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Review: Lighten Up by Peter Walsh

In recent years I’ve made a concerted effort to reduce the amount of financial clutter (and real clutter) in my life. I’ve discovered that as my life gets simpler, I’m able to enjoy the things that I bring into it. So when I received an email to take a looka t Peter Walsh’s new book Lighten Up [3], I was eager to see what it had to say.

Peter Walsh is a designer who is the expert organization on TLC’s Clean Sweep [4], among other things. He’s an organizational guru who is a regular guest on the The Oprah Winfrey and has his own show, Enough Already! with Peter Walsh, on The Oprah Winfrey Network. While these are all organizational tips for your space, does he have the chops to organize your financial life? I argue that he does and in part because his approach is similar to my own (towards financial clutter).

Walsh’s argument is that clutter and disorganization causes stress. Whether it’s financial clutter, of too much debt, too many credit cards, or any number of things; or physical clutter, the result is the same. When you walk into a room that’s neat, where things are put away, you probably feel calmer than in a room that looks like a tornado hit it. Part of that has to do with the feeling that a tornado hit room should be picked up. Part of it is just your mind’s reaction to chaos. Either way, the clutter causes stress on some level.

One of the biggest reasons why people hold onto stuff they don’t need is because they are worried they might need it later. I know I’m like this and most people are. There isn’t much that separates a healthy dose of this mentality and an unhealthy dose (think: “hoarders”). What does Peter say about this? Clutter affects your life and the worry of tomorrow prevents you from living today.

Case in point – we recently traded in my Toyota Celica and I have four nearly new tires sitting in our basement underneath the stairs. The tires were the ones the car had when I bought it from its original owner in Florida. They were performance tires designed for the snow-less conditions of Florida. In theory, I had hoped to used them in the summer but I never did. They didn’t take up any valuable space but I kept them because I might have wanted to use them. Now I don’t have the car and the tires are still downstairs, waiting to be recycled or sold. I think in my case it was a good reason to keep them around, tires are expensive, but now I have no reason to keep them (the only reason I haven’t done anything about it is because I haven’t done anything about it).

Walsh did a few morning shows to kick off his book and this one with Good Morning America is a good one if this book interests you (it also has an excerpt [5] you can check out):

video platform [6]video management [7]video solutions [8]video player [9]

If you have difficulty with clutter, financial or otherwise, give it a look.