The Cost of Clutter

by Jill Cooper


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People everywhere are trying to come up with new and better solutions to solve their weight and debt problems, but not many of their ideas are working. It's because they are focusing on the wrong problem.

For some of us, instead of focusing on getting out of debt or losing weight, we need to first give more serious thought to becoming organized. Does that sound crazy, almost laughable? Before you start laughing too hard, look at these examples and see if you can relate.

How often do you go out to eat because your kitchen is a mess? If your kitchen is clean, chances are that you would not only be more willing to fix dinner at home, but in the morning, you would fix breakfast and pack yourself a lunch as well.

Here are some benefits of getting your kitchen organized:

  • You'll save $6 to $12 for every meal you prepare at home.

  • When you are organized you know what you have in your pantry, so you don't buy ingredients that you already have and you don't throw out food you forgot you have.

  • You would be using your leftovers instead of tossing them.

  • You will start losing weight because you are preparing regular well-balanced meals instead of eating fast food all the time.

Organizing can reduce your wardrobe and laundry costs.

  • Do you keep buying more clothes because you are gaining weight from fast food or from the stress of your clutter?

  • How big is your wardrobe? Do you keep buying jeans at $60 a pop because you don't keep up with the laundry or because your closet is so stuffed you can't find anything?

  • How often do you toss a suit jacket on the floor or on the furniture and then later have to have it dry cleaned because it's wrinkled? Just think what you could save on your dry cleaning bill if you keep a little more organized.

Try something different!

  • Would spending your vacation organizing things and deep cleaning give you enough of a jump start to help keep things organized? Maybe once you organized everything you could consider hiring someone to clean your house once a week. Before you say you can't afford it, think about this. Which would cost less? Paying someone $50 a week to clean your house or paying for all the things that cost you money because you are not organized?

  • Consider whether it would be worth one spouse working part time instead of full time.

  • Try one simple thing like hanging up your clothes so you don't have dry cleaning expense or getting the whole family to pitch in with cleaning the kitchen at the end of each meal.

Maybe you do have the time, but you just don't know how to get organized. If that is the case, then learn. Check out books at the library or search for help on the Internet. Better yet, find someone you know who is organized and ask them to teach you. Don't be embarrassed to do this. Most people are more than willing to show you how to do things. Remember, those older women (and men) that seem to have it all together now didn't start out that way. They've had 20 years or more practice and they remember what it was like to not have a clue where to start. Just ask.

Instead of wasting your time and energy on trying to bail the water out of your sinking boat by bailing faster or using a bigger bucket, fix the hole. Clean up the clutter and save.


Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the editors of LivingOnADime.com. As a single mother of two, Jill Cooper started her own business without any capital and paid off $35,000 debt in 5 years on $1,000 a month income. Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 debt in 5 years on $22,000 a year income.

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