Many of you have told me that you need help getting motivated to declutter. Okay, let’s take a look at the cost of clutter.

Harry Browne said, “Everything you want in life has a price connected to it. There’s a price to pay if you want to make things better, a price to pay just for leaving things as they are, a price for everything.”

Depending on the extent of clutter or disorganization in your home, you may be paying a very high price. “Leaving things as they are” is most likely costing you one or more of the following:

  • Space that could be put to better use
  • Time and energy lost in looking for misplaced things
  • Stress and overwhelm – maybe even strained relationships

And then there are the financial costs:

  • How many times have you bought something, only to realize later that you already had it?
  • How often have you ended up paying a bill late because you misplaced the bill?
  • How much credit card debt are you carrying on items purchased but no longer loved or used?
  • How many times have you purchased an item on sale (or on a whim) that ended up collecting dust?
  • Have you ever discovered that something you loved was ruined because it wasn’t stored properly?
  • Are you paying for a storage unit? For how long now? And for how much longer?
  • Are you considering a move into a larger home largely because you need more room for your stuff? How much will it cost to move? What will be the additional housing cost each year?
  • What items are you hanging on to that you could be resold at a garage sale, on eBay or Craigslist, or on consignment to recoup at least some of your initial investment? (This book will show you how.)
  • What items could you donate to get a tax write-off? Do the math. If you are in a 18 percent tax bracket, you’re looking at $108 in tax savings for a $600 donation of stuff you’re no longer using.

I suggest weighing the price to pay for “leaving things as they are” against the price to pay if you want to “make things better.” Yes, you will need to invest some time and energy to get organized, but you don’t need to put your life on hold to do it.

Commit to spending 15 minutes a day organizing one area or task until it is done. Don’t get discouraged about how much remains to be done. Just focus every day on doing something toward your goal. Because even baby steps will eventually get you on the path to a less cluttered, more organized life.

Meanwhile, if the cost of clutter is more than you bargained for, think twice next time before buying. Go grab a coffee. Better yet, go home and sleep on it. Remember that today’s purchases, especially unplanned purchases, become tomorrow’s clutter.