Imagine if your boss at work decided to work a second full-time job. How would this impact your work place? Who would you ask if you couldn't find products for your customers? What if there was no change because your boss was at his other job until after the bank closed? What if you needed help or advice from your boss, but he said, "Not now... I'm too tired from my other job?" How long would that company last? The same thing happens in many homes every day.

Would your family be better served if one spouse stayed home? Someone needs to be responsible for the bulk of the care and maintenance of the home and family. Ideally, everyone will share the work, but like in any other business there has to be one person in charge. Otherwise, everyone will avoid the work and everything will descend into chaos.

If this sounds like your home, you might sit down with your spouse and seriously consider whether one of you might take off of work to try to get your home in order. Instead of thinking of staying at home as a prison sentence, think of it as another job to help save you money, reduce family stress and add more family comfort.

If you're considering staying home, get rid of the emotions and with pen and paper (hopefully you can find one) in hand, write down the ways that being disorganized is costing you money. Be honest and try to cover even the small things. You might find that the money you are spending dealing with disorganization is equal to or more then one spouse's take home pay.

Organization has nothing to do with what is politically correct or what the media or other people tell you. It is a practical choice that you can make. Please note that I am not saying that you can't work doing something that you love. I am saying that regardless of how your family handles it, the work of keeping the home has to get done and some families may benefit from rethinking their approach.

If you feel that you and your spouse have to or both want to work, then try to come up with other ideas, like:

  • Would spending your vacation organizing things and deep cleaning give you enough of a jump start to help keep things organized? Maybe once you organized everything you could consider hiring someone to clean your house once a week. Before you say you can't afford it, calculate hich would cost less. Which is greater: paying someone $50 a week to clean your house or paying for all the things that cost you money because you are not organized?
  • Consider whether it would be worth one spouse working part-time instead of full-time.
  • Try one simple thing like hanging up your clothes so you don't have a cleaners expense or getting the whole family to pitch in with cleaning the kitchen at the end of each meal.

Maybe you do have the time but you just don't know how to get organized. If that is the case, then learn. Check out books at the library or search for help on the Internet. Better yet, find someone you know who is organized and ask them to teach you. Don't be embarrassed to do this. Most people are more than willing to show you. Remember, those older women (and men) that seem to have it all together now didn't start out that way. They've had twenty years or more practice, and they remember what it was like to not have a clue where to start. Just ask.

January 12, 2009.


Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the editors of http://www.LivingOnADime.com/. As a single mother of two, Jill Cooper started her own business without any capital and paid off $35,000 debt in 5 years on $1,000 a month income. Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 debt in 5 years on $22,000 a year income.