Saturday, January 19, 2008

Being Organized Can Save You Money

I admit, I enjoy organizing. I like things to look neat and orderly, I put things away and my home is beautiful (to me anyway). But I wasn't always like this. In fact, I was quite a slob. Too much clutter, too much paper, too much stuff, and not enough getting done.

When I first started working, I made very little money. I had to learn to live on a small income really fast. Getting organized, and learning to love it, was one of the best things I did.

Here are some of the ways that being organized saves me money:

No Late Charges $$
I don't lose bills and statements in a pile of mail and forget payments. I never have to pay late charges, overdraft fees, or ATM fees. I know how much money is going into and out of my checking account, and when.

Quick tip on how to handle mail: when you pick up the mail, walk directly to your recycling bin (with a table next to it). Open each piece of mail, tear up junk or useless items and toss them in the bin right away. Save only the one or two sheets needed from your statements or other important mail. With a highlighter mark the due date and put it on your desk for bill-paying day. Don't have an intermediate holding place for all your mail between your mailbox and your desk unless you religiously schedule in time to deal with mail.

No Unnecessary Shopping $$$$
A good storage system saves tons of money by eliminating unnecessary spending. I know a lot of people who simply toss a new purchase into a catch-all closet or drawer because they found it on sale, or it looked good... and then completely forget about it and go out and buy another one.

Quick tip for organizing storage: Use plastic drawers- they are easily stackable yet keep contents easily accessible. If my things aren't easily accessible, I tend to avoid using them. If I have to move two or three items out of the way to get to them, forget it. In your closet, hang up as many of your clothes as you can- this is easier to maintain than folding, and keeps clothes visible. I like having a visual reminder of how many things I have- cuts down on the urge to buy more stuff!

No Wasted Food $$$
Menu planning and using a price book are fantastic ways to slash your grocery budget. Menu planning eliminates impulse buys, unhealthy snack purchases, and wasted food. Maintaining a price book keeps you on track with getting the best prices for your regular purchases. Check out Organized Home for more details on how to make and use a price book.

No Last-Minute Expensive Gifts $$$
This one used to be a killer for me. Rushing out to buy someone a gift at the last minute is a sure0fire way of busting your budget. I now keep a gift box which I stock throughout the year with items I find on sale. If I were a dedicated gift-giver (which I am not), I would probably make a list of all the people I buy gifts for and note down things they would be interested in. then I would keep an eye out for those items and buy them when I found them at a good price. There is a good collection of gift giving tips at The Dollar Stretcher.

No Stressed-Out Urge to Spend $$
I do believe that over-spending is often a mechanism we use to cope with stress, much like over-eating. The problem is, it's a vicious cycle and ends up causing more stress. I also think clutter is an insidious source of stress. Read more about stress and clutter here. So, maintaining an organized home is a very good way to reduce stress and spending.

The Dollar Stretcher has a great set of articles on how to get organized on a budget. Check it out!

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