Clutter leads to misplaced items and chaos, but did you also know that it can cost you money? When you can’t keep track of bills, cash, or important notices because your home is messy, it could come back to haunt you in a number of ways. Get organized, and you can avoid fines, late fees, and money is forgotten.
Here are 8 ways that getting organized can save you money–you just may be motivated to clean up your act.
1. Avoid unnecessary fees
Disorganization results in misplaced bills, receipts and appointment cards. When you forget or can’t find items like your electricity bill or a restaurant check, the likelihood you’ll forget to pay a bill or record charges is high and can lead to late fees, overdraft and over-limit fines and unnecessary service charges. Many professionals will charge you a no-show fee if you miss an appointment. Even worse, your credit rating can be negatively affected if you fail to pay certain bills or miss a summons.
2. Prevent expensive duplicates
Recognize this scenario or something similar? You’re throwing a surprise party for your best friend, whose favorite color is blue. As you search your linen closet in vain, you’re positive that you had just the right tablecloth. After a frustrating wasted hour of your time, you head to the store to buy another tablecloth. A few weeks later, you find the original tablecloth you’d been seeking.
Buy enough duplicates throughout the course of a year, and you unnecessarily waste a great deal of money.
3. Curb impulse buys
Knowing that you already have two cardigans of nearly the same color or three baking pans of the same size gives you a good idea of how much you actually own. This knowledge may be just what you need to avoid making unplanned purchases. The thought of stuffing yet another sweater into your closet—even if it’s adorable—is a great deterrent.
4. No storage fees
Some people with too much stuff for their space “clean house” by renting a storage unit and tossing the excess inside. A typical storage unit can cost $60 a month or more, which means a minimum of $720 a year. Get organized and purge unnecessary items, and you might find that enough space opens up to store all of your belongings at home. You may also discover after sifting through the storage unit contents that you can donate or get rid of some of those items. If something’s been in a storage container for a year, you probably don’t need it at all, right?
5. Found money
Ever find $10 in an old Christmas card, or a gift certificate folded and stuffed in an envelope from graduation? Organize your belongings, and you’re likely to hit the jackpot and find long lost monetary items like gift cards, loose change, bills and even savings bonds.
6. Protect your property
Improperly storing your belongings by stacking and piling can lead to damage, which can be costly. Special certificates and documents become rumpled and bent. And if conditions become damp, mold can set in, staining and ruining a wide variety of items, including paperwork, valuable clothing and wood.
7. Prevent food waste
If you know exactly what you have in your refrigerator and pantry, you’ll be much less likely to overbuy food and end up throwing it away. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, about 35 million tons of food was thrown away in 2010, and much of it was simply excess.
8. Guard your identity
Not having a handle on where all of your important paperwork is located within your home means the possibility of not shredding sensitive information and it getting into the wrong hands. When you’re organized, you can be diligent about filing and shredding, and keeping your credit cards stored safely.
Now that you know the monetary benefits of getting organized, you can clean up the clutter and watch your savings account grow.
Julie Bawden-Davis is a widely published journalist specializing in personal finance and small business. She has written 10 books and more than 2,500 articles for a wide variety of national and international publications, including Parade.com, where she has a weekly column. In addition to contributing to SuperMoney, her work has appeared in publications such as American Express OPEN Forum, The Hartford and Forbes.