As I’ve mentioned before I am a bit of an anti-clutter fanatic. When we first moved into our house my husband joked about the chotchke law I enacted. Initially, I allowed no more than three chotchkes to cover the shelves and table tops in each room of our home. If an extra chotchke was added, an older one had to be taken away. Of course, the law has been broken many times, but in general the goal is to keep each room as clear of unnecessary clutter as possible.
As I type this I realize it sound a bit neurotic, but the truth is I cannot concentrate with a lot of stuff lying around. In fact, when I was a kid I would clean my room before I studied for a big exam or wrote a term paper, and to this day I cannot get my thoughts in order until I clean the room I’m in.
Over time I’ve found that this somewhat neurotic tendency seems to save us quite a bit of money. Living simply, in and of itself, helps us save significantly. When I was growing up my next door neighbor collected Elvis memorabilia. She spent a significant portion of her paychecks on posters and figurines, which not only cost a lot of money, but required a lot of maintenance and cleaning. Obviously, keeping our shelves and table tops free of knick-knacks keeps more money in our pocket. Not collecting saves us a ton of money.
Keeping an organized home also allows us to keep track of the things we own. For example, an orderly pantry allows us to keep track of the staples in our diet. As soon as we run low on rice or pasta I can start tracking grocery store circulars for sales on these items. Simply being aware of what we have on hand allows us to prepare for our next purchase. If coupons arrive in the newspaper I’ll be sure to clip them. 99% of the time I’m able to purchase the needed item at a discounted price. This organization also cuts down on our need for emergency trips to the store. How often have you come home to make spaghetti and realized you were all out of pasta? If you make an emergency trip to the store you are bound to pay full price for that item. If you know well in advance that you will soon be in need of pasta you can wait for a sale.
Keeping our home organized has also taught me a lot about our spending habits. Although my stuff has always been neat and orderly there has from time to time been a lot of it. As an English major I have purchased my fair share of books. Over the last few years as I began to purge our home of unused items I found hundreds of books littering our bookshelves. Most had been read only once, some had never been read at all. As I went through my shelves I counted thousands of dollars worth of books. As I pulled each book off the shelf I realized how silly it was to spend $20 – $30 on a book I never planned to read again. As I lugged books off to the library, and sold them on eBay, I vowed to change my book-buying habits. Although, I still purchase a lot of books, I now only buy them used or swap them whenever possible. Most of the time I don’t keep them on hand after I read them. Unless I really love the book I’ll sell, donate, or swap it.
I found the same problem as I cleaned out my closets. Dresses that had been worn only once, and sweaters that had only been worn a handful of times. As I looked through my drawers I realized that I wear some items over and over again and others almost never at all. I piled up the unworn and unwanted items for donation and decided to alter my shopping habits. I drastically cut back on the number of new clothes that I purchase each year. The items I do purchase must make it into the favorite rotation. For the most part this means I purchase more practical items, clothing that can be worn over and over again. I think long and hard about each purchase, and if I think the item will end up in the back of the closet I put it back on the rack and walk out of the store.
As time goes on, the more organized our home becomes, the less we seem to spend. Simply agreeing to cut down on the amount of clutter we bring into our home saves us the most money, but organization as a whole helps us save even more.