I was driving home from work today when it occurred to me how expensive being disorganized can be. How much money could we collectively save by tightening the belt and being a little more responsible?! Let me break this into three categories:
Being Disorganized with Meals
Groceries are undoubtedly one of the biggest expenses that we incur in our lives. Unfortunately we need to eat every single day and eating is expensive! I was reading a blog post the other day about grocery budgets and it made me think of how different an individuals grocery budget can be.
When I was a student, I ironically had very little regard for money. I worked in nightclub security (which was very well paid) and had another couple of sources of income. To say I was hard-up as a student would be far from the truth. I occasionally look back with regret and think of how I could better have spent money – taking advantage of the market crash in 08/09, or just saving in general. Instead, I spent a lot of money on food. From going out to restaurants with friends, to regular take out meals after work it was expensive. Unfortunately it didn’t stop there – I would regularly blow £100+ a week at the supermarket… to feed MYSELF!!
Can you believe it? Today, we spend about £60 a week at the supermarket now and we eat very well. I bought far too many branded items and I had budgeted wrong. I allowed myself £100 a week for food and I made sure I always spent it.
When you work out this cost over the period of 5 years I could have saved myself a small fortune…. the money would have trebled itself as the market recovered and I would have a beautiful little nest egg. Ach well… what’s done is done!
My example is far from extreme – Bloggers that I am friends with like Elaine from MortgageFreeInThree have learned to feed a family of far less. Does Elaine eat poorer quality food or do her children suffer? HECK NO! She eats even better than I do (partly because she is an ace cook) because she plans her meals so well. She has a supplies cupboard which would put an aisle in Tescos to shame and a recipe book to rival Delia Smith! On the other end of the spectrum, I see people every week in the supermarket with trollies that are spilling over with food. Either they are feeding a whole class, or a LOT of that food is getting wasted. And do you think they are even looking at what they are buying? Haha… Good one!
When I first started blogging about 18 months ago, I ignorantly assumed that spending less would mean sacrificing the quality of your meals. In actual fact, if you learn to cook it batches and buy the right things at the right time – you can do quite the opposite. For further information check out my post on Dealing with Leftovers.
Being Disorganized with Travel
With my job I frequently have to travel last minute. This usually means that I end up paying hugely inflated flight / hotel prices because I booked with very little notice. While I don’t have a lot of control over this, I sure as heck don’t make this mistake with my personal travel.
We are planning a trip to South Africa next year – and yes you bet I am already monitoring flight prices. I can guarantee that I am not going to be that guy who leaves things to the last minute and buys a ticket a month before he flies. Flight prices can increase twofold!
While this is not always controllable, we normally have a good indication of where and when we might travel. Of course, you could do quite the opposite and be so organized that you appear disorganized – get packed, hold out until the last minute and book a deal the day before you leave!! Personally, this is too stressful for my liking so I will probably always opt for the former!
If you think you are too busy to monitor flights, or choose the best option between flight, taking the train or the bus, websites like GoEuro allow you to find the best fare in just a few clicks, so no more excuses!
Being Disorganized with Finances
Bet you didn’t see this last one coming?! Being disorganized with your finances can cost you a small fortune. From overdue bills and penalty bank charges to missed rebates and reward opportunities. The trouble with our relatively routine and static monthly outgoings is that there is no immediate incentive to change – why bother getting things in line this month and optimizing your output when you can just do it next month?
Now is the time to re-negotiate utilities, rent and memberships. Cashback sites are spilling over with offers to transfer electricity, gas, mobile, internet etc. Take advantage of these deals and take advantage of them again. Make sure that your money is in a high interest account and that you take advantage of your country’s tax free saving opportunities. Sign up for your matched pensions and automate the payments into your savings account!