Frugal Order: A Tightwad's Guide To Getting Organized

get organized and save money

Getting organized! For many, that phrase is synonymous with "Buy Me!"

Savvy retailers know that "Get Organized Fever" breaks out at predictable intervals, and tailor ad campaigns to capitalize on the desire to create an organized home. Too often, professional organizers hear the cry, "But I can't afford to get organized!"

No doubt about it, there are many marvelous products on the market to help achieve better home and personal organization.

But getting organized doesn't necessarily require spending money. Try these tips to get organized without becoming a spendthrift.

Don't confuse "getting organized" with "buying stuff"

Pick a yard sale, any yard sale. Chances are, some pretty pricey organizing products will be included in the seller's merchandise.

Rotating plastic turntables. Bathroom shelf units. Specialty organizers like can holders, tie racks and shelf extenders. All on sale for a tiny fraction of their retail price--and all mute witnesses to a would-be organizer who confuses "getting organized" with "buying stuff."

There's a difference between organization and the products you'll use to achieve that goal. Organization is a process, not a product. It involves time and thought, motivation and effort--and you can't buy these factors in any store. No tangible item, no matter how useful, can set you on the road to better organization all by itself.

The moral is: nobody ever got organized by buying stuff. Instead, they ended up holding a garage sale.

Organize first, measure next, buy last

People who are frugal and organized understand how the organization process works: they organize first, measure next, and buy--if they buy--last.

Take a common problem: magazine storage. Too often, our home manager will say to herself, "Oh, I have to do something about those stacks of magazines." She'll eyeball the stacks, grab the car keys, and head to the store.

At the store, she'll buy a set of 12 nifty plastic magazine organizers in a pretty color to match the family room drapes. Home she goes--only to find that the organizers are one-half inch too tall to fit in the family room bookcase, and that she'll need 8 more containers to hold the entire pile.

Wallet drained and energy depleted, she drops the whole project. The plastic magazine organizers are thrust in a dark closet where they join the household clutter awaiting the next yard sale.

Frugal organizers know the steps required to solve the magazine problem.

First, they assess and sort the magazines. They'll keep only 20% of the pile:. those periodicals which they read each month and to which they refer back often.

After recycling the rejected 80%, the frugal organizer will plan and measure available storage areas. Can the collection of Family Fun be shelved in the existing bookcase? Out comes the tape measure.

Only after having assessed and sorted, planned and measured, does a frugal organizer shop for organizational products--and she does it with a list.

Our frugal friend now knows that she needs four magazine storage boxes, each at least 3 inches wide and no more than 12 inches tall. Next yard sale, she'll buy just what she needs--and no more--to organize the magazines. Problem solved, frugally.