Creating balance and order in your home doesn’t have to be an expensive project. Shopping for “organization supplies” in department or home improvement stores can get overwhelming quickly with the endless choices and prices that add up fast.
But here’s the secret truth: you don’t need to buy many (if any at all) of those perfectly coordinated boxes, bins, and storage racks to have a beautifully organized home. If you think outside the box just a little, you may find that you have all the organization supplies you need at home already. And if you do need to buy a few extra pieces, it is possible to get them for very little cost.
Here are 7 easy and inexpensive ways to take back your space, even on the smallest home-organizing budget:
7 Ways To Get Organized On A Budget
1. Downsize first
Obviously, the less stuff you have, the easier and less daunting of a project organizing it all is going to be. So step one of any organization project should always be seeing where you can downsize. We often hold onto clothes, appliances, office supplies, and more on the chance that we may need them someday. Sometimes we hold onto an item we don’t even like because we impulse-bought it or someone gave it to us as a gift, and we’d feel guilty getting rid of it.
Try to step back and take a look at each item in your space with new eyes. Ask yourself if the item in question really is something that you need, use, or even want. Don’t waste your precious time and resources on figuring out the perfect storage solution for items that don’t serve a valuable purpose in your real life.
2. Use what you already have to store and sort
Before you run out to the store for a bunch of new organization gear, see if the storage and organization gear you need is, in fact, sitting at home already, right under your nose.
- Cloth bags (those sturdy ones you can buy at the grocery store, or sometimes receive as free gifts) can be used to organize folded clothing, toys for visiting grandkids, or other odds and ends, including those bound for donation. They’re usually formed stiffly enough to sit nicely on a shelf or the floor of a closet.
- Ice cube trays can be used in drawers to store small items – from sets of earrings to sewing notions.
- Empty jelly, tomato sauce, or pickle jars can be used to hold pens and pencils or to store spices and dry mixes.
- Storing smaller groups of items in Ziploc bags, (which can then be tucked inside drawers or bigger storage boxes), can be very helpful, especially for things like crafting supplies, toiletries, makeup, or hair accessories.
- Shoeboxes can be used to store all sorts of smaller items. I know shoeboxes are rarely very attractive, but you can easily (and inexpensively) make them pretty enough to display on a bookshelf by covering them in gift wrap.
- Even an empty tissue box could be a great container for something small, and they’re usually available in all kinds of pretty patterns.
3. Incorporate organization into your decor
For those collectible items that bring you joy, make use of your bookshelves, the top of the dresser, or other empty surfaces to keep them out where you can enjoy them – instead of tucked away in a box somewhere. Find ways to creatively display your favourite coffee mugs, porcelain figurines, crystals, books, or those pretty plates and bowls you only use on special occasions, so they enhance the beauty of your home – but you’ll also have quick and easy access if you want to pull one down and use it.
If your collection is a little too big to fully display as home decor, it’s okay to keep some of it packed away – as long as they’re items that mean something to you. Your home will not feel organized if it looks like a coffee mug factory exploded all over it!
4. Scout yard sales
Yard sales can be a treasure trove for organizers. You’d be surprised at the variety of boxes and baskets that people will sell at dirt-cheap prices. However, it is a good idea to make a shopping list and a budget before you hit the yard sale circuit. It is easy to get carried away with low prices and end up buying more supplies than you actually need – or random organizational items that “might be useful somewhere in the house” and never end up fitting in anywhere.
5. Check the online classifieds
People who are selling just a few shelving units or other storage pieces will often list them online, rather than having a full yard sale. If there’s something specific that you know you need, like a shoe rack, coat hooks, or a bookshelf, hop onto your favourite online classified website and search for it there to save yourself the time combing thrift shops and yard sales.
6. Dollar stores and thrift shops
When you’ve exhausted your thriftiest options and it’s time to go shopping at an actual store for organizational supplies, it can be tempting to head to a big department store to see the latest and greatest organization systems. But check your local dollar store first! Of course, the selection at these places can vary widely from one chain to another, but you can often find items that are just as useful as the ones at the “regular” stores, and for far less cash. For example, magazine holders can easily be found at discount stores for a fraction of the price.
Thrift shops are another fantastic place to find hidden treasures for the home. They often have an entire section full of nothing but baskets, shelves, and other storage items. Follow the same guidelines in these stores as in yard sale shopping – figure out what you actually need ahead of time to avoid impulse buys that won’t actually make your life any easier.
7. Keep a designated “donation area”
How can you avoid having a trash bag of clothing in the corner of your closet, an incomplete set of glassware waiting in a cabinet, and some random crafting supplies you’ve decided you aren’t going to use sitting in a box in the garage – all eventually destined for the same place, the donation pile?
Don’t forget to organize your soon-to-be-evicted items, too. Create one master location for donation-bound items, to make downsizing an easier habit that doesn’t weigh down the spaces in your home with things you don’t need anymore. Whether you set up a plastic tote in your garage or a box inside your hall closet, just make sure you are regularly emptying it! And if you did make the mistake of overbuying on storage boxes, don’t be afraid to donate those, too!
Getting creative with storage and shopping smart for organizational supplies can help you tackle clutter once and for all and create a beautifully organized home on any budget.