If you’re like most parents, you have this vision of a clean living room, organized family calendar, freshly laundered school clothes, and a kitchen table that spends most of its hours free of clutter…but the realities of parenting get in the way. Kids don’t just fail to help you keep things in order. It actually feels like they’re actively sabotaging your efforts. It’s easy to just “let things slide” until guests require a sudden flurry of cleanup and organization.
For parents happy in that space, we say, “no worries.” Home organization is low on the priority list for happy kids and successful parenting. But if you’d like a more organized home and life, there are few better motivators than making or saving extra money. Disorganization costs cold, hard cash every week, and can add up to more than you think over the course of a year. We’ve checked with experts to identify the seven best places you can get paid to get your home and time in order.
Getting Organized Now Will Save You Money All Year
Avoiding Fees and Interest
Late fees and overdraft fees can add hundreds of dollars to your expenses every month, and they happen because you forget to check balances or you make a payment a couple of days late. Organizing your family finances and calendar with weekly check-ins and forecasting can mean never paying those fees again.
Interest works in much the same way. Most credit cards have a “grace” period where you pay no interest if you pay off a purchase within a set time period. That same weekly check-in will help you make sure you do that.
This also saves time, since a weekly financial session means you don’t have to keep checking your banking app every time you need to make a purchase. You’ll know what you need to know, because you confirmed things all at once, at the most convenient time.
If you struggle to hold yourself to a schedule and often forget to tackle your financial responsibilities, consider making use of the many apps that exist nowadays to help with that. BillMinder is one such option for iOS users. You can also check out Trim or Charlie if you use Facebook.
A Lower Grocery Bill
If there’s one thing on this list that will make the biggest difference in your immediate finances, it’s organizing your menu. Planning your menu for the week or the month lowers your grocery bill in a variety of ways:
- Shopping with a list reduces impulse buying
- Knowing what you’ll eat ahead of time lets you buy in bulk
- You can plan your menu according to seasonal sales and deals
- No more wasting gas on extra trips to the store for ingredients you forgot
The process also reduces mealtime stress because you’ll always know what’s for dinner on a given night. No more scrambling through the fridge and pantry figuring out what you can put together. It’s a big win.
If food shopping feels like too much of hassle for you and meal planning (or even prepping ahead of time) a nightmare, why not look into some of the meal delivery boxes that now exist? There’s something for everyone, and even if the price is higher, it typically pays off by saving you money in the long-term—you’re no longer buying things that are either unhealthy or that end up in your trash.
Less Kitchen Waste
As we alluded to it in #2 above, we could have just made it a small P.S. at the end, but it’s too important it so deserves its own listing. Organizing your menu saves money in many ways, but organizing your kitchen offers savings in two other ways.
- You use your leftovers. If you regularly clean your fridge, that science experiment in the Tupperware never has time to evolve. You see it, remember it, and either eat it as-is or turn it into ingredients for another meal. Similarly, organizing the pantry means you don’t forget ingredients and items until after their expiration date.
- You don’t buy too much food. A cluttered pantry and fridge can lose your ingredients in the mess. You’ll go to the store thinking you’re out of black beans, only to find three cans when you put the groceries away. It’s even worse with perishable items like milk and produce, which will expire simply because you have too much of them.
This says nothing of the time you save by not hunting for ingredients each and every meal time, knowing it’s “in here somewhere.” Creating a system for your grocery storage and sticking to it is a winning move for many reasons.
Not Replacing Items
What we said above about not overbuying food also applies to pretty much everything else in your home. If you need a screwdriver but can’t find the one you know you have, that’s a trip to Home Depot with all the expenses involved. If you can’t find your giftwrap, you have to buy some for every birthday and holiday where presents are involved. From small items to big-ticket buys, this can add up to a shocking amount of unnecessary money spent every year.
By organizing your space, finding a place for everything and keeping everything in that place, you know where all of your stuff is. That means never replacing anything that’s not broken, and spending that money on other things. As with all the other items on this list, it also saves you time because you’re not constantly hunting around for equipment you need.
Saving Big on Gifts and Decorations
If you wait until the last minute to buy holiday gifts and decorations, you’ll be buying at a premium. Holiday decor always costs the most in the weeks before the big day, and rushing to buy gifts never leaves time to hunt for deals (or even for a more meaningful gift that costs a little less).
This piece of organization takes just a couple of active hours once a year, and pays off every month. Make a list of the holidays you want to celebrate, and the people you need to buy gifts for in the coming year. Buy decorations in the weeks after the holiday, and keep them stored safely for the next season. You can save as much as 90% of the usual cost with this tactic alone. For your gifts, make a list of what you’ll likely purchase and keep an eye out for the best deal throughout the year. Bonus points for taking advantage of seasonal savings while you do it.
Paying Less In Taxes
Having your finances organized at tax time means paying your accountant less, but “that’s not all!” It also means taking advantage of more deductions because you have the reminders and the proof on hand to take them. To get really advanced, you can start the year with a list of tax deductions you want to take, and make decisions to make them happen.
On the other side of the equation, decluttering your home will identify a host of things you can donate to your favorite local charities. That adds up to a significant deduction by the end of the year.
Finally, having your finances in order can be a lifesaver during an audit. Those meetings base their decision on what you can prove. If your papers aren’t in order, the proof won’t be there. You’ll end up paying more than your fair share in taxes.
Reducing Repair Costs
If your house is cluttered, you may not notice small damage to your home that will someday become a very costly and major repair. If you haven’t organized your time or created a schedule, you may forget to get routine maintenance on your car until it’s time to fix that “check engine” light. If you don’t have extra hours to hit the gym, the resulting health problems can be crushingly expensive.
Whether it’s your home, your body, or your belongings, life requires upkeep and maintenance. If you’re organized, you’ll be able to see to that maintenance in a timely and cost-effective way. If not, you’re playing catch-up and paying premiums for emergency repairs on things you could have stopped with less time, money, and inconvenience much earlier.
Don’t try to adopt all eight of these at once. Your home isn’t organized now because it takes time you don’t have. Instead, try a variation of the “debt snowball” technique to get your home in order.
- Step One: Choose one item on the list and do it for a month.
- Step Two: Notice that it saves you not just money, but time.
- Step Three: Use some of that saved money and time to take on a second item from the list.
- Step Four: Your extra time and money is even bigger.
- Step Five: Repeat until you’ve tackled all eight items on your list.
None of this will happen overnight, some of it will be hard, and lots of it will ebb and flow with varying degrees of success until it’s become an ingrained habit. But it’s worth the effort to make changes to your home, your time, and your finances that make your whole family’s experience better.
Janet Penn is a working single mother who learned the importance of being organized the hard way—her son hurt himself after tripping over a part of the floor that had come undone without her noticing. Janet often tells friends, family, and her audience to “do better than I did, and make money while you’re at it.”