — and share why I think the two go hand-in-hand. How does having a simplified, more organized home help you manage your finances? And how does taking care of your money help you simplify your home? Do the two even have anything to do with each other?

I definitely think so. Here are 5 ways keeping your home simple and clutter-free helps you manage your money — and how staying on top of your finances also helps you create a more peaceful home.

PLUS, I’ve got a sweet giveaway at the bottom of the post.

1. When you keep your home less cluttered, you know what you have.

Have you ever bought something you knew you had, but you just couldn’t find it? Or even worse — you didn’t realize you already bought it until you found an item identical to something you just brought home?

When you regularly purge, you’re allowing everything you own to have a specific place. And when things have a place where they belong, it’s easy to keep inventory of everything you have. Knowing exactly what you have means spending less on purchases you don’t need.

Plus, there’s this weird thing that happens when you start purging — you sorta like not having a lot of stuff. You mentally weigh a potential purchase in the store — “Do I really want this thing to take up residence in my home?” It may look lovely on display at the store, but really, it just adds clutter at home.

2. When there’s a place for everything — such as the bills and financial statements — it’s easier to pay on time.

When bills and envelopes are scattered hither and yon, it’s really hard to know what’s due and what you’ve paid. Keeping a home with less stuff means your bills aren’t competing for attention.

Photo by Charlie

Even better — go paperless with as much as you can, and not only are you keeping your home neater, you’ve got your payment records at your fingertips.

3. When you’ve got a goal to be debt-free, selling your extra stuff brings you closer to your goal.

Choosing to become debt-free often means doing crazy stuff — selling your toys, ditching restaurants for awhile, maybe even selling a car or two. But an easier way to make a good chunk of cash is to sell those little things you just don’t need.

Craigslist, eBay, consignment shops, yard sales, whatever… Selling stuff means a wad of quick cash you can put towards debt (or any other financial goal), but it also means a less cluttered home. I’m a decluttering maniac and purge often, and I still managed to gather seven large containers of stuff for my upcoming yard sale.

4. When you create a monthly budget, you can afford those bigger, higher quality items that last longer.

This was a surprising one for me. When we started living on a monthly, zero-based budget where every dollar had a name, we noticed how much money we frittered away on lattes and magazines. So we made sure we had a “personal money” line item for both Kyle and me, and both of us could spend this money on whatever we wanted, every month. If one of us wanted a venti latte, we could spend this money and not blow our budget for the month.

This then meant it was easier to save up for bigger purchases because we were more mindful of those little “gazingus pins.” After we saved up for our fully-funded emergency fund, we saved up for a few more months and took a vacation to Paris. That trip meant way more to me than any random issue of Better Homes & Gardens.

And that trip didn’t add one iota of clutter to our home. We spent our money on fantastic French food instead of miniature Eiffel Tower paper weights.

5. When you talk money regularly with your spouse, your relationship is more unified (and your home is less cluttered).

As I find something I like on Amazon, I add it to my shopping cart. After I have a pile of potential purchases, I ask Kyle if he needs anything before I check out.

“Um, honey…,” I hear from the kitchen table. “Do we really need more school clothes for Tate? The school year’s almost over.”

I think for a second. “Huh — yeah, you’re right. Never mind. I’ll take that out of the cart.”

Kyle and I couldn’t have become debt-free, live on a monthly budget, or save up for specific long-term goals without talking with each other constantly. We have weekly family “business meetings,” but we also talk near daily about money. Nothing major — just updates or thoughts about our financial status. It’s a regular part of our life, so talking about money isn’t a big deal to us at all.

This means we decide on things together. Neither of us makes a major purchase without talking to the other. We both decide whether we need a new chair, more towels, or another board game for the kids. We don’t hold a senate committee on this stuff (nor do we have to shut down due to ridiculous indecision), we simply listen to each other and decide on a quick “yay” or “nay.”

Regular financial communication increases our marital intimacy on all levels. And we keep each other accountable from bringing in needless stuff to our home. Two minds are better than one here, and it helps us keep clutter at bay. It’s awesome.

Financial Peace University

I talk about Dave Ramsey quite a bit — here on the blog, in my book, Organized Simplicity, and in my real life, too. Two weeks ago I attended his EntreLeadership course. I guess you could say I drank the Kool-Aid, but this isn’t because I’m blindly following some guy with a radio show — it’s because Dave’s ideas are simple and they just make sense.

And because I’ve seen, first-hand, how his principles can revolutionize your financial life. I’m not a numbers person, and have never really been “good with money.” But by following his Baby Steps, Kyle and I are debt-free, we saved up for a fully-funded emergency fund in four months, and we took our first family vacation ever (with cash, of course).

And then, when we had to make a sudden move back to the States and set up a new home, it nearly wiped out our savings — but we didn’t sink back into debt. We stayed afloat. And I’m thrilled to say that as of last month, we replenished our fully-funded, six-months-of-savings emergency fund, and we’re back on track.

Yes, you’ve got to stick with it, and as Dave says, you’ve got to live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else. So far, it’s totally worth it.

I had the honor of meeting Dave a few months ago in Nashville, and today, I’m thrilled to tell you that his team wants to give FIVE Simple Mom readers a Financial Peace University membership!

FPU is a local, 13-week class hosted in tons of locations around the U.S. and Canada. For $109, you are enrolled in a local class that covers topics such as how to get out of debt, what mutual funds are and how they work, and what kind of insurance you really need. You’ll also receive a workbook, an audio CD library of all 13 lessons, an envelope system wallet, access to the Member Resource Center, and Dave’s best-selling book, Financial Peace Revisited. Plus, this is a lifetime membership — you and your spouse can always attend an FPU class anywhere, any time, at no extra charge.

FPU Giveaway!

Five of you will win a lifetime membership to FPU. Here’s how to enter:

Leave a comment on this post, answering this question: What is your biggest money challenge?

(if you’re reading this in an email, you must click over to the post to comment)

Additional entries

You can enter two more times — here’s how:

1. Mention this giveaway on Twitter, including @simplemom, @daveramsey, and the URL of this post — Then come back and leave an additional comment on this post, telling me about your tweet.

2. ‘Like’ Simple Mom on Facebook and Dave Ramsey on Facebook.
Then come back here again and leave a comment, telling me you did so.

This giveaway will end on 11:59 p.m. this Friday, April 15, and I’ll announce the winners this weekend. I hope you win!

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. Stay with in my grocery budget!! We are trying to eat more healthy, organic and local foods and it just cost a lot to feed a family of 6.

  2. Our biggest money challenge is increasing our savings!

  3. Sticking to our budget.

    • Sticking to the monthly budget and the categories that we allocate our funds to…..especially with the price of gas and everything else going up – I believe and know it can be done as I have seen people to it…..I need a good money mentor..

  4. I like both Simple mom and Dave Ramsey on facebook.

  5. Our biggest money challenge right now is paying off our debt. We feel like we can’t get started right away because my husband is in the US Navy, graduating medical school and we will have 2 months of NO income while he transitions from a stipend-paid medical student to salary-earning, active-duty medical resident. In addition, we’re moving DURING those 2 months. It seems overwhelming!

    • Good luck, Kimberly! My husband and I are both on baby step #2 right now and have had some things that slowed down our timeline (moving, having a baby, needing to replace an alternator/transmission/brakes on a vehicle, etc). Keep your eyes on the goal, keep outrunning the Cheetah!, and plan on paper! It is so important to save not only for the unknown, but especially for the known. If you know you will need money to move, etc. save it now instead of taking on additional debt. I think the most important lesson my husband and I have learned is that we have to stay focused and stay diligent, but also realize that the time line changes every now and again, but we will never let the debt picture get worse.

  6. I already “liked” Simple Mom on FB…but now I like Dave Ramsey, too! :0)

  7. Biggest money challenge: online shopping
    Find amazing deals and it’s so easy to click a couple times…and the money’s gone.

  8. The biggest money challenge we have is not eating out!

  9. I’ve already been “liking” Simple Mom and Dave Ramsey on facebook! 🙂

  10. Danya Vander Mey says:

    Our biggest money challenge is drawing a line when spending $ on our kids.

  11. Tweeted! Great giveaway!

    Becky B.
    Organizing Made Fun

  12. Danya Vander Mey says:

    already ‘LIKE Dave and Simple Mom

  13. I just “liked” Dave Ramsey & Simplemom on facebook.

  14. Celina Green says:

    Our biggest money challenge is figuring out the best way to save for the future

  15. I like Simple Mom and Dave Ramsey! Super!

    Becky B.
    Organizing Made Fun

  16. Our biggest money challenge is keeping on budget with eating out. I’m pregnant and work over 40 hours a week and am usually too tired to cook when I get home. I try to cook at least 4-5 nights a week but days I work 10+ hours leave me zapped and out to eat we go!

  17. Michelle Winter says:

    Building our emergency fund!

  18. Right now, staying within our budgeted amount for groceries is my biggest challenge. I’m trying to buy more local, organic foods and my 4 1/2 year old is suddenly eating like a grown man!

  19. My biggest challenge is staying within my budget.

  20. I like Simple Mom and Dave Ramsey on Facebook.

  21. Michelle Winter says:

    Just liked Dave Ramsey!!

  22. I tweeted about the giveaway @breehester

  23. Spending too much money on food & not enough money on others in need.

  24. Meredith Barr says:

    Our biggest challenge is my husband lost his job.

  25. Denay Malone says:

    I don’t have a problem avoiding large purchases, it’s the 100’s of little purchases that I can’t seem to avoid.

  26. Our biggest money challenge is communication. Money is an emotional subject for us and we use avoidance/denial when it comes to this topic. We are such good communicators in every other aspect of our marriage but this is the elephant in the room.

  27. our biggest money challenge? we are missionaries living off support so being able to raise the amount needed not only to pay bills but to plan for the future gives me nightmares and sends me to the sad place.

  28. Our biggest challenge is saving & investing for the future (college, retirement, house). Also how to work a zero down budget when monrhly income is not fixed (changes month to Month). Still Trying to find our system.

  29. I tweeted about this. 🙂

  30. My biggest challenge is being decisive about the budget! I’m terrible.

  31. Bre Mendenhall says:

    Sticking to our budget. We’ll take the time to plan everything out but after a few weeks we’re back to our old spending habits!

  32. oh my gosh i hope i win! biggest challenge: income that varies month to month, even week to week

  33. Christine says:

    I liked Simple Mom and Dave Ramsey on Facebook. 🙂

  34. Bre Mendenhall says:

    I just ‘liked’ Dave Ramsey. I’ve ‘liked’ Simple Mom for a while now!

  35. Here is my tweet: Give-a-way @simplemom of 5 memberships to Financial Peace University by @daveramsey—

  36. Establishing and following a realistic family budget! In order to save money for dreams and projects! Looking for a job that I can put my passion, use my abilities and bring income to my home!

  37. Christine says:

    Our biggest money challenge right now is just making enough to pay our monthly bills! We’ve already lowered everything to just basics, but having only one self-employed income is taking its toll.

  38. Our biggest challenge is how to prepare for the future. Right now, we’re able to save and do a lot with our money, but within the next year and a half, we’ll go down to one income, have a baby, move overseas, and my husband will be getting out of the military (and hopefully get another job!)…so we just want to make sure we have our ducks in a row!!

  39. debt. So so SO much debt. 🙁

  40. being raised under many generations of family members in debt, being raised to think that’s normal and acceptable and now not having the resources or teaching to change what we’ve learned. We want to know how to teach our children something we’ve never learned.

  41. My biggest financial challenge is resisting those little “treats” that do add up over time. Thanks for this giveaway!

  42. Following on facebook! 🙂

  43. already like both on fb!

  44. I love Dave Ramsey, and we are debt free because of his snowball program!! Our money challenge right now is building back our emergency fund, which was depleted after the birth of our son. We hope to have it fully funded by the end of the summer!

  45. Heather Houston says:

    I struggle with putting $ in savings and overspending on my kids.

  46. Carrie Eacker says:

    To stick with it because it feels like small steps forward!

  47. Heather Houston says:

    I already “like” Simple Mom and I just “liked” Dave Ramsey.

  48. Stephanie says:

    Our biggest challenge is just living life. There are so many parties and people who want to go out to eat, or people we meet that we want to have over and the expense of that adds up so quickly. It’s expensive to get to know people. If we were just staying home all of the time, we could eat very inexpensively, but this culture demands more. We’re not sure how to balance it all and still be welcoming and open our home to others. I know we don’t have to provide a gourmet meal, but the way we’ve been trying to pay off debt, there seems to be very little to offer.

    • I hear ya on this one! We have the same issue. Our friends seem to have endless cash to eat out, go for a drink, etc. And they likely do. But we live (happily) on one modest income and need to find ways to be social without spending so much money. Luckily, our friends also enjoy potlucks. Have you tried that? We used to have a potluck once a month, switching homes, with a group of friends. That died a while back, but now in the neighborhood we live in there are some seasonal potlucks and we’d like to do it even more again. Also, some of the simplest meals gathered around the table with friends have been my favorite. Soup or chili and bread, cheese fondue with some bread and veggies, sloppy joes, salads, and other meals that are easy to feed a group are so nice.

  49. I like both Simple Mom & Dave Ramsey on Facebook.

  50. our biggest struggle is writing the actual budget. I just mentally have a rough draft, not at all how Dave says to do it “on paper, on purpose”. We have still managed to get to step 4 even with the struggle.

  51. Already ‘liked’ you both

  52. Our biggest current money challenge is saving up to put at least 50% down on a home.

  53. My biggest challenge is medical bills. My youngest has immune deficiency and I have cronic pain. Our medical bills are sky high and on top of that we have a morgage that we can barely pay anymore. We are currently trying to refinance our morgage, but that will only give us an extra $80 a month. Our other option is short sale. Till then my husband is working 6 days a week while I take any small job I can with the baby in tow to try to put some money in our savings. Thank goodness we don’t have any credit card debt and that our cars both are almost paid off.

  54. I like both on facebook.

  55. Our biggest challenge is paying off credit card debt.

  56. Wow Tsh, what a great opportunity it would be to attend FPU. I bought “Organized Simplicity” and loved what it had to say, but didn’t really know how to apply it in my life. Then somehow I ended up on your blog not realizing the two were connected. Then when I read the “7 Baby Steps” on your blog, something clicked. I have been struggling to get my financial house in order for some time now, and reading a lot, but those steps just seemed to make so much sense! I am currently on Step 1 – $1000 Emergency Fund.

    My biggest challenge is trying to change the way I feel about my money – not feeling like I am “depriving” myself if I can’t buy something. But your comment about budgeting is just telling your money what it can do for you – that helped. I still have a ways to go.

    Thanks for the give-away!

  57. Sigh. Sadly, the issue with me and my husband is a lack of consistency discussing money. Ah…that and we NEED a budget. I am salaried, but his income tends to be highly irregular, and I often feel like I’m overwhelming him with my requests to try figuring out some scheme for planning where our dollars should go. =/

  58. Our biggest money challenge is the cost of child care, but we need child care in order to be able to work and get out of debt. But I feel that sucks sooo much out of what could potentially could go towards paying off our student loans. But it is what it is, and we just need to work through it.

  59. And I just “liked” you and Mr. Ramsey on FB, Ms. Tsh! =)

  60. I’ve liked Simplemom and Dave Ramsey for a while now on Facebook. 🙂

  61. CoreyAnn says:

    I have 2 big money issues:

    1) Medical bills that will never go away but are always variable
    2) A hubby that will trip over a dollar to save a dime

    Oh boy could I use this product!!!

  62. CoreyAnn says:

    I already ‘like’ both of you guys on fb!

  63. Our biggest money challenge is paying off debt and getting ready to send our oldest to college and not increase our debt by doing so!

  64. CoreyAnn says:

    I just tweeted about this!!!

  65. My biggest money problem is sales. If it’s a great deal I can’t resist, even if we have one, or several cute somethings like it already. This has added a lot of clutter to our lives and not helped our bank account!

  66. Our biggest challenge is making time to sit down and figure out our budget and then keep it updated in a timely manner.

  67. Ok, just liked Simple Mom and Dave Ramsey on Facebook. Thanks!

  68. My biggest issues are impulse buys and staying within the grocery budget.

  69. I know this sounds kind of obtuse, but it really is just never feeling like we will never ever get ahead. My husband makes six figures (and we live in an area with a high COL) but we never have anything left to save for our future after all is paid for out of the paycheck.

  70. I like Simple Mom and Dave Ramsey on FB

  71. my biggest challenge is not buying things on sale because they are a “good deal.”

  72. michelecake says:

    My biggest challenge is following a budget

  73. michelecake says:

    “Liked” simple mom on FB

  74. michelecake says:

    “liked” dave ramsey on FB

  75. Biggest money challenge: the little things that add up.

    • Saving money is our biggest hurdle. We always seem to think of savings as our extra money and can justify spending it. Sorry later.
      I liked Dave Ramsey and Simple Mom on fb!

  76. Biggest challenge is being able to actually do a budget. Our Income changes each month and find it hard to keep track because of that. Also we waaaaay oversepend on food budget each month.

  77. Liked simple mom and dave ramsey on FB

  78. My biggest challenge is being on the same page with my husband about finances. I’ve been listening to Dave Ramsey’s podcasts for a couple of years now and read one of his book (thanks to your recommendation) and I am wanting to go full force on getting out of debt and never taking out a loan again. My husband isn’t in complete agreement with me, so we’re moving much more slowly on our debt than I’d like. I’ve been thinking that we need to take Dave’s class together to hopefully be unified in our approach to our finances. Thanks for the chance to win!

  79. I’ve “liked” you for a while on FB and I just added Dave Ramsey…I’ve been meaning to add him, so thanks for the reminder!

  80. Our biggest challenge is definitely our inconsistency with communicating about money. It has become sort of a “hot topic” in our house and we tend to try to stay away from it. My husband and I are both trying to be better, but without effective communication, it is difficult to be working together in the same direction.

  81. Sticking to budget is a hard one for us but i’d say it is probably tied with saving right now. Since we have worked hard to pay off debt which we finally did it has been a challange for us to justify putting money away when we look at the debit needing to be paid. Hopefully that will change now!

  82. Mentioned your giveaway on Twitter

  83. I liked you both on FB

  84. Right now I think the biggest challenge is my husband! He refuses to set a budget or run purchases by me even when we’ve agreed on it.

  85. Our biggest money challenge is that we don’t plan out our meals very well – it ends up costing us more more money than necessary.

  86. I like on Facebook.

  87. We don’t have a “real” budget which makes it tough to know if we can make bigger purchases like a new washer and dryer.

  88. julie sanchez says:

    Our biggest strugal is simply dealing with our past poor choices.

  89. Biggest challenge – Building up that savings again. Been a “0” balance for too many months. Husband laid off during the recession and then no one willing to hire for almost a year. ; (

  90. Our biggest challenge is student loan debt!

  91. The hardest part is the on and off employment that is the nature of our business.

  92. My biggest challenge is creating a realistic budget and cutting out the small things that add up at the end of the month(coffees, teas, things of that sort).

  93. Robin Guthrie says:

    Our biggest challenge would have to be constantly needing to wipeout our emergency fund before we can get it to $1000. Seems like some huge expense hits at the wrong time!

  94. Robin Guthrie says:

    Oh, and I have already liked your page and Dave Ramsey’s! We are signed up for the Monthly Total Money Makeover website, but have always wanted to join FPU… but our budget can only afford the benefits of the website!

  95. Figuring our how to recover after an event that knocks us out financially.

  96. Our income is small, and our budget is bare-bones even during good times. My biggest challenge is sticking to it day after day, year after year, andnot letting living with less than others get to me.

  97. I like Dave and SimpleMom!

  98. 6 kids! we love ’em like crazy, but they spendy little buggers!

  99. liked you both on facebook and would love to attend FPU {just haven’t ever made it work yet. winning it would totally be the motivation we need}

  100. My biggest challenge is the grocery part of our budget. Bottom line, we spend way too much on food! All those fast food lunches, sodas from the gas station, and countless grocery store trips add up.