Organization is one way to keep stress down, and in the long run, it can help save you money by helping you know where everything is and keeping you from buying more than one of something simply because you can’t find it.
Many people think organization takes money since there are so many tools you can buy in stores to help you stay organized.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the myriad of solutions they offer. But, if you stick to the basics and find things that work for what you need them to, you’ll do fine and some organization tools are even free! Here are some tips on how to organize your home on less.
How to Organize Your Home on Less
Use what you already have
Look at points in your home that could be rearranged in order to run more smoothly. This costs no money and is just a matter of changing how you do things. Could you lay out your outfit (or your child’s) for the next day the night before to save time and be more organized? How about making some freezer meals in order to better plan your nights?
You can get very creative with the things you already have around your home. Just think of creative solutions to use your items for things that were not their intended use. Perhaps that old coat cover could be used to store your gift wrap. Maybe that wall mounted toothbrush holder can be used to organize your headbands. Maybe that lid rack can hold your clutches. The possibilities are endless!
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Get Your Family On Board
Sometimes it can feel like an endless battle getting everything in your home put up where it belongs. As soon as you put the laundry away, it’s pulled out of drawers and thrown all over your kids’ rooms. Sound familiar? While some of that comes with the territory of having kids, you can encourage your family to be on board with keeping things organized.
By coming up with certain places for things and sharing those places with your husband and kids, you are providing them with what they need to know in order to help you keep things organized at home. Have you shared those places and are you still not getting the buy-in from your little ones? Maybe a reward system such as a sticker chart for each day that they help you straighten up will help you keep things just a bit more together.
Re-use everything you can
You can make your own organization tools out of things like old pasta sauce jars to store things in them, shoe boxes to store your receipts in (see my organizing your paperwork method here) and even toilet paper rolls (roll up cords, place them in the roll and label them). Get creative with these things that most people throw away!
Not sure what to keep and what to toss? Start by making a list of each part of your home that needs to be better organized. Go from room to room leaving no area unsearched. If it needs to be organized, jot it down. Then, as you are getting ready to toss unwanted items in the garbage, carefully consider if they might be a solution to one of your organizational needs. If so, put it to use!
Clear away clutter
What we often think of when it comes to getting organized is finding a place for all of our stuff and while that is true, the whole point of organization is not having too much stuff to begin with. Make it a point to go through a room, a space, or even just a single junk drawer once a week and toss out or give away anything that you do not need, use, or have a purpose for. Use my 6 month rule if you have trouble getting rid of stuff. Remember, the less you have, the more organized you will be!
Similar to clutter, paperwork, magazines and newspapers can create an organizational nightmare! Make sure to get rid of outdated magazines and newspapers. As soon as you get a new issue, recycle the previous one. If there are articles that you want to keep, clip them out, and put them into a binder for later reference.
Paperwork, such as bills, do need to be kept for awhile for later reference, tax purposes, etc. Once you no longer need them, (no longer than a year) shred them and get them out of your organized house! Or consider saving online copies as PDFs and putting them on a flash drive for later reference (without the mess!)
Don’t Wait for Someday
Going through your things, deciding whether you want to keep them or donate them can be a lot of work! As you sort your things, make sure that you only keep those things that you see yourself using now. Don’t keep things that are outdated that you may want to use again someday. Yes, I know we all had our favorite things from years ago. If they are no longer your style or your taste, however, it may be time to part with them; making room for those things that are more your style now.
Label Your Shelves
As you get closets and drawers organized, take the time to label your shelves, containers, etc. You don’t need to buy a label maker or fancy labels…a roll of masking tape will do. Simply write down what is going in that space. Not only does this strategy help keep you in check when it comes to putting things back where they belong, but it also helps other family members know where things go as they help around the house.
Avoid Creating Catch-All Spaces
As you get things put where you want them, try to avoid having a place for things that don’t fit into one of your organizational categories. Places like basements, garages, and attics should be for storage of items you need (and a few things that you’re keeping for posterity). Their purpose shouldn’t be to place all the things that you don’t have a place for on the main level. Allowing yourself a catch-all space only prevents you from meeting your goal of organization. Once your main living space has been organized, head to your storage areas to be sure that you know what they hold, too.
Try the thrift stores first
If you feel you must buy some organization tools such as totes, caddies, and containers, then go where they are the cheapest. I have found so many organization tools at the local thrift store it’s ridiculous! You can find awesome baskets there for placing items in and they look nice as well! Whatever you find, just make sure it is quality. No sense in buying something that will just break on you. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there then….
Related: Thrift Store Shopping Tips
Shop outlet stores
Some store like Ross, Marshall’s, Tuesday Morning, and T.J. Maxx carry high end organizational stuff from the department stores for way less. Make sure to look at these places and find shower caddies, canvas baskets, totes, and more at 50-70% off!
A word of caution, though…make sure it’s a perfect fit for what you’re looking for before you buy it. Otherwise it will just become another thing in your home that you need to find a place for.
Skip the Sales (Unless it Makes Sense)
I know, this one doesn’t seem to make sense when it comes to organize your home on a budget. You know me…looking for every possible way to help save your hard-earned dollars. Not taking advantage of garage and yard sales, retail store sales and more, just because they’re a good deal will save you organization and money! Like I mentioned about the outlet stores, if you aren’t looking for something specific or what you see doesn’t match what you’re trying to find, leave it at the store!
It can be tough when you find that vase that looks just like your grandma’s or a really pretty box that might work for organizing…but unless you’re sure it’s going to meet your needs, it will just become something else that needs a place at your house.
If you see a sale and know that you don’t need anything, save your time and money by not going to peruse the items. It will prevent you from coming home with items that you hadn’t planned to buy, making for less to keep organized!
Scour Pinterest for ideas
Many organizational tips can be found on Pinterest and most of them solve one little problem at a time. If you have a specific area of your home that needs help, you can often find a DIY project that costs very little money or nothing at all on the site. The organize your home ideas might just blow you away! I remember when I was looking for a battery organization solution, I found this tackle case on Pinterest and purchased it on Amazon. I ended up buying more cases in different sizes for some of my tools and love how organized they all are and I can see everything right there in the cases. No more digging through a junk drawer to find something!
Buy some over the door shoe holders
Place one over the door in your kitchen pantry. They are ideal for packets of sauces and gravies, single serving snacks like granola bars, bulk spices, drink mixes, and so on. A friend told me that she even uses one in her bathroom for makeup, hair products and elastics, lotion, toothpaste, and even tools like irons or blow dryers. You would not believe how much space you can clear up with these over the door shoe hangers! Plus, you can often get them for $5 or less! Here’s the one I purchased a few years back and I love it because it has two layers in it, thus holding even more stuff.
Speaking of the Kitchen…
The kitchen is one place that needs more frequent attention to organization. As you do your grocery shopping, things get stuffed into the pantry and cabinets, covering up the items that you already have. One key to keeping things organized in your kitchen is to go through the pantry for ingredients before you leave for the store. That way you aren’t spending more money on things that you already have.
Another important way to keep your cabinets organized is to look through them each week (or two) to look at expiration dates. You’d be amazed at how much food gets thrown away because it wasn’t used before it expired. By looking through what you have on a regular basis, you can build your meals around what you do have, rather than needing to head to the store to add to your already full cabinets. This will keep you from having an over-stuffed kitchen, as well as will help you save money on foods that you don’t need to buy.
Keep on Top of Your Organization
We all have the best of intentions when we take on the task of organizing our homes. It doesn’t just require you to find a place for everything…it also means finding places that make sense; that are convenient for finding your things and putting them back. You must reevaluate where you have everything on a regular basis. Does it make sense where you decided to store the extra shampoo and soap? Should you put it somewhere else? By thinking through how things work in your home, it will make things run more efficiently, but it will also keep your mind on top of your organization.
If, when you think about it, you realize that you’re the only one in the house who is sticking to where you’ve decided to store things, or you’ve found that you aren’t naturally putting them where you planned, then it’s time to find a new place for that item. Go back to the drawing board and figure out a more efficient place. Then label the new place and let your family members know where that item will be found.
What about Time and Schedules?
Yes, getting organized does take some time at the beginning. Once you have a system in place, however, the amount of time that your new system will save you is unbelievable! As I’ve already mentioned, all it takes is a small task each day or week until you’ve got your system in place…then small changes along the way.
For schedules…keeping each family member’s schedules organized can also seem like a huge mountain to climb! Among school, work, and activities, it may seem that you are never in the same place for more than a few minutes. Getting your schedules in sync doesn’t have to be difficult or cost you much.
First, choose a calendar that you want to write on. Maybe it’s a dry erase magnetic calendar board that you simply wipe away and fill-in each month (here’s the one I use), or a wall or desk calendar that you’ll keep out and visible. Next, select a different colored pen or marker for each member of the family (with another for important dates like birthdays and anniversaries). On your calendar, write each person’s activities and appointments in different colors. This will make it a quick visual of who has something going on each day. It’s an easy reference when you’re needing to add something to the calendar or determine who will be where on what day.
You may also want to create an online calendar for your family. Using technology to create a similar calendar that lists everyone’s individual schedules will make your plans more easily accessible by phone, tablet, or computer (for when you’re on the go). This is another great way to keep your family updated on where everyone is and when.