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How Being Disorganized Costs You More

This article is written by Kennedi. You can find more of her work at Face & Fitness about beauty, fashion and home décor on a budget.

I tend to be a packrat. It’s a habit that’s fed by my frugal streak: I figure that if I spent my hard-earned money on an item, I should keep it. Otherwise, I’m literally throwing money away.

It’s faulty logic, as I’m sure you can see.

It gets worse: I also figure that if I can “flip” an item on eBay, even if its only for a few bucks, I should. Which means, of course, that I keep the item around my house but never get around to selling it, which only results in more junk.

On top of that, I also tend to buy large quantities of items when they’re on sale. Which means that in addition to not throwing away the things I’ve purchased in the past, and collecting items for “future re-sale,” I’m also cluttering my home with mass quantities of paper towels, toilet paper, jars of salsa, cans of beans … this list is endless.

This combines to form clutter, of course, and that clutter comes with a steep price. I’ve discovered that being disorganized can actually end up costing you more money. Here’s how:

1) You buy things twice. – With all this junk around my home, I can’t find anything when I need it. Yes, I have an extra can opener … but where? Yes, I have hairspray … but where?

Since I can’t find things, I end up buying the item twice – spending more money than I otherwise would if I were to purge my home from stuff.

2) You pay for storage. – In an effort to keep my home organized, I’ve shelled out dozens of dollars (okay, probably hundreds) on plastic bins, which I use to store my various belongings.

The problem, of course, is that now I’m throwing good money after bad. I’m spending money to store cheap items that are just cluttering up my home space.

For example, I have one bin dedicated to “future gifts” – items that I bought on sale with the intent of giving them away as gifts to some unknown recipient for some unknown occasion at some random, unspecified time in the future. (That’s a very long way of saying that it’s complete junk.)

3) Your mental energy is taxed. – Clutter takes up a huge amount of psychic energy. I know that sounds very esoteric, but psychic or mental energy really does account for a lot of our success.

We relax during the weekends so that we can “hit the ground running” on Monday, right? Well, we should be able to relax and unwind in our
home space. If we can’t, the stress bleeds into our work life, leaving us less-productive.

And that’s really the worst effect of all this clutter. The $50 or $100 that I’ve shelled out for plastic storage tubs isn’t so bad. If buying and storing stuff has helped me save $50 or $100, then I’ll call the whole experiment a “break even” wash.

But the drained mental energy is the real killer. A cluttered home leads to a cluttered mind. When we’re surrounded by stuff, we’re stuck in it.

So throw away (or donate) items, even if you’ve spent your hard-earned money on it. Stop fooling yourself into believing that you’ll sell these things on eBay. Don’t stock up too much when you see sales – one extra roll of toilet paper is fine; five extra rolls is not.

Keep your space minimalist, clean and simple. Your mind (and eventually, your wallet) will thank you.

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12 comments to How Being Disorganized Costs You More

  • Bridget

    I have a habit of accumulating clutter, except if I feel a need to buy things I limit it to the dollar store so it doesn’t break the bank. There us an excellent book I got last summer (from the dollar store, haha) called It’s All Too Much: An Easy Allan for Living A Richer Life with Less Stuff by Peter Walsh. The bottom line: think of the life you want and get rid of whatever doesn’t fit. Peter talks about some of the emotional aspects to accumulating clutter and talks about how to keep the clutter bug grim sneaking in again once you have everything organized. Its really a great book and has helped me with clutter, I highly recommend it!

  • We actually pay for storage but I think you know why. NYC is like living in a sardine can. As much as I complain I love it and wouldn’t want it any other way.
    Jai Catalano recently posted..Debt Matters: 5 Reasons Debt Should Matter

  • I hate clutter! 90% of what I have in storage (in the house, I mean) is kiddie stuff–out grown clothes waiting for the next kid, that sort of thing. That and Christmas decorations and my gift stockpile is just about everything. And that’s the way I like it! :)
    Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide recently posted..5 Ways To Take Control Of Your Food Purchases–Saving Money On Groceries, Part 1

  • @Bridget — “think of the life you want and get rid of whatever doesn’t fit” — I like that! That might become my new mantra!

    @Jai — I’m sure living in NYC is an altogether different and unique experience! I bet living in such a small space would force me to be more selective about what items I keep and what I throw out.

    @Jenny — I’m glad you hate clutter! I need to take lessons from you :-)
    Kennedi recently posted..7 Ways to Save Money on Hair Care

  • Wee buy certain household things at Target once every other month. We start a list for that particular shopping run. We have additional lists for regular shopping and Costco. It save sus money and keeps us organized.
    krantcents recently posted..10 Things You Don’t Know

  • I can attest to this, we have a lot of “stuff” and therefore have a lot of storage.
    Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin recently posted..Open Letter About Real Estate

  • It’s hard for me to get rid of items that I spent my hard earned money on, knowing I could sell them for some extra cash. The best way I’ve learned to get rid of some of those extras is to give them away to friends and family that I know will use them. Last summer I kept telling myself I would have a garage sale in the fall and sell their old clothes. I finally put them all in a bin and asked my sister-in-law if she would like them for my nephew. Not only did I get rid of an entire bin of unused clothes but she was excited to receive them for free.
    Jennifer @ Money Aches recently posted..Celebrate Mini Milestones With Debt Repayment

  • Here is where I’ve never followed logic like this… In order to not “throw away money” you spend (probably a good bit) of money on storage expenses for crap you will never use, thus throwing away more money than you otherwise would have to begin with.

    My father works for a company that owns storage buildings, so I have first hand experience that a majority of the stuff in there is basically useless, but someone feels like they may use it someday.

    My favorite example of this, is the person who saves their child’s play things so that they can give it to their grandchildren. They have to pay for many years to store this stuff, when it would be much cheaper (and probably safer) to buy new stuff when the grandchildren come along. Although, I do realize that some people get sentimental about throwing their children’s play things away.

  • Thing I keep and store long term:
    * tools

    Things I keep and store short term (as in 6 months or less):
    * 0% offers from credit cards just in case we’d want to use them for a balance transfer, if it’s getting anywhere near the end of a current balance transfer offer
    * oil for the lawnmower

    Things I don’t keep or store:
    * anything tax related (everything I do for this is electronic)
    * anything related to bills or paying them (again electronic since electrons take less space than say an entire stack of papers)
    Chris recently posted..Where to keep your savings

  • My rule of thumb is if I haven’t used it in a year we don’t need it. This came in handy when I was getting rid of a lot of college textbooks and notes when we moved to our new home a couple weeks ago.
    Jessica @ Budget for Health recently posted..Top 20 favorite iPhone apps

  • I love to clear things out and get rid of clutter! I went on a cleaning frenzy today and I feel so good now! I wasnt always like that, and felt I needed everything.
    Jules@Faithful With a Few recently posted..Wilson Household On the Mend..$250.00 Later and Some Great Reads 4.7.13

  • @Marvin — I understand! I tend to want to live in a bigger home because I “need” the space … though I wouldn’t really “need” it if I got rid of the clutter!

    @Jennifer — I like giving items to friends/family as well; it makes me feel better about getting rid of it.

    @Chris — Wow, you’re organized! Good for you! I hope to be like that!

    @Jules — Cleaning frenzies are great!

    @Jessica — That’s a great rule-of-thumb. :-)

    @Bobby — That’s an excellent point. I’ve never paid for a storage unit, but I “indirectly” pay through feeling like I need a bigger home, buying plastic storage tubs, etc.
    Kennedi recently posted..6 Ways to Save on Summertime Skin Care

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