Save $000s By Getting Organized
With the economy in the state that it is, saving money is high on everyone’s agenda.
If you are also one of the 25% of Americans who would like to be better organized, then here’s a great reason to get started:
Being organized saves you money.
Not just a few $$$ either – it could be thousands.
If you are feeling out of control with your job and housing situation, rising costs and other life uncertainties, empower yourself by getting organized at home and at least being in charge of what you own.
Find out what you have got hidden away. Work room by room, going from cabinet to closet to outdoor shed and remind yourself of what it is you have cluttering up your home.
Then next time you go shopping you will know you don’t need another bottle of soy sauce or that pair of red shoes that are such a bargain.
Focus on the kitchen
As well as spending money on duplicates when you don’t know what you have lurking in the back of those kitchen cabinets, the kitchen is a key place where you can save money by being organized.
Food waste – save $750 per year
Keep a magnetized dry erase board on your refrigerator or freezer telling you exactly what you have stored in there. Do the same for food cabinets, keeping the board on the inside of the cupboard door.
Reach for leftovers first and preserve anything you can’t eat right away. Freeze food in one meal portion sizes.
By knowing what you have, you won’t buy duplicates and you won’t let things go to waste.
A recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) found that North American consumers wasted an average of 20% of the food they buy, which equates to a saving of $750 per year.
Details: Food waste varies across categories from 4% for oilseeds and pulses to 33% for fish and seafood. The average is 20%. Based on an average annual expenditure on food detailed in the 2009 Consumer Expenditure Survey of $3753, 20% equals $750.
Menu planning – save $655 per year
By being organized with your weekly or monthly menus, you can save time and stress as well as money. You won’t need to search through your fridge or cabinets for something to cook and you won’t need to give up and order in a takeaway. You will also save money by cutting out unnecessary trips to the grocery store where you will more than likely buy more than you went for.
So make your own magnetic menu planning board, reclaim your kitchen and start cooking again. Just cutting your takeaway or restaurant spend by a quarter, will save you $655 per year.
Details: 25% of the average annual expenditure on food away from the home of $2619 equals $655.
Cut out those coupons – save $500 per year
Do you just ignore those discount attracting rectangles in your Sunday newspaper? They’re not worth much after all. Or are they? The Promotion Marketing Association’s (PMA) Coupon Council says different. In fact a typical family spending 10 minutes or less per week on couponing can save up to $500 per year using coupons, but these figures are from 2008. Since then coupon use has leapt 27%. The Wall Street Journal even considers coupon users shrewder than they first appear, showing how using coupons equates to a salary of $100 per hour. Of course, your coupons will need to be organized and their redemption planned so click here for A Beginner’s Guide to Couponing.
Cash in your clutter
The key to being organized is to declutter first. When going through those closets, drawers, cabinets, boxes etc, you will be amazed at what you may find – things you thought you’d lost and even things you didn’t know you had. I recently found $160 in an old wallet tucked at the back of my junk drawer – that was a nice surprise!
As well as possibly finding cash and gift cards tucked away, you will come across items that you no longer need or want, perhaps clothes you didn’t really like when you got them home, old toys your kids have grown out of, DVDs you’ve watched and won’t watch again. Turn those items into cash. Your key decluttering piles on our ‘How to organize your home‘ journey of “Keep, Donate and Trash” can instead be turned into “Keep, Sell and Trash”.
Sell – make $400
Try selling your items via online auction sites such as Ebay or online classified ads such as Craigslist. Alternatively consider any consignment shops in your area, who will display your goods and give you a percentage of the sales price for anything they sell. To learn how a consignment shop works, please click here.
Alternatively you could have a yard or garage sale. Statistics from YardSaleSearch.com suggest that on average, sellers make $400 by getting rid of their unwanted items this way.
Donate – save more $ than you think
If you don’t have the time or can’t be bothered to sell any of your no longer needed but good condition items, at least donate them to charity rather than throw them in the bin. This can still save you some money in the way of tax deductions. To be eligible you must tally up the market values of what you are donating, keep itemized records and keep any receipts received from the charity. For more specific information please click here.
Re-use – save more $ than you think
Once you have decluttered your home, the chances are that you will have a number of storage bins, boxes and binders that are now empty. Rather than buying new organizing products for your ‘Keep’ pile, you can re-use these empty containers. Also instead of investing in new storage solutions, consider alternative uses for existing household items. Food jars are ideal for holding utensils, pencils, screws etc or for making candle holders for the garden. Empty shoe boxes are great for keeping shoes (!) from getting cluttered in your closet or for use as drawer dividers, perhaps for socks.
Organize your finances – save $116+ per year
If you are disorganized with your finances, the chances are you will miss a payment due date and incur late fees. On credit cards alone this mounts up to $116 per year on average per credit cardholder. And this does not even include the interest accruing on overdue balances or other forms of credit such as overdrafts. So get your bills organized, forecast your bank balances to ensure any shortfalls are managed and do not miss any payment dates.
If you are in control of your finances, you will know what you spend. Just analyzing this in detail once a month will help you prioritize your spending, offering you potential savings that were just a black hole before.
Late fees also apply in a smaller way to rented movies or library books, so diarizing due dates in advance can save you money here too.
Details: Based on $20.5bn penalty fees in 2009 shared between 176.8m credit cardholders.
Source: Credit Card Industry Facts from CreditCards.com
Organize your errands – save more $ than you think
With gas prices sky rocketing, being organized with your errands can save you money on fuel. Plan out your week’s trips so you can schedule locations that are close to each other to be visited on the same day. If you’re doing any grocery shopping, pack a cooler with ice to keep your food fresh. And remember don’t go shopping without a list – you’ll only end up needing another visit to the store later in the week.
Shop around for the best deals on gas – save $200 per year
According to GasBuddy.com, “In many areas, gas prices can vary by 20-30 cents per gallon or more within a very small area.” So be organized and check out their site before you fill up to find the cheapest gas station in your neighborhood. You could save about $200 per year just by shopping around.
Details: 30 cents per gallon saved equates to roughly 10%. This saving on a total annual spend on gas and motor oil of $1986 equates to $199.
Source: 2009 Consumer Expenditure Survey
Other ideas where organizing can save you money
Diairise the routine maintenance of your car and home to avoid large expenditures.
Save on utility bills by being organized with your laundry – make sure you always fill the tub for maximum efficiency.
Try and steer clear of impulsive shopping trips – plan what you need to buy and when you need to buy it. Impulse purchases should then be curtailed.
Shop around online to get the best deals for significant and even every day purchases. Keep your eye out for coupons and special offers that mean you can shop early for upcoming birthday or Christmas presents.
Being organized generally reduces stress levels. And given that “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state unequivocally that 80% of our medical expenditures are now stress related.”, it would appear that being organized can help reduce medical expenses and time taken off work sick.
If you encourage friends and family to become more organized, you could all help each other as part of a frugal community. Ideas include coupon sharing and buying together in bulk. For all 10 Ways to Save Money by Organizing a Frugal Community, please click the link.
You may also be able to save money indirectly by selling your house faster if it is on the market by having an organized home to show off to potential buyers.
Get organized now
As you can see learning how to get organized can save you a lot of money. Just remember it’s not all about buying organizing products and doing nothing with them. It’s about a lifestyle change from pack rat to declutterer and generally thinking about living your life in a more organized way.
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