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Color of Money: It’s time to assess the mess

MICHELLE SINGLETARY on

WASHINGTON -- This is it. This is the year you will get your house in order. You will clear away the clutter. You will get rid of debt. Your home and your finances will get the special attention they need.

And I’ll help you along the way. This is the first week of the 21-day #NoDebtNoMess Color of Money Challenge. In a previous column, I laid out the schedule.

Week 1: Assess the Mess. Runs from Jan. 8 to Jan. 14.

Week 2: Reduce Redundancy. Runs from Jan. 15 to Jan. 21.

Week 3: Lighten Your Load. Runs from Jan. 22 to Jan. 28.

If you missed the start of the challenge, just join in at any time. From whatever date you begin, plan out 21 days to accomplish the goal of getting serious and bringing order to your life.

This week, let’s talk about “Assess the Mess.”

Get a notepad and start by walking around your house. Identify a few areas that really need decluttering. I’ve chosen my home office, a closet teeming with toys and games, my cabinet where I store plastic containers, and two junk drawers in my kitchen. That’s it. During the year, I’ll clean out more, but I’m not going to overwhelm myself at the start.

As you pick your areas, consider why you have so much stuff. Why can’t you let things go? It’s through understanding that you gain wisdom.

As for your finances, this first week you should be working on your net worth statement. I’ve updated a template for you to use. Here’s the link (http://wapo.st/2ifDmEj) to a PDF and Excel version. List everything you own -- cash in bank accounts, retirement investments, value of personal property and what you owe -- credit card balances, personal loans, any retirement account loans, car notes and mortgages.

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