Do you know that your clutter could be costing you a FORTUNE in both time, and money? It may or may not be obvious, but for many, this could add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars every year. There are some obvious ways… like late charges for bills you misplaced (or even worse…credit damage!) and duplicate buying of things you have but cannot find. Clutter, even if it’s organized, complicates your life and makes it easier to make these sorts of mistakes. It goes even deeper though!
Financial Costs of Clutter
- Your kitchen counters/cabinets, sink and fridge are a mess and you can’t get inspired to cook or find what you need, let alone physically have room to do it. Instead, you often use less-healthy, more expensive pre-packaged convenience foods, fast food and dining out. Dining out for a special occasion or treat here and there doesn’t have to be a budgetary nightmare, but grabbing something because you can’t wrap your brain around cooking a healthy meal at home, can be. And a lifetime of this behavior can also lead to health problems, which can be costly. Many of us don’t have the energy to plan and cook if we have to work around clutter and mess.
- You’re out of space at home, so you rent a storage unit and fill it with the clutter that you don’t want to part with. This can cost $80-100/mo or more in many places, for a standard 5×10′ or 10×10′ unit. If you don’t spring for climate-controlled, you’re ruining your stuff as well if you live anywhere with hot/cold/damp weather any part of the year. I’m not 100% opposed to storage units for a specific purpose (moving, getting ready to move, temporarily storing items you KNOW you will use regularly soon but truly have no room for and can’t declutter) but in most cases, storage units are filled with mostly random crap we really do not need and could not name if pressed to do so. And we pay ~$1200/yr for the privilege of keeping that crap.
- Maybe you’ve upgraded the size of your living space in order to better house your stuff, and not the people, in your life? Did you have to buy a 5 bedroom house when your family only sleeps in 2 of them, because you have so many office supplies, craft supplies, etc. that you need an entire room to store them? Did you pay more for a 3-4 car garage, cause of your unused stuff? Or perhaps you needed the house with the huge attic or basement, and you only use them for stuff? Unless you make a living (of any kind) from these creative/craft/office exploits, or they’re a part of your daily life, maybe it’s not necessary to have entire rooms dedicated?
- You’re more depressed/anxious because clutter has been show to result in higher stress-hormone levels in women and now you spend $100s per month on medication, therapy and supplements. And when you’re depressed, you might shop more to feel better, and you’ll probably cook at home less, and be less healthy.
- You can’t park cars inside your garage due to using it for storage, and that adds up to more wear/tear on your vehicles’ interior and exterior, as well as potentially other even more important parts.
- You buy gifts and other needed items on sale, lose them, re-buy them, use them and then find the original once it’s too late to return.
- You purchase more and more toys and other items for children because they seem to be bored of what they have, when in actuality they are probably overwhelmed and would enjoy less, which would save you money!
- You spend spend spend on items to help you declutter or organize what you have. Storage furniture, containers, dividers, labels, books, courses on dealing with clutter…these ALL add up. Yes, sometimes we need to buy a few things to contain things we need, but if we’re containing things we don’t need, that is wasteful.
Non-Financial Costs of Clutter
- Clutter and mess make it difficult to clean and find things, and impossible to stay organized. This can cause stress between spouses or even between parents and children.
- Relationships outside your household suffer because your house is too cluttered/messy/dirty to have friends over, host gatherings, etc.
- So much time is wasted searching for keys, wallets, purses, sunglasses, paperwork, etc. What do you make per hour? What is your time worth?
- You won’t be as productive in a sea of clutter, whether you’re working, doing hobbies, spending time with family. It gets in the way. And if weighs heavily on us. Many of us can’t fully enjoy ourselves or ever relax with a massive clutter issue hanging over our heads.
- You can’t clean, maintain, update your house because it’s too cluttered. Your house suffers, and you suffer emotionally, in addition to financially.
- Your spending is focused on stuff rather than experiences, and there isn’t any left for those experiences. This is the human cost of clutter. Not only does keeping your clutter in check take time away that could be spent with family and friends, the money you spend takes away from experiences you could share with them…vacations, day trips, zoos, museums, activities, etc.
Increased Costs for Moving Due to Clutter
- Your home will take longer to sell if it’s cluttered, and maybe because it will be less clean, or look that way, due to clutter. Buyers can’t picture themselves living there if there is clutter (including too much decor)…even if it’s neat.
- You may make significantly less money.
- Larger/more moving vehicles, packing materials, packing, loading/unloading and unpacking will cost more in TIME and MONEY whether you do it all, hire out part of it or hire out all of it.
Some challenges to consider if you’re falling into a costly clutter trap…
There are different ways to tackle clutter. One way is to work on just one room at a time, and complete the room. One potential drawback is that if you remove items from that room that need to go elsewhere, you could be creatings piles you can’t process, or adding clutter to other rooms. I often find myself with piles of things I feel I need to keep, but nowhere to keep them. This can sometimes create more mess than before!
Another option is to focus on different types of clutter first, but sweep the whole house at each stage, and not indivual rooms. Go room to room and gather EVERYTHING you could throw away/recycle. In bedrooms and bathrooms this would include expired and/or unused cosmetics, toiletries, supplements, medications, etc. as well as clothing. You might want to save clothing for its own day, since it can be overwhleming the first time you tackle it. In living areas it may just include things you don’t need or read that are too worn out to donate or sell.
Once that step is complete, you go back through and grab everything you can donate, give away to someone you know or sell. Gather it up, drop it off, list it, etc. Choose a place in your home to keep it while you work on it, like a box in the garage or near a door you use often. I find that putting donations straight into the back of my vehicle is convenient since I’m eliminating the step of having to load a lot of stuff later, and I have to drop it off before I can pick up groceries, etc. It can’t get forgotten there.
Once THAT step is complete, it’s a good time to go back to closets and tackle clothing, shoes and linens. And then sentimental items. And then books. These things tend to be harder to deal with, but also are easier to contain and won’t necessarily bog down your WHOLE home.