Have you ever paid a library fine (or had to pay to replace a lost book)? Have you ever paid a late fee on a bill because you lost it or simply forgot to pay it on time? Have you ever intended to return something you bought at the store but didn’t get to it until it was past the return period? Have you ever bought a duplicate of a household item because you couldn’t find the original one? What about rebates, free coupons, or gift cards– have you ever failed to redeem?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you can agree that being organized saves money.
There’s no doubt that some people are just naturally more organized than others, but I”m willing to bet that we’ve all had some experience where being disorganized has literally cost us money! We would really love to hear some personal experiences from you about how you’ve saved money by being organized OR about how being disorganized has done the opposite.
We have a few tips and ideas to share, but I really feel like we can learn a lot from each other on this one. I can’t wait to read about your wins and fails regarding organization.
Let’s look at some areas in our lives where improved organization will save us money. Be thinking about the changes that YOU can implement to become a little more organized. First we’ll talk about organizing your space, then about being organized when it comes to time and energy.
Organizing Your Space to Save Money
I will be the first to admit that I am not qualified to show you how to organize every inch of your House. I don’t have the answer for you to prevent losing the library books your kids check out and I can’t help you keep track of your reading glasses so you don’t have to go back to the store to get a third pair.
Today we just want to focus on one area of your house: where the finances happen. Maybe it’s your office or computer desk. Maybe it’s on your kitchen counter. Maybe you’ve got your financial stuff strewn throughout the house.
Here are some things to think about when organizing your financial space and stuff:
- Designate a place for bills– Keep all your current bills together. When bills come in the mail put them in their spot immediately. When you have your monthly budgeting meeting (we’ll talk about that next week), you will have them all together.
- File old financial papers– It’s easy to let last month’s statements and bills clutter the space for this month’s papers. Create and use a filing system to take care of old statements, bills, and receipts. Maybe it’s as simple as a single drawer you use. You may need to reference them later, but once they are paid, they should no longer be under your nose.
- Go paperless– Opt for as little financial paperwork as possible. There are always a few things that come in on paper, but we’ve managed to make our personal finances nearly entirely paperless, and for us, it’s a huge time saver. Pretty much every bank, credit card, or financial institution will offer paperless statements. If you’re not already paperless, give it a try.
Organize Your Time & Energy to Save Money
Your time is precious. Your energy is limited. You will work faster and more efficiently if you are organized. With simple systems and organized habits you will save money and not waste valuable resources.
Here are a few ideas for being more organized with your time and energy:
- Consolidate your activities– Look at your calendar and plan your outings and flexible activities around activities that are already set. Think about your driving route to make your errands most efficient.
- Plan a weekly (or monthly) menu– Having a organized menu will save you money and sanity (which is priceless). We talked about planning a menu for cooking dinner at home back on Day 5, but you can do it for all your meals and snacks.
- Make one trip to the grocery store– When your menu is organized and you’ve planned a grocery list, you should be able to do all your shopping at once for at least a week. If you’ve mastered that, try only going every two weeks. You’ll save time, gas, and money.
- Pay bills on time– Set aside a day each month when you will pay all your bills. We do ours at our monthly budgeting meeting. I used to wait until the due date to pay credit card bills, thinking that by holding onto my money longer would earn me a little interest. Accidentally missing the due date and getting a late fee will more than negate any benefit for holding onto your money a little longer. Trust me!
- Keep a shopping list– In addition to a grocery list, keep a list of other household necessities. Keep your list on your phone or in a place where you have easy access. With an ongoing list, you’ll be able to get what you need when you’re at the store and won’t have to make special trips for the things you forgot.
Okay! This is your chance for a little show and tell. Well just tell, I guess. For today’s challenge, we want you to think about a time when not being organized has cost you money OR how being organized has saved you money. Share in the comments below. Then choose one change you will make to be more organized.
Today was a lighter topic, but on Day 14 we’ll be back in the budgeting trenches!