If you have to step over empty pizza boxes and stacks of magazines to find the TV remote, your house might be a little cluttered. Oh, sure, we all have little clutter hide-outs – the drawer by the dishwasher, or an overflowing storage closet, but when you live in clutter, there’s a really good chance you’re wasting money.
How does clutter cost you? Let’s examine just a few ways:
1. You spend too much money on too much stuff. If you have piles of clutter, you’ve spent too much money on things you don’t really need. A cluttered house may be a warning sign that you need to pay more attention to your spending habits and skip adding another snow globe to your collection. Look around your homestead. Is there “stuff” everywhere? Displayed on tables? Taking over the bedroom? Overcrowding the garage?
2. You spend money on duplicates and triplicates. How many times have you bought something new even though you knew you already had one, but just couldn’t find it in the clutter? Just how much did those unnecessary duplicate items cost you? Now you have three staple guns and six pairs of scissors gathering dust somewhere under the other stuff.
3. You lose track of coupons, rebate forms, and gift cards. Clipping coupons can save you money, but if the Sunday coupon insert is buried in clutter, you’re going to pay full price for your items. If you do manage to clip coupons, but can’t find them until they’re expired, you’ve wasted both time and money. And what about that $50 rebate on the new tires you bought? Rebates are generally good only for a short time, so if the form or receipt is lost in the mess, your money is also lost. Got a $25 gift card to your favorite restaurant? Do you know where it is, or did it get tossed out with the trash?
4. You waste valuable time. You can’t find the car keys buried beneath a pile of newly acquired clutter, so you look for them. In fact, you have to look for your keys, your handbag, your briefcase – every time you leave home, it takes an additional 10 minutes to find everything. Ten minutes a day is 3,650 minutes a year, or about 61 hours looking for stuff buried in clutter, and you better believe time is money.
5. And then there are those late fees. The mail sits in a huge pile by the front door – the place the mail gets dumped when you come in from the mailbox. In that pile is a credit card statement (maybe several credit card statements). You don’t see them because you live in a cluttered home. So you regularly get slammed $35 a month for a late fee on every card you carry. Your credit card interest rate also increases, and that’s really going to hurt.
Organize the incoming mail into three piles: bills, things you want to read, and recyclables. Sort your bills and keep them close to where you sit daily to remind you to pay your bills – on time.
6. You’re paying for a rented storage locker. What’s that costing you every month? $40? $80? All that clutter stored in the rented storage locker is costing hundreds of dollars a year – and you probably can’t remember half of what you’ve stored. If you have so much clutter that you have to rent extra space for it, it’s keeping you poorer than you have to be.
7. You’re sitting on hidden treasures. Because you’ve lost track of your clutter, you don’t really know what you have. That print you picked up at a tag sale last year could be worth a fortune. Or not. You’ll never know because your treasure is buried.
8. Your cluttered home won’t sell for as much as a neat, tidy, uncluttered home. You could lose thousands of dollars because you’re living in clutter. Potential home buyers imagine themselves living in your house, and if you have piles of stuff every which way, they won’t like the picture they imagine.
Now’s the time to bite the bullet and free yourself from your clutter. Rule of thumb: if you haven’t used it in the past 12 months, you don’t need it. Start clearing things out and have a garage sale to raise some extra money. If that’s too much work, contact a local charity that accepts household goods. They’ll be glad to take your unwanted items and give you a receipt for your taxes.
Tackle one room at a time. Create one organized room in an otherwise cluttered home. It can be your sanctuary and inspiration for orderliness. Then, gradually attack other rooms. Keep your focus on neat, clean, and orderly.
Clutter costs money. Get rid of your clutter, save some cash, and enjoy peace of mind.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.
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