Knowing there are ways to save money organizing (and make some, too) can motivate you to finally deal with clutter.
The truth is, many people have at least a part their home that’s cluttered: a junk drawer, a shelving unit, maybe even a closet. But when clutter begins expanding beyond a small confined space it takes on a life of its own, one that eats up your money and resources.
Just as ridding yourself of clutter and getting organized can improve your mood, it can also improve your budget. Here’s how.
Ways To Save Money Organizing
1. Find and use what you already have.
Bad weather, upcoming travel, and holidays often lead us to shopping for things we’ll need. School projects are another one. Just about every parent has dealt with that Sunday after-dinner announcement: “I have a project due tomorrow.” Faced with last-minute needs we race to the store for supplies rather than tearing up the house in search of them. A week later we discover we already had the colored pencils, construction paper and glue if we’d only known where it was.
2. Stop paying late fees.
The average credit card late-fee is $25 and, while you can spend time getting that waived, that’s time you can’t get back. Multiply that $25 by a couple of cards and four late fees a year and you’ve wasted $200 — the equivalent of a month’s utility bill! Late fees for library books and DVD rentals, too.
How organizing saves money: Late payment doesn’t just rack up feeds: it can also increase the amount of interest you’re paying on credit cards, car loans, even your mortgage. Getting your paperwork organized allows you to track due dates on your To Do list to save on both fees and penalizing interest rates.
3. Less time cleaning creates more time to look for deals.
It’s a fact: cluttered homes take longer to clean. You’ve got to move stuff before you can clean under it, then move it back so you can clean the next mess. Ditching the clutter frees up that time and makes cleaning faster as well as habitual. That extra time can be spent searching for the best deals on things you actually need rather than hurriedly purchasing things without knowing if you’re getting a good price.
How organizing saves money: Even if you don’t create a grocery price book to track sales cycles you can use sites like iBotta to get rebates on groceries, clothing, electronics and more just by scanning your receipt. Stack those rebates on top of coupons and you’re saving even more! Or, hey, use the extra time to earn more money at work. It’s your call.
4. Buy gifts when they’re on sale.
Freeing up a spare closet, or even a dresser drawer, gives you space to stash gifts to give at birthdays and holidays. It’s space to stash those thoughtful but unwanted gifts you receive and want to re-gift, too.
How organizing saves you money: Timing purchases for the off-season routinely leads to saving over 70%. Your niece whose birthday is in June won’t that you bought her those adorable sandals last October, but your wallet certainly will. First, though, you need to purge clutter to free up space to store such things.
5. Donate clutter, get a tax deduction.
Those suits that Grandpa left you but your husband will never wear are just taking up space in your closet. So are the board games your kids have outgrown, the kitchen gadgets you bought but know you’ll never use, even those jeans from your college years that, let’s face it, are so outdated they’re not even worth dieting to fit into. Get them out of your life and get a deduction for them!
How organizing saves you money: The IRS allows taxpayers to deduct the fair market value of items in good condition donated to non-profit charitable organizations. You’ll need a receipt (so don’t just dump the things at their doorstep) but you can deduct donated items worth to 20% of your adjusted gross income. That can be a huge break during tax season!
6. Throw out fewer expired goods.
From forgotten cucumbers turning to liquid under a pile of carrots to aspirin that lost their potency sitting in the back of your medicine cabinet for the last four years, you’re wasting money if you don’t use what you’ve paid for.
7. Make spare cash in minutes.
When you’re decluttering drawers and cupboards you’ll often find small items that are still in great shape but no longer useful to you. Sure, you could save them up and hold a garage sale, but let’s be realistic: you’ll probably never get around to it. But in just a few minutes you can turn that stuff into cash today.
How organizing saves you money: Most towns have a local “Swap and Shop” group on Facebook, sometimes more than one. (Mine has six, and I live in a small town!) By snapping a photo of an item with your smart phone and uploading it to the group you can list it for sale then arrange to meet prospective buyers at a time that’s convenient for you. Personally, I meet people in a public location, usually our grocery store’s parking lot on my way home after school. By loading my trunk with items in the morning, and scheduling multiple sales in a 15-minute period, I can turn unwanted stuff into enough money to buy our groceries for the week!
8. Gain space to buy in bulk.
Shopping Costco or Sam’s Club can lead to big savings, but first you’ve got to have room for 4 gallon-sized jars of pickles or 2 dozen rolls of toothpaste.
How organizing saves you money: Purge clutter to create space in a closet or on pantry shelves so you’ve got room for bulk purchases. Then when items go on sale, buy multiples (see #3 for ways to stack coupons and rebates for even greater savings) and stockpile. Sure, $0.60 off a tube of toothpaste may not sound like much but when you multiply it by 24 you’re saving over $14.00!
9. No more storage unit rental fees.
It’s a sad fact that the storage unit rental industry makes millions of dollars at the expense of people who just can’t let go of stuff they don’t want filling their homes. Sometimes the reasons are legit: you just inherited all of Aunt Edna’s possessions and don’t have time to sort them yet, or you’re putting your house on the market and want to stage it properly for sale. Other times, though, storage rental fees are little more than fees for putting off decluttering.
How organizing saves you money: Going through your storage unit allows you to figure out what you own, sell what you don’t need, donate and deduct items you don’t want to bother selling AND stop paying that $75-200 per month to house stuff you don’t want in your house. Spending one weekend closing out your unit will save you between $900-2400 per year and make you money from whatever you sell or deduct!
10. Identify home repair and maintenance tasks before they become big problems.
Attics, basements and spare rooms are places where home structural problems first appear. If they’re full of clutter you won’t see the first signs of problems, and that means you’ll wind up paying more to fix them when they become unmistakable.
How organizing saves you money: Clearing out the junk in the attic allows you to add better insulation that will lower your utility bills all year long. Getting rid of those boxes of college text books in the basement means you’ll see foundation cracks and leaks before they destroy everything else down there. And that spare room? Cleaning it out means you could list it on AirBnB to make money, or convert it into a home office that you might be able to deduct on your taxes, too.
11. Find money sitting around!
We’ve all read about the guy who was cleaning out his garage and found an art masterpiece behind the piles of plywood that he’d totally forgotten about. For the rest of us, decluttering doesn’t usually produce such dramatic windfalls but it still often leads to finding lost money.
How organizing saves you money: Whether it’s stumbling across a $20 bill buried beneath a pile of papers on the kitchen counter, finding that Amazon gift card you won at last year’s church bazaar, or just scooping up that mound of coins in your car’s console and depositing them in a CoinStar machine at the grocery store, decluttering will almost always net you actual cash if you do it.
12. Less stress means less spending on stress-relief.
Clutter is stressful. Feeling your home is out of control leads to feeling your life is, too. When clutter reaches the point that there’s nowhere comfortable to sit, and everywhere you look feels like an accusation, many of us head out of the house to find the relaxation we need. Some go shopping (which only leads to more clutter). Others head to the bar and wind up spending five times as much on one drink as it would’ve cost to have one at home.
How organizing saves you money: Getting rid of the clutter turns your home into a peaceful place where you can unwind and relax. Knowing your home is a clean and organized place contributes to a stronger self-esteem, a sense of control over one’s life, and a happier outlook. So instead of distracting yourself with retail therapy or drinks at the bar, grab my book 30 Days to a Clean and Organized House and follow my day-by-day plan to transform your home into the refuge you’ve been seeking.