Sunday, September 14, 2008

Organizing My Life, My Finances and My Basement

Am I wrong here? It seems like the more frugal I get, the more organized I get! (Or want to be.) It started with my finances. In order to make my budget I had to start tracking every thin dime spent. To do that I created a running file of all my statements, that way I could have the most recent statement for any bill right at hand. Then I started selling things for friends on eBay and Amazon, which meant I had to set up a tracking system for that. Shortly after I read this great article by Prime Time Money about creating a financial "dashboard." I took his idea and then made myself a personal finance balance sheet. The great thing about it was that it actually made me feel a bit better. Sure, I'm struggling each month, but my "empty credit" (ala credit cards) is really low. Most of my debt is in real estate, which means my net worth looks pretty decent on paper.

In addition, as I mentioned in another post, I am trying to slowly reorganize the house. It's kind of a strange place to be in. The house was jointly lived in by my husband and I until our split. Then I took what I needed and I moved out. When the dust settled and I had to take the house back over, he took what he wanted. Ultimately this means he ended up with some of my things, I ended up with some of his. Occasionally it makes me irritated, like when I see he took the $50 afghan that I bought that perfectly matches my couch - which he left. But you know, it isn't worth fighting over. I have absolutely no desire to go over there and demand the heavy ceramic planters that I paid for and spent hours picking out and lugged home. Am I bitter? A touch, but there is no use dwelling on it. For the most part I can just let it go and accept that what is - is.

Because of the various moves, (and frankly because I am still not completely unpacked,) there are still pockets of disorganization. As a frugal person however, I am finding that organization can be one of my best friends.

Obviously, being organized saves time - I feel better knowing that I can lay my hands on what I need, when. I'm not wasting time looking for things. My kitchen is doing great in this regard, especially since I spent August shopping out of my my own cupboards. The next room to tackle is my office - way too much of that is still in boxes.

Tidy Room = Tidy Mind - I just recently rearranged some of the furniture in my bedroom area and while I was at it I cleared all the clutter off the horizontal surfaces where it tends to collect. You know what? I feel the difference. I feel a lot less stressed there than I do in my still cluttered office area!

Finding Stuff I Didn't Know I Had - One of the areas I am trying to organize is my workshop. When my father passed away my husband and I were given a lot of his tools. Unfortunately, they got mixed in with my husband's tools. It is so hard to say whose is whose. I tried to divide them up, but I think some things went that shouldn't have. I have no way of knowing for sure though. So, in order find out what I have and make things tidy, I decided to hang some pegboard I had. One water stained edge needed to be cut off though, and I started thinking how nice it would be to have a jigsaw. In fact, at one point I even put one in my basket at Lowes (I had a coupon) but then put it back because I had other things that were more important to purchase. Anyway, guess what I found tucked in the back of the shelves? My dad's jigsaw. In fact, since undertaking the Great Workshop Clean Up I have found a number of handy tools I thought I would have to buy.

Saving Me Cash and Raising My Credit Score - One of my favorite organizational benefits is that since I have got all my bill paying organized and online, I haven't had a late payment in years. Not only am I not paying overdraft and late fees any more, but I just got a free credit report from my credit card and found my credit score was 780. I'm pretty darn happy with that. Even though I decided not to refinance at this time, that score would have gotten me the best rate.

I keep thinking about how much things have changed. The author of Until Debt Do Us Part left this comment in my post about staying financially motivated: The lessons you learn from the journey that you are on now will serve you a lifetime. I think they're right. Each step, one by one, gets me closer to happiness and peace of mind - and hey, isn't that what we are all really after?

Organize This:

Your Frugal House: Five Ways To Save Money in the Home Office

I've Paid For This Twice Already - The Beauty of Organizing Your Money

Prime Time Money - Build a One -Sheet Dashboard-Style View of Your Finances

Photo by: Olivetti


PT said...

Thanks so much for sharing my dashboard article. Reminds me that it's time to update mine. :)

Dawn said...

You are welcome! I am glad you commented - it made me notice I had a programming error in this post! I hate when that happens.