There is no doubt about it. Being disorganised costs you a lot of money. There are whole industries which would crumble if everyone was to actually get their act together and have some sort of order in their lives. Of course, none of us have order all the time and if you are anything like me you have times of being highly organised and then backslide into total chaos. My theory is that you have to have the occasional backslide into total chaos so that you can climb out of it and appreciate how good it feels when you are organised. A bit like joy – you have to experience the lows so you can recognise and appreciate the highs.
If your life is fast paced and chaotic and you have children, you will know what I mean when I say that being disorganised costs you money. In fact it will often cost you in other ways as well. Here is an example.
It’s 6pm. You’re on your way home from children’s after school sports and you have nothing organised for dinner. You remember the ad for some fried chicken in a bucket which tells you to buy it because it’s quick and easy and the family will love you for it. ( even though your arteries and your wallet won’t!) You call in and pay an amount which you know is the equivalent of about 5 meals made at home. The ad was right , the family does love it and there’s no washing up. ( actually the family loves it until about 40 minutes later when Dad has a gall bladder attack, the kids are ‘hypo’ and you’re left feeling grossed out and heavy)
There are many other ways that being disorganised costs you money, apart from eating unplanned takeaway meals. How many times have you lost something and bought another one, only to find the original one a few days later? Have you had to purchase something because you need it straight away and you know you cant’ wait until the next sale? Have you gone somewhere with the kids and spent a lot of money just on drinks and snacks because you didn’t have anything with you for everyone to snack on.
Here are my thoughts to alleviate the problem.
1. Schedule based Menu Planning: If you know that you are home late on Tuesday nights, have meals that are quick and easy to prepare scheduled for that night. You could also make a double batch of something on Monday night knowing that you will have left overs ready to heat up for Tuesday nights.
2. Start your Evening Meal in the Morning: Take 10 minutes out of your morning to cut up vegies ready for a stir fry that you can just ‘throw together’ when you walk through the door. If you are really organised you could even have the chicken or meat marinating in the fridge.
3. Always take snacks and drinks with you. This is important especially if you have children that seem to need ‘refuelling’ all the time. It takes very little time to pack some drink bottles, some fruit and some home baked goodies. It is extremely expensive to go to the cafe near a park and buy everyone a drink and a snack.
4. Have a ‘gift cupboard’. Buy things when you see them on sale for Christmas and Birthday presents. In the back of my diary I have a list of who I buy presents for. Throughout the year I scribble down ideas that come to me about what I would like to buy or make for people on my list. If I see an item or the makings of an item that are on sale or a good price I will buy it and put it away in the ‘gift cupboard’.
5. Pay Your Bills on Time: a lot of service providers now have a late payment fee if payments are not received on time. Our system for bill paying is very simple. When a bill comes in we write it on the calendar and clip it to the “bills to pay” clipboard that hangs on the wall in the office. On my ‘office day’ I look at the bills that are due that week and pay them. The money is in our bills account because we total up the years bills and divide the amount by 52 and put that aside each week throughout the year.
6. Group Your Errands: Save petrol by making less trips to town. Have a list of things that need to be done or purchased while you are in town. Running back to the shop for one or two things you have forgotten is a costly exercise.
7. Avoid The Supermarket: If you go to a major supermarket for your shopping try and go there less. Every time you go in ‘just to grab a couple of things’ you will come out with more than what you went in for. Why is milk at the back of the store and bread at the other end ? It is to seduce you as you walk around. If you are currently a ‘drop in’ shopper try to menu plan and shop once a week. If you are a weekly shopper try to move to once a fortnight. If you are a fortnightly shopper – can you be a ‘super planner’ and only go there once a month ? This is my aim. A once a month supermarket trip and the rest from fruit and veg suppliers, farmers markets and the local fish co-op.
8. Return your hired DVDs on time. We hired some DVDs for our sons sleep over last month. When I went to pay the lady she said “ you really should go and get one more because these will cost you $13, but if you go and get another one you will get them for $9 because of the deal we have”. I reluctantly went and got another movie. National Treasure 2 for the grown ups to watch . I say reluctantly because we had already been in the shop for 40 minute while we persuaded five 10 year olds to agree on movies that we deemed suitable. The slumber party passed, the grown ups didn’t get a chance to watch the movie and kept it for the next night to watch, which didn’t come off either. By the time I took the DVD back I had to pay $5 for the late fee for a movie that we didn’t watch and didn’t want! LOL. ( .... and we still haven’t seen National Treasure 2!)
9. File your Warranty paperwork When your kettle stops working, can you remember whether it had a one or two year warranty? In our ‘throw away’ society we seems to replace these appliances all the time. A couple of times now we have had items like toasters and kettle replaced for free because we still had the warranty card which guarantees the product for 12 months or two years and didn’t quite make it over the line.
10. Know you tax deductible Items. Do you have a good working knowledge of what deductions you can make ? There is no point waiting until the end of the financial year to find out that you should have kept receipts for your spending throughout the year. For Australian readers, the tax office has an occupation guide for most jobs that points out the deductions available. Know your list and make a file of receipts and paperwork to maximise your deductions and reduce your taxable income as much as legally possible.
These are only a few tips. I am sure that you will be able to come up with many more. Why not share a lesson you have learnt ? How has disorganisation cost you money? Or what is the best organisational tip that saves you money? By sharing ideas we can all progress in this area.