Ah January, the least favorite month of money. Why you ask? Well, the dazzle, lights, and cheer of Christmas are over. Plus it's the dead of winter, and maybe you ate or spent too much over the holidays and now are speaking to yourself in a condescending manner while grimacing at your friends "picture perfect" posts. So what do you have to look forward to this month? Lot's of free time! It's cold outside, the days are short, so what better time to get your living space back into bliss.Think about how important being tidy is. If you’re not organized, it is going to cost you one way or another. Responsible habits, productive routines, and repeatable systems for the way you run your life will be a substantial boost to your financial well being. If you constantly misplace bills, forget invoice due dates, or lose gift cards, get organized!
1) Time is Money: Simply put, if you’re not organized, you’re going to spend more time searching for things. Keys, bills, passwords, you name it. Time is the finite resource each of us has, so why waste it being frustrated and scurrying around trying to find things all the time? You could be enjoying time with friends, reading, meditating, cooking and whatever else you invest your time in that matters to you. Further, if you’re constantly spending time searching for things, you may be late to work, miss a flight or have to buy your partner in crime an extra special birthday present for being late to their surprise bash. Put things where they belong, make a spreadsheet, automate your bills and develop a system to rid your life of clutter and disorganization. You’ll be surprised how at ease you’ll feel by worrying that much less about things in your life.
2) Gift Cards and Cash can’t be Replaced: Sure, you can call up your credit card company and get the card replaced, usually for free. You can get a new badge for work and ask the library for a new card, as well. What about those things that you can’t get back? A $100 gift card from your aunt or cash given to you by friends after you booked concert tickets for everyone? I shake my head when I see some of my friends scatter cash on their dresser, leave bills in pockets or center consoles, or accidentally put money somewhere and then forget it. Or imagine you lose your driver’s license or passport? Not only is that going to cost you money, it’ll cost you time and sanity going through the process of applying for a new one. And it’ll cost more if it makes you miss a flight! Keeping things like these in a safe or a little box in your closet where you know you keep items of importance will help.
3) Protect Yourself in an Emergency: Let’s say you get into a minor car accident, and whoops--where is the insurance card? Oh I forgot to take pictures! Or maybe an HVAC contractor did faulty work and your heater goes out in the dead of winter. What are you going to do when you call the company and don’t have a copy of the warranty of what work was completed? Are you going to argue with them or just have someone come out right away, so your family doesn’t freeze? In my own experience, I forgot the code to my new bike lock and had to cut it so I could get to an appointment on time. Do yourself a favor and keep important documents in a file on your desk or closet, or better yet, scan in receipts and other documents to Google Drive, a spreadsheet or cloud that you can access on the spot.
4) “Do You have any Proof of That?” In the society we live in today where trust has frayed, the customer is no longer always right and we must have everything documented, it pays to keep tabs on your money. Let’s say you buy a surround sound system online and a month later it stops working. What happened to the receipt? Or you ordered $100 worth of takeout for your book club dinner and they messed up the order, so you had to go buy more food. If you have the receipt, you can get a refund. Apart from receipts, invoices, and warranty information, it’s a good idea to have correspondence via email or a recorded call, as well. If an associate told you they would price match a service, extend an expired discount or waive a fee to gain your business, it will be that much easier to get what you want if you have documented proof of these promises and interactions. 5) Buying Things that You Thought You Lost/Ran Out Of: I’ve done this more times I care to admit before I got serious about organization. Out of berries and avocados? Oops, I just bought more. Now I’ll have to eat more than I intended or toss it. Or what about when you throw a party and buy chicken or specialty desserts and now you have to throw them out because you have no room in your freezer? Even if this applies to non-perishables such as olive oil or body wash, you may be more generous in using it up since you now have an abundance. Maybe you lost your headphones when they were just in your gym bag or figured your watch is long gone, so you buy another one and realize your old watch was in the pocket of your cooler bag. Make a habit of cleaning out bags and pockets every day and deep clean closets, drawers, and other storage areas at least monthly. Always remember the saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”