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Getting Organized Does Not Have To Cost A Lot Of Money.

In recent years, the organization fad has really taken off, with stores popping up all over selling $25 plastic boxes for you to “contain” the things you own. Have you ever stepped foot into one of these stores? 100,000 square feet of plastic boxes, bins, buckets, drawers, bags, and anything else you could imagine, designed to hold stuff. Who ever would have thought such a store would ever exist?

The reason I mention the stores above is that getting organized has become a very expensive endeavor. The “experts” want you to spend a ton of money on this equipment that they have decided that you need to buy in order to be properly organized, but I say nonsense. In fact, I would say that getting yourself organized can be incredibly inexpensive, with the benefits in the end far outweighing the minor expense you have to lay out at the start. So how can you get organized without spending a fortune on plastic containers?

  • Every pair of shoes you buy usually comes with a free box! Instead of tossing that shoe box in the recycling bin, use it to organize pictures, your junk drawer, postcards, notecards, your office supplies…the uses are almost endless. We save each shoe box that comes into our house, even if we don’t need it at that moment. The closet in my office has a bookcase in it, and right now there are 4 shoe boxes holding all sorts of supplies.
  • Go shopping at your local $.99 cent store. Every time I have ever been in a dollar store, there have been shelves and more shelves full of different size storage containers for under a buck. There really is no need to buy $25 boxes at specialty stores when you can get them for a dollar.
  • Check out your local wine shop. The boxes that wine is shipped in are incredibly sturdy and usually end up out back in the recycling bin. Just walk in and ask if you can have a few boxes, I am sure they would be more than happy to let you have some for free!
  • Instead of keeping every issue of your favorite magazine, try taking out the pages that you want and recycling the rest of the issue. Magazines kept for years not only take up a ton of space, but they also become rather outdated pretty quickly. If you need a recipe from one issue, cut the recipe out and put it in a binder. Then you can toss the rest of the magazine and not have to store it!
  • Spaghetti sauce jars make great storage containers. I never throw one out; I use them as planters, nail and screw holders, hard candy storage, rubber band and paperclip dispensers, etc. Why throw away a “free” container? Plus, it keeps one more item out of the recycling bin.
  • If you must have designer storage boxes, check out IKEA. Their boxes and containers look good and are much cheaper than those big box container stores.
  • Purge, purge and then purge again. This could be the number one tip for getting organized, and it does not cost a dime to do! Most of the things that we keep in storage are useless items that we think we will use one day. Being a sort of OCD patient, this applies to even me, as sometimes I keep things longer than I really should. Getting rid of stuff not only clears out space in your house, but saves you money in storage or organization supplies.

  • So as you can see, there are plenty of ways to get organized around the house without spending a fortune. Unfortunately, the storage industry has somehow convinced us that we have to have matching boxes, colorful bags, and “natural” material baskets. I cannot remember the last time I paid money for something that helped me get organized, other than possibly my digital organization using USB Thumb Drives and external hard drives. Truthfully, I am kind of OCD so organization is definitely something I spend a lot of time doing; but that doesn’t mean I need to spend money on containers when there are plenty of free or low cost options available. What kinds of things do you use to get organized that don’t cost a lot? Let us know us all know in the comments section!


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    Comments (20)

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    1. Pinyo says:

      These are really great ideas. I think purging is the most powerful. We should all remember that buying stuff to organize clutter could be counter-productive since we are basically adding more stuff.

    2. paidtwice says:

      I would add that if you have kids and use disposable diapers – those diaper boxes are very handy. We have a lot of outgrown clothes from my son organized into those boxes waiting for my daughter to grow into them.

      And we have a bunch of VCR tapes organized in another. yes we have a diaper box under our TV unit. We are ghetto like that.

      Also the boxes that reams of paper come in if you work at a business who orders paper by the case…. those are uber sturdy!

    3. Stop buying STUFF! Stuff takes up space.

    4. I love the Container Store. We got a little addicted a ways back. If you hit the sales Elfa shelving is affordable and stylish. Christmas Tree Shops in the Boston area was a great place to find stylish boxes on the cheap.

    5. Laura says:

      I’m working on purging some of my stuff. With our small apartment, it’s not wise to have so much clutter. thanks for the advice.

    6. Bo says:

      A very good clothes tip from my wife:

      Her rule of thumb it that if she hasn’t worn it in a year, then it gets sold on eBay or given to Goodwill.

      (exception) – If there are one or two (not 15 or 16) pieces of clothing that are in that gray zone that she just can’t decide on that she really thinks she might wear then she keeps it for 6 more months and makes the decision then.

      She has a pretty good system down if you ask me.

    7. Brip Blap says:

      After “don’t buy it in the first place”, use household containers for storage is a great piece of advice. I use all sorts of tins, jars, etc. in my garage for nails and whatnot. I have done my bit to keep Prego jars out of the landfills 🙂

      But “don’t accumulate junk in the first place” is really the key organizing tip. Hard to do, and I certainly violate it all the time, but we all know it’s true…

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    15. Great ideas! Another great storage container is a computer paper box. My mom used to work in a copy center, and she’d give me extra boxes. They stack great!

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