Last Updated on 31/07/2023
Clutter costs you money. Most people don’t realise exactly how much money they’re wasting by hanging on to too much stuff. Not only do you have to pay for square footage to store all your things, but it also takes time and energy to keep track of it all. The amount of money you’re spending on storage, plus the time you’re wasting, might be costing you way more than you think.
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Clutter can also be a major distraction, making it difficult to focus on what’s really important. Plus, the more you have, the harder it is to stay organised. Let’s take a deep dive into all of the ways clutter costs you time, energy and money.
Clutter Costs You Money in Lost Wages
It’s no secret that clutter can be costly in terms of the money you spend on extra space at home, outside storage, and insurance. Beyond that though, it also takes time and energy to keep your space tidy when you have a lot of stuff. If you think about it, all of these factors are digging into your regular paycheck.
If you have a cluttered home, it can be difficult to keep up with cleaning. This can not only cut into your leisure time, but might even lead to the need to hire a professional cleaner. Clutter can also obviously make it tough to find things you need, which results in wasted time and money spent replacing items you can’t find.
Ultimately, if your clutter is particularly overwhelming, it can contribute to stress and anxiety. In turn, these can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health. If your closet is a quasi death trap in the making because it’s stuffed to the brims and easy to trip over stuff, or if the state of things at home is causing you to phone in sick, your clutter is impacting your earning power.
Clutter Costs You Late Fees
When clutter piles up, it’s easy to lose track of bills and parking tickets that need to be paid, library books which have to be returned on time, and the like.
When you run late on invoices owed and borrowed items, fees start racking up. That’s money you’ve worked hard for going right out the window, for nothing in return.
Clutter Costs You Time…
…and time is money, as they say. Clutter can take up your time in a number of ways. First, it’s an attention whore simply by being in the way. You have to see it, move it around, re-organise, and so forth. Second, it’s time consuming when you can’t find what you need, when you need it. Third, it’s distracting because it makes it difficult to focus on what should be doing or would rather be doing.
All of this adds up to lost time that could be spent doing something else. Something more productive, or simply something more enjoyable. In addition, all the hours you spend dealing with clutter can be stressful, as mentioned above. Stress, in turn, can definitely have a less-than-pleasant impact on your productivity and sense of fulfillment.
Clutter Costs You Money in Increased Insurance Premiums
There are a few ways that clutter can incur higher insurance premiums and costs. For one, if your home is cluttered, it can be more difficult for firefighters to get through and put out a fire or handle an emergency. This could ultimately lead to more damage. If your insurance agent has noted your home as cluttered, the insurance company may charge you a higher premium as a result.
Another way is that if you have a lot of stuff, your insurance provider might consider you to be more likely to have something stolen. In essence, the more things you have, the higher your premium will be. Additionally, if you have big-ticket items in your household like luxury items, guns, or valuable collectibles, you typically have to report them to your insurer for coverage. These things will either incur higher premiums, or higher deductibles for claims filed.
Clutter Can Lead to Higher Energy Bills
Who would have thought? Clutter in your home can lead to higher utility bills in several ways. Quite simply, if you have a lot of stuff, your heating and cooling systems will have to work harder to circulate, and thus use more energy.
Clutter can block vents and air registers, making it difficult for your heating and cooling system to do its job. If you have radiant heating and a lot of furniture and other items covering your floor space, be prepared to have to turn up the thermostat in winter. All of this leads to higher utility bills.
Clutter Costs You Money in Lost Opportunities
There are many ways in which clutter can lead to lost opportunities that cost you money. One way is that it can prevent you from actually seeing potential opportunities that could be beneficial to you. For example, if you have a cluttered computer and desk, you might oversee a crucial document that could lead to a new job or client.
Another way is that clutter can lead to missed deadlines. If you have a cluttered schedule, for example, you might oversee an important meeting or deadline that could cost you potential earnings.
Clutter can also lead to wasted time and resources. When you space is cluttered, you’ll find you spend more time searching for what you need. This alone equates to money in lost productivity. Worse, you might misplace tickets, vouchers or gift certificates, missing a monetary opportunity to cash them in.
Clutter Can Take a Toll on Mental Health
We mentioned it above, clutter can have a truly significant impact on your mental health and well-being. It can cause feelings of stress, anxiousness, or even shame. It’s not entirely uncommon for folks to feel too embarrassed to have visitors over when their place is a cluttered mess.
Clutter can also make it difficult stay focused and productive. If you’re working from home like a lot of us these days, this can have a double-trigger effect on your mental well-being.
When our living spaces are piled high with stuff, it can be difficult to relax and feel at ease. The constant visual stimulation can feel overwhelming, and the mess can make us feel as if we’re not in control. This in turn leads to increased levels of cortisol. Stress!
Folks living in depths of clutter might feel inhibited when it comes to letting in unexpected visitors, or even inviting friends and family over. When you’re surrounded by what seems a mess, it can make you feel as if you’ve failed in a way. As if you’re not good enough, or don’t deserve to have a tidy, orderly space.
Rest assured: you are worthy, and you’re not a failure. And if you’re unhappy with the clutter, you can turn it around.
How to Nix the Cost of Clutter
There’s no price tag we can put per se on the cost of clutter. It’s entirely individual. Fact is though, that hoarding and clutter costs the economy many billions of dollars annually, from space and storage, to utilities and your own personal energy.
What’s the fix? It really depends on your personal situation. If you’re suffering from a hoarding disorder, there’s help out there. Clutterers Anonymous is based in the US, but they have online meetings which can be joined internationally. The International OCD Foundation has task forces not only in many US states, but also in the UK, Canada and Australia.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in your house, and don’t know where to start decluttering or organising, there are tonnes of free courses and videos online to get motivated. Or, you might choose to consult a professional organiser in your locale.
Perhaps you’re just teetering on the edge of some disorderliness you could use a hand with at home. Maybe it’s your closet that’s bugging you, or the number of small kitchen appliances you’ve accumulated over the years. If that’s your situation, a lot of my articles here on Tidymalism might be helpful for your situation.
I recommend starting with What is Clutter? Identifying Four Common Types of Clutter so as to get a better grip on what exactly might be bugging you. Then move on to my articles on Daily Decluttering Bursts and re-thinking your weekly cleaning schedule (whether you live alone or have a family).