ORGANIZING PLAIN & SIMPLE MONTHLY
Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life
July 2014 – Vol. 13 No. 4

“The will to conquer is the first condition of victory.” ~ Ferdinand Foch

photo credit: Tracy O via photopin cc

photo credit: Tracy O via photopin cc

5 ways to save money every month by getting organized

You have your reasons for getting organized, I’m sure. Is “saving money” one of them? If you could use a little extra cash in your pocket – whether it’s for back-to-school necessities or a much-needed weekend getaway – here are five simple ways you can save money by getting organized.

1. Create a bill-paying system. Do you tend to misplace bills? If you pay bills late, you get hit with late fees. Plus, if your credit card payment is late, the lender may decide to raise your interest rate to 25% or more which will cost you even more money for months and years to come.

Simple fix: As bills arrive, place them in a large envelope or folder marked “Bills to Pay”and keep it where you store your checkbook. Create a reminder in your calendar to pay that bill before the due date or schedule a “Bill Pay Day” twice a month for paying all of your bills for that two-week period.

I’ve opted to receive paperless statements. What I do is forward the email message about the due date to my FollowUpThen.com account. With FollowUpThen, you can schedule that email to be re-sent to you next week, on the due date, your next pay day, or whenever you plan to pay the bill.

2. Take advantage of discounts and deals. There are certain times of the year when it’s best to buy certain items. Example: You’ll find great deals on holiday wrapping paper immediately after the holidays. And the best time to buy a car is in September when you can get the current year model for a great price because dealers want to clear inventory to make room for the new year models.

Here’s a great post on the best time of year to buy just about anything that I highly recommend reading and bookmarking. Plan your purchases accordingly and you can save hundreds of dollars – or more – every year.

Also, pay close attention to early-bird registration deadlines and be sure to act sooner rather than later so you don’t pay more than necessary. I recently learned that the best time to buy an airline ticket is 54 days before take-off to get the best price. You might also try Fly.com’s fare calendar for helping you find the best fare in the next 90 days.

3. Sort and straighten regularly. A lot of people end up re-buying things they can’t find only to find the original stuff later. Example: If your closet is disorganized, you might end up buying clothes or shoes that are similar to ones you already have. It happens, right? I once met a woman who could not find her Christmas decorations so she bought all new decorations and when she went to put them away, she found all of her old decorations.

Make it habit to do a little straightening up every month or at least every quarter. Use the start of each new month or season as your queue to get to it! Better yet, do a little straightening up every day and get your home organized drawer by drawer, closet by closet, room by room.

4. Organize your pantry. When I got married, I noticed that my husband would just put things back anywhere in the pantry. He didn’t realized that I had set up zones for snacks, cereals, pastas and grains, canned vegetables, etc. Set up zones for keeping “like with like.” If you label the shelves, it makes it even easier for everyone to find and return items.

I also make a note immediately when I use up an item or see that I am running low on something. I use the Out of Milk app on my phone to keep a running grocery list. I have everything organized by area of the store such as dairy, bread, vegetables and fruits, meat, etc.

Bottom line: When you have a well-stocked pantry, you’re more likely to have what you need to make simple, healthy meals instead of ordering take-out or going out for meals, which can quickly add up to a small fortune.

5. Sell or donate what you aren’t using. Turn your clutter into cash!  The average American home contains thousands of dollars worth of stuff just sitting around that can be sold – or donated for the tax write-off. I wrote an entire book about doing just that. It’s called How to Declutter and Make Money Now and it includes tips for organizing a successful garage sale, selling on Craigslist, and the best online sites for selling your old cell phone, books, clothing, and more. Save your earnings for a rainy day or put it toward something you need.

By the way, Amazon just introduced the Kindle Unlimited program. For just $9.99 a month, you get unlimited access to 600,000 Kindle books, including all of mine. Another way to save! Learn more about the Kindle Unlimited program on the Amazon page for my book, How to Declutter and Make Money Now.

Can you think of other ways that you can save money by getting organized? Leave a comment below!

Why didn’t I think of that? Reader tip…

I have a chalk board in my kitchen and about six weeks ago, I decided to track stuff coming and going to make sure it was going. So every time something was brought into the house, I added one to the number on the chalk board. And every time some thing left, I subtracted one (not counting food or similar consumables).

For example, when I got a new set of sheets, the tally was +4 minus 1 for one old sheet tossed = 3. I told myself I would reward myself with a nice dinner out when I reached -100. I was actually surprised at how the number kept climbing for about three weeks. It actually got to +28. Then I donated a bag of stuff to an auction and it went down to +8.

Today it’s at +10 but I find myself at the store looking at something and thinking, “Is this really worth making my number on the chalk board go up?” So it’s working for me! ~ Susan Kelley, Kent, WA

Do YOU have a tip you’d like to share? Email donna@unclutter.com.

Favorite organizing products and resources

As a professional organizer for the last 14 years, I’ve used and recommended a lot of organizing products, services and resources. Every month, in this column, I share my favorites.

Last month, I introduced you to FotoBridge, the company I’ve chosen to scan all of my photographs. I met them at the annual conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers back in May and was impressed with their commitment to fast, safe and secure scanning services for their customers – and they guarantee 100% satisfaction. You send your photos, slides, negatives, even video and they will transform them into digital memories on DVD. My new friends at FotoBridge have kindly offered a 10% discount that you can apply to your order should you decided to try this service. Enter the coupon code “Unclutter” without the quotation marks at checkout. (See Organizing Tips Newsletter – June 2014 for tips on how to organize your photos manually and digitally.)

nextissueonlapThis month, I want to share something for magazine lovers. The Next Issue app offers unlimited access to more than 130 of today’s best magazines – and all their back issues – in full color. The experience is not only beautiful, but interactive at the same time. What that means is (are you ready for this?) you can do things like email articles and save recipes. Oh, my gosh. That’s what sold me. Plus you get access to digital-only features available through some magazines, including downloadable playlists, embedded videos and extended photo slideshows.

Once you install Next Issue, you can read your favorite magazines on your tablet or computer – anytime, anywhere. It’s a great way to get rid of magazine clutter and yet, always have reading material handy. It costs $9.99 a month, which works out to be about the same as picking up two issues at the supermarket, airport or drugstore over the course of a month (or $14.99 a month if you want access to weekly publications like People as well as monthly publications.) If you and your family members currently pay for more than a few subscriptions, you’ll actually save money every month because with one account, everyone in your family can access their favorite magazines (on up to 4 devices). Plus you can cancel your printed subscriptions and request a refund for the unused portion of your subscription.

The folks at Next Issue set me up with a 3-month subscription of their Premium Account. I asked them if I could do something for my readers and they authorized me to give away three Premium Account subscriptions just like mine! So I set up a giveaway where you can enter to win one of three 3-month subscriptions to Next Issue. a Rafflecopter giveawayGood luck and stay tuned for a list of winners! Meanwhile, you might want to take advantage of Next Issue’s 60-day free trial.

For a look at more of my organizing favorites, including some new favorites, visit www.unclutter.com/suggestions.

Shameless promotion: Looking for speaking gigs – and scouts!

photo credit: Håkan Dahlström via photopin cc

photo credit: Håkan Dahlström via photopin cc

I have a new book coming out in November called Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness (Storey Publishing) and I’ll be touring the country in 2015 to promote it via book signings, television appearances, and Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness seminars.

Do you belong to an organization in need of speakers? Let’s talk! I’m also looking for scouts who may know of locations where we could hold a decluttering seminar. Ideas? Questions? Email donna@unclutter.com.

Our current travel plans for 2015 include Phoenix (January-March), Texas-Louisiana-Alabama-Tennesee (April-June), Minnesota (late June-early July), Michigan (July), New York State (August), and then south along the eastern seaboard to Florida for the winter.

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

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FULL DISCLOSURE: Some links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a small commission which goes toward the continuation of this complimentary newsletter. Please note that I only recommend products that I would recommend whether I got paid or not.