Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life January 2009 – Vol. 8 No. 1
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

— Jim Rohn, Entrepreneur, motivational speaker

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6 ways it pays to get organized! It’s hard to get organized or lose weight or do anything for that matter unless you’re motivated. Right?

What if I told you that you could save hundreds of dollars a year by getting organized? Would that motivate you? Heck, what if I told you that you could actually make money by getting organized? Consider the following:

Have you ever had to pay a late fee on a bill because you misplaced it? 23% of adults say they pay late fees because they can’t find the bills. The solution? Set up a simple bill paying system. I file all of my bills to pay in a folder labeled “Bills to Pay.” It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

Do you miss out on coupon savings or discover that your gift cards have expired before you’ve had a chance to use them? A 2006 Consumer Reports survey showed that shoppers were out $8 billion due to unused, lost, or expired gift cards. I file all of my coupons in a small plastic accordion file that I keep in my car. I recently started keeping all of my gift cards, frequent shopper cards, and membership cards in a Card Cubby. It’s like a mini filing cabinet for your purse! Check it out at www.CardCubby.com

Do you often eat out or order in because you don’t have ingredients on hand to make dinner? Take 10 minutes each week or every few days to plan meals and create a shopping list for the ingredients you need. Or save time and money on your monthly food bill by preparing meals in advance at one of the new food preparation franchises such as Dream Dinners, Super Suppers, or My Girlfriend’s Kitchen.

Are you paying for storage of items that you aren’t using? U.S. self-storage revenues topped $22 billion in 2006.
Yikes! Add up how much you’re spending each month for off- site storage. Is it worth it? Imagine being able to put that money into your savings each month – plus make some cash immediately by having a garage sale or selling items online.

Do you subscribe to magazines that aren’t getting read? Most people can keep up with no more than three subscriptions a month. If you have can’t keep up with the ones you currently receive, did you know that you can cancel your subscription and get a refund for the unused portion?

Do you have perfectly good items in your home that you are not using? Do you have items of clothing with price tags on them? Have you ever bought an item only to discover that you already had the exact same or very similar item? A recent eBay survey says the average American household has $3,000 of re-saleable items in their home. It’s easy to sell items online through Craigslist.org. All you need to do is set up an account, take photos of the items, describe them, and post them to the site. Or just donate everything and take the tax write-off. (Check with your tax preparer for IRS rules about donations).

Hey, did you know?

The National Association of Professional Organizers regularly offers “Introduction to Professional Organizing” and “Starting an Organizing Business” teleclasses. For a schedule of upcoming classes, visit www.napo.net or Register Online Now

If you are already a professional organizer, or just love “all things organizing,” check out the full line of cartooned greeting cards, postcards and gift items available at OrganizedGreetings.com.

Survey Results: Where do you pay bills? Last month I asked: Where do you most often pay your bills? (If you pay bills online, where are you when you do that?)

As promised, here are the results of that survey. . .

6% said: Bedroom 18% said: Kitchen 43% said: Home office/den/study 15% said: Living room 12% said: Outside my home (at work, in the car, etc.) 6% said: Other (included sunroom and dining room)

There’s a lot to be said for routine, especially when it comes to managing bills. Many of you who responded seem to have a pretty solid bill-paying routine. Bravo!

It was interesting to note, that some of you say you pay bills in more than one place. Typically, having one place where you pay bills will decrease the likelihood of misplacing or forgetting to pay a bill.

Wherever you decide to PAY the bills is a good place to STORE bills waiting to be paid. If you do pay bills in more than one place, it makes sense to set up a portable bill-paying system. Store bills to pay, checkbooks and registers, calculator, calendar, pens, envelopes, stamps, and anything else you need to pay bills, in an accordion file or special briefcase that you can grab and carry with you to wherever you pay bills.

New Survey: Your money or your stuff?

Generally speaking, would you rather have the items you purchased over the past year or the cash you spent on them?

a. Items (I’m pretty happy with my purchases.) b. Cash (What was I thinking? Who needs all this stuff?)

TO RESPOND TO THE SURVEY, send email to editor@unclutter.com with the word “Survey” in the subject line and the letter that corresponds to your answer. Feel free to add comments in the body of your email. I love reading them! As always, I will share the results of this survey in the next issue.

Smart Readers Write About: Turning trash into treasure Instead of tossing the plastic container your cat litter comes in, reuse it as a rodent-proof, dampness-proof place to store bird seed, pet treats, potting soil, even paint brushes and supplies. The container’s snap-on lid have plenty of room to label what’s inside, and the carrying handle make them easily transported from spot to spot.

–Submitted by Mary R., Milwaukee, WI

Write to win an autographed book!

Do you have a really great organizing tip you would like to share with other readers? Or a question about an organizing challenge you have? Send an e-mail to editor@unclutter.com with “Readers_Write” in the subject line.

If your question or tip is included in a future issue of this newsletter, I will send you a free autographed copy of my book, The One-Minute Organizer Plain & Simple. Check it out at http://www.unclutter.com/books.html

PLEASE NOTE: I get a lot of email messages and it’s impossible for me to respond to them all. Please know that I do read them all and try to answer as many as I can.

Shameless promotion: Say hello to my new baby! My newest book, A to Z Storage Solutions, was just released last month and is now available in bookstores everywhere.

I’m headed out on a nationwide book tour that is kicking off with a guest appearance on Martha Stewart Living radio on Tuesday, 1/13/09 and the CBS Early Show on 1/14/09 (some time in the second half-hour of programming).

For details on confirmed book tour events or to sign up to receive updates on upcoming events, visit http://booktour.com/author/donna_smallin

If you are interested in having me speak to your organization while I am in your area, or at any time, click on the “Request a visit from this author” link. I plan to visit the following cities over the next month or so: Cleveland, Memphis, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Dallas, Denver, Sacramento, Toronto.

Meanwhile, look for my column in the January issue of Better Homes & Gardens (p. 28) on how to Beat Clutter Forever.

You’ll also find some of my tips in the January issues of Family Circle and Good Housekeeping, and in an article on Woman’s Day online: http://www.womansday.com/Articles/Shelter/Organizing-Cleaning/9-Ways-to-Cut-Clutter-Now!.html

Also check out these articles on making New Year resolutions:

Christian Science Monitor: http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0105/p17s01-lign.html

Orlando Sentinel: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/home/orl-clutter0309jan10,0,5646574.story

And this blog with an interview with me on “Crazy-busy cleaning shortcuts”: http://www.thehomeknowitall.com/the_home_knowitall/2009/01/crazybusy-cleaning-shortcuts-with-donna-smallin.html

That’s all for this month. Until next month, keep it simple.