Being disorganized is costing you money - declutter and save money

Lately, many of us have been feeling the effects of inflation in one way or another. Decluttering and organizing may be the perfect way to de-stress about your finances.

 BEFORE & after – keeping an organized pantry with everything visible will cut down on the purchase of duplicates. (photo credit: MIRIAM GOLD)
BEFORE & after – keeping an organized pantry with everything visible will cut down on the purchase of duplicates.
(photo credit: MIRIAM GOLD)

Do you ever find yourself buying something you know you have in your house but have no clue where it is? 

Ever borrow something from a neighbor mid-recipe because the item you know you have in your pantry is nowhere to be found? 

Have you had to spend money on a new dress because you can’t find anything to wear in your cluttered closet?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are potentially losing money because of disorganization. Getting organized will save you money. 

Lately, many of us have been feeling the effects of inflation in one way or another. If you’re like me, you are feeling stressed about the rising cost of living and are looking for ways to scale back. Decluttering and organizing may be the perfect way to de-stress about your finances.

 ELEGANT KITCHEN. (credit: Renen Dizdar) ELEGANT KITCHEN. (credit: Renen Dizdar)
Reducing clutter can turn into extra cash

When proper organizing systems aren’t in place, you often end up paying a so-called “clutter cost.” In essence, this is the cost for square meters of your home that you can’t actually use because they are filled with stuff you don’t currently need. Many of my clients hold on to “items they will use one day” in an effort to save money when that day comes. The problem is, once it does, they can’t find the items and have to repurchase them anyway.

Ask yourself if you are storing items you truly need or if much of it is junk. If it’s the latter, stop allowing these random odds and ends to take up your valuable real estate. Declutter and reclaim your space. 

“Nobody gets to live life backward. Look ahead; that is where your future lies.”

Ann Landers

But where to begin? When sorting through your items, don’t dwell on the past. As Ann Landers said, “Nobody gets to live life backward. Look ahead; that is where your future lies.” Once you make the decision to part with an item, you still might not want to throw it in the trash.

No problem – remember: One person’s “junk” is another’s “treasure.” Donate, sell, or re-gift these unwanted items. Use the receipts for a tax deduction or use a portion of the money you earn to reward yourself or to start saving for something special. And if you re-gift your unwanted items, then just feel good knowing you’ve given someone something they can use.

Stop wasteful spending at home

It seems obvious but still needs to be said: The more aware you are of what you have, the less you’ll need to buy. Organizing your pantry in clearly labeled bins, for example, will help you keep track of the food you have and what you need to buy. This will help with meal planning by enabling you to use items you already have in the house.

I recommend keeping an ongoing shopping list and adding items as you run out. Small changes like repurposing leftovers or making your morning coffee at home can also significantly reduce your monthly spending. And home-cooked meals may even be a healthier option, so it’s a win-win.

The rule is no different in your clothes closet. If it’s organized, you will clearly see the items you wear rather than sifting through clothing you can’t believe you ever bought or kept, for that matter. By clearly seeing what you have, you will avoid buying multiples. Once organized, you can donate, sell or host a clothing swap party with friends and combine a social activity with a declutter.

 Become more mindful of your monthly spending

While I always tell my clients, “A cluttered house leads to a cluttered mind,” it’s probably not just the physical items in your home that are cluttering up your life. The same can be said for your email inbox, your finances, and anything else that is taking up too much space.

If you haven’t looked over your budget in a while, now may be a good time. During the pandemic, people started paying for extras such as Netflix, Hulu, Spotify and personal trainers. Some are continuing to pay for these luxuries, even though they’re no longer using them. Canceling these costs will save you money instantly. 

Years ago, while organizing stacks of mail with a client, we found a magazine subscription on auto renewal that she thought she was getting for free. She didn’t love the magazine, so we canceled it and saved her $15 a month.

I remember when I used to turn on my phone after Shabbat and would receive an influx of emails from all my friends – Gap, JCrew and Amazon. These emails made me feel like I needed everything they were advertising. Once I “unsubscribed,” my online shopping drastically decreased, which saved me time and money.

What you can do now

I suggest organizing your monthly bills and spending into a spreadsheet. We usually know what is coming in, but many of us have no clue how much is going out. Once you start tracking your spending, you can determine what are necessities, where you can spend less, and what you can do without.

Having monthly bills organized will save time and money. Hopefully, you will never again have to pay late fees on that bill that got lost on your desk or in your email. Most bills do not need to be saved once paid. It is important to know what to save, shred and toss so you can eliminate paper and online clutter as well. 

If you need help getting started or formulating a plan, hire someone. You know the old adage “You have to spend money to save money”? Well, it’s very true. Most of my clients have found that getting organized has saved them time looking for lost items, saved money by cutting back on over-buying, and most importantly, restored their emotional energy by living in a peaceful, organized, calm environment.

Live life and enjoy!

Now that we are going out more, entertainment, dining, and shopping expenses may be on the rise. If you are looking to save money, you can start by examining your lifestyle and making adjustments where you can. For example: Do you shop for sport, buying items you realize you’ll never wear several days later? Cutting back on random spending is an easy way to save money. 

That said, none of this means you should never go out. Just that you don’t need to be spending money on items you don’t need, won’t use, and that complicate your life. Instead, go out to dinner or drinks, take a trip, and enjoy experiences! Buy something special rather than random unnecessary items. Live intentionally and aligned with your values, and make the most of everything you have. Remember, it’s not things that make you happy; happiness comes from within. 

The writer is a professional organizer and founder of Gold Standard Organizing. For more information: 054-976-4246; www.goldstandardorganizing.com