For this next blog post, I’m going to focus on some of the consequences people suffer as a result of being disorganized—specifically, the financial cost of being disorganized. We often associate disorganization with the way it makes us feel–stressed, anxious, frustrated, irritated, angry, overwhelmed, ashamed, guilty and so on. We think of how it negatively affects our serenity and our quality of life. We often associate it with lost time and productivity. These are things that can’t be quantified. However, there are also ways that disorganization affects us very quantifiable ways. In this post, I will write about one of them: the financial cost of being disorganized.
This idea is not new, and I did not come up with it on my own. A quick Google search will yield dozens and dozens of results on this subject. I did a little research and below are some of the most frequently written about ways I found in which being disorganized affects us in our pocketbooks.
Repeat buys – When we don’t know what we have, we often end up buying things we don’t need. People with cram-packed refrigerators may not know how many bottles of, say, ketchup they already have. So, they buy more. Over stuffed drawers and closets don’t lend themselves to easy inventorying. When the things in our homes don’t have a designated spot in which they are kept when not in use, we don’t know where to look for them when we need them. So, we go out and purchase items we already have. And we do it again. And again.
Late fees – I imagine we’ve all payed at least one of these in our lifetimes. Life happens, we get busy, things get overlooked. It happens. However, chronically disorganized people often lack the systems and structure to consistently pay bills on time and return things before their due dates. A chronically disorganized friend of mine just paid a $250.00 late fee for paying his rent 1 day late—10% of his monthly rent payment. Late payments are supposed to sting a little; they are supposed to incentivize us to be on time. And, after a $250.00 hit to our wallets, most of us would only pay this fee once. Not my chronically disorganized friend. This is the second time he’s had to pay this fee (in four months) and he was furious both times! He doesn’t lack the motivation to pay his bills on time; he lacks the system by which to get it done.
Last minute spending – When we think of an “organized” person, we often think of someone who has all the clothes in her closet arranged by season AND color. Or the guy who has each of his tools hung by size and function on neat little hooks on a pegboard in his garage. However, “being organized” applies to our time, too. Organized people are planners. They get stuff done on time or—dare I say it—ahead of time. One of the benefits of this is that they don’t end up paying premium prices for doing things at the last minute. Anyone who has ever paid for overnight or next day shipping knows what I’m talking about.
To illustrate this point, I got on Delta’s website to compare how much more expensive a last-minute (2 days from now) round trip plane ticket would cost compared to one four months in the future. Same trip—round trip from Atlanta to Los Angeles, same day of the week, same flight time and same seat assignment. The last-minute flight was $349.00 more expensive–65% more costly–than the flight four months out. If you were flying your family of four, that would add up to a $1,396.00 cost that could have been avoided with a little planning.
Storage Fees – The self-storage industry “has proven to be the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the past four decades.” (https://forbes.com/sites/emmajohnson/2015/01/15/the-real-cost-of-your-shopping-habits/#3cc974e21452). According to SpareFoot Storage Beat, the average monthly cost for a self-storage unit in 2018 is $91.14 (https://www.sparefoot.com/self-storage/news/1432-self-storage-industry-statistics). And 9.4% of households pay it. That’s over $1,000.00 per year per household to store stuff that is not regularly needed or used. If you are considering renting storage space, ask yourself, “Could I replace the things I want to store for more or less money than the amount it will cost me to store them?” If your answer is “less,” find a charity that will pick up these items for free, donate them, and replace them with new items when and if you find it necessary. Most times, many of us would not miss or ever need/use again the items we would put into storage.
Lost invoices, receipts, charitable giving documentation, bills
Things you meant to return
Forgetting or losing coupons
Forgetting or losing shopping lists
Failing to send in rebates
IRS interest and penalty charges for filing late
This is not a comprehensive list and I’m sure you can add many more of your own ideas. But consider this: a disorganized person probably pays more than one of each of the costs listed above on a regular basis.
Something else to think about: Disorganized people are not just disorganized at home, they are disorganized at work too. There is no telling how many raises are missed, how many promotions are not offered, or how many bonuses are not received due to people simply not being organized. Disorganized people are repeatedly late for work, miss deadlines, spend countless paid hours looking for lost files/paperwork, etc., aren’t as productive as their co-workers, show up for meetings unprepared or late (or not at all), forget appointments, and the list goes on and on.
Having good systems in place helps prevent us from spending our hard-earned money on completely avoidable costs. Creating a good system for paying bills helps us avoid late fees. Setting and adhering to daily routines helps us get out the door on time. Finding a designated spot in our homes for items when they are not in use helps us avoid duplicate purchases. If you need help with becoming more organized, give me a call (770-686-2991). Together we can find ways to help you become more organized and keep more money in your pocket for you to spend on things that matter the most to you.
Please check back soon for my next post, in which I’ll provide tips and strategies for getting students with ADHD better organized for school. Thanks for reading!