How Being Organized Can Save You Money

We tend to think of cost cutting measures as things like clipping coupons or making sacrifices. What if we told you that you could save money simply by being better organized? Here are some traits of organized people and the takeaways that might help you.

Organized people pay their bills on time.

They tend to know how much money they have, what they owe and when it’s due so they are prepared to pay their bills on time. That means they have a budget, keep track of their bills and often use things like Online Bill Pay at VCNB to guarantee they don’t miss anything.   

Organized people know what they own.

Do you ever buy something only to get home and realize you didn’t need it after all? How many bottles of cinnamon do you own? Clean out your closet and take stock of how many black t-shirts you own or how many pairs of jeans are languishing on the shelf because you simply don’t wear them or even know if they fit.

Organized people waste less money on food.

They tend to rotate their stock so that the oldest canned goods are easy to reach in the cupboard. They can see at a glance what’s in the freezer so they don’t forget about the leftover soup they froze and need to use soon because they marked the container and made it easy to find.

Organized people know how to work in batches.

They tend to organize their life so they can run all their errands in one neighborhood at the same time. If they have to drop off their kids for tutoring, they will grab groceries on that side of town and fill up the gas tank while their kids are learning. They avoid driving just to do one thing.

Organized people buy less stuff.

An organized person can tell you that life is easier when you are organizing less. That means they tend not to bring home a lot of extra stuff whether it be planned or on impulse. They remember to pack lunch the night before so they don’t have to eat out or to carry a refillable water bottle so they don’t have to hit the vending machine.

Organized people have more time.

Ok, so this is less about money than quality of life but we believe that’s important too. Batching errands and having less stuff to care for frees up a lot of time to do things you might enjoy more. Besides, what’s that old saying? Time is money.

Get Fit Without Breaking The Bank

Did you meet the year with grand intentions of getting fit? If you think that money could interfere with your health and fitness plans, you need to reconsider what it really takes to improve your diet and get fit. Sure there’s a plethora of options for joining a gym, hiring a trainer, having healthy meal kits delivered and spending a boatload of money on all kinds of weight loss aids.

All of those things sound helpful but are they really necessary? Here are five things to consider as you start down this road.

  1. Free Information. There are all kinds of websites from reliable sources and free apps to help with your journey toward better health. Check out YouTube for free workouts and healthy cooking videos. There are apps that help you count calories and plan meals and others that provide music to keep you going during your run or walk. Free articles help you understand foods that pack a nutritional punch and recipes for putting them to work.  Need inspiration? There are even bloggers who share their inspiring story to help you stay motivated!
  2. Exercise Outside The Gym. If you’re really on a shoestring, try walking or doing body weight exercises. Old fashioned pushups, squats and crunches are just a few of the exercises you can do with nothing more than the sweat on your brow. If you have a few bucks, invest them in a set of hand weights. These things can be done nearly anywhere and the initial investment is just a decent pair of walking shoes and some cheap weights.
  3. Healthy Food Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive. Read that again. Healthy food isn’t necessarily more expensive than junk food. While we all envision health food as lean cuts of fish, colorful fresh salads and all organic ingredients, it doesn’t have to be that way. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and flash frozen at their peak making them an inexpensive substitute for fresh produce. Instead of boneless skinless chicken, go for the bone-in chicken breast but skip the skin and bake it instead of frying it. Vegetable soup and chili can be a nutritious way to stay full while stretching a dollar. Most of all, skip the junk food. Once you stop buying chips, pop, candy and sodium packed frozen meals, you may be surprised at how much more affordable healthier foods seem.
  4. Log Your Water. Water is so good for you! Carry a reusable water bottle with you to stay hydrated and curb temptation to buy a drink. Sugary beverages including pop and juices should be consumed in moderation or better yet, not at all. Just cutting out these extra drinks will save you dollars too!
  5. Talk To Your Doctor. Talk to your family doctor for medical advice first. They know you and your family medical history as well as any unique risks or needs you may face. They may even be able to set you up with meal plans, tips for starting an exercise regime and other useful information. The expertise of your family physician will be invaluable as you start down this road to a better you!  

Not everyone has the resources to hire a trainer or to only buy organic foods. Luckily, if getting fit is a priority, it’s possible to get fit and improve your health with the most basic resources like water, walking shoes and help from online resources. Have a tip? We would love to hear about it!

Set Better Goals For the New Year

Welcome to January. This is the month that most New Year’s Resolutions setting Americans will give up on their goals. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Hear us out.

First, you have to stop calling them resolutions and think of them as goals. More than half of all Americans will resolve to do something and it’s typically something big. We say we will lose weight or save money this year. We say we will stop smoking or get a promotion at work. What we don’t say is how we are going to accomplish these big resolutions.

If there’s something you really want to do, you need two things. The first is passion. If you are not passionate about your resolution the day you make it, you won’t be excited to keep going in six months and probably not even in two weeks.

The other thing you need is to break that resolution down into a SMART Goal. What’s a SMART Goal? We’re glad you asked! This is actually an acronym that you can use to guide your goal setting and make goals that are actually productive. It stands for:






Specific. You have to make your goal as clear and specific as possible so that you can train your focus on what you really hope to achieve. What do you want to accomplish? Why is your goal important? Who will you need to involve to accomplish your goal? Where will it happen? What resources do you need at your fingertips and what limitations do you need to overcome? If you want to become an early riser in 2022, you need to know why it’s important to start getting up earlier and how you can do it. “I will become an early riser by going to bed one hour earlier than normal, by committing to not hitting snooze and by asking someone in my household to hold me accountable when I don’t get out of bed on time. My reward will be free time to do something I want to do in the morning.”

Measurable. It’s easier to stay motivated when you can track or measure your progress. It helps you set deadlines, stay focused and feel encouraged when you’re closing in on a milestone. If you’re failing to show progress, this isn’t a cue to get discouraged. Instead it’s a nudge to try tweaking your strategy. Measurability is crucial when it comes to things like losing weight. Instead of just saying you will lose fifty pounds, break the goal down into measureable chunks. You might say that you will lose five pounds per month for ten months. A weekly or monthly weigh-in will help you stay on track.

Achievable. You must set realistic goals. Big, lofty goals are fun to say out loud but it’s discouraging to reach for and fail at unattainable goals. Consider your restraints and limitations as you dream of the opportunities. Remember, as you work toward your goal, you still have to live in the world you wake up in.  We all want a big, fat emergency fund to help us through a rainy day. However, we may not have a lot of extra income to save and may need to look for reasonable spending cuts or ways to earn money on the side. “I will open a savings account with the goal of saving $1,200 in 2022. I will save $100 each month by cutting expenses and reducing discretionary spending.”

Relevant. Before setting a goal you need to be sure that it’s relevant to your life and that the timing is right. Is it worth your time? Is it something you want or even need to work on to have a better life?

Time-bound. A deadline is the ultimate inspiration so it’s important to have a target date or a series of target dates. Set achievable milestone dates as well to make your goal more measureable and the process more rewarding. If your goal is to spend more time with family, you need to prioritize getting it on the calendar.  “I will build better relationships with my parents by calling them twice a week and with my kids by planning a weekly outing for the entire family. I will do this for three months and then reevaluate to plan my next steps.”

You don’t need all the answers when you set your goals but you do need to give yourself a framework for getting started and checking in with yourself along the way. It’s that accountability, consistency and constant assessment of how you’re doing that will make all the difference!

Resolving To (Someday) Overcome Procrastination

Just eight percent of people who make a New Year’s resolution will stick with it this year. That’s why we’re talking resolutions all week long here at VCNB. We’re looking at common resolutions and some things you can do to power through and achieve your goals. We have covered budgets, health goals, savings and organization so far. Ironically, we put off writing about procrastination until the very end.

A wise man once said the “deadline is the ultimate inspiration.” While everyone doesn’t procrastinate, most people have a natural tendency to sometimes put off things they don’t want to do. Some of us though are paralyzed by distractions, bad habits and an inability to make decisions. While it can be hard, it is possible to overcome the habit of procrastination and get things done. You just have to want to possibly . . . maybe . . . commit. . . and start working on it . . . someday.

Put it in writing – It can be harder to ignore a task if it’s in writing. If it’s something simple, write it on a to-do list or even just on a post-it note. For some list makers, the simple act of crossing a task off the list is enough motivation to get to work. Bigger projects can be intimidating and have more steps so take a few minutes to brainstorm everything that needs done and write a plan. A detailed plan will help you get started and provide focus where there may otherwise be uncertainty.

Eliminate distractions – Sometimes procrastination is born from good old fashioned distractions. Who can judge when there are so many great distractions in 2016? There’s Facebook quizzes, Netflix binging, Youtube cat videos and other things that seem much more interesting! If you need to settle down and get a job done, turn off those distractions. Don’t worry. They’ll still be there for you later!

Find a change of scenery – It sounds silly but sometimes the best weapon against procrastination is simply moving to a different location. Take a walk or, if it’s portable, take your work to another room. Try it! This really works!

Deal with the worst – Usually the things we delay the longest are the ones we most hate to do. Instead of delaying the inevitable, try getting it done first! If you first finish the worst task, you won’t have so much to dread later that day! Another approach is to tell yourself you only have to do that worst job for fifteen minutes. You can do anything for fifteen minutes! Set a timer and get to work. Odds are you’ll keep going long after the timer has expired.

Bribery – When all else fails, bribe yourself with a treat! Most people respond well to a rewards system!

The truth is, when dealing with procrastination, the best defense is awareness and vigilance when making decisions. Remember, one failure doesn’t constitute a complete loss. Try again tomorrow. . . or maybe the day after that. Do you have a hack for getting things done? Share it in the comments section!


Keeping Your Resolution To Get Organized

Did you know that twenty-five percent of resolution makers abandon their goals within a week? With that in mind, we’re spending this week talking about New Year’s resolutions and ways to help you accomplish your goals. We’ve covered budgeting, saving money and health goals so far. Today we’re talking about organization.

A lot of resolutions have to do with organization. From getting to work on time to redoing a closet, organization skills relate to almost all aspects in life. Maybe you need to organize a desk so you can actually use it to pay bills and do work. Perhaps the organization you need isn’t for a physical space but for your time instead.

Regardless of what you’re organizing, there are some things to keep in mind and to keep you on track.

People sometimes mistake organization with perfection. They think it’s an all-or-nothing deal where everything is tucked away in a neatly labeled box. They equate an organized home with an empty home. However, organizer Christina Scalise explained it best when she said “Organization isn’t about perfection. It’s about efficiency, reducing stress and clutter, saving time and money and improving your overall quality of life.”

Another common mistake is believing that everything can be fixed in a day. Instead of trying to organize your entire home in a day, try spacing it out over a period of weeks or months. Identify the hot spots that you want to hit first and then write out a schedule for going through each one. Plan to do one big thing a week or something small every night by scheduling time to work on it.

This month, you may start with the paper clutter, cleaning out the old and developing a system for filing the new. Next month you could work on clothes closets and dresser drawers while March is the month you finally attack your messy laundry room. Clutter and disorganization doesn’t happen in a day so it’s unrealistic to think it can be fixed in a day or two.

When it comes to organizing it’s important to visualize whatever you are trying to accomplish. If you wish to cook in a kitchen where everything is easily accessible, start by looking at the space and how you’re using it. Can you use the space more wisely? Do you really need everything you are storing? If you don’t bake, chances are you don’t need to keep a dozen cookie sheets. Sometimes we aren’t disorganized, we just are trying to store things we don’t need.

People often believe that the first step to organization is to run out and buy a bunch of containers but the best first step is actually to choose one small piece of the puzzle. Start with that cabinet crammed full of coffee mugs. You probably have a few favorites that you use every day but do you need three dozen mugs? Maybe they make you happy and they need to stay but chances are you could purge a few, or maybe even a lot.

Start by pulling out the things you never use, don’t like, or are broken and begin filling boxes for thrift store donations or for friends you think might appreciate your extras. Once you have purged the unneeded and unwanted, then you can take stock of what you own and begin thinking about how it will fit in your space. Your coffee mugs may fit on a smaller shelf now and would be better across the room, next to the coffee maker. That enormous roaster you only use on Thanksgiving could be stored in the back of the pantry or even in another room. If you like to bake, organize your mixing bowls, measuring cups and other baking supplies in one area to create a baking station.

In other words, think about how you use your possessions and store them accordingly.

This example is about a kitchen but the philosophy behind it can be applied to anything. Just remember not to feel overwhelmed. Start with one drawer, one shelf, one corner of a room and work out from there.

If you’re trying to organize your time, think about the root of your problems. A good calendar can fix a lot of problems. Planning for tomorrow can cure most others. Create a landing zone where you keep your keys, coat, handbag and anything that needs to leave with you such as library books or mail.

Try laying out your clothes and packing lunches the night before. Gather ingredients for tomorrow’s dinner and review your schedule to know who goes where and when. Just knowing what lies ahead and having the supplies you need will do wonders to improve your life and time management!

Remember, organization is not an event and it isn’t a destination: it’s a lifestyle. Work at it gradually and you will achieve your goals!

Stick With A Savings Goal in 2016

It’s a sad truth that most Americans who make New Year’s resolutions fail to keep them for more than a month or even just a few days. This week we are looking at common resolutions that are great goals for any time of the year. So far we have covered sticking to a budget and living with healthy goals. Today we’re talking savings.

Our friends at wrote last year about how much the average American is stashing away. It turns out, it’s not enough.

While most experts recommend committing at least ten to fifteen percent of income to savings, the average American is saving less than five percent. Why is that rate so low? Well, part of the problem is that saving money can be difficult. For some the problem may be that they simply aren’t making enough money to live on and are struggling to get by today without saving for tomorrow. For some folks it just isn’t a priority. They would rather have a bigger house, premium cable, or just “live in the now” rather than have money for later.

For others, the inability to save money is a simple lack of discipline. If you’re the kind of person who wants to save money but never actually do because you forget and spend the money on something frivolous and think you’ll save extra next pay – we’re looking at you.

Don’t worry, this won’t be complicated. We have just one word for you: Automation.

Automation is a beautiful thing when it comes to building good habits and it’s especially helpful when committing to a savings plan. If your employer has a 401k or other type of retirement plan, set up automatic payroll contributions. The money is distributed to your 401k from your paycheck and it’s almost as though you never had the money in the first place.

If you want the money to collect in another type of savings account, say an Passbook Savings at VCNB (see how we snuck ourselves into the story?) you can set up automatic transfers for whatever amount you want, when you like. The best plan is probably to schedule the transfer on payday or the day after. That way, it’s done first thing and you aren’t tempted to spend rather than save.

One more thing: a lot of savers enjoy success making games out of saving money. For example, they stash every $5 bill they get or keep a change jar. There’s a great chart where you save an increasing amount for every week of the year. The plan is to save one dollar the first week of the year, two dollars the second week, three dollars the third week of the year. By the last week of the year, savers on this plan are saving $52. Those who follow the plan ease their way into saving regularly and accumulating over a thousand dollars in one year.

For many people, the key to sticking to a savings plan is automation. For others it’s making it easy and fun. Consider your personality and get started! Even if you can’t save fifteen percent of your income, save what you can today and work up to more.

We’re talking resolutions all week so check back tomorrow!