Here’s something that ought to get your attention: “Your Household Clutter Is Costing You a Bundle.” That comes from award-winning journalist Nancy Fitzgerald, who wrote a very helpful piece for our friends at NextAvenue.org in which she offers six ways to get organized and, she says, put cash in your pocket.
Clutter is costly. Just ask Jessica Doyle of Fullerton, California. After her divorce in 2010, she moved to a small apartment, dumping a few boxes on the living room floor and sending the rest of her belongings to a storage unit, incurring a monthly fee of $127. Paperwork was everywhere, so when her bills went missing, Doyle got slapped with late charges averaging $30 apiece. When her monthly car payment got lost in the shuffle, it cost her nearly $70 in extra interest. And when her traffic ticket disappeared, Doyle lost a day’s work standing on line at the courthouse to pay the $354 fine.
“It’s expensive to be broke,” Doyle says, “and for me, clutter was at the heart of it. My mind was chaos; everything around me was chaos. It was a vicious cycle.”
She’s not alone. Experts say that in the U.S., 15- to 20-percent of our annual income is drained by disorganized finances. Some of the ways it plays out:
- 23-percent of Americans pay their bills late and incur extra charges because they can’t find their bills.Misplaced gift cards that never get redeemed waste money, too (in 2014, that amounted to $1 billion).Then there are overdue library books — the average community library collects a whopping $182,000 in overdue fines each year).
- More than 10-percent of households rent storage space to hold their extra stuff. Families who use them spend as much as $1,000 a year on storage-space rent. And home storage products — those plastic bins stacked in garages and basements — have blossomed into a $10.5 billion business.