Making do….

Okay so I understand not being able to organize because you can’t seem to find the time but what I don’t understand is not being able to organize because you don’t have the money. Just.Don’t.Get.It! Please don’t let the lack of funds hold you back. Yes we can all dream about having the latest and greatest containers and systems but what are we do if our budget just doesn’t allow for us to have them at this time?


Create a solution with what you can afford now.


It might not be your ideal solution but something is better than nothing and I have the most excellent example for you to illustrate my point.My friend Jenny has a nice big pantry and she would love to have beautiful customized wire shelving built inside to keep everything organized but for now that isn’t an option. She could have just left it alone until she had the money to do what she really wanted….but that might not be for awhile. She recognized that this was an area that needed to be organized and rather than complain about what she didn’t have, she came up with a terrific “temporary” solution that works just beautifully yet didn’t cost a lot of money. Please go take a look here and then come on back.

Didn’t she do a great job! I love it. So let’s break it down. She purchased 10 dishpans at $1.44 each, one package of 5 plastic shoeboxes at $4.88 and three bigger totes with lids for the bottom of the pantry which I’m going to guess were about $5.00 each.

Dishpans = $14.40
Shoeboxes = $4.88
Totes = $15.00

Total = $34.28

So for $34.00 she was able to organize her pantry into a nice, pretty, functional space. She used the containers to sort “like with like” and labelled each container accordingly.

But wait, I can hear some of you saying yah but I don’t even have $34.00 to do that. Okay so instead of the dishpans you can use regular shoeboxes or even cereal boxes…just tape up the end and cut out one side. Cost = $0. Get creative. Many household items can be reworked into an organizing solution of some sort.

The important thing of course is the sorting and purging process (which also costs nothing by the way). Once you have your stuff sorted and purged then contain it anyway you can afford, but please don’t let not having the money stop you from organizing and appreciating the space you do have.

Thanks Jenny for letting me use you as my excellent example!

Filed under: Organizing


23 Responses to Making do….

  1. 1
    Anonymous says

    Something is better than nothing. And you can get the things you want in steps as you can afford. Shoe boxes are staples in my house for containing things. My big issure is the purge thing. I need to get better at that.

  2. 2
    Anonymous says

    You are right….I organized my medicine cabinet and lazy susan the other day…it makes you feel better.

  3. 3
    Sara M. says

    Loved this post! Thanks so much for the motivation. My perfectionism causes me to think that if I can’t do something “perfectly”, I shouldn’t do it at all. I know this is untrue – it’s just hard to get going sometimes. You’ve really given me a lot to think about. :o)

  4. 4
    becky says

    I, too, love this post! I am living proof that you don’t need a lot of money to organize! Not that my house is completely organized, but what is organized is done so with very little money. I’m sure you remember my art center…I did it all with what I had on hand! I’m slowly working on my filing system. My hubby (bless his heart) spent a couple of days purging some things and now I have 5 or 6 piles of stuff to go through. Oh, how I loathe paper work!!! But, I’m only doing it with what we have already! Well, I’m sure you’ve motivated some people with this post and I’m glad you shared it!

  5. 5
    Anonymous says

    Great reminder, and great example from Jenny. I have been known to use this “not enough money” excuse in the past, but I know that’s all it is – an excuse. And I admit that I’ll use many excuses to avoid any form of housework. 🙂 But you are so right, and the times when I’ve used what I have or what I can afford, I’ve still been very pleased with the results. Anything is better than a big cluttery mess!

  6. 6
    Anonymous says

    Her pantry looks wonderful! I haven’t commented on your blog for a long time, I just realized, but I still read you everyday and get lots of good ideas!

  7. 7
    Anonymous says

    Thanks for reminding us all that money doesn’t have to be a factor in organizing. I used to have an “all or nothing” attitude. If I couldn’t have the custom cabinets and pullouts then I wouldn’t tackle the job. Then it’s a lose/lose situation.
    The bins are working awesome. I love the fact that they are easy to move around…I can take them out of the pantry(if I need more room for cans…etc) and put them in my area that I designated(thought of you when I did this)for this purpose.
    It was easy and it also lets me get some more ideas for when I want to do a custom job. Practise makes perfect!!
    Thanks for inspiring us all!
    Have a good day!

  8. 8
    Anonymous says

    She did great 🙂 I’m one of those who doesn’t even have $34 lol, but the cereal box thing really works. I tried it after you mentioned it in the junk drawer post and have a bunch of little cereal box containers now lol. Also, check out thrift stores, I got some baskets for my kids toys for 75 cents each.

  9. 9
    Gem says

    I was just looking today at some cracker boxes and cereal boxes, thinking “is there something I could use those for?” before throwing them out. I decided not to keep them for now — I tend to hoard, and then never use them the way I intended — but I may start saving them. If they’re not attractive that way, I know my mom used to cover Velveeta boxes with contact paper to give them a more finished look.

  10. 10
    Anonymous says

    It looks great!

    Reminds me of what mama said, you don’t have to be wealthy to take care of what you do have!

    One of my favorite frugal “tricks” is using cardboard cereal boxes to hold magazines, curriculum, etc.

    Where there is a will, there is a way! (mama said that too! huh?)

  11. 11
    Anonymous says

    Happy Spouse’s Day ladies.

  12. 12
    Angela says

    Great point! I would love to install a CA closet system in our master bedroom closet :o), but since I can’t afford that at the moment we organized and made do…it looks fantastic! Or as my friend says, “It looks like a museum!” OK…it doesn’t look THAT good, but it was definitely an improvement.

  13. 13
    Anonymous says

    Hi Laura,
    I have been dejunking and organizing for about 2 week. I had an on line yard sale and got rid of so much stuff. You are right it doesn’t cost much to organize. In fact it pays. 🙂 I made good money this week. And sold all my stuff.

  14. 14
    honey says

    This is great! Blogger is not letting me see her web site at the moment, but I’ll check back. I use one dishpan for each of us when I fold laundry. I decorated them with Sharpie markers with our names and doodles of some of our favorite things. I have 2 other dishpans for toys on the bottom shelf of our play shelf. I thought about using them for containers when I reorganize our hidden toys storage area in the laundry closet. I haven’t taken a pic for you yet. I will when and if we decide to go for it!

    Thanks for all your great ideas. I liked those tubs you got the other day too.

  15. 15
    BarbaraLee says

    Seen your post of the snow. Please do share. Here in MN it seems we have been left out.

  16. 16
    Anonymous says

    I’m so glad you find me (and a little scared too)! Just kidding. I love the pantry your friend did. I typically pick up little inexpensive containers as I come across them at the grocery store, Dollar Tree, etc. I’ll catch up with you soon.

  17. 17
    Anonymous says

    You’re right. This post inspired me so much! I need to get some of these inexpensive containters and just… start! Great tips.

  18. 18
    Kristen says

    I think people get so caught up on wanting perfection. I agree with you though… do what you can now. It doesn’t have to be perfect!

  19. 19
    AliceAnderson says

    I thought you might b interested in this solution from Ms. Martha about using cereal boxes to stay organized. In traditional martha fashion they no longer look like cereal boxes. In fact they’re actually kind of cute.

  20. 20
    Connie Case says

    Thank you for being so practical!! When I was a young Homemaker,(mom,wife) I had to make do a lot, so don’t get discouraged about money, make it a fun thing to get creative.

    Thrift stores, and garage sales, can help a lot… Plus, I had to learn to stay out of the stores!!!

  21. 21
    mandi says

    I use baby formula containers- take the labels off and wash them- for just about everything- they hold meds in the bathroom, those tall powder things that go in water bottles in the kitchen, almost everything on my son’s art and craft bookshelf, etc,

  22. 22
    cherylann says

    I “SO” needed to see this post!!! I always think I need to do things perfectly. ie. to be the exact containers/baskets i want…i would rather save up and get what i want than “settle” on something i don’t work……well, that may work on big ticket items, but is doing NOTHING for my clutter control.

    I am inspired so much by your blog. I started reading last night from the beginning. I have wanted to comment almost every post, but have restrained myself. I just couldn’t pass this one by, though.

    I am going to start today working on this!


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