Frugal Organizing

Hello everyone! I am three months post bilateral-total-knee-replacement surgery and finally able to think about something besides dealing with the aftermath. It’s an all-consuming experience. Fortunately, my preparations were solid and effective so the recovery process has been better than would have been the case had I not done a lot of planning beforehand.

And that leads us to our topic. I had promised you Frugal Organizing, but the insights I gained as I worked on my newest workshop, Spending Wisely in Tough Times, have shifted our topic a bit. Being frugal or organized in any sphere means planning.

Before anyone becomes distressed at the idea of having to plan everything, let me assure you that I do not mean a regimented, rigorous form of planning that is wrecked if the to-do list or schedule gets backed up (it will – Murphy’s Laws must be respected J!), but rather an outline that permits going with the flow, provides gentle but definite reminders, and supports your goals rather than you being enslaved to The Plan.

What I am calling planning is a written outline (mental plans only do not have the same power) of what you want to, need to, or must accomplish in a given day, and a mental image of how you will do it. Although having a written plan is nearly essential to keeping track of all that you need to do, forming a mental image of how you will do it is valuable, allowing you to see ways to combine activities for greater efficiency, ease and accomplishment.

Planning, which in my mind is the cornerstone of being organized, means thinking about how to make the most efficient and effective use of all your resources. Planning means identifying areas of waste, whether they be money, time, effort, or resources, and finding ways to reduce or eliminate the waste. Far from killing spontaneity, planning requires continual adaptation because all plans must be modified and adjusted to address events in the real world.

So what are some of the specific ways that being organized can help you save money? Let’s look at food costs first. If you plan meals a week at a time based on the weekly sales flyers, you can take advantage of lower costs for your raw ingredients. If you plan meals so that you can do small setups ahead of time or even just plan the process, you can reduce your use of more expensive and less healthful convenience or fast foods. By planning your time so that you bring your meals rather than eat out while at work, you can save money and improve your health (also a big means of saving money – getting sick, injured or disabled is expensive).

Similarly, planning can help lower clothing costs in multiple ways:

  1. allowing reality-based assessments of needs due to conducting an inventory of what you actually have several times a year (as part of the seasonal clothing shifts),
  2. coordinating colors and styles to enable more combinations and outfits,
  3. identifying needed repairs so that they can be made in time to extend the life of your garments.

Transportation costs can also be minimized by planning your trips to pack in errands as efficiently as possible, saving trips, time and money, to say nothing of wear and tear.

Many expenses around the house can be reduced by planning, often taking the form of preventive maintenance care of fixtures, appliances, and equipment. The useful life of these household resources can often be extended anywhere from one-third to two or three times the usual duration simply by learning and applying the needed care for the item to prevent expensive repairs, breakdowns, or replacements.

The same process of examination of needs, analysis of current status and required upkeep, and planning for any needed improvements can be applied to any area of expense, much to the good, not just of your wallet, but of your peace of mind.

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