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Out With The Clutter, In With The Peace

Professional organizers tell tales of unearthing uncashed checks from among a client's piles of files, and everyone's had the experience of finding ten bucks in a jeans pocket. A good old clutter purge can net you cash when you sell unused items (like your treadmill-turned-towel-rack), and organizing the closet can stop you from wasting cash on that fourth black cardigan. To start saving more money:

Streamline bill paying: Set up a separate e-mail account only for banking and bills. Then schedule a twice-monthly bill-paying session in your calendar to check that e-mail, and pay the rest of your bills with your checkbook.

Use, don't lose, gift cards: How often have you "lost" a gift card in your wallet or purse, and thus needlessly spent cash? Keep them all in a box on your desk and before you go shopping, check the box.

Return unwanted stuff: As soon as you realize a purchase was a mistake, take it back. The longer it sits in the house, the more likely you'll lose the receipt-and the money.

Surprise! Be more efficient@

According to a recent survey by the National Association of Professional Organizers, 65 percent of respondents said their household was moderately disorganized. To be more efficient:

Tidy your computer: A "cluttered" computer screen is harder to look at, making you feel jumbled. Go through folders and delete what you no longer need. Archive older stuff you want to save to backup storage (a CD or external hard drive).

Start filing: No one loves filing-but doing it pays off later, when you can put your hands on what you need when you need it. Plus, it boosts efficiency in a less obvious way: it can serve as a break from high-mental-energy tasks.

Book it: Create a "family bible." In one single binder or expanding file, keep your most important information: home, health and car insurance policies; will info; emergency contacts; even a list of plumbers and painters you like.

Surprise! Boost your mood@

Getting rid of stuff creates a sense of energy, giving you room to think, which frees you to do more with your life. The difficulty lies in getting rid of things we're emotionally connected to. To clear what's blocking you:

Scan letters: Save sentimental letters and postcards digitally (on your hard drive and an external drive or CD) or in scrapbooks.

Jettison old intentions: Admit that you dropped the ball, toss the old stuff and move on.

Get rid of giveaways: Starting a pile or bag of "get it out of here" stuff in the basement is fine to a point - but if it piles up, it defeats the purpose. Best bet: Bag up unusable stuff on garbage day so it's gone, and donate usable stuff ASAP.

1 Responses »

  1. I'm working with a client who found $4000 in a drawer! No kidding! This is unusual but all clients benefit. I've helped people sell items that have netted them hundreds, even thousands. It's true -- decluttering pays!