5 Simple Ways to Organize Without Spending Big Bucks

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As I mentioned yesterday when I told you about the 5 Simple Ways free ebook, I’m once again joining in on the “5 Simple Ways” series for 2012.  A number of bloggers (see below), myself included, are each writing a post about 5 Simple Ways to do something in our respective niches.

Last year I wrote about 5 simple ways to organize your home and this year I’m sharing 5 simple ways to organize  your home without spending the big bucks.  This topic is near and dear to my heart because nothing frustrates me more than when I hear others say they are putting off an organizing project until they can afford to get organized.  Trust me when I say, it does not have to cost a lot of money to get organized.  It certainly can, one visit to the Container Store will confirm that.  When I visited the store this past October in NYC I nearly fell over backwards when I saw this plastic drawer unit for $109 buck-a-roos.

Granted they had a pretty poppy motif but really $109.00???  For plastic?  Yikes!

1.  Follow the PROCESS

I just wrote about my PROCESS acronym the other day and by following these steps you will find you will save yourself so much money.  How?  Because the containerizing step is actually the fourth step of the PROCESS not the first.  Before rushing out to buy baskets and bins (trust me I know it’s hard to resist, especially at this time of the year!) do your sort and purge first.  That way you’ll ensure you’re not just trying to organize clutter which is a big no-no!  Throwing clutter (things you don’t use regularly and/or love) into bins and baskets is still clutter no matter how organized it is.  Plus the best part is purging is FREE!

2.  Shop the dollar store

Oh my how I love the dollar store for organizing bins.  It might take awhile to find a dollar store that stocks up on these types of products but when you do find one that looks like this it’s bliss baby, pure bliss!

I use these everywhere in my home.  Granted they aren’t the prettiest of organizing tools but you know what, if it’s what you can afford, it’s what you can afford.  For functionality they do the job, they establish limits and boundaries which is ultimately more important (in my book) than just looking pretty.

3.  Shop thrift stores and garage sales

Both of these stops are great resources for finding inexpensive organizing tools.  I’ve found some very sweet deals at both.  The trick to this though is knowing what you need (see the first step of the PROCESS) and keeping your list and measurements with you at all times.  With thrift stores it helps if you can pop in regularly as inventory is constantly changing.  Makes friends with the owners and they’ll often tell you when they put out new stock and might even hold something for you if they know what you are looking for.

4.  Think creatively

While at these garage sales and thrift stores, be open to using items in new ways to organize spaces around your home.   I love coming up with different ways to use a product other than what it was originally intended for.  I really get quite the high from it!  For instance, microwave stands are a fantastic organizing tool as are plate racks.  Who knew?  It really opens up your possibilities for organizing solutions.

Here my daughter uses a skirt hanger to keep her bags off the floor:

5.  Recycle

One of the most inexpensive ways to organize is to simply use what you have around the house.  Tissue and tea boxes are fabulous for junk drawers for creating those ever important limits and boundaries we talked about early.  All it takes is some scissors to cut the tops off and you are in business!  Hairspray cups are the perfect size for holding push pins and paper clips.  Empty wipes containers, old diaper boxes and pre-divided liquor store boxes make excellent storage containers.  Also cut down cereal boxes work awesome as magazine holders.  The possibilities are endless really!

Have you’ve gotten creative with inexpensive storage solutions?

Please also visit the other participants in this 5 Simple Ways series:

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Filed under: Organizing, Organizing Basics


30 Responses to 5 Simple Ways to Organize Without Spending Big Bucks

  1. 3
    Michelle @ Getting Through the Day says

    What a great post! I often joke about all of the plastic in our home. It is EXTREMELY functional, but far from being Pinterest pretty! A couple of weeks ago I was trying to figure out a better way to organize plastic products in our pantry and realized that the bulk boxes we buy juice in are the perfect size to stack and store our paper products in. They certainly aren’t pretty, but it’s only our pantry! It was great to find a free solution to a problem that’s bothered me for months!

  2. 4
    Lisa says

    Can’t wait to go thru those links! I did a ton of organizing (and posting about it) right after I read/reviewed your great book. This should get me moving again.

  3. 5
    Doris Walburn says

    I just saw this site and wanted to try it this year.


  4. 6
    angie says

    I wrap and decorate shoeboxes to organize everything from bathroom necessities to photos.

  5. 8
    Julieann says

    Hi Laura!! I have to agree with the dollar store. That is the reason I go to mine, to get all those wonderful plastic bins…LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them:)

    Happy Friday!


  6. 10
    Claire @ Claire K Creations says

    I hadn’t considered using the plastic lids from spray bottles. That’s brilliant!

    I re-use big glass jars for polenta and those sorts of items in the pantry.

    Dollar shop storage containers are fantastic!

  7. 11
    Stephanie's Mommy Brain says

    $100?!!! I believe P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” That’s true for those plastic drawers. Walmart has very similar ones for about $20. If it’s the poppies you want, a little contact paper or scrap paper and modpodge would do the trick.

  8. 12
    Becky L. says

    Thanks for reminding us how to do organizing on a shoe string. I remember you telling that last year and it bears repeating. This time of year is when every store puts all their plastic storage containers on sale. I don’t even look at them. I don’t have need for them now. I still have one little drawer set I bought for $4 that will go into the bathroom closet soon! I need to get the sweaters and unused clothes of my mom’s out of a room. She’s not going to wear them so why keep them! ARG! :0)

  9. 13
    More Than A Mom says

    A good reminder to purge before you try to organize it. Sometimes it is so easy to get hung up on where to put the stuff but it’s way easier if there is less of it to try to figure out where it should go.

    My big challenge these days is trying to find places for big items (such as Christmas decoration totes) that are organized in the totes but there are not a lot of storage options for storing the totes. It’s a viscous circle sometimes.

  10. 14
    Kim says

    I just discovered your site and your helpful ideas and am wondering if there’s a chance you could revive the 52 Weeks thing to give us latecomers some accountability and encouragement?

    Thanks for all the helpful stuff I’ve already gleaned from your website.

    • 14.1
      Laura says

      I’ve had many people asking for this so I’m trying to see what I can come up :)

      • raven says

        Just want to second it :) I know we have access to the printable – and I’ve made my list – but something about the accountability and sharing aspects have a big impact in actually doing it. ‘

        Kind of like having a gym partner. :)

  11. 15
    Tyna says

    Just discovered your site…I’m in heaven! Love. It.

    Question: I’m looking for an interesting way to store all the recharging cords in my life: one for my cell phone, one for his, one for my camera, one for daughters camera, the video camera, etc, etc. Any ideas? The best I can come up with so far is ziplock baggies for each…

    • 15.2
      raven says

      A charging station is awesome! But whether you go with baggies or with a station, can I add a reminder to write down what item each charger goes to and attach it to the item? Can be on a sticker, using a paint pen, or printed out labels.. I can’t tell you how many chargers I’ve come across from old things we can no longer identify while purging. I wish I had learned to do this a decade ago as I’m sure we’ve gotten rid of functional items.. because we lost the chargers. Doh!

    • 15.3
      caron says

      use paper towel rolls cut in half and label them yours mine and our etc. toliet paper rolls standing up in a cute box covered with paper keep them handy for every ones use .

  12. 16
    Lucy M says

    Always looking for ways to be organized as my time is limited and just need to find the time to get organized. Does that make sense? Need some inspiration and motivation. Thanks ladies looking forward in reading forward.

  13. 17
    Sinea says

    Great advice for thrifty shopping!

  14. 18
    Babbling Little Booties says

    Hi Laura,

    That’s a brilliant idea for organization, my favorite part is: Shop thrift stores and garage sales. I didn’t realize about that at first. Thanks for this idea.

  15. 19
    Barbara says

    It’s so weird the 3 plastic drawers cost $109 at the container store when I paid $30 for a prettier and sturdier 3 drawer cart made with metal and some type of polyutherane at the same exact store! I just don’t get it.


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