We all have those moments in our lives where the clutter outweighs the neat. Take me for instance, most days my desk is neat as a pin. Take a look at my closet though and…on second thought? Don’t take a look at my closet. It’s kind of scary in there. The point is that some clutter is unavoidable at times, but while it’s okay to have a cluttered room or space every now and then, it can also be really damaging. Yup. I promise. I’m George Washington on this one. I tell no lies. Your clutter can hurt your family budget in ways like you’ve never imagined. (You have created a family budget that works for your family, right?) Most of us never make the connection that putting a few home organization tips into practice can boost our family budget, but I think once the connection is made, it is a tremendous help.
I would love to tell you that it is only your desk area (or wherever you keep your most important paperwork) that needs to be organized, but the truth is that it is multiple areas of your home. Your “work” area is one of the biggest, but your closet, pantry, kitchen cabinets, laundry room and more all play a part in slowly chipping away at your carefully crafted family budget. Each area of your home can affect your spending, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that only your home can affect your budget. Your electronic life can as well.
Home Organization Tips – How Your Clutter is Hurting Your Family Budget
I could sit and spend thousands of words explaining it, but it is actually pretty simple to condense. When you are cluttered, you miss things.
I know. “Duh.” Right?
Yes. I really did just tell you that super simple, not so secret piece of life advice. It may be kind of obvious, but it is also really easy to overlook. Still not seeing how? Let me explain:
- If your pantry is unorganized, you could be buying food that you don’t need.
- If your closet is unorganized, you could spend money on new clothes when you likely have new items hanging.
- Need a new mixer? If your kitchen is cluttered, you may not.
- Do you need onions and carrots at the store? Maybe not if your fridge is so unorganized that they’re hiding behind the milk.,
- Speaking of milk? Do you really have fresh milk or did it expire last week?
- Is your email so cluttered that you’re missing important bills and are having to pay late fees month after month?
- Is your budget so cluttered that you’re forgetting to include all of your expenses and are paying late fees or worse, non-sufficient fund fees?
It all makes sense now doesn’t it? Now that you know how clutter can affect your family budget, it’s time to look at a few home organization tips to help yourself dig out from all of that clutter.
Simplify first – First and foremost, you need to simplify things. There are a lot of reasons to live a simple life, but one of the biggest is how budget friendly it is. Start by getting rid of clutter that you don’t need. Do this room by room until you have gone through your entire home. It doesn’t take a long time to do as long as you keep going. If you’ve only got 15 minutes to work, then work 15 minutes. If you’ve got an hour, work in 20 minute increments and take a 10 minute break in between each 20 minute sprint. You’d be surprised at how much you can accomplish in 20 minutes. If you’re unsure where to start, a lot of people have had success with the Kondo method of decluttering. It may be a great place for you to start.
One word of caution: Do not throw out paperwork with identifying information on it. Tax forms, bank statements, credit card offers, medical forms and the like. Tossing them sets you up for identity theft. Stack them in a box then scroll down this post to see what to do with them.
Once you’ve got everything cleared out, take a moment to decide between what you will donate (be sure to get a reciept if you’re going to deduct your donations) and what you will sell. There are quite a few different places you can sell online (besides Ebay) or if the weather is warm enough, you could hold a garage sale. I usually tend to box things I’m selling and stack them in the garage until I can hold a garage sale. My yard sales usually net well over $1,000 each so we do well enough to justify the “stuff” being in the garage for a few weeks.
Once the main clutter is gone, work on simplifying other areas of your life. Take a look at what you can stop buying and make. Take some time and learn how to figure out your net worth and work on increasing it throughout the year. Squeeze in several ways to pay down debt to help yourself get out of debt quicker. As you start to get things taken care of, your household expenses reduced and anything else taken care of, you’ll realize just how simple things have gotten for you and you’ll wonder why you didn’t simplify before.
Organize Your Budget – Once the clutter in your home is gone, it’s time to look at the clutter in your budget. If you’re currently having financial troubles, it’s time to take a look at how you can stop living paycheck to paycheck and to take the time to update your family budget. If you’re not having troubles, you’ll still want to take a look at updating your budget. Pull any expenses off of it that are not necessary and get rid of anything that you either don’t need anymore or you’ve stopped paying for. Updating is especially important if you haven’t done it in a while. Leaving your budget for months is a great way to find yourself with a serious case of budget fatigue.
For me, it is simpler to use a personal budget ledger when I’m looking to update things. It allows me to track things for a solid month (usually the month before I plan to update things), to keep things all in one spot and to easily find what I’m looking for when I do go in and update. If that won’t work for you, using the envelope system may be a good option for you instead since it makes things as simple as they could possibly be.
Say No to Fees – No matter which of the above groups you fall into, you’ll want to make absolutely sure that you don’t miss adding any expenses to your budget when you update it. If you do miss them, you’ll be setting yourself up to pay late fees which can really dig into your budget if you allow them to go on long enough. In addition to those fees, you should really consider whether your current bank is worth staying at. We made the switch from a local credit union to Discover Bank for one reason. The amount of fees that we were being charged was not worth staying. Ideally, you’ll want to bank with a bank that has no monthly fees for checking or savings accounts. At an average of $10.00/mo for fees (per account), those bank fees can get really expensive quickly and if you’re not watching closely, they can actually lead to non-sufficient fund fees which are even more expensive.
Say No to more debt – Make a decision right now that you will never take on more debt. It only complicates things and can put your family budget in danger. You should also do what you can to pay down your current debt as quickly as possible. The only exception that I have to not taking on more debt is if you’re trying to build or rebuild your credit score. Yes, you read that right. There are certain situations where I feel you should not be totally debt free. A good credit score is needed sometimes for things like job interviews and to do that, you (unfortunately) have to have some debt. If you don’t currently know what your credit score is, you can use Credit Sesame to get your credit score free each month. Credit Sesame is owned by one of the big three credit bureaus and is totally safe to use.
Invest in a Scanner – Every parent knows the struggle of deciding what to keep from their kids work and crafts and what not to. What we usually end up with is a few boxes of unrecognizable dinosaurs and ornaments that make us question what they really are too. This is where having a good quality scanner on hand can come in handy. Take your absolute favorites and keep them in a keepsake box. This will let you keep the ones you love in their original form.
Then, take the ones that you want to keep but aren’t in love with and scan them into your computer as images. Take those images, put them into a folder with your child’s name and age and toss the paper copies. You’ll also want to store them in an online photo storage such as Amazon’s Prime Photo Storage that each Amazon Prime member receives. If you’re not currently a Prime member, you can get a free 30-day trial to Amazon Prime to test it out and see if you like it. The benefits such as the photo storage, free Kindle books, free music and free video are well worth the costs.
Invest in a shredder – All of that paperwork I mentioned above? You’ll want to shred it which means that you’ll need to pick up a shredder to do the work so that you can protect your family from identity theft. You’ll want to get one that shreds with a criss cross motion so that the shredded papers can’t be pieced back together. Ideally you should be shredding any important documents that your family has. This can include taxes over 7 years old, old checks from accounts that you no longer have, bank statements, insurance forms and old insurance cards, cancelled credit and debit cards, and any and all credit offers. That is by far all of them, but that list should get you started. Once you’ve gone through your home and the paperwork that is already there, make shredding a weekly or monthly task so that you can stay on top of it.
Invest in a few home organization tools – Obviously you can’t organize your home and these home organization tips would be worthless without a few organization tools to help you get and keep things organized. For your kitchen, take a look at an over the door shoe organizer to help you organize small packets and for air tight canisters to help you cut down on the number of large bags you have. You can pick up a tea bag organizer to help you keep them organized if you drink herbal teas. For coffee drinkers, make sure to grab a k-cup organizer if you use a Keurig (and while you’re at it, pick up a reusable K-cup filter so that you can save even more money on your morning cup.). Wire baskets are amazing for keeping things in your fridge, pantry and on your counters organized. Cereal keepers are great for not only cereal, but rice, pasta and other hard dry pantry goods. A baking pan storage rack and a pot and pan shelf can help keep your cookware organized. They even make kitchen wrap organizers to help you keep things like foil and plastic wrap organized.
For your closet, over the door shoe organizers can help with shoes, socks, scarves and other small items. If you don’t want to use them for scarves, you can pick up a scarf hanger and for shoes you can also use an under the bed shoe storage container. Tiered hangers can help keep things like skirts organized. They even make tiered hangers that are specifically made to hang bras and other delicates. For garage and basements, a couple of good shelving systems will help you keep things like Christmas decor organized. Speaking of? Stop buying new each year and use Christmas storage organizational items to help yourself keep track of what you already have. For your bathroom, homeschool room or any other place you need a bit more help, a 3-drawer storage system can help.
My point? You can’t keep your home (and budget) organized without a few tools and with the number of different tools available on the market today? You have no excuse.
Use a daily planner – The one surefire way to keep yourself, your home and your family budget organized is with a daily or weekly planner. There are a ton of different options that you could choose from. Whether you use a a printable planner like the one from Motivated Moms, a store bought planner like I use for my business planning or a combo of the two (like I do), having a planner will allow you to keep track of what is coming up in your life, what must be done and what was accomplished. Make sure that you keep any personal and business planners separate though since combining them can create a stressful situation and undo that simplified life you created earlier. I learned that lesson the hard way.
Plan a Menu and shop Once a Month – There is a reason that bloggers like me are always telling you to plan a menu. Because it not only helps you to keep things simple, but it also helps to save you money. When you plan a monthly menu, you will be searching through your pantry, fridge and freezer before you shop. This means that you won’t be buying items that you don’t need and will be saving money in the long run.
In addition to that menu that you’re planning, make sure that you’re only hitting the grocery stores once a month. It should be obvious, but when you’re in the store more often, you’re at risk for impulse buys that can damage your family budget pretty badly. By shopping only once a month, you’re ensuring that you’re only buying what you need and nothing more. The amount of money that you’ll save might surprise you.
It’s okay to unsubscribe – Finally, my favorite home organization tip and it isn’t even for your home! How many emails from different companies do you currently receive? If your inbox is anything like mine used to be, I’m betting that the answer is a lot. Those emails are not only cluttering up your email inbox, but they’re also causing you to spend much more than you need to. You won’t miss out on a deal that you need so don’t be afraid to unsubscribe from them. When you truly need a deal for an item that you really do need, you’ll find one. If you’re not sure how to unsubscribe, there is a a link in the bottom of each one. Click the link and hit submit and you’re unsubscribed!
If you don’t want to unsubscribe, but want to clean things up a bit, creating filters is a great way to do so. Go into the settings for your email and create a filter based on the email address you want to filter out. Set it so that emails from that email address are automatically filtered into a folder. Once the filter is set, any new emails you receive from that email address will automatically go into the folder you told it to keeping your inbox clean.