4 Tips for Downsizing Your House and Your Life

I’m getting ready to move across the country. We’re going to start out in an apartment that is 250 square feet smaller than our current home. However, we will also be without the under-house crawl space we’ve had for storage. So this new state of affairs has been interesting as we get ready to downsize.

However, it’s not just the house we’re hoping to downsize in this move. We’ve also got a few life issues we’d like to downsize as well. There’s a lot of clutter in our lives and in our home, and we’re hoping to get rid of it.

1. Decide What Really Matters

The first step to any type of downsizing is to decide what really matters. Figure out what items are most important to you, and figure out why. You want to keep only things that fulfill you, and that truly enhance your life. The same is true of activities and commitments in other areas of your life. If it’s mindless tedium, downsize from your life.

2. Get Rid of Things You Haven’t Used/Looked At in a Year

This is one of the best ways to downsize items in your house. If it’s been sitting in a box for the last five years, and it’s not a family heirloom, chances are that you don’t need — and probably don’t even want — it. Get rid of it. The same method can be used for clothes, dishes, and just about anything else. If you aren’t interested enough to need it during the year, you can get rid of it. It’s a quick way to eliminate a great deal of clutter.

3. Spend Your Time According to Your Values

Once you know what really matters to you, it’s possible to decide to spend your time according to your values. Figure out your deep-seated values, and then make it a point to downsize meetings and activities that don’t reflect those values. It’s possible to let your life get so cluttered up with meetings and obligations that you forget what you value in life, and pretty soon you’re moving from place to place without truly accomplishing anything, or feeling good about what you do.

Cut out the time obligations that don’t mesh with your values, and make it a point to focus on the activities that really resonate with you on a personal level.

4. Remind Yourself of The Benefits of Downsizing

One of the best things you can do is remind yourself of the benefits of downsizing. When you are having trouble sending something to the thrift store, or throwing out an old piece of junk, remind yourself of the benefits you are about to enjoy. The same is true of downsizing your life. When you feel bad about saying no, remind yourself of the benefits you are about to have.

These benefits might include more space in your home, less money spent on keeping your stuff in good condition or storing it, and more time to do the things that matter most to you.

I’m excited for a new start in a smaller area. I think it will enhance my life.

What do you think? How do you go about downsizing?

Is Payday Loan Negativity a Storm in a Teacup?

There’s little the press hate more than payday lenders. While politicians get plenty of heat, there are few UK industries which are subject to as much newspaper venom as short term lenders. Rain or shine, when something’s awry in the short term the media came down on companies like Wonga and their ilk like a proverbial tonne of bricks, once again giving the UK’s best-known short term loan providers the usual, demonising treatment.

A storm in a teacup?

While mistakes and missteps have certainly been made by the short term lenders, is this treatment a storm in a teacup? The most recent cases I can think of which generated comparable levels of intense and furious publicity were the energy price fixing scandal perpetrated by the UK’s “Big Six” energy companies and the payment protection insurance (PPI) misselling débâcle at Britain’s biggest banks.

If you’ve ever sat down to enjoy a spot of daytime television, you’ll know that the PPI problem is still yet to blow over. In fact, even in 2014, years after the incident came to public attention, the Financial Ombudsman receives thousands of complaints about PPI misselling every week. In March 2014, the Ombusdman was getting 1000 calls a day from callers complaining about PPI misselling. Overall, 2014 has seen 399,393 complaints. The scale of the scandal is huge and ongoing.  Only this month (July 2014) the banks have again been hit with accusations of mis-selling on a scale which has lead many industry commentators to brandish this latest development as “the next PPI scandal”.

In the face of these figures and developments, payday lending problems pale in comparison. Yes, mistakes are made, but the level of attention these lenders receive for relatively harmless infractions seems to be grossly out of proportion with the actual harm done. It may still be early doors, but in 2014, the total number of complaints received by the Financial Ombudsman about all payday lenders amounted to just 794 individual issues.

Who cares?

The press and the church are at the forefront of the tirade of venom poured onto payday lenders. Yes, the industry has a less-than-shiny reputation but, as of April 2014, the whole industry has been under the strong arm of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) who took over from the weak-willed OFT to instil better regulation into a fledgling sector.

It’s clear that the short term lending industry is far from perfect. But, for a very young sector, it’s still largely unregulated and feeling its way towards better practice. When the FCA came on board, many less-than-scrupulous lenders ran for the hills. Meanwhile, other  have chosen to stay and fight to be able to provide short term finance to those who want it, understand it and can afford it.

Archbishop Welby’s U-turn

Even one of the loudest voices from the anti-payday loan brigade, The Archbishop of Canterbury, has reformed his view of the sector in recent weeks. Once vehemently against the services offered by short term lenders, the Archbishop now considers the industry a necessary service provider which ensures that even those with few assets, less-than-perfect credit histories and emergency requirements for capital can access urgent finance in times of need. The alternatives, Welby conceded, which could include the rise of illegal and potentially dangerous loan sharks, are far, far worse than a fledgling industry with a new, strong regulator which is now working hard to get to grips with the product they offer.

A little perspective

With better-established bodies across a number of financial areas all guilty of serious errors (and in many cases, deliberate profiteering from activities like mis-selling), it’s easier to look at the payday loans industry with a little more perspective.

Our banks have been in existence for hundreds of years and still we see scandal after scandal getting swept under the carpet. These are the self-same banks who refuse to offer short term finance (for fear of reputational damage) yet often actively invest in short term lending companies.

In stark comparison, payday loans have only really become big business in the last decade and, with precious little regulation available until April 2014, they’ve had little guidance and support from the world of finance. It makes all the fuss about payday loans look like a malicious storm in a teacup.

Do you believe that the fuss made about short term loan providers is out of step with apparent double standards in the financial sphere? What’s your stance on payday loans? Share your views and experiences with readers below.