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. Biggest Challange: Prioritising saving. Convincing my partner to pay into our savings on pay day, rather than ‘waiting to see what’s left’ at the end of the month.

  2. Have tweeted! (twitter name @droversrunness) was already a ‘like’ on your fb page, but have gone and ‘liked’ Dave Ramsay’s page too. (Vanessa MacLeod).

  3. Our biggest financial challenge is paying off of our bills. In addition to a ton of student loans for my husband, we have a lot of credit card bills from what can only be classified as our “young and stupid” days. But we have been living very frugally for the past 2 years or so and the end is FINALLY in sight, 3 more years and nearly everything will be paid off!!

  4. The biggest challenge is sticking to the budget.

  5. Tweeted! Simple Mom & Dave Ramsey.

  6. I liked Simple Mom on FB.

  7. Georgia Monroe says:

    Giving excuses to things we don’t need!

  8. Georgia Monroe says:

    I have liked simple mom on FB!

  9. Georgia Monroe says:

    I have liked dave ramsey on FB!

  10. My biggest money challenge will be how to manage it all with less income. I am slated for layoff in July and if I do find another position, it will very likely be for less pay. This is perfect for me. Thanks for the great giveaway!

  11. I have “liked” you on FB! Thanks again!

  12. Our biggest challenge is SAVING. We’ve been debt free most of the time since we lived in Germany some ten years ago now. Paid off all our bills the three years we were there. But we’re terrible at saving, and with my husband retiring from the Army in just 12 months, we really need that safety net.

  13. Our biggest money challenge this week is sticking to the budget when the cars break down and trying NOT to use the credit cards.

  14. Our biggest challenge is that our income is very low and it comes in fits and starts. Sometimes weeks go but without any. So, it is difficult to go cash and have a budget whe nwe never know how much we make or when we will have it.

  15. Renee Cunningham says:

    Our biggest challenge is sticking to the plan/budget!!

  16. Renee Cunningham says:

    Tweeted! @reneecun

  17. Renee Cunningham says:

    Liked Simple Mom and Mr. Dave on Facebook!Here’s for the win!

  18. AGREEING on the budget and then STICKING to the budget!

  19. Paying off debt. My husband and I rarely use our credit cards anymore but we still have a bit pile of debt to pay off, a big chunk of which is my student loans. Plus setting a budget is something we have a huge problem with.

    Awesome giveaway!

  20. Lindsay Sledge says:

    Right now I would say my biggest money challenge is having the faith to tithe regularly when the money is just not there.

  21. Lindsay Sledge says:

    “Liked” Dave Ramsey on facebook!

  22. Biggest challenge: making exceptions to our budget… all. the. time.

  23. Like you both on FB (Tiffany Muehlbauer)

  24. Biggest challenge lately seems to be keeping my emergency fund funded. We’ve had a lot of little things come up that needed some extra attention and that killed the fund below our comfort level for a couple of months.

  25. this looks like a very worthwhile giveaway.

  26. Liked both on Facebook.

  27. Our food spending was insane! Now I am using Pear Budget to track expenses and learning to use coupons to my advantage!

  28. My biggest challenge is avoiding impulse buys!

  29. Paying off that last bit of debt. Whenever we save just a little bit extra to pay it off, an unforeseen expense comes our way.

  30. Our biggest financial challenge is spontaneous spending.

  31. I liked your FB page.

  32. Our biggest money problem is getting out of debt. We have ridiculous student loans, and we are trying hard to live on one income so that I can stay home and homeschool our children, but it’s hard!

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

  34. linda turske says:

    Our church has these training sessions quite often. We have not yet made the committment participate.. maybe this would spur us on toward that goal! We do not have any debt except our house but we are a self employed family and I am sure the principles would do wonders for peace of mind!

  35. Paying down our debt. We have a baby emergency fund, but now we have to pay down our debt. I feel great about the little stuff- finish the car, our credit cards. But my husband just finished law school and we had to go into a ton of debt for it and that number scares me. Sometimes I get discouraged and think that we should just keep paying the minimum-what does it matter? We’ll never pay it off! But those are only my bad days

  36. I like you on facebook

  37. Ditto to sticking to the budget. Thanks for a wonderful giveaway!

  38. Jermaine says:

    Our biggest money challenge is food. We cook at home alot and pack lunches, but always seem to go a little over budget!

  39. Our biggest challenge is trying to fit the future into today. We have the emergency fund, no debt, and a 401k, but no college fund for our kids. This worries us, but we feel our future (retirement) is more important.

  40. 1. Staying on our grocery budget and
    2. fighting the idea that I am entitled to the things that my friends have.

    Always a challenge:)

  41. Michelle says:

    The kids’ activities – the expense can really add up.

  42. Communication

  43. My biggest money challenge right now is probably staying positive. We are on a tight budget, and it works, but every few weeks I start to feel deprived and tired. If my husband doesn’t stop me I will have everyone in the car and going to eat out on a whim and there goes the budget.

  44. Eating healthy on a budget! My son is sensitive to processed foods, so we try to eat as natural and organic as possible, but it isn’t cheap!

  45. I’m a lot better than I used to be, but I still have a hard time resisting a good clearance item at Target. 🙂

  46. I Like Simple Mom and Dave Ramsey on Facebook.

  47. tweeted! @scbusf

  48. Shalae Tippetts says:

    When unexpected things come up that take money which makes it easier to stay within the planned budget.

  49. Kimberly says:

    My hubby and I are on seminary, so the biggest challenge for us is simply cash flow! We are so blessed to be debt free besides our home, and we have awesome families who are helping to support us, however when we graduate from seminary and Lord willing are employed, we’re not really sure what to do next financially.

  50. My husband and I are just finishing up leading FPU for the first time! Dave and his principles are great and have really given us so much freedom!

  51. Paying off the credit card debt. We’ve had it as long as we’ve been married. When I stayed home to have and raise kids, we added $2-3K per year. We just discovered Dave Ramsey last year, and since then we’ve paid off half of our debt. I am now working full time so we can afford to pay off the rest of it.

  52. Kimberly says:

    Liked on fb!

  53. I “liked” both Simple mom and Dave Ramsey on FB.

  54. Shalae Tippetts says:

    Tweeted Dave Ramsey and Simple Mom!

  55. Shalae Tippetts says:

    “Liked” Dave Ramsey and Simple Mom

  56. My biggest challenge with our finances is balancing relationships and budget. I feel like I’m constantly confronted with the choice to stay within my monthly budget or accept an invitation from friends or family that will make me go over in some area (usually gas!). I highly value my relationships and want to continue to be generous towards them and yet be responsible with my money at the same time!!

  57. My challenge is thinking “it’s only X dollars” which adds up so fast. Which leads to shifting money around to make sure everything is covered. Yuck.

  58. Amen & amen!

  59. Valerie R. says:

    My biggest challenge is staying in the grocery budget.

  60. i spend too much on “little things”.

  61. Valerie R. says:

    I like you both on Facebook!

  62. Jennifer says:

    Paying my bills!

  63. We are pretty good at budgeting, but my personal curse is the little expenses like coffee that add up quickly and then before you know it, you are out of spending money.

  64. Jennifer says:

    My tweet 🙂 Check out this free gift from @simplemom, @daveramsey,

  65. What a great giveaway! I’d love to be a member of FPU! Our biggest financial challenge is paying off debt (and a close second would be sticking to a budget for an extended period of time!!).

  66. My biggest financial obstacle is my husband and I working together in our budgeting and spending. It seems like we get paid and we each race to buy the things we want before the money is gone. Pretty stupid, I know!

  67. Akso, I am a fan on Facebook.

  68. I like Simple Mom on Facebook

  69. You are Dave are liked!!

  70. Jennifer says:

    Liked you both on FB!

  71. My biggest money challenge is trying to restrain buying for our new home-not things for the home necessarily but we want big things like a new screen room and pool-we want those so badly but we are saving for an emergency fund right now-although that is going so S.L.O.W. we just put our camper for sale in hopes to up our emergency fund quicker.

  72. This sounds stupid, but our biggest financial problem is keeping our accounts updated. We have a budget that we follow, we’re just one debt away from being debt-free (other than the house), we have most of our bills auto-paid, and we use the cash envelope system for most of our weekly purchases. But my husband’s forte is not the tediousness involved with keeping track of our expenditures, and when my plate gets overloaded with out-of-the-ordinary life happenings (which has happened more often than not in the last few months), updating our financial records is the first thing that gets dropped off my plate! I know FPU can’t help with that, since it’s more of a discipline thing, but we’d still thoroughly enjoy and would benefit from the class anyhow. 🙂

  73. Our biggest money challenge is staying on budget with groceries! It seems to almost always exceed our budget every month!

  74. Alissa S says:

    SAVING! – Since we also have a lot of debt that we are working to pay off, and it never fails that an unexpected expense comes up just when we start to get ahead.

  75. I tweeted the post…@Raqi

  76. My biggest money challenge is the fact that my hubby and I deal with money completely differently. I’m cautious about spending unwisely and want to “make like a gazelle” regarding our debt, and DH likes to spend big and thinks eliminating our debt is unrealistic – it would be hard, but not impossible. I really want us to be on the same page – I’d love for us to go through the FPU together. Thanks for hosting this giveaway.

  77. Our biggest money challenge is ourselves…well, patience that is! We are trying to do all the right things, but it takes time to see things grow the way we want them too.

  78. I like both Simple Mom and Dave Ramsey on Facebook!

  79. Laura Ronngren says:

    Living beyond our means. We aren’t in great debt, but have had a few financial struggles in the past 6 months that have set us back, and yet we keep buying things that aren’t necessities because we appear to be able to afford them.

  80. I’m good at coming up with the budget, but sticking with it is really difficult for me.

  81. The biggest challenge is getting my husband to stop using our credit cards.

  82. Samantha says:

    Not eating out to save money!

  83. Elizabeth says:

    My biggest challenge is communicating with my spouse about money . Thanks for the information and the give-away!

  84. My biggest money challenge is actually creating a budget that I understand and can stick to! Fluctuating bills (like electric and water) throw me off balance!

  85. Kristine says:

    Finding money to pay for home improvements! We are living in a fixer upper and it wears on my patience some days!

  86. My biggest challenge is remembering that all those little purchases, $1 here and $1 there, all add up to real money!

  87. Kristine says:

    I “liked” you! I really really liked you (and Dave) on facebook!

  88. Hmmmm, my biggest financial challenge is organization. Finding the bills when I need them (“I think they are in this somewhere”)


  89. the hardest money challenge is definitely being in total unity about how and when to spend our money. we started Dave’s baby steps in Feb, so I think we are still in the transition phase, but we still have some bumps to iron out. this post is perfect timing – I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have a membership to Financial Peace!!!!!

  90. Our biggest financial issue is the fact that we have quite a low income since I decided to stay home to be with our son. I don’t regret it, but we have to be VERY intentional about money–there’s NO wiggle room!

  91. I liked both on FB!

  92. Our biggest money challenge is trying to eat healthy. It is cheaper to eat junk.

  93. What is your biggest money challenge?
    Probably creating a budget that fits into my income and sticking to it. Not only do I have the normal student loans for undergrad and grad school, but I also have medical bills that stack up fast (despite having a Flex Spending Account) and they keep coming (the joys of having a chronic condition).

  94. My husband owns his business which means we don’t know how much money we bring home every month. It is changing constantly which makes budgeting difficult. Dave Ramsey help us get through what could’ve a positive endeavor!

  95. Jen Hahn says:

    We are have no high interest debt and are going after that student loan as fast as we can. But we could be doing it faster if we could stick to our budget for more than a couple of months at a time. That’s always the hardest part for us.

  96. Our biggest challenge is the little things. The one cup of coffee here, one extra pair of jeans there, etc. It REALLY adds up.

  97. I love your blog! I just “liked” both your facebook fan page as well as Mr. Ramseys. I have always wanted to go through the Financial University!

  98. I like Simple Mom and Dave Ramsey and my biggest money problem is spending it. Debt free including the house. 🙂