5 Ways Organizing Can Save You Big Money
by Dana George | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on Feb. 11, 2020
Organization is about more than tidying up. It's about finding smart ways to save money.
We've read about the overall benefits of getting organized. It helps us feel more in control, reduces stress, and helps us accomplish more in less time. However, did you know there are financial benefits to tidying up? Here are five ways that getting organized can help us financially:
1. It helps you buy less
Knowing what you have in your closet, pantry, and garage is the best way to prevent yourself from repurchasing things you don't need. Digging through a messy pantry is no fun, but arriving home with a bag of groceries only to find that you already had some of the items you bought is frustrating. It's also expensive. Americans throw out $165 billion in food each year, with the average family tossing 250 pounds worth, or one-third of all food purchases. If we spend an average of $200 per week on groceries, that means we may be throwing away as much as $67 a week, or $3,484 per year.
We might not be in a position to do anything about how much restaurants or corporations throw out, but we can control our own food waste. The first step is knowing what we have before we shop. That means organizing shelves, pantries, and the refrigerator before we head to the grocery store. But it’s not limited to food -- taking inventory of what we have in our closet prior to shopping for clothes can help us save money, too.
2. It can boost your credit score
People who pay their bills on time have the highest credit scores and are offered the most attractive interest rates on credit cards and consumer loans. And here's where being organized comes in: The better organized we are, the less likely we are to allow a bill to fall through the cracks and the less likely we are to be late on a payment.
Have a monthly budget that you can check daily, just to be sure that nothing is due. Keep all of your bills in one place (or in one folder on your computer). As you pay a bill, check it off your list. Create a designated bill-paying area -- even if it's just a small desk in a guest bedroom -- and keep everything in one spot.
3. It helps you save on must-haves
Do you have a system for organizing those coupons that come in the mail or newspaper? What about online coupons or specials? Buying something you don't need simply because it's on sale is a waste of money, but snagging a great price on something you can use will put extra money in your pocket -- funds you can save or invest.
Keep your paper coupons in one place and create an online file to organize virtual coupons. Or organize your paper coupons with the SnipSnap app. All you do is snap a picture of a coupon with your smartphone and the app stores it for you. It also stores the expiration date and sends reminders. Another app -- called Shopkick -- offers exclusive deals for chain stores like Macy's, Target, and Best Buy.
4. It can earn you extra cash
If your basement, garage, or storage unit looks like it's been hit by a category 5 hurricane, that mess may be hiding cash. Dedicate two hours at a stretch to organizing. Use that time to listen to your favorite music or podcast (you might as well have fun while accomplishing the task). Set anything still in good shape aside and either have a garage sale or list it for sale on a neighborhood board. If it's hard for you to let go, keep three things in mind:
- It is no longer of value to you. If it were, it would not be buried under a mound of other forgotten items.
- Someone else may view your trash as their treasure and be willing to pay for it.
- The more you sell, the less you have to find space for.
5. It can score you a tax deduction
If you're not interested in selling items, donate anything useful to charity. You'll feel good about giving and scoring a tax deduction all in one fell swoop.
Sometime around 200 AD, the Greek writer Diogenes Laertius recorded these words: "Time is the most valuable thing that a man can spend." Each moment we spend digging through a drawer for a pen or scouring our computer for a file is a moment of our lives we can't get back.
Whether we are moderately organized or not at all organized, most of us understand the frustration of not being able to find what we need when we need it. The price we pay is time, and time is money. In this way, being disorganized can be an expensive long-term problem.
These savings accounts are FDIC insured and could earn you up to 12x your bank
Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. Our picks of the best online savings accounts can earn you more than 12x the national average savings account rate. Click here to uncover the best-in-class picks that landed a spot on our shortlist of the best savings accounts for 2022.
About the Author
We're firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.