|Jill Cooper and
Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the editors of
LivingOnADime.com. As a single mother of two, Jill Cooper started
her own business without any capital and paid off $35,000 debt in 5 years on
$1,000 a month income.
Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 debt in 5 years on
$22,000 a year income.
We live in a society of extremes. People seem to
be extremely in debt, extremely overweight and extremely disorganized. People
everywhere are trying to come up with new and better solutions to solve these
problems but not many of their ideas are working.
It's because they are focusing on the wrong
problem. For example, if your child comes to you and says "I have a drug
problem." You don't sit them down and say, "Well let's work on a way to get your
grades up, and then we'll work on your drug problem." How foolish that would be.
The real problem is not the grades but the drugs. You take care of the drugs and
the chances are pretty good that the grades will come up.
For some of us, instead of focusing on getting
out of debt or losing weight, we need to first give more serious thought to
becoming organized. Does that sound crazy, almost laughable? Before you start
laughing too hard, look at these examples and see if you can relate.
How often do you go out to eat because your
kitchen is a mess? If your kitchen is clean, chances are you would not only be
more willing to fix dinner at home but in the morning you would fix breakfast
and pack yourself a lunch too.
Here are some benefits of getting your kitchen
||You would save at least
$5,000 a year for one person, $10,000 for two, and so on if you ate at
||When you are organized you
know what you have in your pantry, so don't buy ingredients that you
already have and you don't throw out food you forgot you have.
||You would be using your
leftovers instead of tossing them.
||You will start losing
weight because you are preparing regular well balanced meals instead of
eating fast food all the time. Besides the fact that homemade food
generally has fewer calories than fast food, balanced meals create fewer
cravings and this helps eliminate grazing.
Organizing can reduce your wardrobe and
||Do you keep buying more
clothes because you are gaining weight from fast food or from the stress
of your clutter?
||How big is your wardrobe?
Do you or your children own 30 pairs of jeans at $60 a pop because you
don't keep up with the laundry or because your closet is so stuffed you
can't find anything? That adds up to $1,800 worth of jeans. If you cut
it down to even 10 pairs you would save $1,200. How many tops do you
own? How about those shoes? Before you say, "There is no way I have that
many jeans, shoes, or tops!" go count you clothes. You may be
||How often do you toss a
suit jacket on the floor or on the furniture and then later have to have
it dry cleaned because it's wrinkled? Just think what you could save on
your dry cleaning bill if you keep a little more organized.
Organizing saves you money! Organizing can
save you money in every aspect of your life.
||Do you buy new items
because you can't find something? The cost of things like tools, glue,
tape, ropes, garden tools, kitchen items, light bulbs, batteries, office
supplies and other things really adds up.
||How much do you pay each
month in late fees on your bills because you can't find them, your
checkbook, or even a stamp to mail them?
Try something different!
So often we think that the solution to our debt
problem is for both spouses to work outside the home. At times we even compound
the problem when one or both spouses takes a second job.
When both spouses work out of the home, who takes
care of the house? Frequently, there is a constant battle between them about
whose job it is to take care of some element of the housework. After all, the
husband has been out working all day, so he doesn't feel like it. Oh, but the
wife has been working too, so why can't she take a break?
Imagine if your boss at work decided to work a
second full-time job. How would this impact your workplace? Who would you ask
if you couldn't find products for your customers? What if there was no change
because your boss was at his other job until after the bank closed? What if you
needed help or advice from your boss, but he said, "Not now... I'm too tired
from my other job?" How long would that company last? The same thing happens in
many homes every day.
Would your family be better served if one spouse
stayed home? Someone needs to be responsible for the bulk of the care and
maintenance of the home and family. Ideally, everyone will share the work, but
like in any other business, there has to be one person in charge. Otherwise,
everyone will avoid the work and everything will descend into chaos.
If this sounds like your home, you might sit down
with your spouse and seriously consider whether one of you might take off of
work to try to get your home in order. Instead of thinking of staying at home as
a prison sentence, think of it as another job to help save you money, reduce
family stress and add more family comfort.
If you're considering staying home, get rid of
the emotions and, with pen and paper (hopefully you can find one) in hand, write
down the ways that being disorganized is costing you money. Be honest and try to
cover even the small things. You might find that the money you are spending
dealing with disorganization is equal to or more than one spouse's take home
Organization has nothing to do with what is
politically correct or what the media or other people tell you you need to do.
It is a practical choice that you can make. I am NOT saying that you can't work
doing something that you love. I am saying that regardless of how your family
handles it, the work of keeping the home has to get done.
If you feel that you and your spouse have to or
both want to work, then try to come up with other ideas.
||Would spending your
vacation organizing things and deep cleaning give you enough of a jump
start to help keep things organized? Maybe once you organized everything,
you could consider hiring someone to clean your house once a week.
Before you say you can't afford it, think about this-- Which would cost
less? -- Paying someone $50 a week to clean your house or paying for all
the things that cost you money because you are not organized?
||Consider whether it would
be worth one spouse working part time instead of full time.
||Try one simple thing like
hanging up your clothes so you don't have cleaners expense or getting
the whole family to pitch in with cleaning the kitchen at the end of
Maybe you do have the time, but you just don't
know how to get organized. If that is the case, then learn. Check out books at
the library or search for help on the Internet. Better yet, find someone you
know who is organized and ask them to teach you. Don't be embarrassed to do
this. Most people are more than willing to show you how to do things. Remember,
those older women (and men) that seem to have it all together now didn't start
out that way. They've had 20 years or more of practice, and they remember what it
was like to not have a clue where to start. Just ask.
Instead of wasting your time and energy trying
to bail the water out of your sinking boat by bailing faster or using a bigger
bucket, fix the hole. CLEAN UP THE CLUTTER AND SAVE.
Thank you so much for this
article! It is so timely and encouraging knowing that we
aren't the only ones living in a mess! I especially
thought it was interesting that a reader thought you
were encouraging women out of the workforce as my
boyfriend was recently laid off from his job and we made
the financial decision that it doesn't make sense for
him to find a dead end job at $8/hr when I can pick up
extra hours at work for $16. So he is now staying at
home and taking care of things now that I am away more.
We actually have made a fun game of it as I give him my
"honey-do" list each morning! Thanks again for your
article, I have just added your website to my favorites
list! I would love to
see more articles like this one!! I have just added your
website to my favorites and look forward to reading more
Excellent article! Loved
reading this--very timely as many are struggling to make
more money, without understanding how much is wasted due
to clutter. I am particularly interested in this topic,
as I want to start a business working with older adults
to help clear out their paper clutter, and I am
constantly thinking of ways to do this. I think some
people will find it hard to believe that 'more money'
doesn't solve everything. Great website! I recommend it
to friends and family often! You're doing a wonderful
She seems to be pushing
towards women staying home. What happened to encouraging
teamwork with husbands? They live there too."