Another April 15 has come and gone, and you’re basking in the glow of filing your taxes on time. Glee quickly turns to despair as thoughts drift to the big check you just wrote to Uncle Sam (or the miniscule return you expect), as well as the mess that awaits thanks to tearing the house apart in search of receipts. Knee deep in paper clutter, you mutter that familiar promise—“next year I’ll get organized.”
“Being organized certainly makes filing taxes easier, but it also can save you money all year long,” says Professional Organizer Susan Fleischman, founder of clutterfree, who blogs about home and office organization for YouCopia.com. If you need a financial incentive to tackle the clutter, here are 20 ways that she says getting organized saves money:
1. Eliminate dupe purchases. When you’re organized, you know where stuff is and can access what you need. This eliminates buying duplicates of items you already had but couldn’t find, or items that you didn’t realize you had.
2. Avoid inflated prices. Milk at midnight at the convenience store—likely costs double what you would pay at the grocery store, where you were earlier in the day. If you had just made a grocery list…
3. Find money (literally).While de-cluttering, you’ll probably find loose change in pockets, purses, briefcases and drawers, and possibly cash you stashed for a rainy day and forgot about. You also may find gift cards, which unless you’re organized, typically expire before you discover them—along with those $10 birthday checks from grandma that you never cashed.
4. Lengthen life cycle. Storing belongings in an orderly manner saves money because things last longer. Fleischman cringes when she thinks of how many expensive cashmere sweaters and silk scarves she finds wadded up in a ball on the floor of cluttered client closets. No wonder her clients say they have nothing to wear.
5. Save on storage fees. Have you noticed how the number of self-storage facilities has grown like wildfire over the last few years? It seems like there’s one on every corner—filled with stuff that once it goes in, rarely is ever seen or used again. Pare down or eliminate off-site storage and you can save a bundle.
6. Minimize food waste.A well-organized food pantry, fridge and freezer mean you save money by not wasting food. You’ll find ingredients before they expire, as well as leftovers while they’re still tasty and safe to eat.
7. Spend less dining out. An orderly kitchen makes meal preparation easier, faster and more enjoyable. You just might be inclined to cook more often and dine out less. You’ll save money, as well as calories (if you’re counting them).
8. Spend less on coffee. The same is true for our sacred morning joe. A regular, medium-size five days a week at the famous coffee chain—that’s about $800 a year. Add fancy foam and flavorings and you’re north of $1,000. Instead, K-Cup it at home for a lot less, and use a handy organizer for single-serve coffee pods, like the CoffeeStack®from YouCopia.
9. Trim grocery bill. You don’t have to be one of those “extreme couponers” to save at the grocery, but you do have to spend a few minutes organizing coupons before you head to the store. Fleischman says the key is to come up with a very simple systemthat you can easily maintain.
10. Reduce cleaning cost. Don’t underestimate the fortune buried under the kitchen sink—that cluttered cabinet where we stash tons of cleaning supplies that essentially do the same thing. We keep buying and buying, hoping they’ll perform cleaning miracles like on the TV commercials. Whittle it down to just a few essential products by organizing under the sink and you’ll save money.
11. Generate sales revenue. As you purge and organize belongings, you’ll probably find items to sell on eBay and Craig’s List or at a local re-sale shop. Cha-ching. Cha-ching. Or even simpler—contract with a local provider to handle the logistics in exchange for a percentage of the sale.
12. Curb shopping impulse. Purging and organizing reinforces the 80/20 rule: whether clothing, pots and pans, or papers, on a regular basis we tend to use about 20% of what we have. The discovery is sobering, and may lead you to re-think whether you really need new spring clothes or those $100 athletic shoes (since you just unearthed a pair in good condition).
13. Inspire re-purposing. Getting organized typically results in getting more resourceful. For example, those three muffin tins that you never use (because you never bake) are perfect for corralling paperclips, rubber bands, push pins and other essentials in home office or kitchen drawers.
14. Eliminate late fees. A little organization can save a good chunk of change in the home office arena, beginning with a reliable bill pay system to eliminate those nasty late fees.
15. Protect credit score. Paying bills on time not only saves money short-term, it preserves your credit score. When buying big ticket items like a car or property, a good credit score means lower interest rates, and that’s money in your pocket long-term.
16. Increase tax deductions: A simple filing system for receipts and bills helps ensure that you take all of the tax deductions you’re entitled to—including the one for donating your clutter. And if you present your tax accountant with well-organized information instead of a shoebox full of ragged receipts, he just might charge less for filing your return!
17. Grow nest egg. A filing system also helps you develop better awareness of your spending patterns. Every financial expert on the planet will tell you this is the first essential step for investing wisely. It’s also a great example of why being organized is ultimately about being in control.
18. Pre-empt costly disasters. Keeping track of home and car repairs, as well as doctor and dentist visits also saves money. The right upkeep at the right time means you’ll pre-empt disasters and the big bucks that typically accompany them—along with the agony of major repairs or three root canals at the same time.
19. Sell quicker for more. When it comes to selling your home, the first thing every realtor advises is de-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter. The more spacious, livable and inviting the home appears to potential buyers (i.e. “staging” your home), the faster you’ll sell and for a better price.
20. Time is money. We all know the adage, but Fleischman says it’s especially true for those in need of getting organized. For example, you spend 20 minutes searching in your cluttered closet for a favorite jacket you’re determined to wear for the big presentation. Now you’re running late, so you driver faster than usual and get pulled over. As you’re handed an expensive speeding ticket, you realize the jacket is at the cleaner, so you swing by to pick it up. There’s no parking and you’re really late now, so you park illegally for just a minute. Ticket number two. Now you really know the meaning of “time is money.” Wouldn’t it be cheaper to get organized?
Guest post by Susan Fleischman, who is the founder and owner of clutterfree, which provides professional organizing and home staging services nationwide. Sheblogs about how to create and maintain an orderly home, office and life forYouCopia.com.YouCopia Products, Inc. is focused on designing organizers that help you feel calm, in control, and happy at home. YouCopia products are available at leading retailers including Bed Bath & Beyond, The Container Store and Amazon.com.
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