How Living A Cluttered Life Can Cost You


At some point, we’ve all done it: during the middle of a move or the week of finals. Somehow, everything gets shuffled. Some of us make it a way of life. But something not very many people consider is how fiscally irresponsible it is to live surrounded by clutter.

The obvious sums spent when living cluttered is in replacement costs. If you need it, know you have it, and can’t find it due to sheer masses of disorganization, you will need to buy another. Things I’ve found myself replacing include hole punches and rulers, glues, the right kind of clicky pen, and reams of paper. I have lost entire reams of paper in my home. I’ve seen on my desk receipts for things purchased last week re-purchased today, solely because once these little pieces of hardware waltz through my front door, they end up swallowed in the mess. Thus, the replacement begins.

Alternatively, there are the non-replacement costs. I just know there are coffee filters somewhere in the pile on the kitchen counter, but I just don’t have the time to find them to make my own coffee. Instead of buying more coffee filters when I hit the grocery, I turn left and grab a steaming bubbly cup of joe from a barista.

Some of the more obscure financial implications are involved with health. Our physical and mental beings can be so bombarded by disorganized buildup, we end up spending money we’d never have to. Physically we are exposed to dust, mites, and germs that thrive in the multitude of dark corners we provide for them between crumpled pieces of paper, a pile of shoes, the unfolded laundry, and the errant sock. Many have developed strong immunities to some of the airborne assaults. But others are missing work due to mysterious infections that creep out from the closet or under the bed, or those gripped by allergies or asthma are buying costly medications on a regular basis. On top of all of this, clutter is frequently both a trip and fire hazard. Implications here to the physical being ranges from stubbed toes to emergency room visits to, in an extreme projection, death.

The psychological factor of clutter is the most detrimental. Our brains are designed to categorize and place into the background much of what we see. Clutter is generally an ever-shifting entity, and the impact on the mind is a shortened memory due to the constant struggle to process. Next is a perpetual list of things-to-do, and since clutter is a habit, that list is as fluid as the ebb and flow of tides. Third, clutter can form blockades, preventing us from reaching certain goals, like the pencil sharpener in the corner, the jewelry box, or the coffee machine. In any of these cases, the result is stress. Stress makes us less efficient, more likely to make spontaneous decisions, and tempts us to take the easy, usually more expensive road out, like the drive-thru breakfast.

No one suffers from just one of the above symptoms. These things build on each other and feed off of one another. If you’re replacing things, taking the convenience route, and building medical expenses, you’re stressing about money, therefore working more, but less efficiently, and having less time to dedicate to that clutter causing the problems in the first place. Toss it all? Financial waste may be what’s holding you from that extreme measure. What then? Anything you choose to do that will end your clutter will very likely be an expensive move. Purchasing the appropriate tools, hiring help, taking time off of work, and trashing it are all viable and reasonable options. So, however, is the status quo. Just know, if you choose to plug on as you are, just how and where your pennies are slipping through the cracks.

Image courtesy of glynnish

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14 Responses to How Living A Cluttered Life Can Cost You

  1. Moneymonk says:

    It’s also been said that clutter leads to debt. A person that has clutter you can believe their are deep in debt

  2. melissa says:

    okay that is not true cause my family lives in a clutter and they are not in debt lol
    well i hope i did not insult you but it is not true!!!

  3. Alex says:

    Sometimes the need for things not to be cluttered can reflect an anal uptight personality. I would rather have a few papers strewn about then have to go through the rest of my life without my easy going personality, which helps me relax and enjoy my life.

  4. Mama Sage says:

    but ohhhhhhhh it can drive me craaaaaazy and I neeeeeeed Peter Walsh to pay me a visit!!! I just can’t seem to get it all done. And now I’m helping my mom close up her house of 58 years and move into an apartment. Some things CAN’T be gotten rid of!!! HELLLLPPPPP

  5. Cindy M says:

    I hate clutter and had a hard time being married to a guy who had a huge beautiful home full of empty closets yet you’d trip over a pair of his shoes (among other things) every time you tried to walk into a door. I tried living with him like this for 7 years and finally had to leave. I caught hell every time I tried to make the place more sanely livable. You can’t change people like this (thought I could, of course), not to mention I was ashamed to death when people come over. He needed the security of a lot of junk on the property, not to mention animals that needed caring for. Depressing, overwhelming situation; I would not wish it on my worst enemy. That was 18 years ago. Long story short, I live very contentedly alone now with very little clutter. His property from the road looks nastier by the year, stagnant pond out front, bushes and trees overgrowing. I can only imagine how the inside of the place must look by now.

  6. Susan says:

    I don’t want my home to look like a museum because I live there; by the same token, I don’t want it to look like a dumpster either. Invariably, when things get too cluttered, I sort and put away. I remember reading about the great actress, Ruth Gordon who was giving advice to her sister whose life was in a shambles. I’m paraphrasing what she said, “start with your underwear drawer and work from there.” “Keep it simple and gradually get it together” is the message I got from that.

  7. Gracenote says:

    I know that when I’m in clutter, I tend to procrastinate. If I procrastinate, I miss things like perhaps a bill due date etc. When I’m organized, I’m on top of it. I’m not in debt but my life runs cleaner when I’m organized and I worry less. I’m clear and free to move on to other things. I call it order in my universe!

  8. I agree with both, the article and some of the comments. Being an absolute neat freak can be just as detrimental as the clutter. I think it’s all about the balance. Personally, I feel a lot more productive and waste less time when my workspace is more organized, but it’s not because it’s easier for me to find things, mostly it’s because my mind is more focused when everything around me is more organized. At the same time, I think that approach to clutter should really be different from person to person, there is no universal solution to this.

  9. dan says:

    The problem I often come across is the interpretation of clutter. My room may not be perfectly clean, but I know where everything is. To someone else, they may consider it cluttered. You need to be careful not to place your views on what is cluttered unless the person has no idea where his/her stuff is.

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  11. Lisa Wilson says:

    Not to mention the things that my husband steps on in his home office and breaks that have to be replaced. The floor of his room is cluttered beyond belief! I try to close the door and look the other way, but I get frustrated when we have to spend money buying a new item because he stepped on the one he already had!

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  13. Matha says:

    It is true. I have suddenly realised that I have been living a very cluttered life. This has led to severe procrastination and it its true, I am deep in debt. This, I am sharing from experience.

    Right now, I am seriously making an about turn to change my life. I have no property I can call my own. I have been quite organized and been taking things for granted. I sincerely feel very frustrated and the day I will see my life changed, I will sincerely thank God. It is that serious. I am working hard at changing the situation though it is quite slow but I am very determined and know I will make it.

  14. Lena @ WhatMommyDoes says:

    I know exactly what you mean about the never ending, fluid to-do list. I am a recovering clutterbug, but I still can’t seem to stop piling up small projects all around me. My brain is constantly on Go because of this. I’m working on it, though, one day at a time.

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