Monday, January 14, 2013

Man, I'm Broke Monday: Cheap Organizing

Everyone's organizing for 2013, right?  I've seen proclamations all over Bloglandia as well as Facebook Country and Twitterburg.

"I WILL get organized in 2013!"

"I WILL have my closet look like a store!"

"I WILL have everything in the house color coded, in order by size, weight, and astrological sign!"

I will get this crap neat and tidy!
And many of the posts and tips from experts are centered on what things you need to buy to stay organized.  Totes, boxes, wall-thingies, magic genies that grant you three wishes. That kills me. I, for one, don't want to buy anything if I can get away with it.  Not just because I'm cheap.

But also because I think it's cheating (except for the magic genie--that's just awesome).

The least expensive way to organize is to get rid of stuff.

Don't hit me.  It's just the truth.  Although truth hurts, so I guess you can hit me if you'd like.  But once you're done taking your rage out on my arm (please spare my head), start purging.  There aren't any hard and fast rules for that no matter what anyone else says.  I think it's okay to keep things you don't use often as long as you really get a benefit when you *do* use it.  For me, that's my food processor.  Or fondue pot.  Or offset spatula.  (Yes, kitchen items are a big deal around here)  But that plastic thingy that is so dusty I'm not sure I'll ever use it ever?  Off to charity.

If it doesn't fit in here, we have to really think hard about keeping it.

What we do around here:

*Once the kids' clothes start busting out of their dressers, we don't buy another piece of furniture.  We cull until everything fits.  Careful that you don't toss all the undies and leave the kids with only PJs.

*When the bookshelves prove to be inadequate, we take a serious look within (Look inside your heart, as my Dad says at his construction meetings. Yes, he says it to grown men) to decide if we actually need another one or if we need to give some books away instead.

*When my lovely mother-in-law gifts us with a large set of her mother's china, we don't just add to our collection of stuff.  We think about whether there's anything that can be culled so that we don't outgrow our home.  We keep what's meaningful (the china, for instance) and trash what's not (my fingernail clipping collection).

*Regularly revisit any group of things prone to clutter: toys, clothes, paper.

My friend Brooke has challenged herself to get rid of 5 things a day.  And since she began, she's gotten rid of much more than that, cutting back on things her family has outgrown or broken.  In the process, Brooke is turning her small-ish home into a place where a family of six can thrive, since moving just isn't an option at this time.  Can't beat that this organizing project has been close to FREE.  Use her success as inspiration for some meaningful organizing--that which takes more than a wallet full of cash.

Kitchen storage is at a premium. Can't buy every item we see on TV.

And speaking of cash, you might be able to write your donations off on your taxes if you itemize (just be careful with valuation. Follow the IRS rules for deciding the value of that lava lamp).  We don't because our mortgage is tiny and our state taxes are miniscule, but we do make some money from selling things we're finished with.  This is pure fun money (most of the time) since it rarely adds up to anything substantial.  But when you're on a tight budget, every penny helps, right?

Get organizing, people!  You'll feel lighter!  And sleep better!  And that wart on your nose will disappear overnight!*

*Results not typical.


  1. Some expert tips are just silly. I'd have a bunch of fancy bins labeled "crap I can't part with yet" if I listened to the experts.

  2. We're trying our best to purge as we pack up to get us ready for the new (bigger) house. Just because it's bigger doesn't mean I want to fill it with all of the junk we don't even use now!

    The hardest battle is going to be trying to get Mike to pare down his closet. That guy has 3 times the amount of clothes that I do, it's ridiculous!

  3. Things have astrological signs now? Well, that would certainly explain a lot. I bet my toaster is a Gemini, completely unpredictable and with a tendency to flightiness.

  4. I've done zero organizing so far this year. Went to town last year, so I think I'm good for a few more days. :-)


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