Did you know that decluttering and organizing saves money? I’m not talking a few pennies here or there, either. By dealing with the clutter in your home, you can spend less every month and stretch your budget farther. You might even make some money, too.
How Organizing Saves Money
1. You’ll find and use what you already have.
Bad weather, upcoming travel, and holidays often lead us to shop 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. You’ll stop paying late fees.
The average credit card late-fee is $25. 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. Don’t forget those late fees for library books and DVD rentals, too.
How organizing saves money: Late payments affect your credit score, which means you’ll also wind up paying a higher interest rate on credit cards, car loans, even your mortgage. Getting your paperwork organized allows you to track due dates on your To Do list, so you never pay a late fee again.
3. You’ll have more time to look for deals.
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 makes cleaning faster, so you have more time to look for the best deals on things you need rather than hurriedly purchasing stuff without knowing if you’re getting a reasonable price.
How organizing saves money: Even if you don’t create a grocery price book to track sales cycles, you can use sites like Ebates to get money back on all sorts of purchases — clothing, office supplies, furniture, even gifts. 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. You’ll have space to buy gifts on sale.
Freeing up a spare closet, or even a dresser drawer, gives you space to stash gifts to give for birthdays and holidays. It’s space to stash those things you want to re-gift, too.
How organizing saves money: Timing purchases for the off-season routinely leads to saving over 70%. Your niece whose birthday is in June won’t know 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. You can get a nice tax deduction.
The 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 college that are so outdated they’re not worth the struggle to squeeze into them. Get them out of your life and get a deduction for them!
How organizing saves 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 massive break during tax season!
6. You’ll 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 bought.
7. You can 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 money: Of course, you know about Craigslist and that Facebook has a Marketplace option where you can list things for sale. Most towns have a local “Swap and Shop” group on Facebook, too, and sometimes more than one. (Mine has six, and I live in a small town!) By snapping a photo of an item with your smartphone 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.
SAFETY NOTE: Meet people in a public location like a grocery store parking lot. By scheduling multiple sales in a 15-minute period, you can turn unwanted stuff into enough money to buy groceries for the week.
8. You’ll gain space to buy in bulk.
Shopping Costco or Sam’s Club can lead to significant savings, but first, you’ve got to have room for 48 rolls of toilet paper or twelve tubes of toothpaste.
How organizing saves money: Purge clutter to create space in a closet or on pantry shelves, so you’ve got the room for bulk purchases. Then when items go on sale, buy multiples (see #3 for ways to stack coupons and rebates for even more significant savings) then stockpile. Sure, $0.60 off a tube of toothpaste may not sound like much, but when you multiply it by 12, you’re saving over $7.00.
9. You can stop paying storage unit fees.
The storage unit rental industry makes millions of dollars off people who just can’t let go of stuff. 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 charges for putting off decluttering.
How organizing saves money: Going through your storage unit allows you to sell what you don’t need or donate items you don’t want to bother selling so you can stop paying that $75-200 per month fee. Spending a weekend emptying your storage unit can save you between $900-2400 per year, and you’ll make money from whatever you sell or deduct.
10. You’ll spot home maintenance 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 money: Clearing out the junk in the attic or basement lets you spot insulation problems and leaks before they destroy your home’s structure. Cleaning out a spare room 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. You’ll probably find money you forgot about.
We’ve all read about the guy who was cleaning out his garage and found an art masterpiece behind the piles of plywood he’d been hoarding. 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 money: Even if you don’t stumble across cash stuffed in old clothes or Amazon gift cards in your desk drawer, you’re bound to find coins in your car’s console, your nightstand, and the purses you haven’t used in years. Take those to a CoinStar machine at the grocery store and turn them into cash you can spend or save.
12. You’ll pay less for stress-relief.
Clutter is stressful. Feeling your home is out of control leads to feeling your life is, too. When it reaches the point that there’s nowhere comfortable to sit, many of us head out of the house in search of retail therapy, which only leads us to bring home more clutter.
How organizing saves money: Tackling the clutter and getting organized creates a peaceful home where we love to spend time and entertain ourselves and others. Instead of searching outside the home for stress-relief, we look forward to coming home because there’s no clutter there making us feel stressed.
If you need a structured plan to deal with your home’s clutter, pick up a copy of my book 30 Days to a Clean and Organized House. I’ll walk you through every room, step-by-step, with checklists and flowcharts that show you how to clean and declutter, and also how to keep it clean and decluttered all the time.