Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How My Giant 'To Do' List Saves Me Money

I am almost always busy. I run a non-profit, I own a business, I volunteer a lot, and I am active in all kinds of community events. Plus I like to travel and this year I have a little list of 400 goals to complete in 400 days. Wow...I am busy. The way that I keep on track (and keep my sanity) it to have a huge daily "to do" list. I recently noted that this list also saves me a lot of money. Here's how:
  • I make up my list for the next day before I go to bed the night before (if I tried to keep all of these things in my head I would never get to sleep and the fatigue/stress would certainly cause future health problems thus costing me money).
  • I arrange my day in logical order. Nearly every day I end up traveling from one end of the region to the other. If I arrange my day in logical order I save money on gas. I figure out the route I will take, trying not to recross my steps, while dropping off or picking up things along the way so no special trips are needed. With planning, I can often carpool to many meetings (again saving gas money) with others who I know are going to the same place. On less busy days when I have more time, I often opt for public transportation which saves money as well.
  • When my day is laid out on paper, I can figure out how/when/where to eat for the day. Generally I start off my day with a good breakfast at home but I may be away from home for lunch and dinner. If I see that this will be the case by looking at my schedule, I bring food from home so I am not caught out without a meal which would mean an expensive stop at a restaurant(s).
  • Having a clear schedule allows me to save time and money on errands. Instead of spending money for a stamp, I can pay many bills on my way to and from where I am going (ie: the cable company is next to the post office, the Target bill can be paid when I meet my carpool in the Target parking lot). Coupons for groceries are attached to the to do list with a paperclip so that if I happen to pass by a particular store, I have my coupons with me and then no special trips to the store are needed, thus saving gas.
  • Bill payment due dates are included on my calendar and are put on the to do list as they come up. This way I am never late on a payment and don't incur late fees.
  • Follow up phone calls and messages are listed on the to do list as well. While this may or may not save me money, there have been a few times where a message was for work from a new client. If I would have let these calls slide, I would have missed out on earning money.
  • Birthdays are put on the to do list. This way, I send a simple (inexpensive) acknowledgement of the person's birthday or special occasion instead of the more expensive "sorry I forgot your birthday" gifts that I can sometimes feel guilted into giving.
  • If my list is too overwhelming, I can call in reinforcements (the hubby). By letting the hubby know in the morning that I need him to cook dinner, we save money which we would otherwise spend on eating out because we were both too tired or too disorganized to cook. If the yard is getting overgrown, I can either make time in my schedule on a slow day or ask the hubby to do it so I don't have to hire a yard service.

The bottom line is that being organized can save you money. I know people (and I've been the person) who are so disorganized that they end up spending a whole lot of money for things that with a little planning would have not cost them a penny.


  1. Karen Peissinger-VenhausJanuary 29, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    Gosh, you are busy person! I hope you put naps and "do nothing" on your "to do" list :-)

  2. Actually I do. I am the only person I know who takes a nap from 4pm-5pm every day. Since I go to sleep at midnight and get up at six, this is the only way to squeeze in enough sleep! Maybe after the "cash only" revolution, I will work on an "everyone needs a nap" revolution!