How Organization Will Save You Money

I'll bet you're wondering what organization has to do with saving money.

Actually quite a bit!

Imagine that you've been looking all over your house for that book/DVD/sunglasses/whatever and you can't find it. Or imagine that you're at the store and can't remember if you still have any bananas or jars of strawberry jam.

Simple things, right?

Well, when we can't remember what we have and don't know where to find what we have, we usually end up buying it again. And then, before you know it, you're like my aunt with 17 umbrellas.

My mother always says that once you replace something you can't find, you'll find the original missing item. I'm sure many of you have heard that as well. But for as many times as we've heard this, we still do not take action and bring some organization into our lives to avoid spending money when did not need to spend in the first place.

So, what do we do about this? The answer to almost every organizing problem is to have a system. Why a system? Because we are creatures of habit and mostly prefer to do things the same way every time. Not only that but with a system you have less to remember. You just follow the system.

There are a couple of systems you can put in place to help you save money in various areas of your life. Here are 4 areas in which you will want to find a system that works for you to help save you tons of money in the end.

1. Grocery Shopping

How many times have you been at the grocery store, without your list, and wondered if you should be an item you're not really sure if you have or need?

I'm willing to be it happens a lot. It happens more when you don't have a list. It happens even more when you don't know what you have in your kitchen.

Here's what I suggest. Go through your cabinets and fridge before you attempt to make a shopping list. The list you're about to make is what you can see that you're missing or low on. Next, depending on how often you shop (I suggest no more than weekly) and plan your menus accordingly. So, plan menus weekly if you shop weekly, two weeks at a time if you shop bi-weekly, etc.

Once you know what you're going to make, you can look at what you're missing (from your first list), and make your shopping list accordingly.

When you get to the store, do not deviate from this list. Take appropriate coupons if you want to, but don't go hungry and leave the kids at home.

2. Shoes

What woman doesn't like to have a variety of shoes? Unlike men, we must have different shoes for different outfits, occasions, and seasons. However, this love of shoes can go overboard.

This has happened to me, I must admit. While shopping for something totally unrelated, I saw a great pair of gray houndstooth heels in Target. The only problem was the heel was a little too high and the size 11 was probably one size or so more than I needed.

I reasoned that my feet would swell and I wouldn't be standing long anyway. Plus, the shoes weren't expensive. Well, I stood for a long time on the day I wore them, it rained, and they were too big. They were worn once and are now on their way to charity. What a waste!

I should have taken stock of what I had and thought about what I was going to wear on that occasion. Had I done that, I would have saved my feet and my money.

So, take note: know what you have before you start adding to your collection.

3. Clothing

What goes for shoes also goes for clothing.

I used to get clothing as gifts from my parents and internally wondered where they thought a 14 year old was going to wear a white ruffled shirt in 1995. (I eventually found a use for that shirt in one of the plays I was in.)

The point is, even though they were trying to be nice about it, the clothing choices didn't fit my existing lifestyle. We do that sometimes. Whether it's a trend or something great we saw on someone else, we figure it's just something we have to have. But, by thinking this way, we often ignore the fact that it's not our style, it's not flattering, or it's out of our budget.

The organization here also revolves around knowing what you have. This will help you determine what you actually need and if there is room in your budget and your closet for the things you want.

4. Bills

The key to organization and paying bills is really simple. Pay your bills on time.

One more time: pay your bills on time.

This advice is most important when the bill is a credit card or loan. Late fees and over the limit fees (sometimes as a result of late fees) can seriously hinder your ability to eventually be debt free. (Who wants to stay in debt forever?)

There are a couple of ways you can do this. You can pay the bills as you receive them in the mail (if you still get paper bills) or as you receive notification by email for electronic bills. Or, to make this more automated and ensure the bills are paid on time, sign up for a 3rd party service, one at your bank, or one offered by your creditor where the payment is automatically debited from a designated checking account each month.

There are a number of ways to have as much or as little control over this process as possible, but the point is to set up a system and stick with it so that you don't lose money to late fees and penalties.

5. Miscellaneous Items

This is the area where so many people get into trouble.

We find ourselves at the store and we see something we like. We think we have one at home, but we're not sure. So, instead of waiting until we get home to verify (or call someone who is at home), we purchase the item anyway and end up with multiples. (Remember the 17 umbrellas?)

It's good to wait to make some purchases anyway, but the more organized you become, the more aware you are of what you have. When you know what you have, then you also know what needs to be replaced or what you're lacking.

Once you start organizing, you will find a surprising number of items you have bought and you can't remember why or what it is even for. You will also find the things you thought were lost but were really just buried under foolishness and mayhem called clutter.

Do yourself and your family a favor and stop the foolishness. Get organized and save money. You'll be glad you did.

Wendy Stewart is your Go-to-girl for being in the know about small business, personal finance, personal style, and wellness. For more free tips on personal finance, visit her blog, Personal Finance Success, at http://personal-finance-manager.blogspot.com

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