Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is Clutter Costing You Cash?

My home office is located in our basement and it can get pretty cold and lonely down there. There are times when I just don't have the desire to go downstairs to do my work, but I have several jobs to do and this is where I work.

It is no wonder from these photos why I have no desire to go to my office lately. I have really let it go. I've got paper & projects in piles. My wooden IN box is stacked pretty high and ready to topple any minute. I really am not this disorganized, but by the looks of my office I might be a candidate for "Clean House". Well maybe it's not that bad, but it is one of the trouble spots in my house and it turns out my cluttered desk is costing me cash.

Late Fees
I realized this was becoming a problem recently when I found a store credit card bill on my desk the day after it was due. Not again. I did this in the spring right after the birth of my second daughter. I pay off my credit cards every month, but I do use my store cards to get additional discounts at the stores. The bill was lying in one of the piles on my desk instead of where it belongs. I have a "bills to be paid" folder that is supposed to prevent this problem. I had to race to the store with 2 kids in tow to pay the bill. When I received the following month's bill I was appalled, but not surprised by the $35.00 in fees that was charged to me. I immediately called the company and asked very kindly to have the fees reversed stating that this was my first offense and I was only 1 day late in paying the balance off in full. The customer service representative was happy to reverse the fees, but I'm afraid they might not do it for me a second time. And since I don't want to find out I have made a commitment not to let this happen again.

Lost Cash
What you can't see in this picture is the plastic 3-drawer cabinet under my desk that I use to keep office supplies. It had gotten really full of junk & about a year ago we cleaned it out and were amazed at what we found:

1. Over $100 in cash in a bank envelope.

2. $100 gift card from American Express. We were pretty excited that we found this until we called to activate the card and it had long since expired. We couldn't remember the exact year we received the card as a Christmas gift from a family member, but it had been several years.

3. $200 in travellers checks that were in my hubby's name. Thankfully these were not expired, but they were several years old as well.

4. About $50 in loose change.

We netted about $250 from this clean up, but I could not stop obsessing about that $100 gift card that was expired.

Loss of time
Because I have let my office go again, I know I am spending more time looking for missing items and less time tackling the more important things on my financial to-do list, like preparing for our upcoming tax meeting, planning for our 2009 financial goals and even paying bills on time.

So here I am again. My desk is a mess and I'm afraid what I am going to find when I clean it up, but it needs to be done. My oldest is at preschool and my baby is napping soundly so I think I will log off and tackle the piles. I will post an "after" picture once the job is done!


  1. I absolutely agree that messes cost me money! I hope that your tidying goes well!

  2. That gift card would of drove me insane! I have a friend that I was stationed with in Alaska, and one night she was looking for something and she found a $150.00 graduation check. This was 2004-she graduated in 1999. She wasn't thrilled. lol


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