As we wrap up Organizing for Dollars month, I want to share with you the many ways paring down your belongings can actually save you money. After all, who doesn’t want more of that?
The less you own, the easier it is to keep your home tidy, organized, and accessible, meaning:
If you take some of the advice I’ve shared this past month on using items you already have on hand to fulfill a need or creating your own inexpensive organizing solution, you’ll save even more money. Making wise purchases that serve as multi-taskers means buying and storing less. Add all of that to the time you’ll save from having less to manage and navigate around at home, and you can see that less really is more...more time, more space, more peace of mind and yes, more MONEY!
And if that’s not enough, you now have a chance to score a $15 gift card just by visiting my Facebook page and commenting on the 1-Day Challenge post at the top telling us something you had been planning to buy and what you ended up using that you already had instead. Everyone who answers both parts of the question in a comment by July 31 will be automatically entered into the prize drawing. Easy Peasy!
Stay tuned next week, because August is Keepsake Organization month. I’ll be sharing tips on how to add functionality to your sentimental objects, curate your keepsake collection to tell your story, preserve memories without having to keep a pile of stuff that triggers them, and organize the precious items you save.
Living life seems to require a lot of stuff. We need stuff to wear...stuff to cook and cook with...stuff to sit, sleep, eat, and work on...stuff to entertain us and stuff to help us entertain others...stuff to help us work more efficiently...stuff to read, write and communicate with...stuff to decorate and create with...stuff to keep us safe and healthy...stuff to make us more comfortable...stuff to keep us smelling, looking and feeling our best...stuff to help us relax...stuff to give each other and stuff to wrap it up in...stuff to keep us warm and stuff to keep us cool...stuff to fix and clean all our other stuff with...and stuff to keep all this stuff organized and accessible when we need it. And every single piece of stuff we own comes with a price tag...not just a financial price tag but also a time, space, effort, convenience and opportunity price tag. Reducing the amount of stuff you own also reduces your overhead costs. Minimalism is about getting by with less stuff so that you can focus more on all those other things that really matter in life. But you don't have to be a minimalist to benefit from making do with less.
July is Organizing for Dollars Month, so today I’m going to share a few strategies for shrinking your pile of stuff to save you money...plus a whole lot more.
One reason we get so overwhelmed by all of our stuff is that most of us own waaaaayyyyy more than we need or have room to accommodate. We go through phases where we get so fed up we decide to weed out our closets and donate our excess...and it feels pretty great for a while. But eventually, we end up right back where we started, because we never changed our thinking about what we really need versus what we just want. To change your mindset, you must begin challenging yourself to stop acquiring something new to fulfill every new need that arises. With a little resourcefulness and creativity, you can meet most of your needs by shopping in your own closet. If you don’t believe me, why not try imposing a moratorium on new purchases for one whole week and see for yourself how well some of these seven strategies can work:
1. Use up what you have first before replenishing
How many skincare samples, hotel shampoo bottles, and still-in-good-shape gift bags are you hoarding? For what? Start using them. Get them out of your way before you buy more of the same. Plan meals around the food that’s been in the back of your pantry or freezer and needs to get eaten. (Read this great article on the myths of food expiration labels before you pitch it.) Use items in your craft supply stash or some of those leftover DIY materials in the garage to create something you need rather than pulling out your wallet to buy it. You’ll be amazed how much money and space you’ll save just by using up the various odd bits and pieces that are currently filling up your cabinets and drawers.
2. Review your stashed decorative items
Are your closets and storage areas filled with framed photos or artwork you took down but may want to use again...someday? What about all those cute tchotchkes you’ve been saving in some bin somewhere because they have sentimental value but no good spot to call home? Review these with a critical eye and make some decisions. Perhaps some can be made into functional objects or to freshen up your current decor. Others may make wonderful gifts. If you’ve been meaning to hang it up, then do it now! You’ll free up valuable storage space and fulfill a need without spending a cent.
3. Gift/regift new items you know you’ll never use.
Rather than spend valuable space on something you don’t need/want, give it to someone who would. You’ll save time and money on gift shopping, not to mention space!
4. Gift wrap creatively
Instead of buying special occasion-specific wrapping paper, you’ll get more mileage out of it if you use neutral gift wrap suitable for any occasion and embellish it with items from your garden or leftover craft supplies. Reuse gift bags that are still in good condition or re-purpose all manner of materials as creative wrapping. An old sweater you’ll never wear plus a needle and thread and some ribbon are all you need to make a one-of-a-kind gift bag for Christmas.
5. Furnish your home with “double-duty” pieces
Look for opportunities to double up on the functionality of your high ticket items, like furniture. Some examples are using a storage trunk or ottoman for a coffee table; turning a narrow cubby-style bookshelf on its side and adding a seat cushion to the top to create seating with book or toy storage; mounting a small ironing board to the top of a rolling storage cart. Look for end tables with drawers, console tables with shelves underneath, and desks with built-in filing drawers.
6. Rely on multi-taskers when entertaining
Instead of overstocking your kitchen and dining room with specific serving pieces and party supplies, try some of these substitutions using what you already have on hand:
7. Give your kids experiences as gifts
Let’s face it: raising kids is expensive, especially if you want them to experience life to its fullest. Instead of spending money on tangible gifts you’ll just need to find space for, use it to splurge on a fun trip or activity you may not otherwise be able to afford to celebrate a special occasion or holiday. One bonus is that these gifts are a lot easier to wrap too!
Obviously, the more organized your home is, the easier it will be to fulfill a new need with an old purchase, because you’ll have a better handle on what you already own and know where to find it. And the less you own, the easier it is to keep everything organized and accessible. If you’re drowning in belongings, the first step is to turn off the tap and stop acquiring! Once you get used to looking for a solution in your own closet instead of a store, it will become a habit.
In case you missed it, this month’s EasyPeasy 1-Day Challenge is to substitute something you already own for something you were planning to buy. To enter the monthly gift card drawing all you have to do is visit my Facebook page by July 31 and comment on the July 1-Day Challenge post at the top of the page telling us 1) What you were planning to buy and 2) What you found in your own home to fulfill the need instead. You must include both parts to be entered into the prize drawing. I can’t wait to see how clever and resourceful you all are!
Home stores are making a killing marketing tools and gadgets to help you save space and organize your cabinets, closets and drawers. The problem, aside from their pricetag, is that many of them turn out to be uni-taskers, that is they can only be used for a single purpose. When your needs change, many of these specialized items are no longer useful and merely clutter up your home...which is the very last thing you need when trying to restore some order.
This week, I want to share with you just a few of my favorite DIY organizing tools that are not only helpful space-and-sanity-savers but also very easy and economical to make yourself. These are just a few examples. With a little creativity and resourcefulness, you can come up with more of your own just by looking through your pile of excess stuff with an inventive eye.
I am listing the materials I used for each of the projects below and have estimated what it would cost if you had to purchase them all. However, it is my hope that you will be able to use whatever you already have on hand or acquire items for free from friends or neighbors who may have some to spare to reduce your costs...perhaps down to nothing. Substitutions are encouraged! Your local Nothing Project or Freecycle groups can be great resources for scoring free materials.
(See the photos above for reference.)
Keep jewelry easily visible, accessible and tangle-free while saving boatloads of space in your bedroom with this simple DIY organizer you can hang on the inside of your closet door.
Cost: Approximately $10
Cabinet Door Rack
Increase storage space in the kitchen and bathroom for as little as $1 with this quick and easy project. You’ll want one for every cabinet in your home.
Cost: under $5
Tip: Increase the versatility of these wire door racks by fitting them with small plastic cups or jars that can hold items that would otherwise slip through the wires.
Garbage Bag/Paper Spool
This clever trick keeps rolls of garbage bags, food wraps, paper towels, and wrapping paper at your fingertips and saves space in your overflowing cabinets!
Cost: You can make several for about $7 total
Keep everyone in your household on the same page with a fun chalkboard wall. Why limit yourself to one chalkboard when you can have an entire wall to write messages, share important info, and keep track of upcoming events, all in a central spot in your home.
Cost: About $8
Set up a cute coffee station in your kitchen or dining room to save oodles of kitchen cabinet space and make it easy for guests to help themselves to hot beverages when you entertain.
These projects are just the tip of the iceberg. Unleash your creativity and see what you can create to suit your organizing needs using stuff you already own. Convert a storage trunk into a filing cabinet or a piano bench into a giant jewelry box. Make a scarf hanger by taping shower curtain rings onto a hanger. Send photos of your creations to firstname.lastname@example.org or tell us about them in the comments.
Visiting Pinterest for ideas before ordering fancy organizers online can save you lots of money you can use on something way more fun than organizing your closets or pantry!
Don’t miss next week’s blog, where I’ll tell you how to shop smart and get more bang for your buck out of the stuff you own so that you can own less stuff.
If you’ve ever been inside The Container Store or gone shopping for new food storage bins for your pantry, you know just how overwhelming -- and expensive! -- it can be to purchase the tools all those home magazines say you need to get organized. It’s enough to scare off even the best-intentioned from getting started. So my first piece of professional advice when it comes to shopping for baskets, bins and drawer dividers to create order in your home is...just don’t. At least, not yet. And maybe never.
For starters, acquiring more stuff, no matter what it is, is probably the very last thing that will improve your situation. Most people already have way too much stuff, which is a primary factor leading to the current disorder in their homes. Purchasing more will only exacerbate the problem. Secondly, you can’t possibly know what to buy until you know how and where you will be using it. Guessing (and likely guessing wrong) will cost you time and money you may not have and lead to greater frustration. I’m assuming you already have plenty of that, am I right? Finally, your shopping excursion will feed into the false notion that it is a lack of organizing tools that has created the disorder in your home rather than the lack of an organizational plan. I’m sorry to tell you that there is no magical invention sold in the home goods section that will transform your chaos into calm without a solid understanding of how you use your space and a plan that reflects this.
Now that we’ve dispensed with what you shouldn’t do, let’s turn our attention to what you should. Obviously, you’re going to need a place to put all your stuff once you’ve purged your excess and sorted it into tidy categories. The good news is that with a little resourcefulness and a smidgen of creativity, it doesn’t have to cost you a single red cent to organize your home.
Start by raiding your recycling bin for jars, boxes (shoe boxes are great), plastic containers of varying sizes, and old shopping bags. Gather some ziploc bags, scissors, tape, a stapler, a few labels (or blank paper if you don’t have any) and a marker. You are now ready to begin purging your excess stuff, sorting what’s left into categories and designating homes for each category according to how you use it and how accessible it needs to be.
Once you know where you want to store your items, select or create holding spots or dividers as needed to keep them neatly separated and labeled using the materials you’ve gathered. Need drawer dividers? Make some using strips of cardboard and some tape. No crock to hold all your large kitchen utensils? No problem. Just grab a large jar, flower pot, or an old pitcher. Lots of earrings but no jewelry box? Repurpose a box grater to hold the danglers and a small glass dish for your studs. You are limited only by your imagination.
Yes, I hear you...you want a pantry worthy of Instagram, with matching jars labeled using trendy fonts. The good news is that if that’s your thing, you can still have it. The even better news is if that’s not your thing, or if you can’t afford that level of luxury, you can keep your homespun organizing solutions until you can...or forever. The functionality will still be there, and if the cardboard tears over time, there’s plenty more where that came from. Either way, you end up saving money by testing out your new organizing system without investing any money in pure aesthetics. If you plan to upgrade later, start making a wish list now of the organizing tools you want to purchase. Include specifics like what size, shape, material, color you want that will work in your space. If you used a transparent container to store something but are bothered by the visual noise, make a note to purchase an opaque version. If stacking your open bins would save more space in the cabinet, consider buying ones with lids. The longer you wait to go shopping, the more likely you’ll make wise choices to suit your needs once you do.
Save big bucks and add a personal touch to your space by repurposing purely sentimental objects into functional ones. This is an excellent way to place the object in your path where it will trigger all those wonderful memories instead of consuming valuable storage space in the back of a closet where you will rarely encounter it.
You’ll be amazed how easy it is to divide your spaces, create holders for items both large and small, establish zones, extend your storage, and make items more accessible by using everyday objects you already have lying around your home. Here is just a smattering of examples:
Don’t let a lack of fancy organizing tools or funds to purchase them delay you from getting started in restoring some order to your home. Visit my Organizing Outside the Box board on Pinterest to get more ideas for using everyday objects instead. If, after that, you still need to acquire something to get the job done, don’t overlook your local neighborhood giveaway groups, yard sales, thrift shops and dollar stores as viable sources. Remember, you probably won't be giving your guests a tour of your drawers and closets, so save your money for decorating the areas they are more likely to notice.
Next week, I’ll share some of my favorite easy peasy and economical DIY tools for creating more space and order in your home. Until then, keep it easy peasy!
Valerie Sheridan is a professional organizer, wife, mother of two, and Founder/Owner of EasyPeasy Living.