3 Reasons to Declutter Before the Holidays

Guest Post by Kimberlee from The Peaceful Mom

The holiday season is just around the corner. Here are three reasons why you should declutter now in order to have a happier Thanksgiving and Christmas:

1. Clutter Keeps You From Being Productive

Keeping disorganized piles of stuff lying around your home is a mental and emotional drain. Seeing those piles reminds you of things you need to do, but drains your energy and motivation to do them. Clutter makes it difficult to focus and makes it difficult to find the items you need to complete tasks.

Perhaps you want to make some DIY gifts this Christmas season. When your house is cluttered you may start a project only to find that you are missing an item. While looking for the item, you may get distracted by the piles of other stuff. Rather than finish your original project, you spend the rest of the afternoon dealing with those piles. So much for the handmade gifts!

2. Clutter Costs Money

Clutter not only prevents you from being productive, it also costs you money. When you are constantly distracted and wearied by the disorganized chaos in your home, you don’t have the energy to cook, plan or do other time and money saving activities. You may also spend extra money on gas and purchases because you “lose” items in your home or you forget that you have them.

When the clutter really begins to pile up, you may choose to spend time away from home to avoid it. Being “busy” away from home costs money: eating out because you’re too busy to cook, buying unnecessary items because you’re in the stores too often, and gas money driving to all the places you go to avoid being at home.

3. Clutter Keeps You Stuck Emotionally

Many times we hold on to stuff rather than dealing with our true feelings of fear or loss. We fear that we won’t have enough in the future or we fear that we will need the item we are holding onto, but we won’t be able to replace it.

The truth is that most items can easily be replaced for very little money. Is it worth the emotional drain of keeping the item rather than risking the money you may have to pay later if you actually need it? The freedom gained by dealing directly with fear and grief is far superior to the bondage of trying to keep those feelings buried.

If you assess your situation and realize that you need to get rid of some things, don’t be overwhelmed. Instead:

::Grab a box for give-away items, a trashcan for throw-away items and set a timer for ten minutes. Clean one area until the timer goes off.

::If you declutter one area a day for only ten minutes, you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in the next few weeks. The clean spaces in your home will fuel your motivation to continue and before you know it, you’ll have a clean house ready for the holidays!

Kimberlee is the creative (and sometimes cluttered) mind behind ThePeacefulMom.com where you can find more great organizing, money-saving and stress-free holiday ideas!

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Income-Earning Opportunity: Write or Shoot Videos for Money Talks Network

Money Talks Network is looking for bloggers, freelance writers, and videographers to contribute short articles for their site. You must have a blog or past writing experience (having a guest post published on MoneySavingMom.com would likely count) for them to consider you. They sound fairly particular in what they are looking for, but they pay pretty well:

Contributors are paid on publication for articles that fulfill the assignment and meet our high standards. Our payment plan starts at $50 per 300-700 word article with bonuses for length and difficulty. Knowledge of WordPress a plus. Payment for video starts at $200 per 90-second story.

Find more details here.

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Books Read in March: Becoming a Person of Influence, The Possibilities of Prayer, ReWork, By the Shores of Silver Lake


I feel like so many of the books I’ve been reading recently I’ve dubbed “excellent”. It’s becoming a bit redundant or overused, but seriously, Becoming a Person of Influence is yet another superb book.

I was inspired to listen more, encourage others more and go out of my way to build up and believe in other people. While I love to motivate people, I sometimes can become so focused on my projects and to-do list that I don’t make people as much of a priority as I should in my life.

This book challenged me in many ways. The biggest? If I want to make a difference in others’ lives, I have to take the time to invest in their lives.

I look back at some of the people who’ve had the greatest influence on me and I know it was because they weren’t too busy to listen, to help, to encourage and to take time for me. I want to be that kind of person for others, as well. This book truly inspired me to do so and gave me ideas for how to practically implement this.

Also read in March:

The Possibilities of Prayer — I’ve read a few of E.M. Bounds’ books before and have always been blessed by them. While this wasn’t my very favorite book of his and I disagreed with some of the theology, it was full of encouragement regarding the necessity and blessings of prayer.

ReWork — Hands down, this is one of the best business books I’ve ever read. In fact, if you know me well in real-life, you’ve probably heard me blabber on about it the past few weeks since I loved it so much. I read it in one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down.

The premise? Break all the rules of the “experts”. Think way outside the box. Be a teacher: if a business idea works well for you, share your secrets and people will respect you more. Stop worrying about your competition and start being a trend-setter. Keep your company small for as long as you possibly can. Don’t grow until it hurts.

(Note: There is a quite a bit of language in the book and I was disappointed because it somewhat hampered my excitement about the book. And I know some disagree with me, but I always find four letter words in books bothersome because I feel like they are unnecessary and crude.)

By the Shores of Silver Lake — The children and I loved reading this together. We’re almost sad that we’re nearing the end of the Little House series because we’ve enjoyed reading it together so much!

24 Books I Plan to Read in 2011

Business and Financial Books I Plan to Read and Review This Year:

January — 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think
February — Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living
March — Becoming a Person of Influence

April — Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
May — Life on the Wire: Avoid Burnout and Succeed in Work and Life
June — Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents
July — Have a New You by Friday: How to Accept Yourself, Boost Your Confidence & Change Your Life in 5 Days
August — Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t
September — America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money
October — Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
November — Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Save the Planet
December – Personal Investing: The Missing Manual

Other Books I Plan to Read This Year:
January — Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Contentment
February — Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time
March — The Possibilities of Prayer

April — The Blessing of Boundaries
May — Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time
June — Honey for a Child’s Heart
July — One With Christ
August — A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning
September — Womanly Dominion: More Than A Gentle and Quiet Spirit
October — The Rose Conspiracy
November — Disciplines of a Godly Woman
December –Benjamin Rush: Signer of the Declaration of Independence

What books have you read recently? Any you’d highly recommend?

(Note: The Amazon.com links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.)

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48-Hour Giveaway: Ditch the Joneses, Discover Your Family (5 Winners)

Ditch the Joneses is a book packed with ideas and encouragement for families who want to thrive on one income. If you’re a working mom who is considering staying at home and looking for suggestions on how to make that work, I believe this book will give you a great deal of inspiration and practical ideas for making that happen.

The author, Cathi Breese Doebler, makes a strong case for moms staying home in this book, which I generally agree with and wholeheartedly support. But I think that much of the author’s premise is based upon the assumption that most women who work are doing so to “keep up with the Joneses”. This is the case in many situations, however, I believe there are many women who sincerely have to work for one reason or another and they aren’t working to support a lavish lifestyle; they are working to put food on the table and a shelter over their heads.

That said, for all I know, the author was in no way having a critical spirit toward working moms, I just felt it could be interpreted like that, so it bothered me. But despite the statements which bothered me, there were many suggestions and resources mentioned in Ditch the Joneses which would be very helpful to any family out there who is currently trying to get one parent home part-time or full-time or hoping they can continue to stay home in a tight economy.

To enter to win a copy of Ditch the Joneses, click on the graphic below and type in your name and email address. Five winners will be chosen and posted on Monday. This giveaway ends Sunday, March 6, at 11:50 p.m. CST.

Enter the Giveaway

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48-Hour Giveaway: Shenzhen Knives (4 winners)

This review was written by Amy M, MoneySavingMom.com Marketing Assistant, and blogger at AmysFinerThings.com.

Until I received some Shenzhen Knives to review on my own blog a few months ago, I had never even heard of them.  The idea of ceramic knives sounded a bit impractical and fragile to me, but I soon found out I had simply been living under a rock.  Again. I found the knives sharp (and wore a bandage on my thumb to prove it), comfortable to hold, and easy to use.

While you will still need to use your steel knife for every-day, heavy duty cutting, Shenzhen Ceramic Knives are perfect for slicing fruits and vegetables, and other precision cutting tasks.

The Ceramic Advantage
• Stay sharper longer – Ceramic is harder than steel, and will hold its edge longer than a steel blade.
• Will not rust and is easy to clean – Ceramic is resistant to acids, germs and oils.
• Will not affect the taste of or brown food.
• Lightweight – easy and comfortable to use for precision slicing

Right now, when you purchase a 6″ Chef’s Knife, you receive a free ceramic peeler with coupon code FREEPEEL3.

Four Money Saving Mom readers will receive a two-piece knife set and ceramic peeler from Shenzhen Knives. To enter to win, just click on the graphic below and type in your name and email address. Giveaway ends Saturday, February 19, at 11:59 p.m. CST.

Enter the Giveaway

“Shenzhen Knives Fruit & Vegetable Series: 2 piece Ceramic Knife Set with Ceramic Peeler giveaway sponsored by ceramic knives online retailer, Shenzhen Knives

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Books Read in January: 168 Hours, Calm My Anxious Heart, Today Matters

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think is definitely one of the best time management books I’ve read. And that’s saying something, because I’ve read a lot of books on time management. It was right up there with Tell Your Time.

The principles and real-life examples very much resonated with me. I often get emails from people asking, “How on earth do you do all you do?” This book basically lines out how I do it: I choose not to do many things so that I can do a few things well (or, at least, attempt to do a few things well!).

We all have 168 hours in every week. When you think of it, that’s really a great deal of time. So why are so many people completely overworked and out of time? Well, 168 Hours would argue that not only are you trying to cram too much into your life, but you’re probably also not wisely using the hours you already have.

If we prioritized our life (i.e. sat down and really determined what we want our main priorities to be) and then we lived life according to those priorities, we’d be less tempted to get so distracted with non-essentials. Priorities give you freedom to say “no” more often.

One of the biggest takeaways from this book for me was to focus on my core competencies. It’s easy to feel like we don’t measure up if we’re not doing everything (or most everything) that we see others doing.

For instance, I could feel guilty that I don’t make homemade tortillas. I could beat myself up for this, constantly feeling like a failure if I feed my family storebought tortillas and wasting hours of time trying to perfect the art of tortilla-making when it’s just not a skill I possess. Or, I could guiltlessly buy tortillas at Aldi for $0.99 deciding that making homemade tortillas is not something I’m gifted at and is something which takes much more time than it’s worth.

All of life involves choices. When we say “yes” to one thing, it means we say “no” to something else. Using our time wisely doesn’t mean that we never have margin in our life and run around like chickens with our heads cut off so that we can get 331 different things done every hour. No, it means that we are choosing to use our 168 hours every week in a way that gets us closer to our goals and priorities.

This book gave lots of practical outside-the-box ideas. It is written more for those who work at least 30 hours each week, but even if you’re a stay-at-home mom, I think you will find it encouraging and applicable.

Also read in January:

Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Contentment — Loved this book and would whole-heartedly recommend it to any Christian woman who is struggling with anxiety, fear or worry. Very thought-provoking.

Little House on the Prairie — Finished reading this aloud to the children. We’ve already read Farmer Boy, so we’re jumping ahead to On the Banks of Plum Creek. I’m so excited because they are really getting into chapter books these days and will sit and keep begging me to read another chapter and another chapter. I love the questions and discussions that books spark, too!

Today Matters — This was my first audiobook ever to listen to and it was excellent. I’ll likely be using some of the things I picked up from it in later posts, but I loved it and would highly recommend it for anyone who could use some inspiration in their life.

24 Books I Plan to Read in 2011

Business and Financial Books I Plan to Read and Review This Year:

January — 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think
February — Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living
March — Becoming a Person of Influence
April — Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
May — Life on the Wire: Avoid Burnout and Succeed in Work and Life
June — Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents
July — Have a New You by Friday: How to Accept Yourself, Boost Your Confidence & Change Your Life in 5 Days
August — Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t
September — America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money
October — Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
November — Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Save the Planet
December – Personal Investing: The Missing Manual

Other Books I Plan to Read This Year:
January — Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Contentment
February — Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time
March — The Possibilities of Prayer
April — The Blessing of Boundaries
May — Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time
June — Honey for a Child’s Heart
July — One With Christ
August — A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning
September — Womanly Dominion: More Than A Gentle and Quiet Spirit
October — The Rose Conspiracy
November — Disciplines of a Godly Woman
December –Benjamin Rush: Signer of the Declaration of Independence

What books have you read recently? Any you’d highly recommend?

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