July 2006 Newsletter

This month’s focus: Avoiding over-purchasing

Tip of the Month

I meet people all the time who have organizing issues, and feel overwhelmed, and wonder what is wrong with them. There is nothing wrong with them; rather, they are facing challenges which make organizing difficult. Here are just some examples of why people become disorganized:

  • They are dealing with an illness or a relative’s illness.
  • They travel extensively for business.
  • They moved from a larger house to a smaller one.
  • They have purchasing habits that no longer serve their best interests.
  • No one ever taught them basic organizing strategies.

One habit that gets many people in trouble is over-purchasing to take advantage of a good price. This could be at a discount store, a garage sale, or a seasonal sale. Yes, you may be getting a good deal – but do you really have room for everything you are purchasing – especially if like many of us in the San Francisco Bay Area, you live in a somewhat small space? If not, you pay the price in:

  • Time lost searching for things amid the clutter
  • The purchase of a second (or third or fourth) of something when you can’t find the first one
  • Time spent cleaning all the extra stuff
  • For bulk purchases, possible waste if your needs or tastes change
  • The emotional cost of living in cluttered surroundings that don’t allow you to fully enjoy your space

(Note: Some things are worth buying in reasonable quantities. For example, buying a single roll of toilet paper won’t make sense for most people. But do you need a year’s worth of cat food?)

Some questions to ask yourself before making a purchase are:

  • Is it worth the full cost – purchase price plus the costs of storing it, as outlined above?
  • Do I have similar items already? If so, why am I considering this one? Will I sell or donate something I already own to make room for this new item?
  • Do I need it?
  • Do I love it? (The way I sometimes test this for myself is by walking away from the possible purchase – say, a work of art. If I fret the whole time that someone else may come and buy it while I’m gone, that’s something I love.)

If you buy something you don’t really need or love, it won’t be a good deal for you, no matter how good the price is. Better to save your money for something else that you will need or love!

I’ve been tempted so many times by things that were almost right – for example, the jacket that was the perfect color and fit (but the wrong fabric). But if I bought that jacket, it would wind up unworn, and deep down I know that. So I’ve learned to wait for the right thing to come my way – and it’s well worth the wait.

Quote of the Month

If you don’t know you have it, or you can’t find it, it is of NO value to you.
— Barbara Hemphill

Product of the Month

Given this month’s focus, it seems appropriate to mention a product I own and love. I use my pocket briefcase from Levenger to take notes while I’m on the go – to write down ideas, things I’ve promised someone I would do, etc. Trusting my memory is a bad idea – much better to trust it to paper! The file cards then go into my in box.