How Simple Organization Can Save You Tons of Money
“But getting organized is boring!” you whine. “I want to read about strippers and weed and beer,” you moan. Fair enough.
But here’s the thing: being disorganized costs you money every month. That’s money you could be spending on strippers and weed. Like cleaning your underwear and going to work, it’s not the most exciting thing you do every day, but it lets you do the exciting stuff more and better.
It’s extremely easy to translate organizing your world into fattening your wallet. So easy, in fact, that you probably haven’t even thought to do these things. Or maybe you did, but then forgot due to the strippers and weed.
Plan your meals
You’re a grown-up. You've already noticed how much more you spend and waste when you shop without a list. Plan your meals to double down on this money-saver and take advantage of bulk sales, and cut down on “screw it, let’s order pizza” evenings.
Get started by making a list of 10 meals you know how to make. Don’t worry: boxed mac & cheese counts (barbarian). Use the list to make two weeks’ worth of meal plans. Bonus points for making enough of each meal to have leftovers, so each success becomes one less takeout lunch.
Organize your tools
Pop quiz: in the past year, how many times have you bought something you already owned but couldn’t find when you needed it? If the answer is “more than two,” this is how organizing tools saves your ass money. Any questions?
Figure out a place to put the things. Find a spot at your desk for craft and art and office tools, a spot in the closet for your first-aid equipment, and a spot in your garage for your -- um -- tool-type tools. Organize each more deeply when you have the time. That way, you won’t be rushing out to Home Depot every time you need a hammer or some glue (or free popcorn).
Want to take it a step further? Collaborate with friends to make a tool pool you can all use. No group of buddies needs a chop saw and a table saw each. And if you live in a town with tool libraries, well, use those too. Because free is always better.
Clean your fridge
That head of lettuce growing a bacterial colony in your crisper drawer would have made a great salad if you’d rescued it in time. Clean your fridge the day before shopping and get your chef on by turning all the doomed-to-die bits and pieces into a delicious mutant snack.
Try establishing Fridge Condition Green. Put on the hazmat suit, pull out the Pine-Sol, and eliminate all the alien lifeforms currently living in there. Take a picture when you’re done. That’s what the sumbitch should look like every week before you make the grocery run.
Turn this up to 11 with a supply of pasta noodles and rice in your pantry. You have no idea how delicious fettuccine-a-la-random-shit-from-the-fridge can be until you’ve tried it, and how many meals worth of lunch-ready leftovers it can produce.
Maintain your car
A $500 service this year means no $3,000 repair the year after next. Inflating your tires can save you a couple hundred bucks in gas in a single summer, so spend $.75 to get the tires up to spec and watch your mileage grow just from that tank. Speaking of tanks, give the girl some premium every few tanks to improve mileage and keep her coat glossy.
Set up autopay on everything you can
Seriously. It’s 2015 fercryingoutloud. Autopay means no late payments. No late payments mean no late fees, and a better credit score. A better credit score means lower interest on your next car loan or credit card.
Make a list of every bill you pay in the month. Then sign them up for autopay. This isn’t rocket science. Take it to a whole new level by autopaying yourself. Get with the Direct Deposit Wizard in your HR department and have them send a bit of each check to your savings account. Your emergency fund will grow and you won’t miss the money.
Schedule your errands
You have to mail a check out because you didn’t set up autopay like we told you to. The next day you go back to the post office to mail a package to your sick grandma. Day after that, you drive to the dispensary next door to the post office to get your medical (ahem) marijuana for the week. You could have done just a little planning and made all of that in one trip. How much gas did you just waste?
Saving here is as easy as making a to-do list (yeah, yeah, it’s lame-sounding). Look at the “away missions” to see which ones you can group. Go bigger by keeping a list of all the stuff you think you should run out and do. Use it to start next week’s to-do list. This saves extra money by making you wait a week on all of your impulse buys.
Team up with your roommates
... or your girlfriend/wife/boyfriend/husband/transexual ocelot life partner. Communicate about schedules, commuting, shared space, and resources, and basically every other part of life where you cross paths even a little. It will literally blow your tiny mind away when you figure out how much money you've been wasting by not working together.
Get started by figuring out how to carpool. If it doesn't work for your jobs, it will work for errands and outings. Get busy on this and spend the saved gas on a lap dance. Knock this out of the park by getting with your favorite co-workers on the same level. You can use this to save personal money, and to look like a boss to your boss with better efficiency in the office.
Give a bunch of your crap away
Go through everything in your house while holding a box in one hand labeled "Shit to Give Away." Anything you don't use or need, put in the box. Then take that box to Goodwill. Having less crap cluttering up your house makes every single other thing on this list easier -- consider this a force multiplier for all this other organizational stuff -- and for some reason the donation receipt is worth more than you'd think at tax time. As in, more per book than you get at a used bookstore.
Start in your kitchen. If you've been on your own for more than a year, you have at least 20 things in there you don't and won't use... and you'll feel the impact of less clutter every time you cook.
Go deeper by using a second box labeled "Shit to (Maybe) Give Away." Put stuff you haven't used, but "might need someday" in there. Fill it. Put a date on it. Go get stuff you need when you need it. Six months from now, anything you haven't pulled out of the box goes to Goodwill. And then the receipt goes in your tax file.
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Jason Brick is a voracious reader, heroic drinker, and awesome dad (not necessarily in that order of importance). When not testing the theoretical limits of awesome, he practices martial arts so he can beat people up for teasing him about how much he likes playing Dungeons & Dragons. Find out more at brickcommajason.com.