Seven Reasons Why Clutter is Costing Me Money

This week, I’m on a mission to clear out the unpacked boxes and excess stuff in my house.  I’m not a good unpacker, and I don’t enjoy it, so I need some way to keep myself going.  I’m not talking about organizing (oh, how I love to organize!) but rather removing the stuff that doesn’t need to be here in hopes of being able to manage the things that remain.  Hopefully the following list of the reasons why clutter is costing me money will help give me the drive to declutter my home!

  1. Being disorganized can cause you to lose money.  How?  First, the obvious.  Have you ever found money in the pockets of your clothing?  Did you know that it was missing?  It happens to me regularly, I’m sorry to admit.  I can be careless with my actual cash, and I can be careless with checks, too.  I recently found a refund check (from our old cable company) in with a pile of newspapers that I was taking out to the recycling bin.  I thought that I’d already deposited that check.  I’m lucky that it didn’t get thrown out – I would have lost that money and never even known it!  Second, having too much paper makes it easier to misplace bills.  That can result in those nasty late fees or other charges.  (Not to mention what you could do to your credit report!)  Starting today, I’m going back to the system I used when I was younger:  one medium sized basket for everything important that has to do with money.  Checkbooks, checks to be deposited, and bills will all live in this basket, and no where else.
  2. When your home is a mess, you don’t want to be there.  It is so easy to escape the boxes by taking the kids out to lunch, or going grocery shopping, or seeing a movie.  All these things cost money.  I know from experience that when my home is pleasant, all I want to do is stay home.  Clearing out the junk makes home an inviting place, and staying home saves money.
  3. Not being able to find stuff causes you to spend money.  Have you ever bought something because you couldn’t find the one you already had?  I do it every time we move.  Would you notice if your best wedding/funeral suit wasn’t in your closet?  Not if it is crammed full of stuff and you can’t see anything.
  4. Having too much stuff takes up your time, and time spent dealing with stuff is expensive.  I can think of a number of ways that time can cost money:  If you have to buy prepared foods for dinner because you didn’t have time to make something from scratch, if you have to hire a cleaning service because you have too much stuff to keep it clean yourself, if you can’t find your car keys and are late picking up your kids at daycare.  If you need to take a couple of hours off work to figure out how to file a health insurance claim, then you’ve lost straight income.  Less stuff = a more workable system = lower costs.
  5. Too much stuff makes you lose financial opportunities.  For example, have you ever tried to return something but you couldn’t find the receipt?  Or it has been sitting on your closet floor for so long that you couldn’t return it anymore?  What about rebates – have you ever not been able to send in a rebate because you couldn’t find the right form?
  6. An over-full and chaotic house is stressful, and stress is expensive.  Stress can make you sick, make you angry, heck, stress can even kill you.
  7. Space costs money.  Ever rented a storage unit?  I have, and I hope to never do it again.  What a waste of money.  I admit, there are unique situations where a storage unit is a good idea.  Deploying and giving up your apartment?  By all means, get a storage unit.  Removing half your furniture to make your house look spacious while it is for sale?  Great idea.  However, if you are using it to store regular old stuff because you don’t have room at home, then it needs to go.  (Both the stuff and the storage unit.)  The same thing goes for your house.  Do you have a bigger house than you need because you have to have a basement or garage for all your things?  Do you have rooms that are unused except for storage?  Think long and hard about how much that space is costing.  Clearing out the clutter will allow you to enjoy the space you have, and possibly even live comfortably in less space than you thought necessary.

Lest you think I’m suggesting that you put all your things into neatly labeled plastic tubs:  I’m not.  I don’t care if the important things are in piles on the floor.  What I’m suggesting is that you get rid of everything that isn’t important.  I promise (truly) that you will improve your financial situation at the same time.

photo by:  Rob!

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • #2, 3, and 4 are especially appropriate for me. You made me laugh (at myself), then I became sad at my clutter.
    Thanks for the great post! :)