The older we get, the faster time seems to slip away from us. In our struggles to do more in less time, we sometimes pick up bad habits. We hit the drive-thru instead of planning ahead on busy evenings. We let the mail pile up on the kitchen counter or shove bills in the junk drawer to deal with later. We put off the oil change, skip our annual physical or ignore the funny, squeaky sound coming from the washing machine. These habits can cost us in the long run. And one of the best skills to use to avoid these costs is not-so-surprising…organization.
And organization in finance means more than just knowing when your bills are due and paying them on time, though those are very important. Seemingly unrelated tasks, which require organization can affect your bottom line without your conscious realization.
Would You Like Fries with That?
Junior has baseball practice every Wednesday at 6:00, but you don’t get home until 5:00. This leaves very little time for preparing a meal, eating, and driving to practice on time. So, the logical thing to do is grab dinner from a drive-thru, right? Eh, that’s the easiest thing to do, but not the healthiest for the waistline or the wallet.
You know this time crunch will come every Wednesday, so spare the excuses. Get organized and plan a meal. Prepare a slow cooker meal before you leave for work or designate it as frozen pizza or leftover night. Even PB&J and an apple will suffice in a pinch—it’s far better than greasy fast food!
Do You Have Your Receipt, Mam?
Uh, yeah, it’s in this bottomless pit of a purse somewhere. Just give me a second!
Hanging on to receipts and keeping them organized some place specific can save you money, sometimes when you least expect it. Just because you really love an item and don’t think you’ll want to return it, doesn’t mean you should toss the receipt. You never know when or why you may need to return something.
I have one small drawer in my kitchen where all—and I do mean all—of my receipts go. Yeah, even grocery store receipts. I’ve had to return spaghetti sauce because the safety seal was popped unbeknownst to me. And I recently returned a 12-pack of soda because once I got it home, I found the stock person had slashed the back of the box open with a blade resulting in dried, sticky soda all over the inside—with only 11 drinkable cans left.
Know each store’s return policy, and plan to keep your receipt for the entire return period. Never know when buyer’s remorse for that unused shiatsu foot massager might creep in—and who really needs hundreds of dollars in Brookstone credit?!
Please Return This Card Within 30 Days of Purchase
How many of us throw out those pesky product registration cards that seem to accompany each and every item nowadays? You’re in good company—I’m guilty too. Then our furnace went down in the home we built just 6 years ago.
Me to HVAC guy: Our house, and subsequently our furnace, is only 6 years old. Isn’t this covered under warranty?
HVAC guy: Only if you mailed in the registration card. Did you send it in?
Me: Um, that would be a big fat no. We built this house. Wouldn’t the builder do it?
HVAC guy: laughs hysterically
Me: mumbles, a simple no would have sufficed…
Long story short, someone did mail in our registration card. Maybe I did it and don’t remember (it was 6 years ago and I have 4 kids—my brain is kinda unreliable now). Maybe the builder actually did mail it though I was informed that’s very rare if that was the case. That repair was hundreds of dollars—we got lucky. I’ll never rely on luck again.
Especially for large items, take the time to mail (or complete online) the product registration card. It could save you tons of money down the road. Or more importantly, in the case of a recall on a child’s car seat, stroller, etc., them being able to contact you could be potentially life saving.
Never Walk Naked!
I’m not sure where I read this phrase before, so I can’t give credit where it’s due (and Googling anything with naked in the search phrase is just opening a can of worms!). But I’ll never forget what it means to “never walk naked.” And it’s definitely not literal, so walk naked around your home all you want—if you’re into that kind of thing!
It means when you leave the room, scan it for anything that doesn’t belong and take it to where it does go if it’s on your way or goes to your destination. It’s a habit I wish my kids would get into, but it’s a practice I adopted some time ago and does keep my home more organized with less effort.
It also keeps things from getting lost…when you “never walk naked” properly.
I received some money in a card as a gift a few years back. I don’t know why, but the card and cash ended up in my bedroom. As I was getting ready for a baby shower late one Sunday morning, I saw it sitting on my dresser and thought, “Never walk naked Amy. Take that cash down to your wallet on your way out the door.” So, I stuck it in the back pocket of my khakis and went downstairs.
Now, like many moms, I suffer from an inability to complete only one task at a time, which often leads to multiple tasks only half done. As I got downstairs, I needed to finish unloading the dishwasher, put away the breakfast remains and start the washing machine. I had contractors working in my home and had to answer questions about how I wanted some chair rail finished. I had to give the husband last-minute instructions on what to feed the kids for lunch and to put the clothes into the dryer when clean.
I finally made my way out the door and drove a few miles to a lovely shower where I enjoyed a buffet brunch and rousing shower games with a bunch of, mostly, strangers. I then immediately drove back home and proceeded to change out of my clothes into my comfortable yoga pants and t-shirt. It was only then, that I realized I forgot to put that money in my wallet.
So, I checked my back pocket and there was nothing. I panicked a little but then figured it must have fallen out when I sat in the car. I was sure it was there so I walked down to the garage and checked the driver’s seat—and nothing. Now my heart was racing. I moved the seat up and back, checked down both sides of the seat, under the mats, on the garage floor, out on the driveway. It was gone. The only other place it could be was the banquet hall. I called them, but of course, no one had turned it in (not that I had expected them to, but it was worth a shot).
I was heartbroken. I had lost $50, which in the long-run is not a ton of money, but it’s a significant amount to lose for the sake of being disorganized. Not to mention, it was a gift. It wasn’t my money to lose, but someone else’s who had not only worked hard for it, but cared enough about me to give it to me.
I learned a valuable lesson that day: always complete the “never naked walk!” Have a place for everything and keep everything in its place. Replacing lost items is an avoidable waste of money.
So, there you have a few ways that organization can save you money. Have any other ways that staying organized helps you save? I would love to hear about them in comments!
About the Author: Amy Davis from Slay Your Budget
My name is Amy Davis and I have been blogging for the past two months at Slay Your Budget, http://slayyourbudget.com.
I am a former therapist, a stay-at-home mom of 4, a Christian and a fan of Billions and Game of Thrones. I made financial freedom a priority after my third daughter required a 53-day NICU stay, 14 surgeries to date, and of course, large medical bills. It’s now my hope to inspire and equip others to do the same.