I don’t know about you, but when the economy took a nosedive in 2008, I began searching high and low for cheaper alternatives to everything, from food to gas to clothing. With taxes increasing along with the cost of gas and seemingly everything else, there just doesn’t seem to be enough in the wallet these days.
Thankfully, organizing does not have to be expensive. Those high-end organizing gimmicks that some celeb organizers think the middle class can afford are not on my horizon, and I bet I speak for a lot of the middle class.
Recently, I needed to organize my grandson’s toys. Sue McMillin’s mantra of “Containerize, Containerize, Containerize” plus her advice to only put the same kind of item in each container, echoed in my head. Where can a frugal, penny-wise organizer find good organizational products and containers for a dollar or less?
The Dollar Store
According to Time Magazine, dollar stores across our country have experienced significant growth in revenue since the 2008 recession. Many consumers shop at the discount chains like Dollar General and Dollar Tree for everyday items like cleaning supplies, toiletries and even groceries. ABC news goes on to say that the three top players, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree and Dollar General, have quietly become a $56 billion industry, and they are opening new locations faster than Starbucks. By one estimate, there are more dollar stores in the United States than drug stores.
For under $4, I was able to containerize and organize all of my grandson’s extensive toy collection. The action figures went in one, the Play dough and cookie cutters went in another. Now instead of a mish-mash of scattered toys we enjoy shelves full of beautifully containerized treasures.
A mish-mash organized into Dollar Store buckets and bins.
Thrift stores are another great place to get organizational bins and tools. You can find bins like this for a fraction of their original cost. Another great thing about thrift stores is that very often the money they make goes to a worthy charity or cause. One thrift store I frequent gives much of its profit to wounded veterans groups as well as medical research and cures. Thrift stores can be a treasure trove of good finds. Much of the fun is in the search for that perfect organizational box or bin. I have found amazing deals on hanging shelves, rolling crates, and lazy susans in the thrift stores I visit. And with every good organizational find that I purchase, I know that the money is going to a good cause.
A three-drawer bin holds toys, balls, puzzles, and cars.
Bulky toys and a rolling crate from a thrift store.
Yard sales are another great answer to the dilemma of where a penny-wise organizer can score! I have found countless organizational tools and products at yard sales. The great thing about yard sales is that you can often haggle over the price of the item. I have found everything from decorative organizational shelves to storage benches to hatboxes and baskets at yard sales. Make sure you carry cash when you yard sale, and remember to haggle. But most of all, enjoy the treasure hunt, and enjoy the result.
Children’s books organized into a 50-cent yard sale basket.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that you CAN organize while being frugal, thrifty and economical. Think outside the box. Think of ways you can re-purpose items that you find at dollar stores, thrift shops and yard sales. The money you save will be a huge secondary benefit. Of course the primary benefit is that you organized, and you did it on a shoestring!