Are You Paying the Hidden Price of Disorganization?

We all know that being disorganized can literally cost us money. There are late fees when we forget to pay a bill on time, overdraft fees when we enter something incorrectly in our checking account, etc.

But did you know that being disorganized can cost you in hidden ways too?

Every week I make a new vow not to let receipts pile up on my desk, and every week that vow lasts about 2 days. It may not seem like a big deal, but that disorganization is costing me money.

Because I’m not 100% sure of how much money I have available to spend, we eat out “inexpensively” “just until I can get the checkbook done” because I’m not sure there’s enough money for a regular trip to the grocery store or Costco. Eating out like that gets expensive, considering it happens on a regular basis.

There are missed opportunities too. Because I’m not sure how much money I’ll need to pay taxes, I leave extra money sitting in a savings account all year instead of investing it. And if I underestimate, I have to pay penalties and possibly cash in investments at an inopportune time. (I don’t consider taxes an emergency, so I wouldn’t use my emergency fund for that. My wallet bleeding is not the same as a person bleeding.)

And what about missed deadlines?

Miss a health insurance open enrollment deadline, and you could end up paying out of pocket for expenses that would otherwise have been covered. Miss turning in reports and projects on time at work, and you’ll probably miss out on salary increases and promotions. (And you might miss out on a job entirely.)

Finally, there are missing items. How much do you spend buying duplicates of items to use that you already have but can’t find? Or that you forget you already have?

Uncertainty, missed opportunities, missed deadlines, and misplaced or forgotten items all add up to the hidden price of disorganization.

Have I missed any hidden costs? Do you have trouble with some of these things like I do? Or maybe you have tips on conquering my receipt problem once and for all. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.


  • Thankfully my disorganization has not affected my finances. My husband handles that! He enters all receipts in a book he has. It has the date, where the purchase was made, how much it was and the category (grocery, utilities). Thats all the advice I can give you on that, I have clothes piled up in a chair that I need to put away as we speak. Any advice for me? lol

  • Lenci, all I can think to suggest is to throw a blanket over them ;)

  • Great post. I have a huge pile of mail on my counter and tonight I will finally make myself go through it to make sure I am not missing any bills.

  • I lose things, including bills. Most recently, a speeding ticket has gone missing. Not good! I’m going to tear the place apart because, if I can’t find it soon, I can’t go to defensive driving school. That will cause raised insurance rates!

    Oh, and being disorganized can cause you to run late, speed and… well, you can guess the fallout from that.

  • Hey Jackie,
    Thanks for the reminder to clean off my desk.
    I have a huge hidden cost of disorganization you may have missed. It relates to sales people. Outside of our blog that teaches tips on budgeting, I’m a personal financial consultant who only makes money when I help clients make the switch to better financial products. One area I need to get more organized with in that respect is my follow up process with prospective clients and existing clients and their referrals. I often intend to call people, but sometimes lose their number on my desk and it slips my mind. I would estimate this costs me one or two sales every 6 months which could add up to over $2,000.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing and the little reminder.

  • Wow Guy, you aren’t kidding. A lack of follow up due to disorganization or forgetfulness is so big I bet we just sort of come to expect it. The organized person really stands out in that respect, and benefits from it in so many ways.

  • We have everything paid automatically by our credit card and then I pay that off as soon as it’s ready (after checking all the charges of course). A few bills (like water and the mortgage) are automatically debited from our checking account, but I know the general dates and balance our checkbook twice a month. Our paychecks are direct deposited to Chase and we have ING automatically taking all the extra that we won’t need for the mortgage. Even our Roth IRA is automatically debited.

    The only not-automatic parts of our finances is that I move the money from ING Checking to all our sub-accounts once a month and pay the credit card bills when the statements are ready. My husband also takes money from the stock account to invest based on the market instead of automatic contributions.

    Automation reduces stress. I’m actually looking into simplifying a little more…I just haven’t figured out how yet since our income isn’t always exactly the same due to our hobby jobs.

    • It sounds like you are very organized. I have a lot of things automated too, but somehow I still end up with a blizzard of paperwork and receipts on my desk.

  • April

    I have a husband who is EXTREMELY disorganized. I will write stuff on the calendar for him and he will STILL not remember it. This morning, he had an appointment with someone, I wrote it on the calendar for him days ago, then reminded him before bed. He never set an alart and missed his appointment, then blamed me for it! He does this sort of thing all the time. What can I do? I’ve already tried to help him find tools to help him and I’ve talked to him calmly about it many times. This morning I let him have it, and he blamed me. Any sugguestions? Please help, he’s driving me crazy!!

    • Does he have ADD? I do, and I just really cannot remember things like that. So I don’t try. Instead, I make it a habit (because you do habits automatically; they’re not something you have to remember) to put all appointments and things I need to do on my Google calendar. Then I set alarms for myself on my phone to go off when it’s time for me to leave for the appointment. And I keep my phone with me all the time.

      Those are the practical suggestions, but not sure what to do about him blaming you and not taking responsibility for getting to his appointments. Maybe you could tell him that you’re no longer going to remind him of things (which is really hard not to do) but that you’ll help him come up with ways to not miss stuff. Does he miss deadlines and things at work too? If not, I bet he has a strategy there that he can extend to home life.