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Get Organized to Save Money

How "Being Organized" can save you money...

Taking a small amount of time up front to get organized can save you time and money.  Here are a few simply steps you can take today to keep more money in your pocket.
  • Set up autopilot for your bills -  Take advantage of your bank's online bill pay service to automatically send payments for your monthly recurring charges.  Set it and forget it!  Taking a few minutes to set up auto bill pay will pay off by preventing late charges and finance charges due to missed payments.
  • Take inventory - You can avoid buying duplicate items when you know what you and have and where it is located.  Take a quick inventory  your pantry, the medicine cabinet, laundry room, and your office before shopping (online or brick-and-mortar).
  • Stock up on consumables - You will always need shampoo, toothpaste, laundry soap, etc. so buy these items that get used up in bulk when on sale.  Of course, don't go overboard.  Buy what you can store and what you will use up before the expiration date or best-used by date.
  • Make a list and check it twice - You already know the value of this step.  Temptations abound in online and brick-and-mortar stores!  The "sales" beckon and distract you from your mission.  In fact, more than half (55%) of the purchases made in the average shopping trip were unplanned [1].  Having a list also helps you avoid forgetting to buy something you needed, resulting in you having to make two trips to the store.  Repeat trips cost you money in the form of gas and time.
  • Sign up for rewards cards - Your grocery store most likely offers a free rewards program for loyal shoppers.  Sign up to enjoy as much as 1% cash back on your quarterly food purchases as well as to receive special coupons for substantial savings on the items you regularly buy.  If you're food shopping habits are like the average US household, you would earn approximately $23* cash back just for buying what you were going to buy in the first place.
  • Grocery shop at home and plan your meals - I don't mean buy online.  Literally, go shopping in your fridge and pantry for ingredients to make your meals.  On average, Americans throw out $120 of uneaten food each month per household of four people [2].  Do the math...$1,440 a year!  Use what you have on hand to make a meal plan for the week.  I subscribe to an online meal planning service that lets me import my recipes and automatically build shopping lists from my past grocery store receipts.
  • Map out your errands - Your time and mental health are valuable so set one day aside to run errands and have a plan.  Sort out the order in which you'll tackle errands, taking into consideration traffic, locations, and busy times at the various places you need to go.  FYI, Google provides a great graphic showing the "popular" (i.e., busy) times associated with many stores.   Simply search by name on Google for your destination to view the profile of the store.  A good plan can save you time, gas, and frustration.
These are just a few simple moves you can make to use the power of organization to save money and time.  I encourage you to share your ideas in the comments.

 *  The average US household spends 5.5% of disposable income [3] on food at home.  Net adjusted disposable income per capita in the USA is $41,071 a year [4] which translates to $2,258.91 on groceries.   

[1] Gunders, D. (2015). Waste free kitchen handbook: a guide to eating well and saving money by wasting less food. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. (page 25)

[2] Gunders, D. (2015). Waste free kitchen handbook: a guide to eating well and saving money by wasting less food. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. (page 9)

[3] https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ag-and-food-statistics-charting-the-essentials/food-prices-and-spending.aspx

[4] http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/income/

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