The Cost of Disorganization and Clutter

How Much is Your Lack of Organization Costing You?
By: Dawn Hammon

Many people experience deep frustration from disorganization. Not being able to find the remote or having the car keys alude you can raise anxiety, not to mention start the day out on the wrong foot. If you haven’t noticed, it’s also exhausting spending your time looking for things instead of powering through your day like the boss you are. But, lack of organization costs you more than frustration, anxiety, and energy. It costs you money. Here a few ways you may be wasting money because of disorganization.

1. Replacing Items you Already Own
We’ve all done it. You go to look for your favorite kitchen bowl, but it’s not where it’s supposed to be. Weeks go by and you finally end up buying another one while you’re at the store, only to find the original one sitting on the fence post next to the composter a few days later. Or you misplace one shoe. Well, the one that you do have doesn’t do you much good so you buy another pair and find the stowaway next time you rearrange your bedroom. Tools are notorious for running away precisely when you need them as well. When everything has a home and you find a system that works for you, staying organized will become second nature, with no more missing shoes.

2. Missing Out on Deals
Saving money is great, and it’s fairly easy to do with a little bit of organization. But if you don’t get around to reading your email (or flipping through your stacks of physical mail) you might miss money-saving coupons, online deals, or other special offers until it is too late. Creating a workable routine can help alleviate this frustration.

3. Late Fees
Late fees suck. It would be nice if companies realized that we’re busy and we all make mistakes sometimes. The hard truth is that their business makes substantial money from people who are too disorganized to pay their bills on time. This is not just the credit card finance charge, but also the utility bill and medical invoice that are in that heaping pile of unopened mail.

4. Gift Cards
Gift cards are a boon for businesses. They make easy money by selling them to well-intended gift givers. But often the recipient never comes in to redeem the card. Fortunately, most gift cards today do not expire. However, if you misplace it, you’ve lost money. If you keep it in your wallet and never remember to use it, you’ve lost money. If you save it forever intending to use it and the company goes out of business, you’ve lost money.

5. Returns
Here’s the scenario. You receive a gorgeous sweater from your mother for Christmas. After a week of festivities you go to try it on and realize it is the wrong size. No problem, there was a gift receipt in the box and the store is just across town. So you put the sweater and the receipt in a bag. Maybe you even get it all the way to your car. A month later you find it in your car. A week later you actually stop at the store. Of course, the sweaters are long sold out. Because it has been longer than a month, you can only get an in-store credit. You don’t have time to shop that day so you take the credit. See #4. Another scenario sees you buying a pair of shorts for your husband. He doesn’t like them, but by the time you return them, you’ve misplaced the receipt. The store policy is no returns without receipts. Ouch.

6. Eating Out
How is eating out related to disorganization? It’s not necessarily. But, if you find yourself eating out more than you would like because you don’t have any groceries in the house, have no meal plan, or forget your lunch, that’s money out of your pocket on a huge scale.

7. Hiring Out
You are not an expert at all things and often it makes sense to hire someone to complete tasks that need done around the house or office. But, if you hire someone to complete a task that you could easily do yourself, you’re wasting your hard-earned cash. Create a plan, find your tools, clear a space, and get to work!

8. Tax Deductions
Are you missing out on deductions because you can’t find the medical bill, restaurant receipt, or donation documentation? Missing out on deductions is the same as handing the government cash.

9. Storage Unit Fees
This is a harsh truth, if you own a home there is rarely a valid need for a storage unit. You may have needed one at some point, but what often happens is that the autopay keeps you from really thinking about all of the money you are putting towards storing your stuff–stuff that you probably don’t need or that isn’t worth the cost of storing. Think about this example: You have an $800 set of couches in storage. You leave them there for two years at a monthly rate of $60 (lower than the $83 national average). You’ve now paid $1440 to store those couches.

10. Rebates
We know, paperwork. Yuck! But a few minutes of filling out a rebate form could net you $10 or $20. Say it takes you even 15 minutes for a $15 rebate then you’re looking at an hourly rate of $60. That rational makes it seem like a bit of effort. That is, if you tackle it right away. Otherwise, it goes into the growing paper pile where it either passes the submission date or the receipts and UPC code run off together never to be seen again–along with your rebate money.

11. Productivity
Time is money. This is an obvious truth for anyone who works. If you are late to an hourly job because you couldn’t find your parking pass, or keys, or purse, or umbrella, or shoe, you’re losing money. If you own the company, every hour even one employee spends searching for papers is an hour you paid for wasted time. Multiply that by the number of employees you have and you’ll be bleeding inefficiency across the balance sheet. With structure and processes in place, however, productivity can skyrocket right alongside your profits.

Perpetual, or even minor disorganization can cost you big! That’s why it is worth the investment to have a professional help you streamline that paperwork, reign in the shoes, organize the garage, and create time-efficient habits to get you out the door quicker and into the fun parts of your life sans frustration!