View as slideshow
Put an end to wasting money on things like misplaced items and expired foods by using these easy organizational tricks.
Rearrange the refrigerator
You won’t eat the food you can’t readily see—and wasted food costs the average American household up to $2,200 per year, according to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Organizing your fridge smartly is key. Keep the food that will spoil first or that lunch you want to remember to bring to the office tomorrow at eye level. Store leftovers and snacks, like pasta salad or cut up fruits and veggies, in clear containers so they’re easy to spot.
Purge the pantry
Have dinner at home more and you could save $3,000+ a year, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics; that’s the amount the average American household spends annually on eating out and ordering in. An organized pantry is the first step toward making cooking at home a whole lot easier. First, toss out expired items and donate the will-not-use items—this will not only make more space for your favorites, it saves you the time and effort of hunting around. Next, group like foods together so you can quickly scan your available ingredients and be able to whip up a meal—and some savings—in minutes. Take a look at these other genius pantry organization tips.
Prep for shopping trips
If you’re not already, you should always shop from a grocery list; not only does this help prevent you from spending extra on gas on a return trip for that forgotten item, you won’t pick up those little extras that you don’t really need, like that chocolate bar or bottle of ice coffee, on a subsequent trip. You should also check store circulars to see what’s on sale before you go—virtually all grocery stores share these online—and search for digital coupons. Having a plan helps curb those impulse purchases, which can cost you an average of $5,400 a year, according to Slickdeals.net. Try these other ways to save money at the grocery store.
Stay on top of deadlines to avoid rush charges with this simple trick: add “deadline approaching” reminders to your calendar. For example, make a note to “mail birthday gift” a week before the recipient’s birthday and you’ll have enough time to shop, wrap and ship it without needing to pay extra for costly overnight shipping. You can save even more money by reminding yourself to cancel subscriptions, auto-shipments you don’t need and free trial memberships. You can set up alerts a set amount of days before an event on many electronic calendars, including Outlook and Google. Or if you’re using a paper calendar, simply write it in.
Create a “drop zone”
At the start of each week, look over your calendar to see what’s on tap. Then, gather the items you’ll need—say your daughter’s soccer cleats or a bottle of wine for a hostess gift—and place these in a designated “drop zone” by the door. (This can be a table, shelving unit or bags on hooks.) This will save you from having to buy new items at the last minute because you forgot to grab the ones you already have at home. You should also check the weather and prepare for it too—this way you’ll never have to spring for a costly new umbrella when there’s a sudden downpour.
I AM NIKOM/SHUTTERSTOCK
Safely store “like cash”
You wouldn’t haphazardly toss a $20 bill in a junk drawer, so why are you doing that with that store gift card? An astounding $1 billion in gift cards go unused every year. To avoid misplacing yours and to make sure it’s handy the next time you’re at its designated store, start keeping them in a single spot in your wallet. Or if you know you’ll be redeeming them online, go ahead and create an account on the site and enter the gift card info; the credit will automatically be there the next time you shop. Don’t miss these savvy coupon tips you’ll wish you knew sooner.
Free up space
Finding extra space in your home pays off in multiple ways. First and foremost, you won’t have to keep shelling out for that storage unit as one in ten Americans does to the tune of $96 a month, according to the Self Storage Association of America. Second, you’ll be able to hit up Costco, BJs or Sam’s Club to buy things in bulk (and easily store them) for big savings. Lastly, you might even make enough space to get your car back in the garage, which fewer than 25 percent of us can do. Parking your car in a garage helps protect it from the elements to better preserve its exterior and interior, is better for the engine in colder months, and may even knock a few dollars off your insurance. Before spending money hiring help to declutter, check out these things professional organizers never do in their homes.
Put things away
The average person spends a total of 153 days of their life looking for misplaced items, research has shown. That averages out to ten minutes a day; ten minutes you could be answering emails, cooking dinner, exercising, etc. Then there are the added costs of buying replacement items for things you already own but just can’t find. Phones, keys, sunglasses and charger cords top the list of regularly misplaced items. Invest in a clear over-the-door organizer for the exterior door you use the most often—and use it. It will pay dividends in extra minutes and money.
Round up receipts
Dedicate a box near your front door as the spot where you stash your everyday receipts from the grocery store, gas fill-ups, clothing purchases and more. Then, if you need to return something, you’ll be able to easily locate the receipt for a full refund. On a weekly basis, separate out the ones you’ll need for your taxes or expense reports in labeled envelopes inside the box. Estimates show about 50 percent of employees never turn in receipts for reimbursements for personal money spent on business expenses. Don’t miss these organizing tips from the pros.
Before you head out to buy a new picture frame, look around your home—and your attic and basement—to see if you have an old one lying around that will work. Ditto organizers and fancy file boxes. Maybe you could cover that cardboard box from your latest Target order with pretty paper and save yourself the expense.
Keep a home journal
Whether you use a paper journal or create a virtual folder on your computer, keeping info about your home in a central place can be a big money saver. Jot down the model numbers for your appliances and its accessories, warranty info and dates of any repair work, so if they break down, you’ll have the info at your fingertips. You’ll also want to note things like the living room paint color, so if it gets dinged you can quickly buy touch up paint and avoid having to repaint the entire room at a greater cost. Don’t miss these home items you should be cleaning every month.