Organizing To Improve Your Finances

It would be too easy to say that the first step to organize to improve your finances would be to buy less. Sometimes this is true, but for some people, the opposite is true. The real first step is to honestly evaluate what you really need. Is your clutter the result of owning a lot of material, usually for work purposes, that you really need to keep? If so, your clutter solution may actually be to find the best type of container for the material and the least expensive way to get them. If your clutter is mostly things you do not really need or use, then your first step is to stop buying anything except food and other essentials (cleaning supplies!) until you have cleared out the bulk of the clutter. This is shock therapy if you are used to buying whatever you want or see, but this measure will not only make an immediate improvement in your finances, it will lead to greater clarity about needs that will help you longterm.

The second step of organizing to improve your finances might be to look at the things that you have that you actually use or will likely use. Do you have unnecessary duplicates because of the difficulty of finding things in the clutter? If so, you may want to think about a system for organizing your things that puts the things you use most in front of your storage area. Another step might be to only allow yourself to purchase new things when you have evaluated everything you already have and determined that there really is nothing suitable for your need in your existing belongings; this approach is especially useful when considering clothing purchases. One way of handling this might be to conduct an inventory of what you own in a given area, determine what you need, and thus be able to see what is missing or redundant. I like to periodically pull everything out of my closet and give it all the beady eye. Body shapes and sizes change, tastes and fashions change, things deteriorate, and space is finite, so this practice will allow you to see what you really need. Clearing out what you don't need also makes space for what you do need.

Your finances will also be enhanced by this process if you turn the evaluative process into a plan. Once you know that you are short on a particular item, you don't have to rush right out a buy it if it isn't urgent. You can plan to buy it when it is cheapest, or during a sale, or from a discount vendor, or do an online search. Your organizing and planning creates options that allow you to save money. You can also use your awareness of what you actually need to buy to begin setting aside the money for the purchase; by saving in advance, you will cut down or eliminate use of credit cards, an expensive way to buy things unless you pay off the entire bill every month as soon as it arrives. If you use this evaluation and expense planning process to support creation and regular use of a budget, your finances will further improve.

Saving ALL your receipts and tallying them up every month will also help you be more aware of how you use money and where you can save it. I enter all of my purchases on a spreadsheet immediately so that I don't have a big, and often impossible, job at the end of the month. This way I can see day-by-day how well I am following my spending plan and where I might need to be more restrained. Also, when the receipts are tallied, it's an easy next step to put them away in the categories they might need to go into, such being attached to the warranty documents for some items, set-aside in case the item needs to be returned, or into the tax-deduction file, or with items that get rebates or even contest-entry forms. (I like to save things that need to be mailed in an envelope with what it is on it; that way, when all the supporting pieces of paper become available, the whole package is ready to go.)

Getting off mailing lists for catalogs that tempt you to spend when you shouldn't may help. If passing by certain stores without buying is a problem, you may need a new route that doesn't take you near the problem places. 

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