Learn how to get organized without spending a lot of money! Organization doesn’t have to be expensive!
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when I say the word, “organization”? If you’re like me, you probably think of a bunch of neat and tidy bins or containers all lined up in a perfect row, with matching labels and not a thing out of place.
But while organization can look like this at times, I’ve learned that going out and buying a bunch of pretty (and sometimes expensive) bins will not automatically make me organized, nor are expensive bins a requirement of organization. In fact, it is totally possible to get organized without spending a lot of money at all!
I have admitted many times on the blog that I am
cheap thrifty, so I am always looking for ways to save, particularly when it comes to organization. Through the years, I have discovered several ways to keep costs down while still implementing super efficient organizational systems.
Ideas for Getting Organized Without Spending a Lot of Money
1. Declutter (& Sell!)
Any time I organize anything, decluttering is the #1 thing I do. If our goal is to organize on the cheap, it only makes sense– the less stuff you have, the less it will cost to get it organized!
Start with one area of your home (maybe the one that bugs you the most!) and be ruthless. Get rid of anything that is broken or stained. If there are things you don’t use anymore, say good-bye to those too. Only keep the items that you absolutely need and/or love.
(This is what our house looks like mid-declutter– it has to get worse before it gets better! 😉 )
Other than getting rid of clutter, another upside of purging is that you will likely find items that may not be useful to you anymore, but that someone else needs. These items can be sold at a yard sale or on Craigslist or Facebook. (See this post for tips on how to effectively sell on Craigslist and in Facebook groups.)
This first step of your organization process is actually making you some money– win!
2. Recycle and Upcycle Items to Organize Without Spending Money
I am always amazed at the organizational tools that I can find for FREE when I recycle everyday items that would otherwise be thrown away. Some of my favorite things to recycle are…
- Shoeboxes– I have used these in sock drawers to keep things organized and separated. I’ve used them to corral items under the sink or to store craft supplies. They can even hold small toys or kids’ items.
(I use a shoebox covered in wrapping paper to keep Donnie’s socks organized!)
- Diaper boxes– Diaper boxes are great because they are big and can hold larger items! I used diaper boxes in my craft closet for years to store picture frames and canvases and decor items. I’ve used them to hold hand-me-downs in the Cs’ room and to store holiday decorations in the garage.
- Cereal boxes– These can be cut down so that they’re just a few inches high, and then they make perfect drawer dividers to hold office supplies!
- Glass jars– Think spaghetti jars, pickle jars, candle jars, baby food jars, jelly jars, etc. Wash them out, remove the label, and they can be perfect for storing small craft supplies, hair ties and bobby pins, cotton balls, q-tips, and other small items.
- Cans– Cleaned out paint cans can be used to store everything from tools in the garage to small toys and office supplies. Soup or vegetable cans are perfect for holding pencils, pens, and markers.
- Scrap wood– Scrap wood can be turned into risers to store cans or spice jars in the pantry more efficiently.
There are a million different things you can recycle and use for organization without spending any money at all! If you have an idea in mind but don’t have the item in your house, ask friends and family to save things for you– they’ll be glad you took it off their hands!
3. Get Creative with What You Have
Beyond recycling cans and boxes, I would bet that we all have some containers in our home that could be used for something other than their intended purpose. I have used trash cans and laundry hampers to help organize wrapping paper. I use extra plates to help corral my jewelry or hair supplies.
Shortly after we were married, Donnie and I bought some super cheap “pantry bins” from Wal-Mart, and in the 10 years we’ve had them, they’ve held shoes, toilet paper, painting supplies, craft items, toys, exercise equipment, and they might have been in the actual pantry for a little while too!
(Our 10 year old pantry bins are still going strong and now hold tissues and toilet paper in our guest bathroom!)
Storage crates are another item that have come in handy. The same inexpensive crates from my college days have held binders, the Cs’ outdoor toys, shoes, beach accessories, and more.
4. Make It Pretty
Just because we’re using something that is recycled or that we already have doesn’t mean we have to leave it as-is. I often wrap cans and boxes in wrapping paper or scrapbook paper to make them prettier. Paint is another quick and easy option that I always have on hand. Washi tape or decorative duct tape can make recycled items prettier as well.
(I wrapped these plain shoe boxes in pretty paper and added a DIY label for functional, beautiful under-the-sink storage!)
I always love to finish of my organizational systems with pretty labels, and you don’t have to have a fancy machine to make them yourself! You can find a super easy tutorial for making your own pretty labels in Microsoft Word in this post or in Canva here. You’ll be able to make exactly what you want just using the paper and ink you probably already have!
5. Find Inexpensive Storage Options
Finally, if I’ve decluttered ruthlessly, recycled items, used what I have, made it all pretty, and I still need some containers for various items, I have a few go-to places that I look first.
- Yard sales- I am always surprised at the great storage solutions that people get rid of for super cheap at yard sales!
- Dollar Tree- I always peruse their storage section, particularly for storing the Cs’ smaller toys.
(Plastic Dollar Tree bins in the boys’ room)
- Target Dollar Spot- I have to watch myself here! They often have really cute plastic containers, little pails and bins, and inexpensive glass jars for $1 or $3. I try very hard only to buy what I need, though, because even those little purchases can add up!
(Mason jar and cute striped pail to help with medicine cabinet organization, both from Target Dollar Spot!)
- Thrift stores- Similar to yard sales, people often discard things they can no longer use, but with a little TLC, their trash can turn into storage treasures!
Inexpensive Organization Ideas: Final Thoughts
It is totally possible to get organized without spending a lot of money. Yes, it may take more creativity, DIY, and a little bit of extra searching, but that little bit of extra effort can turn into big savings in the long run, AND you can still have those organized spaces you’ve been dreaming of!
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What are your favorite tips for organizing on a budget?
Happy [Thrifty] Organizing! 🙂