The financial costs of a cluttered home are far-reaching. Important paperwork is often lost in cluttered home offices plagued by piles of old junk mail and documents that need to be shredded. A cluttered refrigerator or pantry may cause you to waste food - and money - by throwing out unused or expired items.
Here are just a few ways clutter can negatively affect your wallet:
- Missed deadlines. Paperwork is the most common cause of clutter. Old mail, bills and bank statements pile up and are never looked at again. If you miss a deadline, you could end up paying late fees, overdraft charges or fines.
- Damaged or lost valuables. Treasured items - whether monetarily valuable or sentimentally important - can be permanently lost or damaged if not cared for and stored properly.
- Duplicate purchases. Ever pulled a can out of the pantry and realized it was expired? Or spent 30 minutes looking for a pair of shoes you know you bought two months ago? Every duplicate purchase because you forgot to use something or misplaced an item is a waste of money.
- Storage rentals. If you have more stuff than space, renting a storage space may sound like a good idea. But storage fees are expensive. It's important to make sure the items you plan to store (and the ones taking up space in your home) are important enough to keep.
Want to know how to keep your home, life and finances organized? Discover your Clutterer Personality Type by taking the quiz below.
1.What kinds of items do you like to buy?
- A.Only the basics
- B.Books, books and more books
- C.The latest tech gadgets
- D.Shopping's just not your thing
- E.Whatever you have a coupon for
2.What are the most cluttered areas of your home?
- D.Walls and vertical spaces
3.What stops you from decluttering?
- A."I never get around to it."
- B."What if I need it someday?"
- C."I'm waiting to have a yard sale."
- D."I can't let go of sentimental items."
- E."My family depends on me to keep things."
4.Which best describes your home?
- A.Clean and organized, but your closets are overflowing
- B.Full of stacked books, paper and receipts
- C.Every drawer is an "everything drawer"
- D.The refrigerator is covered with stuff
- E.The garage is full of clutter
Your Clutterer Type
Look over your answers and find the letter you circled the most - chances are it was pretty consistent. Read below to find out what kind of clutterer you are and how to better organize your home.
A.The Behind-Closed-Doors Clutterer: Your home appears to be in order, until someone looks closely. You take the "out of sight, out of mind" approach. You avoid major decluttering projects and instead store items in areas like your closet, laundry room and garage. Your solution: Stay on top of clutter. Create a chore schedule and make time to clean. Organize regularly to prevent clutter.
B.The Intelligent Collector: You buy books and keep books - even if you never read them. You love learning and enjoy surrounding yourself with knowledge. You may have piles and piles of clutter, but you look smarter than the average clutterer. Your solution: Keep only the books you love to re-read. When you finish a book, pass along the knowledge. Instead of throwing it away, give your treasured item to a friend or family member. Or donate it to your local library.
C.The Techie Clutterer: You're the go-to guy or gal when it comes to anything electronic. You have bins filled with old devices, gadgets and accessories - including all the cases, cords and cables. Your solution: Ask your "framily" (friends + family) for help with organizing. Mark your calendar and review your collection of electronics every time the seasons change. Donate or throw away items you no longer want or use.
D.The Sentimental Saver: You hold on to anything with a story. You've kept all your kids' art projects, photos and baby clothes. The items you cherish always relate to a person or memory. It feels disrespectful to let go of a loved one's stuff, even if you don't want it. Your solution: Keep only treasured items that remind you of your most cherished memories. To save a piece of every memento, take a photo and visit gophoto.com or blurb.com to create a memory book. Or, at your next family reunion, create a time capsule to be opened in 10 years.
E.The Bargainista: You're the most frugal of all the clutterers. You shop and buy in bulk and feel it's perfectly acceptable to have a year's supply of toilet paper, baked beans and pizza sauce. You rarely pay full price and enjoy being able to provide for others. Your solution: Don't overwhelm yourself. Instead, slowly prune your coupon collection to only the products you and your family regularly use. Keep your pantry organized to prevent canned food from expiring before you use it.
Geralin Thomas of Metropolitan Organizing, named Best Chronic Disorganization Expert in the organizing industry in 2013, earned the highest level of certification in the professional organizing field as a Level V, Master Trainer, CPO-CD in 2010.
Geralin shares organizing techniques, tips, tactics and tools to help women manage the challenges of everyday life on her blog, Managing Modern Life®. Television viewers may recognize Geralin from her appearances on the Emmy-nominated A&E program Hoarders, The Today Show, The Joy Behar Show, and The Nate Berkus Show.
Geralin has helped hundreds of professional organizers reach their goals and build their organizing businesses through one-on-one coaching and other training programs.