Organizing Your Home
By Nikki Willhite
Organizing your home saves you money
Organizing your home is another money saving tool for the frugal
homemaker. When you can't find things, you often end up with the unnecessary
expenditure of buying something you already have and don't need.
It can also be very aggravating to spend 30 minutes looking for
the scotch tape. In a well organized home, you should be able to put your hands
on anything you own in less than a minute. At least, that's the rule at my house
(or I am in trouble!)
The trick in saving money in the household budget is to have
less, make better use of it. You cannot do this unless you are organized. You
will reach for a new piece of aluminum foil unless you know exactly where you
have stored the last piece you used and then put aside to use again.
Another example is your clothes. If they aren't organized, you
may feel you have nothing to wear. This is certainly the case if you don't keep
them clean and mended.
The key to organization is to be logical. You will remember
where you have put things if you store them the first place you would think to
look for them, which is usually near where they will be used.
Keep everything as compartmentalized as possible, and in clear
view. It doesn't take a lot of money to separate things with containers. As was
mentioned in Tightwad Tidbits a few weeks ago, empty plastic milk containers
make great storage containers. Just cut them off to the appropriate height.
Many other packaging items we bring into our homes can be used
for storage, such as cereal boxes, strawberry and other fruit containers, cool
whip containers, cottage cheese cartons, egg cartons, and so on.
Be creative in your storage containers. Some of the best ones
were not created for that purpose. Ice cube trays make great containers for
storing sewing supplies and jewelry. Over-the- door shoe holders can store
everything from paperwork to toiletries.
Some people store items in glass jars under shelves (especially
in the garage). You just screw the jar lid to the underside of the shelf; fill
up the jar, and the screw the jar to the lid. The filled jar now hangs just
under the shelf without taking up any counter area.
If you are a pack rat, you will probably never by able to
organize your things. What is the purpose of taking up valuable storage space
with things you never use? You must first get rid of the clutter.
You are not saving money by accumulating items that you do not
use or need. Get rid of them! You will take better care of the things that you
Throwing things away and seeing the waste may also help you
avoid unnecessary purchases in the future. It's hard to throw away things that
cost money. Next time you are tempted to purchase something you may not really
need, you can think back and wonder if this item will end up being thrown away.
You may only have to do this once to learn.
When I write about getting rid of items in your home, you do, or
course, have several options. You can have a garage sale, give them to friends
and family, or donate them to charity. If your children are getting older, you
will find they are a great receptacle for your unwanted things!
If you do not have a lot of storage room in your home, put items
stored on a long term basis under the bed, on top of cupboards, or other places
that don't take up convenient storage areas.
Here are some tips that may help you in organizing your home
and removing the clutter
*Set a time limit. If you haven't used something in the time
limit you set, get rid of it. If that homemade ice cream maker has been sitting
in your closet for 5 years waiting for that special occasion to use it - toss
it! It isn't going to happen.
*Be realistic. Don't keep clothes with the hope that you will
lose weight. If you do, chances are they will either be out of style, or you
will want to reward yourself with new items. Get rid of them, and take better
care of the clothes you do have.
When you do go shopping, it will be easier to identify items you
need that go with what you are actually wearing and you will save money that
way. If you are a good seamstress, you may be able to cut them down and make
clothes for your children from the fabric.
*Set goals in your organization. Do one area at a time. If you
just do a little bit here and there, you won't feel like you are accomplishing
anything, and you may lose motivation. Have a holding area for items you take
out of a room and plan to put elsewhere. Get one area done before you move on to
*Don't try and build Rome in a day! Take pride in small
accomplishments. Small steps will get you there with a lot less stress and
disruption of your schedule. You will be making a lot of decisions, and it can
be mentally exhausting.
*Keep focused! Work on the task at hand, and avoid being
distracted. My husband couldn't clean a closet if his life depended on it! By
the fourth item, he is off on another tangent or going down memory lane.
*You will probably have items that you are unsure about. Have in
your holding area several boxes or designated spots. Classify the items you are
removing from a room, and put them in these spots. Here are some different
groupings you will need:
1. You will need a spot for things that you are unsure of.
Sometimes you need a little time to make your decision.
2. Place all sentimental items that you want to keep
together. You may have a picture that one of your children has drawn that
you need to frame. Set all these items aside, and incorporate them into your
home as time and money allows.
3. Another area is needed for items that you would use if
they worked. Again, set them aside and fix them as time and money allows.
Here are some ideas to organize specific items
Paperwork: File it! Everyone needs a filing system, whether it
is a steel cabinet or an accordion folder.
If you are lucky enough to have a computer with a CD ROM you can
write on, and a scanner, you can put things like bank statements and other
documents on disk and avoid the paper pileup.
Photos: Scrap booking is a great hobby. If you are not into
that, get a box to store your photos in. They are inexpensive and take up less
room than albums. You can find photo boxes at stores like JoAnns.
Grocery Bags: Plastic grocery bags can be stuffed in empty paper
towel rolls or Kleenex boxes. When you get a bunch of them, put them in one of
the plastic bag and store in the garage if you think you will need them. If you
don't need them throw them away.
The same things with brown paper sacks. Store a small amount
sideways in a cupboard, and keep the extras outside.
Toys: Store in crates or plastic buckets. Make sure they are big
enough so that toys can be quickly picked up. This is one area you may want to
spend some money to buy an attractive container- if you are keeping them in the
living areas of your home.
You may be able to find something at the thrift store. Another
option is to purchase milk crates and paint them. Or you could cover cardboard
boxes with contact paper.
Dirty Clothes can be stored just as effectively in a duffel bag
as a hamper, and it takes up less space. If you washing machine is handy, you
can also store them in it until you wash.
And finally... how do you keep your house decluttered? The
easiest solution for a busy homemaker is to have a junk drawer- preferably a big
one. When you are in a hurry, and don't have time to think where to place
something or to put it there, just throw it in the drawer and attend to it
later. Just remember to do it, so the junk drawer doesn't become a problem.