How to Organize and Categorize Your Spending

By | August 30, 2013

Financial organization and careful budgeting are crucial to the success of any operation. Whether you run a household or a small business, knowing how to get organized, stay that way, and balance a budget is essential to productivity, output, and the bottom line.

Here are a few simple steps to turn a mess into a well-oiled machine.

Step 1: Declutter

The first step to getting organized is often the hardest for even the most stalwart of organizers. Clutter is hugely inhibiting, and studies have shown that it reduces productivity, weakens decision-making skills, and actually replicates the symptoms of ADHD.

While many will insist they can be productive in even the busiest, noisiest, most visually distracting environment, the truth is that when faced with so much stimuli, the brain will attempt to process all of it, whether you want to or not.

The other secret about clutter is that it’s making you broke. That’s right: the more clutter an office space, small business, or home has, the less likely it’s going to thrive financially. Unburden yourself of the distracting, unnecessary items in your home or on your desk and you can improve operations — if you just put your mind to the task.

Step 2: Don’t spend to save

Even the most organized people know the temptation to spend money when you’re sorting out a room, office, or storage space is powerful. Loose paperwork calls for folders, filing cabinets, and boxes. Scattered pens, paper clips, and rubber bands cry out for dividers, cups, and containers.

You need to buy plastic bins, wooden crates, storage sheds, and hanging shelves … right? Wrong.

When organizing a home or business, many make the mistake of overspending on resources they think are necessary. But when you’re operating on a budget, and organizing as part of a larger, holistic approach to streamlining operations, then blowing all your petty cash on plastic tubs and drawer dividers doesn’t make much sense.

Instead, consider step three.

Step 3: Recycle resources and save creatively

Saving money on organizational tools is important for any budget, and will open up funds for reallocation; and making your operations more fluid is the name of the game. Here are some creative ways to reuse objects you’ve already paid for.

— Glass Jars

Glass jars come home with you almost every time you leave the grocery store, so they’re abundant. Consider storing pencils and pens, paintbrushes, makeup, tampons, cue-tips, and more in such jars. Bracelets can be stored around the outside of a tall thin jar, and some earrings can be displayed around the edge of a wide-mouthed jar.

What’s more, pantries can be kept better organized (and food can stay fresh longer) when jars are used instead of plastic baggies or bag clips, and jars can be turned in to some grocery stores where bulk foods are purchased.

— Your computer

Odds are you have one of these, so instead of flooding your space with paperwork that’s distracting and costly to store, switch to paperless and receive your bills, send out invoices, and store documents using the magic of the Internet.

While some companies charge for excessive cloud-storage space, those fees will be nothing compared to the amount you’ll pay to store boxes of paperwork for years at a time.

— Plastic containers and cardboard boxes

If you live in a region where keeping cardboard won’t encourage a pest infestation, then the cardboard boxes that come with shoes, kitchen products, etc. can be used either as free storage or as free shipping materials. Keep in mind that the USPS provides free boxes for flat-rate customers, and if your business ships regularly, they’ll mail them directly to your house at no cost.

Plastic containers from yogurt, margarine, and the like are great substitutes for expensive plastic baggies, and can also be used as drawer organizers.

Once you’ve started getting your home or business in order without spending the precious money you’re trying to save, you’ll start to see your actual operation costs more clearly, and you should be saving in no time.


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