The Best Way to Organize Your Home on a Budget
How to organize when you have too much stuff.
How many times have you bought organizing supplies, baskets and storage boxes, only to make no real progress in getting (and keeping) your home truly organized?
For years I was determined to get and stay organized, trying to make all our stuff fit neatly in the fairly small military-housing homes we lived in. I definitely did a lot of decluttering along the way too, but “getting organized” was my primary goal.
And I spent plenty of money in that pursuit. It amazes me now that I couldn’t see that no matter how many cute baskets I bought, those baskets couldn’t solve my organizing problems.
There has to be a better way, right??
Organizing Your Home on a Budget
Before we move on to how to organize your home without buying more stuff, let me make this one most important point:
Decluttering is the key to getting organizing.
You could even say that decluttering is more important than organizing.
Because it is.
If you do a good enough job decluttering, you shouldn’t need to buy any more organizing products.
Most of us own too much stuff, lots of which we haven’t used in years, likely won’t ever use again, and possible don’t even like.
You don’t want to spend money to organize items you don’t use.
Get rid of that excess stuff and your organizing problems will be over!
How do I know?
Because I did this.
Year in year out, I organized our stuff to make it fit in the series of small homes we moved in and out of with each new military duty station.
Hoping to put down roots somewhere, we eventually bought our first home. With 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, and 2700 sq. ft. of space, I thought for sure my organizing struggles were over.
I learned a hard lesson that year.
The moral of the story that follows is:
Having more space is not the answer to your organizing woes.
The same goes for having more storage containers and organizing products.
Even with 2700 sq. ft., I still spent way too much time organzing and re-organizng our stuff to keep our home organized and clutter-free.
And on top of that, I now had 2700 sq. ft. of space to keep clean (vs. the usual 1500ish sq. ft. we’d lived in up until this point). AND I suddenly had some new serious responsibilities thrust on me.
I could no longer keep up. Our home quickly fell apart without my constant organizing and cleaning.
I got fed up. I decided to massively declutter our home, sell it, and move back into a smaller, more manageable home.
So here I am.
1200 sq. ft., 3 small bedrooms, 2 baths.
And without all the excess clutter in our home now, I can easily organize our stuff in the closets, on the shelves, in the drawers, and in the baskets we already have available to us.
I spend less time now than ever before organizing, yet our home more easily stays neat and tidy.
I still have two packrats in the family to contend with, but that’s a story for another day. Having decluttered half of our stuff back in 2013 & 2014, we have enough space for the packrats and all their stuff without me getting (too) frustrated with them (most days).
Want easy, do-able decluttering projects you can accomplish in a few minutes delivered straight to your inbox? Join the free, 5-day Decluttered Life Challenge. In addition to simple tips and inspiration, you’ll learn the easy-to-stick-to decluttering method that will help you get your whole house decluttered.
How to Organize with What You Already Have
1. Declutter and organize one room at a time
I suggest starting with one of your main living spaces (living room, dining room, kitchen, main floor bathroom), as these are the rooms where most of us spend the majority of our waking hours (with the exception of the bathroom, but still it’s the one that get used the most and is most likely to be used by guests, so get it decluttered and cleaned up too.).
Or start with the room that’s really driving you crazy.
Just start. Don’t keep putting off decluttering and organizing because it feels overwhelming.
“If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.” ~Olin Miller, American author
Declutter one flat surface, one drawer, one shelf, and one pile at a time. Get rid of the things in that room which you no longer need, use, or love.
Once you do that, chances are you’ll have plenty of room in your drawers, baskets, bins and on your shelves for the items you want to organize and store there.
Related post: The two things you must do to get your home organized.
2. Declutter baskets, drawers, cabinets, and shelves of items you no longer need, use, or love, ONE AT A TIME.
Let me state that another way, declutter the room you have chosen to start with one basket, one shelf, one drawer, and one pile at a time.
Do a little bit each day. Make it part of your daily routine.
Just like you have to clean your kitchen daily, you should declutter one small area each day in order to stick with it and get your entire home decluttered.
“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently. ~Tony Robbins
Don’t burn yourself out (and give up altogether) by trying to declutter everything at once.
Your home did not get cluttered overnight, and you can’t get it decluttered overnight.
The idea that we can declutter things all at once and be done with them forever has been popularized by Marie Kondo, but I’d argue that this won’t work for some people. In fact, this likely won’t work for most people.
Getting the clutter in your home under control will take time, consistent decluttering, and learning new habits.
3. Declutter some of the items you want to store before trying to organizing them.
Purge items you haven’t used in years, can’t realistically foresee actually using again, or don’t even like anymore.
“If you have to buy stuff to store your stuff, you might have too much stuff.” ~Courtney Carver
Organizing isn’t the end all be all.
The goal should be to get rid of things you don’t need, use, or like, then organize the items you do need, use, and like in a logical way:
- store like things together
- store things where they are used, or where it makes the most sense to store them
Related post: 5 Bad Habits That Keep Your Home a Cluttered Mess
4. Don’t buy (more) things you don’t need.
While it’s number 4 on this list, being intentional with future purchases is probably more important than the 3 tips above.
Moving forward, don’t buy things just because:
- they are on sale
- they are cheap/inexpensive
- it’s a shiny new object that catches your eye (stores fill their shelves with cute new items seasonally – don’t let this guide your shopping choices)
- you think you “may” need the item “someday” – wait until you actually do need the item. I deal with this on a regular basis, with my Boy Scout leader husband and his “be prepared” approach to life – it drives me a little, I mean a lot, crazy.
I hope you feel inspired to declutter and organize your home. You can do this!
(Sign up below for the 5-Day Decluttered Life Challenge and I’ll help you establish a decluttering habit you can stick to!)
Make room for the good life.
Ready to declutter your home?
Join the free 5-day Decluttered Life Challenge. I’ll help you finally create the clutter-free home you’ve wanted for so long, with an easy-to-stick-to decluttering method that even the busiest mom can follow!