Life is busy and it’s often messy, too. We have so much going on day to day -- from work responsibilities to family or social obligations and our own time for ourselves -- that taking the time to get organized may seem like it’s just not worth it.
But allowing your space, whether it’s physical or digital, to fall into a state of chaos with clutter everywhere can cost you. And no, that doesn’t just mean costing you the admiration of others for your tidy and orderly ways.
We’re talking about tangible cost here. Your habit of leaving rooms, drawers, cabinets, and files messy can result in money leaking out of your budget -- sometimes, without you even realizing it.
Disorganization comes with a real cost. Here’s how to spot the most expensive kinds of clutter, how it costs you money, and what you can do about it to save instead.
Replacing Items You Already Owned
Ever searched in vain for a particular item in your pantry, drawers, or cabinets with no luck? If you can’t find what you need, you may buy a replacement the next time you go to the store -- and then, of course, 6 months later you happen to come across the original item tucked away in a place you never thought to look.
This kind of disorganization costs you over and over again. Not only did you purchase something you already have and therefore spend money you didn’t need to, but you also add to the clutter by bringing the new item into your home.
Prevent this from happening by investing in closet and cabinet organizers and regularly cleaning out clutter. Keep items visible and label anything you can’t immediately see into (like containers or boxes). Group things you frequently use together and store them in the same place.
Paying More Than You Should
You can also miss out on sales, promotions, and other opportunities to get what you need for less when you’re disorganized. Keeping track of deals and coupons requires you to stay organized and know what coupons are good where and when.
You may also miss the chance to cash in on rebates. These require you make the initial purchase, then follow through on a process afterwards. That’s hard to do if the rebate form gets lost in a drawer or you miss the deadline to submit your information.
Find ways to organize your coupons and make notes of sales and expiration dates in your calendar. Switch to digital formats -- either via store websites or with apps -- if reducing physical clutter allows you to stay more organized.
Adding to the Waste
It may sound like a simple thing, but a disorganized fridge can cost you money and lead you to waste food. You’re more likely to eat the produce and other items you already bought if they’re easily accessible and, more importantly, visible.
Food stuffed behind other items and into refrigerator drawers is easy to forget. (It’s that “out of sight, out of mind” thing.) By the time you remember or rediscover things in your fridge, they may be out of date -- which means you waste money and food.
Plan your week of meals before you go shopping and only buy what you need. Pin your grocery receipt on the fridge to remind you that you did go shopping and purchase things to eat (which may help cut down on the temptation to go out for a meal and spend even more). And keep food in the fridge organized in such a way that you can quickly see what’s available.
Neglecting Accounts in Your Digital Life
It’s not just clutter in your physical space that can leave you with unnecessary costs you didn’t even realize you racked up. Disorganization in your digital life and amongst the accounts you keep there can cost you even more.
Not keeping track of credit card statements, bills, and bank accounts can result in ignorance of when errors, fees, or even fraudulent activity occurs. If these charges stay on your account because you didn’t even know they were there, they can cost you money you may not need to pay.
To avoid this, try setting up account alerts that notify you when statements are available, bills are due, or suspicious charges hit. Then set aside an hour or two each month to review all your accounts to make sure everything is in order.
Not tracking what subscriptions you pay each month eats away at your budget, too. TrackMySubs provides an easy solution for that by monitoring all your recurring payments each month.
And it’s not just disorganization when you start looking at your digital space. It’s simple forgetfulness that can cost money. There’s a lot to manage in your online life, and we already have so much going on in our physical spaces.
Taking the time to get organized -- especially if you’re not a naturally orderly person -- may feel like a waste. But disorganization can cost you a lot of money, in your real life and online. There are several quick, simple solutions you can implement to get organized and save more.
Kali Hawlk is a writer passionate about using her skills and knowledge to help others make, do, and create more. She shares ideas and stories on business, finance, entrepreneurship, and living mindfully and with intention. She’s been featured as a financial expert for Millennials in many online publications including Forbes, Fast Company, US News, and Mashable. You can catch her on KaliHawlk.com, read her latest writing on Medium.com/@KaliHawlk, or connect with her on Twitter @KaliHawlk.