The Clutter Coach


Organize and Save Money

Cynthia EstesBy Cynthia Estes, Mountain Democrat columnist
Senior Tab - Mountain Democrat - January, 2011
Reprinted with permission of the Mountain Democrat, Placerville, CA

Most of us grew up believing that retirement meant living comfortably without ever having to work again. It’s no wonder that when I tell someone I retired at the age of 58, they give me that “we should all be so lucky” look. I try to explain that this was a 10-years-too-early retirement, driven by the fact that my job was eliminated. Even then, I would have been set for life if I’d had the million dollars that my IRA account was supposed to be worth by now. So I’ve had to find creative ways to help pay my bills. By organizing and de-cluttering, I have saved and even made money, and so can you.

Organize your cupboards
Unless your grown children and their families have moved in with you (and if so, you have my sympathies), how much food, toilet paper and shampoo do you really need to have on hand? It took me awhile to change my mindset from “I should buy a lot to save a lot” to “I can only afford to buy what I need today”.  Now I organize my pantry and cupboards so I can readily see what I have. When I’m running low on something, I start making a list. Dedicated coupon clippers say that most items go on sale every three months, so I know I only need to stock up until then. I love using coupons, but I only cut them out for items that I usually buy.  I don’t always save that much using them at the grocery store because we don’t eat a lot of processed food. But I do save with my local drugstore’s  rewards program. Since the store is close to my house I often shop there first. We fill our prescriptions there because they count toward rewards points. The drugstore has a new sale every week, and before I know it we qualify for 20% off every non-prescription purchase. I also get instant rebates from one to five dollars on many products I use.  This past week, for example, by combining those discounts with their in-ad coupons and those from the newspaper, I spent $81 and saved $95. No, that doesn’t happen every week, and, yes, it does take a lot of preparation, persistence and a very patient cashier. But, it’s worth it in terms of the money and gas I save. Plus I support my local economy.

Make money just by organizing your closet
I know, you’re going to organize your closet next weekend. Want some motivation? How about making money on the clothing you don’t need anymore? Did you know that most people only wear 20 percent of what is in their closet? Are you ready? Take everything out of your closet and only keep the things that you love and that fit you today.  Then check out your local consignment stores where they sell your items for you and give you as much as 40% of the profits. Remember, once you’ve re-organized your closets, you can move on to the rest of your home and make even more money selling items at home consignment stores, craigslist, and ebay. Even If you’d prefer to donate your unused items, remember that you get a tax deduction if you itemize.

Organize your finances
Is your desk a mess of papers, bank statements and receipts? Now is the time to be open-minded to the new technology of Online Banking. Online banking (or Internet banking) allows customers to conduct financial transactions on a secure website. Contact your own financial institution to find out more.” You can try it o without using your personal information, just ask your children or grandchildren (who probably bank online) to help you, or investigate the online tutorial from your bank. You’ll never balance your checkbook again because current balance and activity is available online 24 hours a day. Online Bill Pay has changed my life; I have eliminated writing checks and buying stamps. I can automatically pay my bills each month or manually pay them anytime I want. Worried about someone accessing your account?  Don’t let the unlikely chance of that happening stop you from getting a free service like online banking. Check with your own financial institution to find out their online security policy.

Cynthia Estes is a Professional Organizer, owner of Uncluttered for Life, and a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers. Uncluttered for Life serves clients throughout Western El Dorado County. 

Call (530) 957-2975 for a free 20 minute phone consultation and estimate!