Your Household Clutter Is Costing You a Bundle

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6 ways to get organized and put cash in your pocket

Clutter is costly. Just ask Jessica Doyle of Fullerton, Calif. After her divorce in 2010, she moved to a small apartment, dumping a few boxes on the living room floor and sending the rest of her belongings to a storage unit, incurring a monthly fee of $127. Paperwork was everywhere, so when her bills went missing, Doyle got slapped with late charges averaging $30 apiece. When her monthly car payment got lost in the shuffle, it cost her nearly $70 in extra interest. And when her traffic ticket disappeared, Doyle lost a day’s work standing on line at the courthouse to pay the $354 fine.

“It’s expensive to be broke,” Doyle says, “and for me, clutter was at the heart of it. My mind was chaos; everything around me was chaos. It was a vicious cycle.”

She’s not alone. Experts say that in the US, 15 to 20 percent of our annual income is drained by disorganized finances. Some of the ways it plays out: