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. I love Dave Ramsey… we have been following his steps, but never went through FPU. I would love to win one of the memberships! Our biggest challenge is getting out emergency fund fully funded. One step forward, three steps back it feels like.

  2. My biggest money challenge is actually making the budget. I’ve been trying to get my husband more on board with Dave’s plan and think this would be great!

  3. The biggest challenege is getting my husband to stop charging on the credit cards.

  4. I am a facebook fan of you and Dave Ramsey!

  5. I “like” both on facebook.

  6. I tweeted! @SIDAC

  7. Victoria Wheeler says:

    To be honest, I’m on the very last week of Financial Peace University myself, but I’d still really love the kit to give away to a friend that needs it.

    Our biggest money challenge going through this has been getting my husband and I on the same page. He is definitely the “free spirit” and I am certainly the “nerd” and so we tend to disagree on what lengths we need to “live like no one else.” Getting our eating out budget down to a number I’m comfortable with has perhaps been the biggest pain…

  8. Liked you and Dave on Facebook!

  9. Our biggest challenge is budgeting with an irregular income. I work a 9-5 and earn a stable paycheck, but my husband owns his own landscape and construction business. I am still trying to figure out the best way to budget and pay bills so that we can make it between my paychecks. It has definitely been trial and error.

  10. My biggest issue lately is balancing my food money and my spending money. We have a few extra dollars each month for spending money as well, but mine is usually gone within a few days after getting paid while my hubby can save his for months to buy something really amazing…

  11. Our biggest Money challenge is my husband’s job is 100% commission based so we struggle with finding the balance between, what to put away for those times when he is not bringing in income, and saving/paying down debt.

  12. Anne Marie says:

    I “Like” Simple Mom and Dave Ramsey on Facebook 🙂

  13. Our biggest money challenge is actually prioritizing bigger purchases. We’re debt free except for a 15 year mortgage, and pay cash for everything. But right now we’re kind of in paralysis about how to decide what to do next–the new gutters, the kitchen repairs, or take the kids somewhere for a week? I’m finding I kind of miss “having” to do one thing or another. Bizarre, isn’t it?

  14. Christine K says:

    Our biggest money challenge is knowing how much we should be saving every month and also building in an emergency fund while working toward paying off our mortgage.

  15. Anne Marie says:

    Our biggest challenge is staying focused to stay on budget. I think it we could get through after a month or two we would be in a great rhythm but for us it is tough to make it through for a complete month. Thanks for this opportunity!

  16. Liked Simple Mom and Dave on Facebook!

  17. Erica Pitts says:

    Our biggest money challenge is paying off my student loan. The amount seems overwhelming to me and I feel like it will take eons to pay it off. It is definitely a challenge to put any extra money we have on to the loan also.

  18. My biggest challenge is the little bits of money (that add up big) that just “float” right out of my wallet. I want to spend less and save MORE! Why is it so hard for me?????

  19. This is timely! I was just researching this morning about FPU, and so hopefully I will win here! The hardest thing for my husband and I is to take the extra money at the end of the month and actually apply it to debt. It seems like there is always something *else* that comes up, whether it is something breaking on our house or car, or an unexpected trip to see family…it never seems to be applied to the debt! I’ll have to hope I win with this one entry, deleted my facebook and I don’t have twitter!

  20. Christina Thomas says:

    My biggest challenge is sticking to a budget. I recently had a baby and began working part-time and took a huge pay cut. I’m still in the habit of spending money without thinking about it.

  21. Staying on budget! We are debt free, have plenty in savings, and never go over budget but it is SO hard for me to find the right balance when I write the monthly budget! Im going back to cash envelopes I guess!

  22. biggest challenge is retirement savings

  23. The electric bills.

  24. Erica Pitts says:

    I liked “Simple Mom” and “Dave Ramsey” on FB 🙂

  25. Liked Simple Mom and Dave Ramsey on fb.

  26. Jennifer Ott says:

    Biggest challenge?! Saving purposefully! We don’t have a large income, and it is about to get smaller, but we don’t have debt other than our mortgage. However, I find it hard to stash any remaining money away rather than fritter it away!

  27. Brian Little says:

    Biggest money challenge ATM is fuel. We heat the house with propane, and both have long drives to work. Changes in fuel prices over recent months have put a fairly serious strain on our budget. No money for more fuel-efficient cars, and our house is smack in the middle between our workplaces. :/

  28. I liked “Simple Mom” and “Dave Ramsey” on Facebook! 🙂

  29. Our biggest money challenge is getting our car paid off. It seems as though there is something that needs doing (hello roof) that squeaks that money our of our budget that month.

  30. Brian Little says:

    Also, like the blog and Dave on FB. 🙂

  31. Suzanne R. says:

    We are working our way through Dave’s Total Money Makeover right now! Our biggest money challenge is staying within our grocery/gas budget. Paying with cash has helped, but prices just keep jumping and we can’t seem to keep ahead.

  32. Danielle Monreal says:

    My biggest challenge is NOT SPENDING! It’s true, I’m the spender and my husband is the saver. My name is Danielle, and I am a spender. It’s definitely a challenge that has taken time and self discipline to try to conquer. I always think I ‘need’ something. My husband is so good with money, and I wish he had time to handle the finances, but that is not the case. We’re working on it though! I’m trying my hardest to live a much simpler life these days, for my family’s sake (and for my own!)

  33. I can name my two worst: Paper crafting supplies and clothing. My Etsy shop has lessened the impact of craft supplies on the family budget, but I still think I probably ought to be more mindful of my spending.

  34. Suzanne R. says:

    I already ‘like’ Simple Mom on fb. I ‘liked’ Dave Ramsey on fb.

  35. Wow! Awesome giveaway! Our biggest money challenge is probably staying within a budget.

  36. Right now our biggest financial issue is readjusting our budget since I went from working full time to part time when our son was born. We knew that we would have to make adjustments but we are having trouble getting used to our new budget!

  37. I like Simple Mom on facebook.

  38. My challenge is resisting a good deal. I was raised a bargain shopper but too many bargains add up to too much money spent.

  39. I tweeted about your give-away… hope lots of people “stop by” and check it out!

  40. Casey Brooks says:

    Out biggest challenge is my husband and I getting on the same page about our spending, plus we like to take on projects which can get expensive.

  41. Our biggest money challenge is food. It takes up the majority of our budget after the mortgage and we still don’t understand why! I just recently started couponing and am getting the hang of that, but still… its rediculous!

  42. Credit card debt! I am a single parent and spent a lot of years tithing, but not trusting. I used credit cards to make up the difference instead of believing for our needs to be met. Now I have HUGE pile of debt!

  43. Barbara Cianciulli says:

    Reading this post brought tears to my eyes because my husband and I are at the begining of this process and we are really struggling with it. We really just don’t know where to start with anything! We pretend to budget and get no where! Thank you for all of the great information and the giveaway!

  44. My biggest financial challenge is finding the balance between spending to enjoy the present (for example, a trip) and saving for the future. And, I hate the idea of creating a budget but know it is something I need to do to help me work out the former.

  45. My husband and I have wanted to take this course for a while. I’d love to win! I’d say that our biggest money challenge is consistency with the small things. We budget, but it’s very easy to fall off the wagon and start buying lunches every couple days and justify a little of this and a little of that until we’re off the rails.

  46. Eating out is our BIG budget breaker. I despise cooking and am not good at it at all- even following directions. Therefore, when hubby gets home from works it is way too easy to just hop in the car and go somewhere to eat. UGH!!

  47. What is your biggest money challenge? Ours is communicating about finances after many years of marriage when it has never been on the table before. Where does one start and how does one do it so there is no damage done to the relationship?

  48. Our challenge is budgeting with a variable income and paying off debt.

  49. Barbara Cianciulli says:

    I ‘like’ Simple Mom and Dave Ramsey on FB. 😎

  50. I “like” you and Dave on facebook. 🙂

  51. Suzanne R. says:

    I tweeted about this blog. tyger_nurse

  52. Barbara Cianciulli says:

    This article brought tears to my eyes because my husband and I are at the very begining of this process and we are STRUGGLING! We just don’t know where to start period! Just yesterday I started checking out DR’s books to see which would help me best. So, our hardest part is the start. The ‘go!’ Thanks for allof the great information and this giveaway!

  53. Paying off credit card debt!

  54. Barbara Cianciulli says:

    None of my comments want to show up 8-(
    Our biggest challenge is actually starting. We need a place to start instead of a disorganized mess of ‘starting over’ each month.

  55. My biggest challenge is saying “no!” to myself at Target or wherever I’m shopping. That sounds super childish, but it’s difficult sometimes!

  56. What isn’t a financial burden right now? The only moveable line in our budget that can make an impact is grocery/household things. And even if I eek that out to bare pennies, we’re still in the red every month. God is faithful. That’s the only way we’re surviving.

  57. Our biggest challenge is building an emergency fund with 6 kids & a pretty limited income. Since november our fridge died, my daughter broke her ankle, another daughter had a massive allergic reaction & ended up in hospital & then my husband was laid off. Too much bad luck.

  58. I really like shopping for my kids clothes and toys…which works against money AND clutter!

  59. We live boom or bust – splurging when bonuses come in, and then scraping by when they run out until we get to the next bonus…

  60. Felicity says:

    This is great! My husband and I have “Make a budget” in RED on our ‘To Do’ list for about a year.. we just didn’t know how to go about it. I just read your post on Dave’s 7 baby steps. This would be so great! Thanks! Thanks also for the inspiration to get organized– it’s an ongoing effort in this house with my 3 little boys, but with the sunshine I’m feeling motivated to clean out the clutter!

  61. Twittered the contest @erinlthiele

  62. The biggest challenge is getting my spouse on the same page. He’s a spender and I’m a saver.

    Thanks for the chance to win such a wonderful prize!!

  63. Our current biggest money challenge is finding money in the budget for a health insurance deductible for a recurring medical issue and replacement vehicle for when that time comes.

  64. I like SimpleMom and Dave Ramsey on Facebook too!

  65. Our biggest challenge is not having a set monthly income so budgeting seems next to impossible. Thanks for the opportunity to win something so helpful!!

  66. Our biggest money challenge is setting up the budget part and then putting the extra money in places it needs to go.

  67. I “Liked” Simple Mom on Facebook. 🙂

  68. Keeping with it is the hardest part for me. I always want to give into temptation – new pillow covers, another kindle book, a coffee out…

  69. Our biggest money challenge currently is increasing our income and creating residual income so that my husband can get his MBA (without going into $200,00o debt and loosing $100,000 in wages).

  70. I think the hardest thing is getting my husband and I on the same page and thus our conversations are very stressful. Iwould love this giveaway!

  71. Felicity says:

    I just “like”d you & dave on FaceBook. 🙂
    Forgot to add our biggest money challenge– it’s knowing how to limit ourselves on the non-essentials so we can pay off student/home loans. We’ve heard for years about making budgets, but we’re lost as to the best way to do this and how to prioritize our saving goals. I’m super excited about these baby steps– they’re so simple I’m sure we can do it now that we have a little guidance. 🙂

  72. Our biggest challenge… wondering where are money is going! Need to budget!!! Food/grocery bill for a family of 5.

  73. I have liked Dave and you on Facebook!! Yeah

  74. I like simplemom!

  75. Janina J. says:

    Our biggest money challenge is trying to get out of debt when we have two houses (one has been on the market for three years). It is killing us and I’m unable to stay at home with my one-year-old daughter because of it. We are frugal in many ways (really, more ways than is comfortable), but the house notes are killing us. We need help.

    My husband and I also have a lot of different ideas about money, and we agree on very little. Like he needs to be a “homeowner” (what a misnomer when the mortgage company is the real homeowner) and I wanted to rent because I think a home is a ball and chain. So now we have two balls and chains and it’s causing major marriage problems. And that’s a problem.

  76. I “liked” Simple Mom and David Ramsey on Facebook.

  77. Little purchases that don’t seem to matter, but when done everyday… do ad up. That is my worst. Keep me away from Marshalls…. I go crazy.

  78. I “liked” Simple Mom and Dave Ramsey on fb!

  79. My biggest money challenge has always been budgeting. Either I don’t stick to it because I impulse shop or my husband’s work interferes–either he doesn’t make as much as we had budgeted or he’s out of work=$0. We are so far behind on bills since my husband was laid off for 6 months. He’s now starting a new job and I’m hoping to get a budget established to get us caught up!

  80. My biggest money challenge is the fact that our outgo is more than our income due to the building industry in the Atlanta area. I have to pick and choose what we’re going to pay each month. We have lowered our mortgage along with anything else that we could. I feel so overwhelmed that I can’t even think clearly and don’t know what action to take. I guess you could say, “we’re stuck.” My husband works 7 days a week and our daughter is in her first year of college. This is a terrible position to live in day in and day out, we just desire freedom and simplicity.

  81. I “liked” Simple Mom and Dave Ramsey on Facebook!!! 🙂

  82. Samantha Karr says:

    Our biggest money challenge is EVERYTHING! lol. My husband and I started out with a bunch of bad checks and an upside down car loan. 6 years later, with 3 kids and much better jobs, we are doing a little better, but we are terrible at saving, terrible at staying caught up. We live in an apartment and will be signing one more year long lease because we still can’t get into a house. I’ve been reading a Dave Ramsey book my mother in law’s boyfriend lent me. I’M READY! Please pick us!!!! 🙂

  83. Samantha Karr says:

    I already Like simple mom on facebook, and just liked Dave Ramsey on fb as well!

  84. Catherine says:

    I agree–my challenge right now is keeping within my grocery budget and still trying to buy more organic and fresh foods. What a great giveaway–thanks so much!

  85. I liked Simple Mom and Dave Ramsey on Facebook.

  86. Our biggest challenge is, like many others here, sticking to a budget. We keep meaning to go to a cash budget so that we know exactly what we spend but I can’t figure out a good way to keep the cash organized.

  87. Our challege is trying to keep our grocery budget in check. Blessings!

  88. Tina Martin says:

    I like both dave & simple mom

  89. DebbieRN says:

    I need to keep to a budget but actually we are doing well otherwise. Pretty conservative by nature. Love your blog and I am a grandma! Also ‘liked’ you and Dave Ramsey on Facebook.

  90. Laura Ronngren says:

    Living within or means. We aren’t deeply in debt, but we’ve had fininacial struggles in the past 6 months that have dug our debt way deeper than we like… and yet we still find the money to buy things that aren’t necessities…

  91. I read Dave’s book last year and loved his simple plan and we’re currently on baby step#3
    With 3 little ones and a hubby working 3 jobs our biggest challenge is staying focused on the plan and not give into convince things that eat money.

  92. Though we are working towards paying off debt, it looks like it will take years to save a proper emergency fund… I am doing something wrong but I’m not sure what!!!

  93. I think our biggest money challenge is our grocery budget. My husband and I were actually going to take this class in September, but we weren’t ready to pay for it yet!I “liked” your page on Facebook. I already “liked” Dave’s page. Thanks for the opportunity!

  94. Michelle says:

    My biggest challenge is reducing the general “household” budget category: too many $1 items at Target’s Dollar Spot, clothes for me and our littlest that really aren’t needed, or an overabundance of seasonal decorating items. This also adds to the CLUTTER!

  95. Bonnie P says:

    We don’t have an emergency fund at all and carry a business debt yearly.

  96. Food! It’s hard for us to stay within budget because we like really good food. We eat out a good bit too.

  97. Hi! I “liked” (and still do;-) ) Simple MOm & Dave Ramsey on Facebook!:)

  98. Jennifer Chin says:

    Our biggest money problem is creating a budget that encompasses all of our needs and still finding a way to save!

  99. Beth Brown says:

    My biggest problem is not driving through any fast food restaurant I drive by. I seem to have to stop at at least one a day. Of course there is food or something to drink at home, but it’s just so easy to drive through.

  100. Dave Ramsey is awesome. We listen to him on the radio. My husband will jump up and down and kiss me good if I win this. I “Liked” simple mom and Dave Ramsey.