The Clutter Coach


Getting Organized - or How to Organize and Save Money

Cynthia EstesBy Cynthia Estes, Mountain Democrat columnist
August 13, 2010
Reprinted with permission of the Mountain Democrat, Placerville, CA

When I tell someone that I’m a Professional Organizer, there are generally two different reactions. One of out ten people say that they are so incredibly naturally organized that, now that I’ve mentioned it, they’re going to start their own organizing business. The other nine out of ten gasp as if I have just seen the inside of their closet and then start to make excuses why they are not organized.  Most of them say they need my services but can’t afford it (before they even know what I charge). And let’s face it, in today’s economy just buying food can be a struggle. So this month I’ll show you how to look at organizing in a different way and I guarantee you’ll be able to save money!  

Stay organized-Save Money-Shop Locally
Have you noticed that your rooms in your home suddenly become smaller every time you visit a warehouse club? That’s because few homes have storage for cases of toilet paper, canned goods, and whatever else comes in a case lot. No problem, just move it all out to the garage. (Remember the good old days when garages were used to park cars?) Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping in warehouse clubs, leisurely pushing my cart up and down the aisles. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to tie up money in cases of corn oil and power steering fluid that I need for milk and eggs, nor do I have room to store it. Warehouse shopping can be great, but only if you buy what you need. Just because it comes in a case does not mean you’re getting a bargain. Many times you can find a better price in the weekly sales at your nearby store (and shop locally too!). Not only that, you can use weekly flyer and online coupons as well as your other coupons. If you really need to buy a case of something (and I bet you really don’t!), ask your local store manager for a case discount and you’ll probably get one. I’ve found that by shopping locally, I save time and gas and even get a discount at those stores with gas stations; I’m able to use my coupons; and I save money on that hefty annual fee. If you shop at a warehouse club, go with a list and stick to it; know your unit prices before you buy a case of goods; ask yourself where you can store it out of sight without displacing your furniture; and think about whether you can really use that huge package of lettuce before the end of its life expectancy.

Organize that junk drawer
How many melon ballers does one really need? Two of course! That’s how many I had in my “past life”. Obviously, impressing my guests with little round balls of fruit was extremely important to me at one time so when I couldn’t find the one I had, I bought another. Having two of everything adds up to a lot of money. But the upside was that when I got divorced it was one less thing to fight over. Want to de-clutter those multiples in your kitchen? Let your kids go through your drawers, separating like items into groups (the younger ones can practice counting how many you have of each). Pick out your favorite and let the kids box the remainder for donation or your next garage sale. You’ll never buy two again and you’ll actually be able to see what you have in your drawers.

Buying Organizational Clutter
Have you seen the TV shows about people who hoard everything? There are two types of hoarders: the ones who collect everything in a disorganized manner and those who really want to be organized (so half of their clutter consists of every kind of empty organizing bin imaginable). Not that we’re talking about you, but it’s easy to fall prey to the shiny After-Christmas and Back-to-School ads that promise instant organization. Don’t buy anything until you’ve separated everything, measured the space you need and tossed or donated the rest!

Redesign not Redecorate
Is home decor shopping one of your hobbies too? I used to redecorate for every season (yes, I even changed the curtains!!).  I was accumulating quite a collection and had no more room to store it all. Then I realized that most all the rooms in my house had the same color themes, and I decided to “shop at home” instead of the local home decorating stores! You can do it too! Start by cutting out pictures of decorating looks you like in your favorite magazines. Go through your house and look at it as if it belonged to someone else. What accessories could you move to another room? And yes, you can even swap out the curtains! You’ll use what you have and move it around to give your home a fresh new look!  It’s more fun than you think, and you’ll save money too!

Cynthia Estes is a Professional Organizer, owner of Uncluttered for Life, and a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers. Uncluttered for Life serves clients throughout Western El Dorado County. 

Call (530) 957-2975 for a free 20 minute phone consultation and estimate!