Finances: The True Cost of Being Chronically Disorganized
According to the Institute of Challenging Disorganization, people who experience chronic disorganization may experience these common characteristics over a long period of time (1):
Have a hard time letting things go
Get distracted easily
Keep a large number of papers, items, and other things that aren't seen as a need or used for pleasure.
Live in a cluttered space
Are unable to quickly find their things
Some believe that saving everything will save them money in the future. Because someday down the line, they will need it, and they’d have it already.
But that's not true. By saving EVERYTHING, it can result in you spending even more money than you "saved" in the first place.
Being chronically disorganized can lead to many financial problems. It can begin with small things, from buying duplicate items to replace lost ones to missing payments. If the habits continue, it can lead to filing for bankruptcy.
Before you file for bankruptcy, it may be time to rethink your finances and look at the ways you may be overspending.
8 Ways You May Be Overspending Due to Disorganization
1. Buying Things Over and Over Again Because You Cannot Find It
Books, glasses, magazines, and scissors are hidden somewhere. You have them, but you just can't find them. Instead of going through the hassle of trying to look for it, you go out and buy another one.
It is easier, but those constant repurchases add up. Now you can have 10 pairs of glasses in your home but no clue where they are. Also, these seemingly small repurchases can accumulate to more clutter into your space.
2. Buying Things On Sale
10% off. 50% off! BOGO.
Sales seem like they are too good to be true. Buy one shirt and get one free? Sign me up!
That is how businesses push you to buy more than you need. If the item wasn't on sale, would you like it or even noticed it?
Sales always come back around. It is a marketing technique that is used to push consumers to buy more and spend more money.
If you didn't want it in the first place, don't get enticed just because there is a SALE sign on it. Buy what you need and let the sales go.
If the item was 50% off, you still pay the other 50%. If you don't buy it, you save 100%.
3. Storage Units
Your home is beginning to bust out of the walls.
As you buy more things, it is natural to need more space to store and house those items. Your things move from one room to another and eventually fills up your home. Then you find yourself using your garage too.
After realizing you have too much stuff in the house, you get a storage unit.
You have spent your hard-earned money on your items already, and you don't want to toss it out. From your memorabilia to things you have purchased on sale, you package them up and put them in a storage unit.
Storage units range from $100-$1200 or more per month depending on the size. If you have a storage unit for a year, it can cost up to $14,000. I had clients who owned multiple storage units. Other clients didn’t remember how long they had had their storage units. From 5, 10, to 15 years, the prices of storage units can add up to $70,000 for 5 years, $140,000 in 10 years, and $280,000 in just 15 years.
Storing things you don't need or use comes with a huge cost. In fact, these costs have led self-storage units to become a $38 billion industry. About 1 in 11 Americans pay to put their excess things behind a metal door. (2)
Instead of funding a billion-dollar industry, it might be time to pay yourself first.
You may say, “Well, Jen, I have valuable things in my unit, and I can't give them away.”
When was the last time you looked in your storage unit? Do you remember what’s in there?
The cost of storing the items may cost you more in the long run. If you have a valuable or sentimental item, keep it close to you at home instead.
4. Moving Costs
Moving is expensive. Depending on how far you move and how much you own, it can get pricier. Most moving services charge you based on how much space you take in the truck. The more room in the truck you take means you spend more money.
These prices don't include extra fees such as packing materials, assembling or disassembling furniture, or even moving specialty items that need extra care.
You can use less space by reducing and paring down on the items that you no longer want or need. By doing so, you can get a fresh start in your new home and save money on moving costs.
5. Hidden Maintenance Costs
When you buy an item, there are also hidden maintenance costs. Whether it may be taking time to wash, fold, and store clothes or paying for oil changes for your car. Every item you purchase requires maintenance and sometimes money.
One of my clients had 2 cars, one of which had not been driven in ten years. She spent the money to have it towed to a mechanic, then fixed it up. The money she spent on the car she no longer used could've funded her granddaughters' education, but she didn't think of that. But, she DID finally donate the car.
If she kept both cars, she could have continued paying car insurance, DMV fees, and more. Getting the car fixed, towed, and DMV fees were extra maintenance fees that she did not have to take if she allowed herself to let the car go the years before.
Take a look around your home and think of some of the hidden maintenance fees you have spent once you bought it. If you don't think the maintenance required is worth it, it may be time to let it go.
6. Overspending on Food
Overbuying food is pretty common due to creative supermarket sales techniques. This also means you could be overspending and creating food waste.
Instead of buying large amounts of food for the month or two, buy one or two weeks' worth of produce. By going to the market more frequently, you can get the freshest produce and have time to finish it before it goes bad.
Once the food expires, you'd have to toss it out and repurchase anyways.
Markets will always open, and you can go back anytime you need to buy things you need later.
Buy what you like to eat and buy enough for the week. Don't be tempted by deals for foods that you don't like.
7. Late payments and bills
Credit card companies love when you miss a payment because you will have to pay them even more. Once you miss a payment, they will start charging interest. The late fees and interest fees begin to add up quickly, and suddenly you are in major debt. Not only that, but it also damages your credit score.
Paperwork and finances can be overwhelming, but it is important to create a system that allows you to pay on time and avoid unnecessary fees.
If you are overwhelmed with the amount of paper you have in your home, consider paying your bills online.
8. Lack of Space
Chronic disorganization can be costing you more than money. It can cost you your dreams, mental health, and physical health. You may be neglecting everything else while trying to take care of all your items.
One client wanted to save money to travel more, but her actions didn't match her dreams. She had over 500 shirts (her son counted), yet she still bought more and stored them.
Being chronically disorganized can also damage your physical health. It gets difficult to take care of everything when there is so much. As a result, your things can accumulate large amounts of dust, mold, and even rats if stored improperly.
Being chronically disorganized right now doesn’t mean you will be in the future. It is up to you to decide to do something about it. Getting started may be hard, but the first step is most important. You can use the following tips to kickstart your journey.
3 Money-Saving Tips for Those Who Are Disorganized
1. Plan Before Going to Grocery Store
Create a grocery list of what you want/need before you go to the supermarket.
Stick to the list. Deals can be enticing, but if it's not on the list. Skip it!
Eat before you head to the grocery store to prevent impulse buying.
2. Make Payments Online
Making payments online can help you reduce paper clutter, stay organized, and save money.
If you're concerned about the safety of online payments, don't be. Companies and banks don’t want to lose their money either. So they use encryption and other methods to keep your personal information safe. (3)
While there are concerns of "hacking", sending a physical check also has its threats. The checks may not be delivered on time and cause late fees, or a thief can steal your credit card or bank account information.
Both have their concerns, but the benefits of online payments far outweigh them.
Online payments are fast and easy to set up. Even the federal and state governments use online bill-paying services — that's how safe they are.
If you need help in setting up bill pay, I can help.
3. Hire a Professional Organizer
Hiring a professional organizer is a great way to save money. A professional organizer certified in chronic disorganization can provide expertise and guidance to help you develop strategies and systems that work for you.
They also provide an objective third-party point of view while supporting you along your journey to save money, time, and space.
If you would like to start working with a chronic disorganization certified professional organizer, click here to get started.