by Dana George | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on Feb. 11, 2020
Many or all of the products here are from our partners. We may earn a commission from offers on this page. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
Organization is about more than tidying up. It's about finding smart ways to save money.
We've read about the overall benefits of getting organized. It helps us feel more in control, reduces stress, and helps us accomplish more in less time. However, did you know there are financial benefits to tidying up? Here are five ways that getting organized can help us financially:
Tips and tricks from the experts delivered straight to your inbox that could help you save thousands of dollars. Sign up now for free access to our Personal Finance Boot Camp.
By submitting your email address, you consent to us sending you money tips along with products and services that we think might interest you. You can unsubscribe at any time. Please read our Privacy Statement and Terms & Conditions.
Knowing what you have in your closet, pantry, and garage is the best way to prevent yourself from repurchasing things you don't need. Digging through a messy pantry is no fun, but arriving home with a bag of groceries only to find that you already had some of the items you bought is frustrating. It's also expensive. Americans throw out $165 billion in food each year, with the average family tossing 250 pounds worth, or one-third of all food purchases. If we spend an average of $200 per week on groceries, that means we may be throwing away as much as $67 a week, or $3,484 per year.
We might not be in a position to do anything about how much restaurants or corporations throw out, but we can control our own food waste. The first step is knowing what we have before we shop. That means organizing shelves, pantries, and the refrigerator before we head to the grocery store. But it’s not limited to food -- taking inventory of what we have in our closet prior to shopping for clothes can help us save money, too.
People who pay their bills on time have the highest credit scores and are offered the most attractive interest rates on credit cards and consumer loans. And here's where being organized comes in: The better organized we are, the less likely we are to allow a bill to fall through the cracks and the less likely we are to be late on a payment.
Have a monthly budget that you can check daily, just to be sure that nothing is due. Keep all of your bills in one place (or in one folder on your computer). As you pay a bill, check it off your list. Create a designated bill-paying area -- even if it's just a small desk in a guest bedroom -- and keep everything in one spot.
Do you have a system for organizing those coupons that come in the mail or newspaper? What about online coupons or specials? Buying something you don't need simply because it's on sale is a waste of money, but snagging a great price on something you can use will put extra money in your pocket -- funds you can save or invest.
Keep your paper coupons in one place and create an online file to organize virtual coupons. Or organize your paper coupons with the SnipSnap app. All you do is snap a picture of a coupon with your smartphone and the app stores it for you. It also stores the expiration date and sends reminders. Another app -- called Shopkick -- offers exclusive deals for chain stores like Macy's, Target, and Best Buy.
If your basement, garage, or storage unit looks like it's been hit by a category 5 hurricane, that mess may be hiding cash. Dedicate two hours at a stretch to organizing. Use that time to listen to your favorite music or podcast (you might as well have fun while accomplishing the task). Set anything still in good shape aside and either have a garage sale or list it for sale on a neighborhood board. If it's hard for you to let go, keep three things in mind:
If you're not interested in selling items, donate anything useful to charity. You'll feel good about giving and scoring a tax deduction all in one fell swoop.
Sometime around 200 AD, the Greek writer Diogenes Laertius recorded these words: "Time is the most valuable thing that a man can spend." Each moment we spend digging through a drawer for a pen or scouring our computer for a file is a moment of our lives we can't get back.
Whether we are moderately organized or not at all organized, most of us understand the frustration of not being able to find what we need when we need it. The price we pay is time, and time is money. In this way, being disorganized can be an expensive long-term problem.
Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. The Ascent's picks of the best online savings accounts can earn you more than 8x the national average savings account rate.
We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.