Why Clutter is Bad for Your Bottom Line

Why Clutter is Bad for Your Bottom Line

The following post is from Christina of Northern Cheapskate:

Cluttered basement
photo credit: comedy_nose

When you are frugal, you tend to save a lot of odds and ends.  You save old tattered clothing (It could be used for rags!).  You save old nuts, bolts and screws (You never know when you’ll need them!).  You save cardboard boxes (You may want to build a fort with the kids!).  You stock pile dozens of toiletries because they were free or cheap with coupons (You can’t miss a good sale!).

It’s good to save these things.  It saves you money and it keeps things out of landfills.

But if you’re not careful, all that saving can actually end up costing you money.

These small items can add up to clutter.  Clutter is the enemy of the frugal.

Clutter makes you forget what you have.

There’s nothing worse than digging through the back of your pantry and discovering some great food…. about 3 years past its expiration date.  When you forget to use up those items, it costs you money.

Clutter makes you unable to find what you have.

You’ll waste a lot of time and energy searching through cupboards and closets when the clutter has started take over.   This winter, I missed out on an opportunity to go skating with my kids because I simply couldn’t find my ice skates anywhere.  I eventually found them, but not before skating season was over.

Clutter encourages you to spend money.

Rather than dealing with the mess, or spending a lot of time to find what you’re looking for,  you just go out to the store and buy what you need.  Don’t believe me?  Then why did my grandmother have 32 pairs of scissors?

Clutter can also drive you to spend money by enticing you into home organization purchases.  We get so desperate to get our clutter under control that we rush out to the store to buy bins, baskets, and organizers. Purging clutter and using what you already have will save you money.  Throwing good money after bad will not.

Save things without losing them to clutter.

Keep a running inventory.  I often stockpile clothing for my three boys that I find at garage sales or end-of-season clearance sales.  I have a list of the items I have in a notebook, and I keep a list of the items we still need on my smartphone.  This ensures that I don’t buy things we don’t need.  It also means I won’t have to rush to the store to pay full price for something.   Keeping an inventory can help you stay organized with grocery shopping and menu plans, too.

Reduce the footprint of your stuff.  Limit your stockpiling to one shelf or cupboard.  When it’s full, don’t buy more.  Donate any surplus.  Save on precious space by removing items from their packaging.   Have a garage sale and get rid of items.

Ask yourself some tough questions.  Will you use the item in the next year?  Is it something that could be borrowed?  Or is it expensive to replace? Be careful not save things because someday maybe you’ll have a use for them.  Keep them only because you are 100% certain you will use them in the near future and to purchase them again would be cost-prohibitive.  You’ll find that by asking yourself some tough questions about why you’re saving something, you’ll be able to let a lot of stuff go.

Organize on the cheap.  Get organized with things you already have around the house:  Mason jars, old baby wipes containers, coffee cans, and old cereal boxes can all be dressed up and used to organize your items.  Store items in old luggage or under your bed.

It’s okay to save those little odds and ends for future projects when you do it intentionally.  Control the clutter, and you’ll have better control over your finances, too.

Has clutter made it hard for you to save money?  How did you get organized?

Christina Brown is the creator of Northern Cheapskate, a blog dedicated to frugal living through coupons, freebies, and money-saving ideas.  She lives in the rural north woods of Minnesota where she clips coupons, pinches pennies, and chases her three boys (a 6-year-old and twin 4-year olds) as a stay-at-home mom.
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