How to Avoid the Infuriating Cost of Disorganization

cost-of-disorganizationNote: This post comes from my darling wife, Mrs. Dough.

A few years ago, I was in charge of filing the insurance claims for our family. Somehow, slowly, DR took over. This was probably because he had the forms at his office and they would occasionally change and one day he offered to take my receipt and file it himself. I quickly learned just to hand them over.

Once I was free of that responsibility, I never gave it much thought. Then it happened. The day before a 430 mile trip to my in-laws for a major holiday, I set out with a legal pad in hand. Among the to do list of errands, shopping and packing, was a trip to the dentist for my children. Unfortunately, our pediatric dentist does not file insurance claims. We have to pay the whole bill up front, then submit it to our insurance company for reimbursement. This really drives me crazy because I don’t like having to give up my money even for a few weeks.

I went about my lists of things to do that day and headed for the in-laws feeling pretty good about the things I had checked off the list and being prepared for the holiday. A few weeks later, a nagging thought clouded my mind. Had I given the dental receipts to DR for reimbursement? I called DR at the office and he said no. I then proceeded to tear my car and the house apart looking for these two pieces of paper worth $400!

A saner woman would have called the dentist’s office right then. But for a few more days, I continued to hunt, convinced they would turn up. They didn’t and I had to get a new copy to submit to insurance. But this experience started me to wondering–did DR always turn these receipts in for reimbursement? Now I know the male readers are saying, “typical female” to transfer her problem upon her husband. But, hey, I am the organized one, and if I can lose and forget some receipts that cost us $400, what happens when the more disorganized spouse is in charge of submitting the paperwork?

Well, DR assures me that he always stays on top of this reimbursement when it happens twice a year. But the fact remains that disorganization can cost a person real dollars. Ever lose a check? A gift card? Your wallet? Usually happens because of disorganization. Do you have a filing system? Can you find a receipt when you want to return something? If you need proof that you paid a bill, can you find it? Can you verify that your appliance is still under warranty? If you travel for business, are your expense receipts together? Do you keep your car serviced so that it doesn’t cost you major money down the road? Do you pay your bills on time so that you don’t have late fees?

Many of us get overwhelmed with the amount of paperwork in life. The key is the “deal with it now” principle. Everyday when you get your mail, throw out the junk mail, put the bills together in a folder, and coupons in an envelope. Keep receipts together, warranties filed. Keep a calendar and include services needed on the things you own. Pay your bills once or twice a month on a regular schedule instead of waiting until each bill is due. (The few pennies you save on interest by holding onto the money for a few more days is not worth what you will pay in late fees should you forget.) Above all, find a system that works for you and use it.

DR Note: I found those dentist receipts behind my desk at work about two months ago, but please don’t tell my wife!

Topics: Money Management

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