One-Month Clutter Challenge: Ice Storm

This is going to be a short update, because I have to get to work, but I’m not going to skimp out on the details too much. A lot has happened in the last few days, all of it caused by a meteorological phenomenon called an ‘ice storm’.

In a nutshell, this happens when it rains and the outside temperature is just at the freezing point. The rain just freezes on everything. It’s very pretty, but also heavy, which means A LOT of broken trees, which fall on power lines, which cut power to entire regions – not just neighborhoods or streets. On April 8th, at night, over 315,000 households were without power in my neck of the woods. That’s a lot of people.

I have a sump pump in my basement to evacuate water as it rises, but because of the lack of power, it wasn’t working, which required me to purchase a water-pressure based pump, which was a complete waste of money because I was too stressed out to install it correctly. In the end, we only got minor flooding and damage, but the expense and the clutter remains.

I ended up spending $77.76 at the Home Hardware for that stupid pump, and every penny of it was a waste, and additional clutter for me. As discussed with my wife, we will return what we can and throw out the rest, as well as the now defunct garden hose (which will need replacement).

I also spent $27.75 taking the kids out to the restaurant, where the food was warm and plentiful, as opposed to home, where everything was room temperature.

We were out of power for about 30 hours, and surprisingly we did not lose anything in terms of food. We did not open the refrigerator or freezer a single time, and even the chicken and cheese I had bought at Costco the day before were still okay.

This has been an exhausting week so far, but the kids took it well, we didn’t spend too much and managed not to add to the clutter. I look forward to purchasing and installing a gas-powered generator in the near future.

One-Month Clutter Challenge: Update 2

We have now been on our One-Month Clutter Challenge for 8 days, or 26% of the month, and I am happy to report that the only ‘clutter item’ we purchased was a Dragon Pen, meant as a little gift for our son, as he loves to write.

As you can see in the chart below, we have spent so far this month $422.16 on groceries, and $45.04 on restaurants.

Monthly Budget Excel Sheet for One-Month Clutter Challenge
This month’s budget is looking good so far!

The groceries can be divided into a single Costco bill of $290.49 and a visit at another grocery store for $131.67. For the Restaurant category, we have $37 going towards a Spaghetti Fundraiser and $8.04 for some chicken wings for lunch.

If we were to keep that level of spending for the entire month, we’d end up with a total monthly spending amount of $1752, which is pretty much on target with our monthly budget.

I’m actually anticipating that our spending will drop for the rest of the month, as I don’t think I’ll make 3 other shopping trips of this magnitude at Costco. Usually I’m good for about $150. Neither my wife nor I have put gas in the cars yet, so we’ll have to see.

If possible, and I may regret those word later, I would like to keep it under $1300 for this month, so as to catch up from last month’s budget disaster.

As you can see, I’m pretty organized; I didn’t make that Excel sheet just for the article, I’ve been using it for years, and it has really help me manage my money more efficiently.

Do you do a monthly budget, and if you do, how do you manage it in the day-to-day, and if not, well, why not? Please let me know in the comments below!

One-Month Clutter Challenger: Update 1

Well, that was quick.

My family started the One-Month Clutter Challenge yesterday, on April 1st, and we have already failed! My wife only remembered after making a purchase that we were on that challenge. To be fair to her, we’ve never done anything like that before, not by choice anyways, so it’s a habit that we all need to take.

Moreover, the transgression is small and cute; our son, who is 7 years old, loves writing stories – I guess he takes after his old man! – and to motivate him, my wife bought him a novelty pen shaped like a dragon. It’s actually kind of cool and it doesn’t feel too cheap.

The Infamous Dragon Pen

The Infamous Dragon Pen, cause of our Downfall.

We are still doing really good on the One-Month Challenge Front; besides that pen, we have purchased exactly nothing this month so far; granted, we’re only the 2nd, but we take our victories where we can find them!

While this purchase was only $5.74, the idea behind the One-Month Clutter Challenge is two-fold: on the one hand, we avoid spending money while simultaneously selling items to boost cash flow, and on the other hand, we avoid bringing in more stuff, as we have enough. We all have enough.

On both fronts, this pen is a minor transgression; it’s not really clutter, because our son will be thrilled when he received it, and it’s a tiny expense and will not bust the budget.

We’re doing good, but we have to stay on task and not take our eyes off the prize!

If you’ve missed it, here is the previous post about the One-Month Clutter Challenge:

One-Month Clutter Challenge: Day One

One-Month Clutter Challenge: Day One

As readers of this blog will know, I sell on eBay and Kijiji as well as other platforms items I already own, in order to clear the clutter and pay the mortgage, at the same time. Both are good for my wife and I’s sanity and peace of mind. We find the amount of stuff that we have accumulated throughout the years to weigh tremendously, not only physically cluttering our home but also mentally.

For the month of April, we are determined to kick it up a notch not only by selling unwanted goods, but also by pledging not to purchase anything that is not food or gas for the car, and that, for the entire month. This means we can do groceries, even in bulk at Costco, but we’re not buying anything we cannot eat. If I run out of body wash, I will finally have to use the small bars of soap I’ve pilfered from hotel rooms 10 years ago!

The goal here is start making a dent on the volume of our physical belongings, which can be overwhelming, and that’s not even counting the warehouse. With nothing coming in for a month and stuff going out, hopefully at an accelerated pace, we should be able to see a visible difference!

This will be tougher than it looks. We are conditioned and encouraged to purchase AT EVERY TURN.

We picked the month of April because no one in the immediate family has a birthday, so no gifts to buy and no parties to attend, and Christmas expenses from last year are all taken care of.

Every few days I’ll be posting an update here about how we are doing, how much money we spend and on what. There could be exceptions, of course. For example, we will buy medication if so required, as well as hygiene products if such are needed, but we shop at Costco, so we should be pretty set already.

Can you take the One-Month Clutter Challenge as well? Let me know in the comments below what you think of my project, and you’d be game to try. I’ll be sharing some exact numbers in the days ahead.