It’s time to assess your home and finances

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.

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 filled 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: 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.

The point of this exercise is for you to get a snapshot of where you stand financially by looking at the positive part of your balance sheet ( assets) and the negative part (liabilities).

The goal is to have a positive net worth meaning you own more than you owe.

You may discover you aren’t in as bad shape financially as you thought. If you find you are in the negative, think about why that’s the case.

Through this challenge, I’m going to show you my own assessment. You can see videos of my own decluttering process at washingtonpost.com. Search for #NoDebtNoMess. And I want you to record your efforts as well. With your permission to post, send your own videos to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Keep them to under 5 minutes.

Together we can hopefully inspire others to do the same.

Part of the reason we don’t clean up our clutter is because it becomes so overwhelming. So we close off rooms and closets because we are embarrassed.

I have trouble throwing things away. Abandoned by my mother and father and left to be raised by my maternal grandmother, I hold on to things.

The same kind of thing may be happening in your financial life. You don’t talk about the financial chaos you’ve created. And as a result, you don’t get help to fix it because you’re ashamed.

So this week of the challenge, rather than building a budget or cleaning out your closet, I just want you to assess where you are. Think about how you got here.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

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