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Frugal Tip #5: Organize

Although it will take some up-front time to organize it will save you eons of wasted hours and dollars in the long run. If you create a place for every object in your home, you’ll never find yourself asking, “where did I put that?”

Whenever my husband asks a question like, “where are the scissors,” “where is the serving platter,” or “where can I find wrapping paper,” I almost always know the answer. While you don’t have to know where every single item is it certainly helps to know the location of the majority of your stuff.

Before I organized my life I often found myself running out to the store at the last minute in search of an item I knew all too well I had at home but could not find. I wasted a lot of time and energy rushing out to the store, not to mention a lot of money. These trips were costly, frustrating and a complete waste of time. As soon as I organized my life I found myself taking fewer and fewer trips to the store. If I’m in search of something now, odds are I know exactly where to find it.

Do you ever find yourself in the grocery store wondering, “Do I have cheese at home?”, “What kind of cheese do I have?,” “Is there enough cheese to make lasagna?” Then you find yourself throwing the cheese in the cart, because you just can’t remember what you have on hand and you know you need to make lasagna for Sunday’s potluck.

Now that I’m organized I rarely suffer through this scenario. I have a general sense of what food I have on hand in our fridge and pantry and rarely find myself buying so much of something that I can’t eat everything before it expires.

I’ve organized every aspect of home, particularly my closets. It wasn’t so long ago that I would find myself at the mall buying something I truly didn’t need. We now own five or six pairs of outdoor gloves, because I could never seem to any when I needed them. I now weed through my closet and dresser once every few months to take stock of what I own.

This provides me with the chance to donate items that no longer fit and reassess the clothes that I already own. Since I started cleaning out my closets I am much less tempted to buy new clothes. I picture all of the sweaters, blouses and pants in my head and often convince myself I simply don’t need anything new.

My husband would probably say that I’m too organized, but organization definitely pays off. I used to forget to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store pretty often. I’d get to the store and think, “darn, I forgot them again.” Typically I wouldn’t even think about them until I reached the cash register.

Now I put the bags out in the trunk as soon as I finish unloading the groceries. Then when I reach the store I pull the bags right out of the trunk. I typically carry five or six bags with me which adds up to 25 to 30 cents with each store visit. Now that’s not a ton of money, but it helps me save a little while doing something good for the environment. My goal of buying the bags was noble but they were a complete waste to own until I actually began using them.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts one of the best ways to save money is to organize yourself before a big trip or vacation. Try to think about what you use on a regular basis, like shampoo, conditioner, razors, shaving gel, etc. so you don’t forget to pack them. Also think hard about bringing layers of clothing when you travel. That way you won’t find yourself shopping for new clothes if it’s hotter or colder than you imagined.

I also always bring a bathing suit along even if I don’t think I’ll need one. Swimsuits are unbelievably light to pack and I don’t want to get somewhere with a pool only to realize I can’t go swimming. I once forgot my bathing suit on a trip and paid $65 for a new one. I didn’t even like the suit, I just bought it because I didn’t want to waste time looking for one while I was on vacation.

Like all of my other frugal tips it will take a little upfront time to get organized and stay organized. It may feel painful at first, but if you stick it out it will eventually become habitual. I am convinced that organization keeps me less stressed, frustrated and rushed. It also saves me time and money and ultimately results in much fewer trips to the store.

Mrs. Money

Sunday 7th of February 2010

I agree- it is so much better when things are organized!

The Frugal Fraulein

Friday 5th of February 2010

Organizing is such a good thing to spend time on because it saves time on the other end. I have a list I keep in my suitcase of the necessities I need on any trip. I also have one for camping trips, beach trips and even one for canning classes. I keep a printed copy with my equipment and file one in the computer for updates and revisions. When I have a case of CRS (can't remember Sh*t)I have the list to fall back on.