Monday, August 20, 2007

My Costly Clutter: How Organization Saves Time & Money

I've let the balance on gift cards and vouchers go unused. But that wouldn't happen if I were better organized. An organized home saves time and money, according to Standolyn Robertson, (pictured on the left) president of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and president of Things In Place. Here's how organization can save resources around the home:

• Generate lists: Standardized shopping lists reduce waste by eliminating duplications, impulse purchases and shortages. Type a shopping list onto your personal digital assistant (PDA), cellphone or home computer. Or keep a notepad near the refrigerator and write down food staples as supplies dwindle. ''Buying what you need and using what you have eliminates waste,'' Robertson says.
• Organize cabinets: With a well-stocked, streamlined kitchen, you're less likely to spend money on gourmet coffee, junk food and takeout meals. A system for organizing food shelves and tracking supplies will encourage you to cook more meals at home.
• Create morning routines: Use kitchen space to organize breakfasts, keys, backpacks and even travel mugs of coffee. A morning routine -- with designated locations for supplies and tools -- saves money and increases your productivity.


• Establish a rebate folder: Create a system for checking deadlines and storing documents -- receipts, UPC codes and other files -- needed to redeem rebate offers.
• Monitor gift card balances: Get the most for your money by creating space and procedures in your home office for tracking the balances on gift cards, vouchers, store credits and frequent shopper/flier bonuses. Too often those perks are squandered because consumers fail to track and use store credits and card balances.
• Store documents: Extra time and money is often wasted when consumers replace lost vital records such as passports, birth certificates and Social Security cards. Create a designated space for those records.
• Maintain a deadline calendar: Save on registration fees and travel expenses by establishing a calendar of early-bird deadlines for personal and professional commitments, conferences and travel. They typically feature significant discounts.


• Buy missing pieces: Purchase the accessories and garments needed to fully use your clothes.
• Donate clothes that don't fit: Request a tax deduction from a nonprofit organization.
• Shop selectively: Don't purchase items that need to be altered or repaired.

This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.

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