“This year, I’m going to get organized.”
That’s a frequent refrain heard around the New Year. But what exactly does “getting organized” mean? And can it really save you time and money?
I think so. I consider myself a fairly organized person, but because I move around so much, I often misplace paperwork and forget when bills are due.
(And, without fail, I lose my keys in my purse every single day. If I somehow managed to get on top of that, I don’t even want to think about all the free time I’d have.)
To inspire myself to get more organized this year, I decided to see if it could save me money; after all, there’s nothing like cold, hard cash as motivation.
So can getting organized save you money? Yes — in lots of ways, it turns out.
1. You Won’t Pay Late Fees
Whether they’re for paying a bill late or overdrafting your checking account, it hurts to pay them because they’re totally unnecessary. Not to mention, paying your credit card bill late can also lower your credit score.
When you’re organized, you know which bills are due when, and you don’t have to worry about fees.
To help you get on track, you can put your bills on auto-pay, set reminders in your calendar — or like me, use Mint, which monitors your bank accounts and credit cards, and even reminds you when your bills are coming up.
2. You Plan Your Meals
Though I’ve never been organized enough to do it, I’ve heard rumors that meal planning saves a bunch of money.
First off, you don’t have to run to an expensive restaurant or fast-food joint at the last minute, because you already have the groceries you need to cook a healthy meal at home.
Lastly, cooking at home is healthier than eating out — which, in the long run, could mean fewer medical bills and prescriptions.
3. You Get Rid of Old Stuff
Since clutter drives me insane, I love the freeing feeling that comes from getting rid of old and unnecessary items. This strategy could actually help you earn money if you decide to sell your stuff on eBay or at a garage sale.
Plus, the peace of mind you’ll get from being clutter-free will probably lower your stress, which could reduce unhealthy and expensive habits like impulse shopping and binge eating.
4. You Shop Ahead of Time
The “last-minute tax” is one of the costliest consequences of disorganization. Whether it’s paying for two-day shipping on your nephew’s birthday present, or rush processing for your new passport, procrastinating costs money.
Spending some time each month looking at your calendar and noting the important dates and purchases coming up will help you save money. You’ll be able to make smarter purchase decisions because you’ll have time to compare prices and stack deals.
5. You Can Find Receipts
Tell me if this sounds familiar: You decide you want to return something, but then, for the life of you, can’t find the receipt. I’m not the only one, right?
If you keep your receipts organized — in an accordion folder, envelopes or with an app like Shoeboxed — it’s easy to find a receipt when you need it.
That not only helps with returns, but is also good for keeping tax records, making warranty claims, checking credit card statements and even getting cash back with Ibotta.
6. You Don’t Purchase Duplicates
There was a time in my life when I had three containers of paprika. THREE.
Not because I really love paprika (which I do), but because I couldn’t ever find it when I needed it. So I’d buy a new jar, and then a few weeks later, the other one(s) would surface.
When you’re organized, you know what you have and what you don’t. Which means fewer clothes that look identical… and fewer superfluous jars of paprika.
7. You Reduce Your Risk of Identity Theft
Identity theft is a huge headache. Plus, from time spent submitting paperwork and talking on the phone to dinged credit reports and bounced checks, its costs can quickly add up.
If you regularly check your bills and credit report, it’s easier to spot fraudulent charges, and hopefully stop identity theft before it’s too late.
8. You Have More Time to Make Money on the Side
Once you’re organized and get some extra time on your hands, you might be interested in starting a side gig! It will help you earn money, usually from your own home and on your own schedule. I, for example, started writing as a side job, and now I write full time.
So, what do you think? Are you going to get organized?
The thought of some extra change in my pocket has certainly motivated me to focus on organization this upcoming year… Hope it did the same for you!
Your Turn: Is getting organized on your list of new year’s goals?
Disclosure: This one time, Kyle came into the office with $6 worth of Taco Bell that he planned to eat over the course of three meals. By clicking the affiliate links in this post, you help us help Kyle seriously ease up on the Taco Bell.
Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.