I understand about the mess and the finances. Just sit down and take a deep breath. My husband and I both lost our jobs within 6 month of each other about seven years ago, just as we were getting married. We went from making over $100,000 per year between the both of us to making less then $25,000 in less than one year of getting married. Four years and 2 kids later we were only make $30000 to $36000 per year. With working two jobs on my own and my husband working side jobs were struggled to make ends meet. We moved to a much cheeper residence and worked different schedules so we could keep child care to a minimum.
Two years ago my husband was offered a great job that paid twice what the two of us were making together. But four years of minimal house cleaning and making do with nothing took their toll.
All those things we did without or made due with other things are catching up with us. I was able to quit my job because what I was making was just covering the cost of child care and maintain an extra car. Plus this frees up my husband to work overtime if its available.
I used to work nights and the dress code was casual. I am now two sizes smaller and have no professional or dress clothes with the excepting of a gray and black pair of pants. My house is a dissaster. I have three pairs of jeans (one does not fit well). and 6 short sleeved tee shirts and 5 long sleeved. I wear the same thing all the time.
Since we are finally starting to get the bills paid off, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We finally paid off the hospital for my sons' births. But here is how we turned things around. Get a cheap calander about the size of sheet of paper. As the bills come in write down when they are due and what is due. Create a spreadsheet, list all of your debts with the exceptions of neccessary things like gas and electric. I am assuming that you have credit debt. Start with the card that has the highest interest rate. Pay a little extra on it even if its only $10 per month and pay only the minumum on everything else. And stick to this as best you can. If you find your self with an extra $15 either put it toword the bills or build up a cash emergancy fund of a couple hundred dollars. After about six months look at your total debt. Compare it too what it was when you started and take pride in the strides you are making. You may feel that within a year you did not make any stride but even if you cut your credit card debt by $100 dollars at 21% interest you will save yourself $21 dollars in the comming year. Round up if you can on some of the smaller bills for example paying $250 on the $242 a month car loan allowed us to pay it off in 4 years and 4 months instead of 5 years. Little things can make a huge difference. Over the time we only paid $8 per month more (a total of $416, but saved eigth months in car payments (at $242 a month we saved ourselves $1936 in interest on the loan).
Now to start on the house. Start with the bathroom and kitchens first. Remove everyting that does not belong in these rooms. If it has a spot somewhere else put it there. If you have no use for it put it in a box. If its usable, has value and you have not used it with in a year, sell it on craigslist. If the item does not sell donate it. But it must leave and never come back. If something is broke and needs fixing and it been sitting broke for a while get rid of it. Kids items are the worst. I have had no luck with the kids resale shops. I you know someone that needs kids clothes give it to them. Helping out a friend feels great and will help eliminate the aniexty of letting go of your stuff.
Once the kitchen and bathrooms are empty clean them well. Then start on the rest of the rooms. Start with one type of object first like removeing all the clothes from the living room, then go onto papers and magazines, etc. Remove everything from all the horizontal surface and don't let anyone else like the kids or the hubby turn it into their dumping ground. Just one room at a time and one thing at a time. This is where we start traing the kids and hubby. If the kids drop something were it doesn't belong you have to remind them that it doesn't belong here, you know where it belongs so put it there.
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia a year ago and my short term memory is not what it used to be. I have to have certain spots were things belong. The car keys need to be put on a hook next to the door when I come in. If I set them down somewhere else I may not remember where I put them. I once could not leave the house for three days because I couldn't find my house keys.
And don't worry if you can. (I know easier said than done). The important thing is that you keep on what you can. It takes at least thirty days for actions to become habits if you are religous about it longer it you let things slip for a day or two. However it really not worth beating you self up if you let the dishes go till moring and clean the bathroom tomorrow. I make a point with the kids that if the give me an hour of two to clean, I will take them to the park. It not worth sacrificing well deserved time with the family if its going to make you miserable.
Also look for rewards like points toward purchase of gift cards, etc. For example, speedway rewards, you get points toward further purchases when you buy something. My husband's work provides him with a truck that he has to fill up every day or two. His work pays for the gas but we get the points. We use the rewards to buy gift certificates that we use to buy gee whiz items. They have cut their rewards considerably since they started but over the last five years we earned enough to buy a tv, a dvd player, a winter coat, $50 in christmas gifts at JCPenny and $100 in household supplies from Lowes.
I shop at giant eagle because of the fuelperks. I buy gift certificates to pay for other things. When we need to get our haircut, we buy a $50 gift certificate for the place we go and then go get them cut. Need some tools from sears, buy a gift card at the store and use that to pay for them. We have saved over $600 on gas in the last year and together with coupons and the foodperks over $2000 on food. I only shop the sales. I like giant eagle becase when the have the 10 for $10 you can get one for $1 without having to buy 10 to get the sale price. Now if you use coupons, say they have Hamburger Helper at $10 for 10. They usually have a Save 75 Cents off 3 coupon in the paper (or you can find it online at coupons.com). When they double the coupon you end up only paying 50 cents per box. (Nobody can beat that price.) I usually save between 20 and 30% per trip. Also you can save the boxtops (as in boxtops for education, if your kids school does not participate clip the box top put them in a ziplock bag and send then every six months send them to an inner city school that desperately needs the money) My sister teaches at one in Chicago they really need them. This way you are helping out someone out that needs the help more than you and this should make you feel good.
Other things to look into are memolink.com and mypoints.com. You can earn points by reading you email and clicking on a link. They offer surveys to earn points and if you purchase things online and they are part of their member network they rebate you in points for your purchase. You may only earn enough for a $25 to $50 gift card per year (you can even earn cash). But its enough to treat yourself or the kids once in a while. Good luck it takes a little effort but when it starts to pay off its worth it.