Organizing aids productivity at home and on the job. There are many budget-conscious and practical solutions to give space for organizational makeovers without breaking the bank.
Marybeth Hamilton inadvertently discovered many of these concepts when she shifted from eight years of corporate ladder climbing to become a stay-at-home mom to her two children — which she readily proclaims as “the best decision of my life.”
“When I was pregnant with my first baby, I found out very quickly that, despite nearly everything I had heard and read, having a baby just wasn’t that expensive,” she said. “When I shared my realization with other moms, friends and relatives, nearly everyone said, ‘How can you say that?’ and, ‘I don’t see how that’s possible.’”
Finding that most people just didn’t believe her, Hamilton started the Baby Savers website to share her knowledge and shopping expertise. All that depended heavily on being organized.
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“The benefits of staying organized means not having to spend time looking for things,” she said. “You won’t spend money on things you can’t find. You also won’t get frustrated, which puts me in a better mood. That definitely impacts my home organization and maintenance.”
Alexandria White, credit cards reporter at CNBC Select, along with experts at consumer credit reporting company Experian, also weighed in on the productive advantages of knowing where everything can be found.
“When you’re organized, you can relax because everything is in its proper place,” White said. “Avoiding clutter is a great way to figure out what’s important and what’s not.
“Knowing where to find things saves money because you don’t have to buy another item simply because you misplaced it,” she said. “Also, after you re-purchase an item, it always has a funny way of showing up soon after the purchase.”
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Hamilton explained that misplaced bills lead to unpaid bills and late fees. She also knows the pain of buying replacements for lost items.
“When things aren’t put back where they belong, they’re often not cared for properly,” she said. “That means buying more replacements. I’ve also found forgotten birthday money and gift cards in older cards.”
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“This is so true,” Hamilton said. “I’ve tried copying other peoples’ systems, and it doesn’t work, usually because it’s too complicated.”
Basic technology will enhance organizing.
“Upload paper documents,” White said. “Shred the physical copies to avoid clutter. Be sure to keep any important papers. Also consider apps that can help you track spending.”
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“Don’t overspend to buy organizing tools,” White said. “You don’t need top-of-the-line storage supplies. Low-cost ones get the job done just the same.”
Hamilton emphasized the importance of having someone else do organizing for you, not with you. There are also budget-friendly storage hacks and solutions for small spaces.
“Hidden storage saved me in my first tiny apartment,” she said. “Every piece of furniture had built-in, concealed storage. It worked so well.
“Don’t file everything,” Hamilton said. “I have one single, portable filing tote and a small fireproof box that replaced a three-drawer filing cabinet. As long as I stay on top of the outdated stuff, I can save or file our most important documents with room to spare.”
Take advantage of unconventional solutions.
“Look for items around your home that can double as storage bins,” White said. “I love using reusable bags to store things in my car or closet. Consider adding shelves, using furniture with draws or under-bed storage.”
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Several ordinary items already in hand can be used for organizing and storage without spending extra money.
“Your computer and phone can help you get rid of tons of paper storage,” Hamilton said. “Scanning technology makes saving and filing easier than ever.”
White pointed to the advantages of reusable bags, old boxes, binders, shoe boxes and, if necessary, buying inexpensive storage bins, baskets and containers. These can be had at dollar stores, thrift stores and local businesses.
“Target is great for everyday purchases, especially during their holiday sales,” she said.
One of Hamilton’s great finds was a discarded store display that she converted into her Cricut storage station.
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“Aim for once a week to declutter,” White said. “If you’re more ambitious, do it whenever you see something out of place. The more often you declutter, the less clutter there will be.”
Hamilton suggested simple habits to help stay organized:
- Tossing junk mail before it comes in the door.
- Recycling papers as soon as they’re not useful.
- Filing the rest of the items at regular intervals.
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“Declutter whenever something is out of place,” White said. “Make a list when you run out of something so you don’t have to constantly check your stock. Organize your apps and digital documents to make things easy to find.
“Consider items you already have available that can double as storage,” she said. “Look into free digital storage options such as Amazon Photos and Google Drive.”
As Hamilton concluded, the person who hesitates to get organized loses.
“Just start,” she said. “Doing something is better than doing nothing.”
About the Author
This article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be considered financial advice. You should consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.