Decluttering, Cleaning, and Saving Money in the New Year.

My friend emailed me yesterday looking for advice on decluttering in the new year saying, “I know that is something you have worked really hard for over the last few years.” I emailed her back, but thought I’d also share on here some of the things I’ve done and learned from over the past year or two.

2013 is a fresh start and the new year is a great time to get organized, declutter, and get your finances under control – hopefully some of this might be helpful for you as you make your plans and goals for the new year. (What? You’ve already made all your goals by the second week of January? Impressive.)

Decluttering + Ending Slob-dom 101

How I Learned to Stop Being a Slob and Start Cleaning up After Myself. During my spring break in 2011, I read a book that would change my life forever. It’s called The Joy of Less (written by Miss Minimalist) and I highly recommend that you don’t read it unless you want to get bitten by the decluttering bug. I wrote about the main things I learned in that post, but still. Read the book. 

Reducing your wardrobe

Screen shot 2013-01-08 at 2.38.17 PMI went from 134 items in my wardrobe to 33 items for three months. Instead of ballooning back to 134 items, I hover somewhere around 55 or 60 now. This endeavor, such a seemingly arbitrary challenge, made my life better in many ways. It refreshed the way I viewed my clothes, the way I viewed my closet, and I even ended up getting rid of my dresser last week because I have a small enough wardrobe to just fit in my (so-not-a-walk-in) closet.

The start of Project 333 – Why I did it and how nervous I was.

Project 333: 3 Weeks In – It turned out to not be so hard, after all.

My 33-Item Wardrobe – What I wore for the three months.

Downsizing my Wardrobe: What I Gained & What’s Next – What happens after a radical wardrobe challenge?

Interesting in your own Project 333 challenge? Here are the guidelines.

Cleaning Closet Clutter

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In January of 2012, I did a series on my blog about cleaning out my closets. Wait, that makes it sound incredibly boring. That’s okay: I’M SURE IT WAS. Ha. But, if you’re looking for some cleaning inspiration (I might look back at the after photos to remind myself how things should look) or just are a bit of a voyeur, check them out:

Bathroom cabinet


Craft area

Front closet

Linen closet


Toddler’s closet



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The Daily 7 is a great tool for daily cleaning – it’s 7 tasks to do every day that don’t take much time but reduce your weekly burden of cleaning. It’s a tangible way to learn to clean as you go. They are: Make Beds Right Away, Do One Complete Load of Laundry, Empty All Garbage Cans, Keep Your Kitchen Sink Empty, Clean Up After Yourself and Help Children Do the Same, Bathroom Wipe-Down, and Before Bed 10-Minute Clean Up.

Here is the chore list Mike and I use. Or are supposed to use.

What I Use to Clean – the products and household cleaners I use, mostly green, cheap, and easy.

Buying less stuff

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Buy Nothing Month – Periodically, I’ll take a month to fast from buying things. Practically speaking, it’s great for our budget, but it also realigns my mental attitude towards buying things as soon as I want them or justifying purchases of things I probably don’t need (and won’t want after a week or two). Here is a brief explanation of my own guidelines for myself, but I think everyone does it a little differently.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that Buying Stuff Doesn’t Make Me Happy. 

Also, here is a post about how I created our budget. It’s 2 years old, so the numbers aren’t still entirely accurate. I love it. I LOVE IT. There’s an app and the website is easy to use and really helps me see where our money goes. My favorite part is looking to see if we’re living within our means by going to “Net Income” under Trends. So many numbers and graphs and it’s just a dream for number nerds like me.

Sell the stuff you’re getting rid of to make the process even sweeter. Try for CDs, games, and DVDs.

A great blog about this sort of thing is Small Notebook.

/ / / / /

(This post makes me feel like I’m giving the impression that I’ve figured it all out: I have NOT. I promise. I’ve just been able to change our apartment so much and finally keeping our apartment relatively neat has brought me so much contentment that if sharing it helps it click for even one person, I’ll be thrilled.)

About Ashley

Ashley is a web designer, mother, and social media addict. She blogs about her attempts to live more simply and pursuing happiness while juggling a job she loves and life with two adorable sons and an academic husband.


  1. :)

  2. Thanks for putting all of the links in one place. I really, really need to declutter and downsize. I should probably start by picking up that book.
    mandy’s most recent post :: Meeting UpMy Profile

  3. I love all your tips and ideas! I haven’t really implemented any kind of decluttering yet, but I do try to keep things as neat and orderly as I can throughout the week. I don’t feel like I have a huge wardrobe, because I’ve outgrown a lot of clothes because of my weight gain, but I have been getting more into the idea of remixing and pairing things up differently. It’s made my wardrobe feel a lot bigger during this period of weight loss adjustment.
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  4. Reading (and chickens) says:

    I love all of this, most especially the wardrobe stuff. I need to do this TOO, as we have two closets in our house, and I don’t have ROOM for clothes.

  5. I LOVE that you posted this!!! It is EXACTLY what I need in my life right now. I’m a first-time mama to a 5 1/2 month old. My husband and I live in an older house that is pretty small. It seems like we have run out of room for everything!!!! I appreciate all of your links in this one post and plan on reading all of them :)

  6. Love this! I am trying to get our apartment all cleaned up and organized too….quite the job!

  7. I love this post so very much, Ashley! You rock!!! I’ll be sharing this on my Weekly Love List tomorrow fur shure.
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  8. This has to be one of my biggest problems. I really have a hard time throwing stuff away and it just piles up and my room ends up being a cluttered mess.

  9. I love the stuff that you used for cleaning. Green living kind of way.

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