Organize Your Finances by Organizing Your Space

Tim Schlee |
What’s your number one reason for cleaning your house this spring? I’ll tell you what it should be: Money. That’s right. Cleaning your house and staying organized can save you money in ways you might never have suspected. There are other good reasons to avoid clutter – you want to set a good example for your kids or you’re tired of being embarrassed when you have friends over – but money is something everyone needs and most don’t have enough of. Yet it’s not always the first thing that comes to mind when you whip out the broom and dustpan. Well, it should be. Here are six ways that organizing your space can help you organize your finances.

1. Organizing Your Bills Will Help You Avoid Late Fees

Seems simple, right? There’s no reason to pay interest on your credit card just because you forgot to pay your bill before the month was up. It’s a complete waste of money. Similarly, there’s no reason I should have paid for a tow truck when the timing belt on my car finally went out. It had been whistling for months! If I had kept my priorities straight and taken care of my car’s scheduled maintenance, I could have saved that money. To get you started, here are a few ways to organize your bills and appointments:
  • If possible, set up autopay so you don’t have to worry about forgetting a payment.
  • Keep folders for your various bills and statements and immediately file them when they come in the mail. Leaving them all in one big stack is a recipe for disaster.
  • Write down important bills or expenses on a calendar, in your planner, or even in your phone.

2. Cleaning Your Kitchen Makes Eating Cheaper and Healthier

A messy kitchen is hard to cook in. When it’s hard to cook, it’s easy to eat out. The problem is that you’re wasting tons of money every time you go to a restaurant. Even a dollar cheeseburger at McDonald’s is cheaper to make at home. An added benefit to staying in is that you’ll likely make healthier food choices as well, since you can control the amount of fat, salt, sugar, and other ingredients in everything you make. This in turn will reduce and prevent health problems and give you more energy throughout the day to be more productive, so the savings reach far beyond the immediate reduction in your grocery bill! How do I clean my kitchen, you ask?
  • Clear off all clutter. (This is where organizing your bills comes into play.)
  • Regularly clean out all spaces with perishable foods, e.g. your refrigerator, pantry, etc.
  • Wash your dishes as soon as they’re dirty. If you have a dishwasher, run it regularly.

3. Staying Organized Prevents Duplicate Purchases

Another benefit of cleaning your kitchen is that you won’t rush to the store thinking you’re out of popcorn only to find a full box of it buried deep at the back of the pantry. You know what you have, so you only buy what you need. This is true of the entire house, of course. Unorganized clothes, toiletries, tools, cleaning supplies, etc. are routinely the cause of duplicate purchases, which are a complete waste of money! Some tips for avoiding unnecessary spending on items you already have:
  • Get rid of your junk drawer.
  • Organize your closet by color-coding clothes and making use of shoe storage containers.

4. You Can Save Money by Cutting Down on Trips to the Store

Have you ever found yourself racing to the grocery store before dinner because you realized you were out of flour after poring through the cupboard for fifteen minutes? Get organized! Not only would you be a lot less stressed and get dinner finished on time, but you’d save the gas you just burned up making an extraneous trip out of the house. If you’re clean and organized, you know what you have at home and what you need. This allows you to tackle all of your shopping at once instead of racing around town every time you realize something’s missing. The key is writing things down:
  • Plan what you want to cook each week before you go to the grocery store.
  • Keep a list of items you’re out of or low on so you don’t forget them next time you go shopping.
  • Take an afternoon or evening and knock out all your shopping at once.

5. Clutter at Work Could Cost You a Raise

It’s not fair, of course, but workers with messy desks are routinely perceived in a negative light.  Even if you know where everything is in that mountain of papers around you, your boss doesn’t and might assume the worst. It might be an extra nuisance to keep your desk clean and get all your work done, but come performance review season, you want to be the one walking away with a bigger paycheck. Here are some tips to keep your desk or office neat:
  • Assign work zones within your office so each type of task can have its own space.
  • Make sure you have adequate storage for all your paper documents and office supplies.
  • Keep cords out of sight.

6. Being Organized Increases Your Intentionality

Perhaps the biggest benefit of all is the change you’ll see in your mindset. The more aware you become of what’s in your home and why, the less likely you’ll be to make impulsive purchases. Spending mental and physical energy on organization will save you time and money later on when you stop to think whether you really need another pair of Sperry Top-siders when you rarely wear the ones you have. You’ll become a more intentional shopper with an intimate awareness of what you truly need and what’s merely impulse spending. There are some small steps you can take to becoming more intentional, in addition to staying organized at home:
  • Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. Let your brain determine how much you spend on food, not your stomach.
  • Take a list with you when you shop, even if you’re just running to the drugstore for some tissues.
  • Go shopping before work (or some other engagement), not after. This way you won’t have time to dilly-dally and buy things you don’t need.
Cleaning and organizing are great for your health and mental well-being, but they’re also great for your wallet! By keeping your household organized, you can avoid late fees and pointless trips to the store. In the process, you’ll morph into a better, smarter, more intentional shopper who wastes less time wandering department stores and more time counting the money in his or her bank account. Doesn’t that sound great? Of course it does! So do yourself and your budget a favor and get organized!