Cost Of Chaos: Get Organized, Save Money

Get Organized, Save Money

From time to time, I encounter a skeptical interviewer--a media person or freelance writer who is, shall we say, a bit antithetical to the idea of being organized. Maybe they're free spirits, or they have so much innate organizing ability that the message seems like overkill, but they tend to ask the same question:

"Getting organized saves money? How is that?"

With organizing product sales taking off like an Apollo rocket, it's an easy-to-understand point of view. "Getting organized costs money--you have to buy all those bins and baskets and closet inserts, don't you?" they ask.

Not really. Getting organized is about cutting clutter, creating systems and developing a schedule--and only after you're organized, do you even begin to think about buying more stuff (to contain your other stuff).

Let clutter, disorder and disrupted schedules into your life? It will cost you money. Last week, it cost me $117.

It only took a week like last week to remind me just how much chaos really costs. For that seven-day period, I estimate that I lost $117 through sheer procrastination, systems failure and disorder. Granted, I was a bit preoccupied, spearheading a server upgrade and riding the keyboard for 16 hour days, but the bottom line didn't waver for all that: being disorganized cost me money.

Here's the breakdown.

Monday, I realized that I'd missed the Saturday postmark deadline to return a local drugstore's all-in-one monthly rebate form. Darn! There was $17, right there--up in smoke because I put off the mail for 48 hours.

Tuesday, I came across a computer manufacturer's rebate check in the amount of $30. It was hidden inside a stack of papers in my tickler file and hadn't been cashed. I scanned the small print and sighed: the check was void after March 30, a date nearly two weeks in the past.

Mental note: tickle the file a bit more carefully, Cynthia.

Wednesday, I broke from non-stop computer-geek action to make a grocery store run. Our area had recently hosted the "Taste of Home" food show, and I'd carefully cut a $5 off coupon out of the paper earlier in the week.

I forgot it. Another lost $5 because my systems were out-of-order.

Thursday, I stubbed a toe on some left-over construction supplies, bought but not used during a recent home improvement project. "I need to find the receipt and return those," I reminded myself. Later that night, I even remembered to hunt up the receipt.

The 30-day return period had expired .... four days earlier. There's another $26 worth of not-needed floor planking taking up space in my garage, and a new disorganized first: floor clutter.

Friday, I squeezed out some time at the computer to pay bills. I'd let them pile up while I was working, and now it was time to pay the piper.

And the late fee: $39 to a credit card company who'd recently, sneakily changed their billing cycle. Zowie!

Which brings me back to those interviewers. Many who ask the hard questions or cop the rolled-eyes have made some assumptions about me; chief among them, that I border on obsessive in the pursuit of order.


I just happen to think that $117 has better places to go than into thin air ... say, some new software?