I am a frugal minimalist, so I’m always looking for ways to organize, declutter and save money.
Several years ago I did a complete purge and declutter of my home. I got rid of everything I did not use, need or love. It was a process that took several weeks to complete, but when I was finished I was shocked at the amount of stuff I had accumulated — and ultimately purged from my home.
I had a sense of relief and happiness when I was done and my house was in order. Ready to do the same? Keep reading!
Start by Sorting Items in Your Home
Take a room at a time. In each, create four piles: keep, sell, donate, and throw away. Do this for all of the items in each room.
Go through the entire room and put your items in the appropriate piles. Then take the items you plan to sell, donate or throw away to another location such as your garage or a designated room in your home to store the items until you’ve gone through every room.
Be thorough. And when deciding what to keep, ask yourself if this is an item you use often, something you need or something you really love. If the answer is “No,” get rid of it. Also think about duplicate items. For example, how many spatulas, toasters, staplers, pairs of scissors, etc., do you really need?
Don’t keep anything that is broken with the thought that you may fix it one day. That will probably never happen. Less is more. Having fewer things brings a sense of peace and calm. Too much clutter is very stressful, and you may not even realize how stressful it is until you clean up and organize.
It may take some time at first especially if you have never decluttered your home before. But once the job is done, just keep on top of it. You’ll find cleaning and keeping things in order is much easier.
Of course, remember to sell, donate or throw away the items you put in those piles Then set aside a place in your house or garage as an area to put items to donate or recycle going forward.
Keep two cardboard boxes or other containers to hold the items. From then on, each time you come across something you no longer need or use, immediately put it in the appropriate box. Once or twice a month, drop those things off at the donation and recycle centers.
If you make a habit of this, the clutter will not accumulate all over again. I keep a box in my car, put items in that box and drop them off when I am out running errands. That saves on gas and time, since I’m not making a special trip.
Free Organizing Ideas for Your Home
Now that you have successfully decluttered your home, here are a few tips to get organized.
Organize your food cupboards, refrigerator, freezer and pantry. If you know what you have on hand, it prevents overbuying and food waste. I keep the newest items in the back and the items that will expire earlier in the front, all sorted by expiration date and then by item type. Keeping food, cleaning supplies and other staples in order makes it easy to see what you have on hand with just a glance.
Tip: Meal Planning
If you plan your meals in advance, you’ll know what you need to buy and what you already have on hand. Preparing meals ahead not only saves you time but can also save you money, as you’ll be less likely to eat out if you already have meals prepared at home. I keep a running grocery list of things I need to buy. You can post that list in the pantry or on a cupboard door so that family members can add items to the list.
Mail and Bills
Keep all of your daily mail in one location. Go through it each day: Pay any bills that need to be paid, throw away junk mail and respond to anything that requires a response. Staying on top of your mail will prevent you from missing a payment. This prevents late fees and other penalties.
Organize the clothes in your closet and dresser. This will help you discover what items you wear often and what items you may not have worn for a year or more. When you find things you have not worn or used for more than six months or a year, get rid of them.
You can make quite a bit of money selling your old clothes, shoes, handbags, and accessories on sites such as Thredup, eBay, Etsy, Poshmark, Tradesy and other sites. You can also try local consignment stores in your area or have a garage sale.
Most kids have far too many toys, and many of the items are so unorganized they do not even get used. Go through your kids’ rooms and use the four-pile rule by making a keep pile, sell pile, donate pile and throw away pile.
Then sell the toys they no longer play with or don’t want. Have a garage sale, sell them on eBay or other online site or find a store locally that buys toys and other children’s items. You can even get your kids involved and let them keep the money they make and set up a savings account for them.
When my son was small we had a rule: I let him keep half of the money and put the rest in his savings account. We used that rule not only when selling his toys but also anytime he earned or was gifted money. This will help teach the importance of saving at a young age.
If you like to read, you probably have a lot of old books. Go through your books and decide which you want to keep and which you want to get rid of. As with other items, you can sell or donate the books you do not want to keep. You can donate books to your local library, senior center, school, Goodwill, The Salvation Army, thrift stores, Vietnam Veterans of America, Habitat For Humanity ReStores and retirement homes.
There are also sites that will buy used books. Most of them use the book’s ISBN number. This is a 10–13-digit number usually located near the bar code. And they will give you a value based on that number. Amazon’s trade-in program is an easy place to start.
Clever Storage Container Ideas
Ready to store your items in an organized way? In most cases, you won’t need to buy storage containers and organizers. You’ll find you already have some kind of boxes and containers on hand. It’s a chance to get creative and find ways to repurpose things you already have to use as storage and organizational containers.
In the bathrooms, kitchen, office, and bedrooms I use old food and other containers covered in fabric or paint or somehow decorated to use for storage. Some examples are candy and mint tins, potato chip cans, ice cream containers, jelly jars and other glass containers, juice jars, cookie/candy/popcorn tins, yogurt containers, tin cans, coffee and coffee creamer jars and plastic containers, parmesan cheese jars, baby wipe containers, kitty litter containers, shoe boxes.
The possibilities are almost endless, and all of these items can be decorated nicely so you would never know that they are recycled containers. This not only saves you money because you don’t have to buy additional storage containers, but you are also helping the environment by not throwing items away that would probably end up in a landfill.
You can also repurpose things such as old milk crates, ice cube trays and luggage. Hang an old rake on the wall or in a closet to hang jewelry, purses and bags, belts and other items. Use old pool noodles or cardboard inserts from a roll of paper towels to organize cords. Use an old kids wagon to store cleaning supplies, art supplies or garden items. Use old flowerpots to store pencils, pens and other office supplies. Get creative. Pinterest and similar sites have all sorts of great ideas.
If you find that you do need additional organizers or storage containers check out the dollar store, thrift stores, garage sales or Goodwill. You will save a lot of money if you don’t buy from a big retailer.
Organizing and decluttering your home will take time, but once you have everything in its place and you’ve gotten rid of everything you no don’t need, it will be much easier to keep things that way.
I now think twice about any purchase, because the less I have, the better I feel. I don’t buy items on a whim. I don’t need a lot of knickknacks and other things that clutter up my space.
Once you decide to take on the task of decluttering, you can sell some of the things you are getting rid of to make a little extra money, donate some items which in some cases can be used as a tax write-off and throw away anything that is cannot be sold or donated. And you can use items you already have on hand to organize what you decide to keep.
You may also find that you have more time on your hands since you do not have as much to take care of. With that time, you may be able to save even more money by tackling home projects home that you’d planned to pay someone to do.
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