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Organization Saves Money

14 December 2009 No Comment

Organization is something that all people desire.  Some people are naturally gifted at staying organized while others are a complete disaster.  I’m somewhere in the middle. I’ve spent a good amount of time in recent months both thinking about organization and working to better my own personal situation.  The clear conclusion is that staying organized definitely equates to saving money.

Having an organized life is usually regarded as nothing more than being able to find things easily.  While this is true, I believe being organized is much bigger than this.  For example, being able to find things more easily might mean that you don’t buy as many things that you don’t need.  Maybe you have a box full of widgets in the garage, clearly labeled and organized and you know right where to find them.  The unorganized person becomes exasperated trying to find a widget and goes out and buys another one even though he has several scattered throughout his home.

Financial Organization

When it comes to paying bills and keeping up with your finances, organization is also key.  Being late on a utility bill or a credit card payment can cost you real money in the form of late payments.  It is crucial to implement some type of system so that you can stay organized with your bills and other payments.  Online tools such as mint.com or perhaps the Bill Pay functionality with online banking can be very helpful.

I believe the ultimate way to stay organized with your finances is simply to track every cent that goes in or out.  This requires more work than letting an automated system like mint.com track your money for you, but I believe it has many benefits.  First, it will be more accurate since you can account for literally everything, even putting $.50 in a coke machine at work.  Second, by tracking it yourself, you are always aware of your current situation instead of checking your mint.com trends once every few weeks.  Lastly, by forcing yourself to do the tracking, you are forcing yourself to be better organized in your life overall.  These habits can be contagious and spread into other areas.

One thing that I’ve learned can be very helpful is to utilize Google Docs for tracking.  By using an “online file” like Google Docs, I can access the document while I’m at work and while I’m at home.  Plus, I can set it up so that my wife can access it.  This makes it very easy to record every single transaction no matter if I’m at work or home, or my wife is behind it.

My Hatred of Clutter

Let’s turn our focus towards clutter.  I have a deep hatred of clutter in my house.  I have a tendency to sell everything that might be even remotely questionable in terms of our need for it.  It’s extremely easy to build up clutter in our lives and homes, that I’m constantly on the offensive.  Old clothes that I don’t wear much at all anymore?  Give them away.  Old piece of furniture that we deem is not child-proof for our baby.  Put it on craigslist.

Going on the offensive with regards to clutter can be a huge thing for your life.  You can easily net a few hundred bucks by selling old stuff on craigslist and ebay while at the same time taking giant strides towards much better organization.

Filing

Staying organized with paper documents is also very important.  I save my old bills, old statements all neatly organized in their proper files.  It can be very important to look up an old bill if something looks odd on your current statement.  This can also be very helpful when it comes time to file for taxes.  I learned the hard way the first few years of preparing my taxes because I was so poorly organized.  Tax prep is a disaster for unorganized individuals.

What do you do to stay organized in your life?  How has it saved you money?

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