Disorganization is a huge problem in today’s society. If I were to ask 100 people their opinion of the top negative effect it has on individuals, I think most would say “stress.” I don’t necessarily disagree with that answer. But in a class I teach called “Free Yourself From Clutter,” I talk about the high costs of clutter. Yes, that’s “costs” with an “s” at the end because there are several. There’s the emotional cost such as stress, guilt, etc. Disorganization can also cost you wasted time if you can’t find what you want or need. In addition, it can also affect you physically (like trouble sleeping). Not being organized can cost your personal and/or professional reputation if you make commitments and repeatedly fail to follow through on them. And last, but not least, in my class I talk about the financial costs of disorganization.
Some disorganized people throw money out the window each day, each month, and each year without even realizing it. Not only is it astounding, but it’s sad. That’s why I decided to write this blog. I want to share 25 money-wasting habits and to offer solutions to turn things around. If I can help even just one person, I’ll be thrilled.
Look around. All that clutter used to be money. All that money used to be time.Author Unknown
1. Expired food items: Does your food expire before you use it? Take a few minutes to find the dates on your food items and clearly label them on packaging/fridge/freezer items, rotate them and plan menus around them so you use those items before they expire.
2. Shop in your own Fridge/Freezer/Pantry first: Not sure how to plan your weekly menu? Start by first using what you have on hand– especially if it’s due to expire soon.
3. Winging it at the supermarket: Don’t wing it. Plan your weekly menu based on items on sale at your favorite market(s). This may only save you a few dollars each week but those dollars will add up over time.
4. Buying Duplicates: Shopping without a list costs you both time and money because you’ll likely buy things you may already have or buy extra things on impulse that you don’t really need. Create a paper or digital list and keep it at your fingertips so you can update it as you think of items you need and refer to it while you’re at the store.
5. Multiple Trips to the Store: If you don’t maintain a shopping list, you’re more apt to forget to buy items you need. As a result, you’ll probably have to run out at a later time and you’ll end up wasting time, gas, etc. by making those multiple trips to the store.
6. Not Sure of what you Already Have in Stock: Don’t leave it to memory. Create an inventory of what you already have in stock before you leave the house. This way, you won’t buy duplicates of items you already have which can be even more problematic if they’re perishable items. If you’re short on time, take a picture of the contents of your fridge, food pantry, etc. so you can refer to it when shopping.
7. Convenience Fees: In the case of ATMs, you may be charged a fee if you get cash from one that’s out-of-network. Educate yourself on ATMs that are in-network, and only use those.
8. Bank Fees: Banks charge a number of fees which can include monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, insufficient fund fees, wire transfer fees, etc. Once again, educate yourself on your bank’s fees and develop new habits so you can avoid incurring them.
9. Late Fees: Paying some bills after their due dates may incur late fees and could impact your credit score. Record the due dates on your calendar and/or for paper bills, write the due date on the front of the envelope and organize them in chronological order so the ones due soonest are in front.
10. Lost Gift Cards: Gift cards should have a home— whether it’s your wallet, in a special file or envelope, etc. Always put them where they belong so you can easily find them. Treat them like cash.
11. Lost Checks: Don’t put checks aside to deposit later. Take advantage of mobile deposit so you can deposit them immediately and not run the risk of losing them. Another option is to receive payments electronically instead if that’s possible.
12. Lost Receipts: Do you buy items with the chance of possibly returning them if they don’t meet your need? Then make sure you don’t lose the receipts. If you do, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to return those items, thereby wasting valuable cash. Designate a specific file or envelope to hold those receipts in case you need them for returns or to balance against a credit card statement.
THINGS YOU SHOULD TRACK:
13. Expired Gift Cards/Certificates: Some gift cards or certificates may have expiration dates; others may have a schedule in which the value of the card decreases over time. Carefully check if your cards or certificates fall into these categories and clearly label that information on them.
14. Unbalanced checkbook: This can result in bounced checks which in turn, cost you money. Take a few minutes to update your checkbook on a regular basis so you always know your current balance.
15. Premium TV channels: Do you pay for TV networks you never watch? Contact your cable or satellite company to see if there’s a cheaper plan that better meets your needs. Another great option is to see if Netflix, Hulu, and/or Amazon Prime will meet your needs instead of regular cable tv. This could add up to huge savings!
16. Fees for Missed Appointments: Many doctors’ offices charge fees if you fail to show up for a scheduled appointment. To prevent this from happening, use the calendar system of your choice to record all appointments, commitments, etc. While I prefer digital, some people prefer paper calendars, so I don’t recommend one type over another. What’s most important is to select the one that works for you so you don’t miss any appointments.
17. Auto Renewals for Subscriptions/Memberships: Do you have newspaper, magazine, gym memberships, etc. that you pay for but don’t use? If so, cancel them.
DISORGANIZED HOME OFFICE:
18. Inadequate Filing Systems: Time is money. If you don’t maintain a filing system that works for you (whether paper or digital), you run the risk of being disorganized and not being able to find key documents/files when you need them. So by wasting valuable time you can never get back, you’re wasting money.
19. Create Zones: Do you waste time by storing things where they’re out of reach? Then keep the items you use most often close so they’re easily accessible.
NOT PLANNING AHEAD:
20. Last Minute Premium Fees: I believe that convenience stores are great examples of this. If you fail to buy something you need and buy it at a convenience store instead, you will likely pay more for it. Even though it may only cost you a few cents more, this adds up over time if you do it regularly.
21. Higher Shipping Costs: Lack of planning results in higher costs. A great example is the US mail. “Next day” or “Priority” mail costs more than sending something via regular mail. By planning ahead, you can prevent higher costs.
22. Last Minute Travel: If you don’t plan, it costs more to travel. For example, booking airfare or a hotel should cost less when you book early versus the day before.
23. Not Decluttering Before You Move: It costs you money to move your stuff in terms of space (moving truck, etc.) and time. So, downsize your “stuff” before you move to a new home. Check out my blog about the Advantages & Disadvantages of Downsizing Before You Move for more info.
24. Storage Unit Rental: Many people automatically move all their possessions to their new place without downsizing first. When they realize they don’t have enough space to store it, many people rent storage units to temporarily store their stuff until “later.” The problem is out of sight, out of mind. They forget about what’s in the storage unit yet continue to pay the rental month after month, year after year. Eventually the storage unit costs more than the value of the items being stored.
25. Not Using Your Own Linens To Pack: Instead of simply packing your towels, sheets, and linens, use them as cushioning for some of your items. You’ll probably still need to buy packing paper, but not as much, thus saving you money.
Do you have any of these disorganization habits? If so, it’s never too late to change them. I’ve intentionally included common bad habits in several areas of life. Start with the one that you feel will be easiest to modify and take it from there. In the interest of time and space, I’ve included one tip for each money-wasting habit. If that tip doesn’t work for you, there are many other solutions you can find with a little bit of research. I know the result will be well worth your investment of time.
LET ME HELP YOU:
Is your clutter/disorganization costing you money? Tell me how in the comment section below. I’d LOVE to help!
Brenda Tringali, CPO® (Certified Professional Organizer)
Organizing | Productivity | Speaker
At Your Fingertips Organizing
Serving Greater Myrtle Beach, SC or “virtually” anywhere via video
Brenda Tringali is the owner of At Your Fingertips Organizing. She provides Speaking, Organizing & Productivity services to Workplace/Residential clients both in person in the greater Myrtle Beach, SC area & “virtually” anywhere else via video, phone, etc. Brenda is an active member of NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing professionals) and the former Chair of NAPOCares, NAPO’s Social Responsibility Committee.