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Clutter, Weight and Money

November 13th, 2008 at 09:33 pm

** Warning: slightly dramatic and whiny post ahead. Read at your own risk. I don't plan to make a habit of this because in the long run I don't think it will help solve problems. But it helps me clarify some of my own thoughts, and it's a springboard for moving forward into 2009. **

I have recently read It's All Too Much and Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? by Peter Walsh. He's the host of an organizing show on TLC that I've never watched. We don't get that station. But both books were good. He really tries to get you to get to the heart of the matter. With clutter it's not about how to rearrange your house, it's about the life you live now versus the life you've lived in the past or the life you want to live in the future. I think anyone who's ever bought an exercise machine that became a clothing rack can relate to this. With being overweight, it's about what kind of life you want to live - not necessarily tied to a number on the scale, but what you want to do with your life and how having a healthy body can help you achieve that.

After reading these two books, I realized that the clutter problem in our house, my weight problem and our financial issues are all related. For me, they are all the same issue - trying to fill a hole that cannot be filled. The real problem is not about stuff, food or money - it's about relationships, and one in particular. While this is not a completely new revelation, rearranging these piece of my life and looking at it this way is.

The primary relationship problem is not solvable, at least not directly. Truly solving relationship problems takes willingness and cooperation from the people involved. If only one person is willing then the problems become something to be managed, but not solved. Yes, I know this sounds completely discouraging. . . and if I'd only think positively. . . and be a good sport. . . then the other person would respond positively and everything would be perfect, right? That hasn't been my experience though. Has anyone ever worked on a team where one person just wasn't a team player? Different strategies are tried but the person's behavior doesn't change. Sometimes the person is transferred to a different department, sometimes they're moved to a different position requiring less teamwork, sometimes they're let go. Usually though, short of dramatic experiences (such as being knocked off your horse by a bolt of lightening and blinded for three days) the person's behavior does not noticeably change.

Right now many bloggers here are thinking about their 2009 goals. I personally am having a hard time with this, or any other goals, but am working hard to overcome self pity and set some goals anyway. Mr. H doesn't believe in setting goals or having dreams about life. . . and after many years of this I've decided that it is not in my best interest to live this way anymore. No, I'm not leaving Mr. H, but am trying to figure out how to have goals and dreams that 1) Don't require Mr. H's active participation or involvement 2) Don't require me to carry Mr. H through them and 3) are not obviously divisive to our marriage. Early in our marriage and for several years I sat down with Mr. H to discuss the upcoming year - what did we plan to do, what goals we had, etc. Eventually I realized that I was setting most of the goals and doing most of the work to carry them out. So I stopped doing this completely, and Mr. H never said a word. Each year now I ask him how many camping trips he wants to go on (which I then set up), and that's about it. Sometimes we talk about house projects.

CouponAddict's recent post linked to Money Saving Mom's blog, in which she (Crystal) describes their (ambitious) financial goals for 2008. They achieved them too, and I have no doubt they will achieve their very ambitious goal for 2009. I admire Crystal and her husband very much - they truly work as a team and their hard work has been rewarded. I'm inspired by them. . . but I also have a hard time reading her blog. I'm envious of her (not the best reflection of my own character, I'm afraid) and recognize that, no matter how many different ways I've tried, I can't bring that sense of working hard together for the common good into my own life.

13 Responses to “Clutter, Weight and Money”

  1. gamecock43 Says:

    thank you for this post. It is very insightful. I have had similar learning experiences myself. One thing to remember: your not doing 'life' wrong because you don't set concrete goals to achieve. If you want to set goals- because that's the type of person you are and it keeps you organized/motivated- set personal goals. But if you don't set goals- that does not mean you are living incorrectly. What works for one couple does not work for another.
    It sounds like you miss 'teamwork' in your marriage. ...being a newlywed- i got no advice there.

  2. Ms. Pearl Says:

    I 100% agree that weight, money and clutter are related. When you live a cluttered existence it creates chaos which wrecks your finances, disorganization which forces you to waste more money on eating out or unhealthy food that makes you gain weight, that makes you depressed thus having no energy to pick up the clutter. Vicious circle.

  3. miclason Says:

    Thanks for your post! I, too, struggle with weight, finances and clutter!

  4. Personal Finance Student Says:

    I can relate in some ways with what you are saying. It is hard and frustrating at times. I am just trying to be happy with the progress that I see (when I see it) and not think about the goals and plans I have made in the past that have not been achieved. I wish you the best.

  5. Koppur Says:

    Thank you for such an honest and insightful post (and please don't worry about bewing whinny or complaining too much - we're your friends here!). I hope writing it all out helps to make you feel better, even if there are no immediate fixes. I think you are very determined and hard working, and you can achieve your goals. It is a shame you have to do it on your own, but I know you can still do it. And remember, you aren't REALLY on your own; we're all here with you every step of the way. Best of luck and hugs.

  6. PauletteGoddard Says:

    I am your agony twin here. Our spouses no doubt are treasures in their own special ways: goal planning is what makes us treasures in their eyes.

    I am attempting also to declutter and lose a little weight.

  7. mom-sense Says:

    Can I join the club? I, too, have a DH who is complacent - he doesn't really need to worry about the future because he has me to plan and figure it out. Does he have long-term plans for the life? No. Not really. He lives in the moment and next week's by planning on what he needs to do. I think that one day all of our kids will be gone, our parents will be old, and it will be just the two of us. At least our common goal seems to be to raise a happy Catholic family to the best of our ability. We really lack roll models as far as parents with good marriages.

    What is candid about your post is that is rings really true with probably most of us out there. I think that giving thought to things might help.

    And like other repliers, I have to declutter and lose a little weight as well!

  8. lizajane Says:

    Thanks for writing this. It is definitely food for thought. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) I think it will be good for you to set goals that can be accomplished with or without assistance, because achieving them really improves those inner thoughts about what you CAN do vs. what you CAN'T do. DH and I don't exactly see eye to eye on finances - he'd rather spend everything on bargains that might be used some time (which is saving money in the long run) rather than put cold hard cash into a savings account. I prefer to save. We've lived for a long time "his" way, and just this year I decided with or without his blessing, I would try to add to savings a little at a time. It helps. I feel more in control of our future.

    What would happen if you didn't plan the camping trips? Do you enjoy them too? If not, make the plans for a different sort of vacation, something to shake up the "same-old" routine.

  9. campfrugal Says:

    About 10 years ago, my daughter's cancer was given a terminal status, which her dad (at the time) could not handle, so he left us. Me with three kids, one child terminal, and a big house with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths and a built in swimming pool. The house was full of furniture. While I am not a pack rat, I still couldn't afford to live there and take care of my kids, so I decided to move into a mobile home park. Just in case my dauther did go home to the Lord, I wanted to be able to leave things behind so me and my boys would not feel trapped. Well, a mobile home is much smaller (2 bedrooms, 1 bath, single wide) than the home I was living in.

    I went through everything, decided what I would take with me and listed items that I wasn't going to need in the paper for 6 weeks straight until it was all sold or donated. We only took one set of dishes, the clothes that we loved the most to give us a basic and simple wardrobe, toys that where in the best condition and loved the most, the best furniture and linens; and so on; and when we moved and put our little mobile home together, it was cozy, clutter-free, a little less stressful, and I had a nice little sum of cash in my pocket.

    We made decisions (me and my three kids) to keep things simple, eat better and to always live a clutter-free life. We wanted to spend as much time together doing the things we loved with someone we loved dearly (if she was to part us in the future) It has served us all well. It was one of the best lessons ever.

    I say, start going through everything and decide a place for it to be. Sell it through craigslist.com or e-bay, donate it to those in need (especially this time of year), put together Thanksgiving and Christmas Boxes for those in need (get references from a local churches, schools, etc.), or recycle it on Freecycle. You will see that your whole life will follow this process. And, while it is long and sometimes hard work, it is all worth it in the end.

    Start small, but have a goal and Good Luck.

    And, yes, my daugther did survive and is a thriving 16 year old; and my kids are so close and spend a lot of quality time together.

  10. CouponAddict Says:

    I also had/have a hard time coming up with goals, but I do notice I feel much better if I have them. I have just realized I have a major longer term goal I have not posted, and those are the important ones.

    P.S. All my goals do not include major involvement from DH also. It may sound like they do but all my goals involve things that I control like the spending/saving. I do the shopping so I shop smart to save money. The pre-tax retirement upgrade just involves going online and changing the amount once I feel comfortable with increasing it.

    Good luck on figuring out what your goals are to reduce the clutter, weight and increase money in your life. I look forward to reading what the exact goals are.

  11. merch Says:

    So sad as if he lost hope. I do wish happiness for you in all aspects of your life.

  12. Petunia Says:

    Wow, thanks everyone. I appreciate your comments and encouragement.
    @Gamecock - I like having concrete goals and working toward them, but I have found it difficult to do this without support, so I've kind of let myself wallow for several years.
    @Paulette - True. DH does have good qualities - he mows the lawn, washes the dishes & can fix things. It's just tough sometimes to share only superficialities with one's life partner.
    @lizjane - Thank you for sharing what you & your DH have done over the years. I do like camping and we split the work of it, for the most part. I call our friends and arrange the weekends over the summer, plus we have an annual trip at the end of May. I do food & pack up Daisy's and my stuff; he handles most of the gear. If I didn't make the calls in the spring. . . I think around the end of July he'd wonder about it, then at the end of August he'd complain about it but I doubt if he would just pick a weekend and say Let's go.
    @CouponAddict - thanks for sharing how you've set up your goals.
    @Merch - he would have had to have hope in the first place. . . I can only do so much to inspire that in him - in the end at least some of it must come from him. Thanks for your well wishes.

  13. JJ76 Says:

    I could have written your post.
    While my husband doesn't really have goals... He has wants. He does not, however, see that there is a correlation between the two. Us peeps will stick together, and make 2009 a fantastic year!! =)

    - J

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