For Christmas, we bought Bee a Little Tikes basketball hoop. She played with it in the basement until April, when the weather warmed up, and then we moved it outside. After only two months in the sun, the post has bent and warped, so this morning we explained the problem to a Little Tikes consumer services rep. Her first response was,
“But do you have a receipt? Because if you don’t, there is nothing we can do.”
I’ll reserve comment on the company’s “customer service” philosophy, because that’s really not the point of this post. The point is that yes, I did have a receipt, and I was able to locate it within minutes. I e-mailed it to the company, and they’re going to send us a replacement.
This is an example of how organization saves money. If I hadn’t been able to locate my receipt, I would have no choice but to grumble and complain for a while, chuck the crappy basketball hoop in the garbage, and buy something different. Money down the drain.
Here’s how I organize my receipts:
We pay for nearly everything with our credit card, because we earn cash back. We have three credit cards – one for business expenses, one for personal/household expenses, and a Visa that is rarely used, but necessary because some vendors do not accept Discover. I have a hanging folder in my household file box for each credit card, and inside I have a labeled manila folder for receipts. Here’s an example:
When our statement comes in the mail each month, I “reconcile” it by stapling the receipts to it in the order they appear. This makes them easy to find. In the case of the Little Tikes purchase, it was a personal expense, so I knew that it would be on the Discover card, and it was a Christmas present from last year, so I guessed that it would appear on the January, 2010 statement. I pulled that statement from the hanging folder, and found it immediately.
I store the occasional cash receipt in a small accordion file, sorted alphabetically (you can buy these very inexpensively at Wal-Mart or Staples. They look like a coupon organizer). At the end of each calendar year, we put all of our household and business paperwork into labeled banker’s boxes, and move them to our storage shed (see Getting a Jump on Year-End Preparation). We keep them for 7 years, for tax purposes.
A friend once said, “I thought your blog was about frugality and simplicity? How come you write about organization so much?”
But you see, organization and frugality go hand in hand! They are a perfect pairing, like milk and cookies, chocolate and marshmallow, peanut butter and jelly (I’m hungry right now, can you tell?) One of my favorite money-saving strategies is to CLEAN. It’s simply amazing what you find when you clean and organize. My daughters learn this every time they clean their bedroom and discover a missing library book, their long lost bedroom slippers, or the dollar Daddy gave them for helping wash the car.
This weekend, I needed batteries for my camera. I thought we were out, so I wrote “rechargeable batteries,” on the grocery list. Later, I was rummaging through a kitchen drawer, looking for the eraser for our dry erase board (the children pilfered it again), and I discovered two unopened packages of rechargeable, AA batteries that my husband had given me in my Christmas stocking (we have an ongoing, mostly friendly dispute about batteries, just as we do about chocolate chips 🙂 If I hadn’t discovered those batteries, I would have gone to the store and purchased more – a needless expense. One of the best ways to save money is to know what you have, and use it. My husband has heard me say this so many times that he suggested I change my blog to “USE What You Have.”
Now, I’m sure I need not explain how organization makes life simpler, right? Just think of the peace you feel when you sit in a clean, orderly room. You can rest and relax. You can breathe.
So…what are you going to organize today?[print-me/]