3 Ways to be Organized and Minimal on a Budget
The organized and minimal lifestyle has become a trend that can come with a big price tag. There are many new products out there, like sleek white storage solutions, closet organizers and so much more that claim that they will “fix your clutter problem?”. What exactly is the problem? It is simply that you never had that perfect organizing container? No. Most likely, you already have too many things, and buying another product isn’t going to help. Getting to the root of your clutter problem (usually habit and lifestyle related) is key. It’s important to find ways to avoid the consumer trap and finding ways to do it without the high cost is what it’s all about.
1. Skip Expensive Storage Solutions
I am all about reusing and DIY solutions, but I also know that things sometimes can look junky when they don’t match or are stored in re-purposed containers. With the numerous clients I’ve worked with, I’ve learned that if you reduce your belongings to include only what you use and matches your lifestyle, you’ll be surprised by how few storage solutions you actually need. Instead you’ll find that you can use what you already have and that you current drawer and closet systems are enough.
For those smaller items that need some structure it may be a good time to do a DIY project or just look at another way to organize them.
Smaller Items in Drawers: When organizing smaller items that fit in drawers I like to reuse items that would otherwise end up in landfills. Things like shoe boxes, second hand cutlery trays, toilet paper rolls, etc. I like to use toilet paper rolls to organize my wires for my chargers, shoe boxes with cardboard dividers or re-purposed cutlery trays to house my rolled up socks, underwear and undershirts. These examples help you organize your items, they cost nothing (or next to nothing), and have a smaller carbon footprint.
Personalized Closet Organizers: are a waste of time and money. When you go through your items thoroughly and organize them you’ll find that you don’t actually need a fancy (and expensive) closet system. Every client I have worked with has never had to get a personalized closet system after we’ve gone through their wardrobe. Just like many products on the market, closet organizers, like shoe holders and multi-tiered racks, don’t address the real problem of why you have so much. Instead, these products usually take up space and distract you from from how much you don’t use.
Fancy storage boxes and plastic drawer systems: are also a waste of time and money. Hiding items in drawers and boxes that get stored in inaccessible areas makes it difficult to see what you have, and always become a home for dumping other unrelated items. I prefer buying second hand wicker baskets if I really need a place for a certain category of things, like my hats, gloves, etc. However, I make sure that they are the only items I put in there and nothing else.
2. Eco-friendly products can be expensive, but are they always worth it?
Instagram is full of really cool alternatives to products that are plastic and waste free, however, many of them come at a high price, aren’t local, and may not really be necessary for your life. More often than not you can just go without using these products all together or make something comparable on your own.
Eco friendly bath products like bath brushes and body sponges sound great, but are often expensive. Alternatively, you can just re-purpose an extra towel by cutting it up and and turning it into face cloths. This hit three great goals: it creates a set, reuses something you didn’t need, and averts textile waste.
You can find many Eco- friendly cleaning products in local grocery stores, but I would advise you to question your use of them and their ingredients. With cleaning products all you really need is baking soda, vinegar, and a soap that can be used for laundry and dish washing. This costs less, takes up less space (which means less clutter) and is better for the environment.
Natural beauty products are another huge market. On one hand this is great because no one wants chemicals on their face and skin! But the reality is that a lot of these brands still follow a traditional model and market many things you don’t actually need, and could probably go without.
Sometimes buying expensive Eco-friendly items are worth the investment, especially if it’s an item you use often. In these cases, the high one-time cost is well worth it. (For example, a metal shaving razor.) It’s very important for me for me that minimalist and organizational products are financially accessible and buying them isn’t always the answer, necessary and can create unwanted clutter in your life.
3. Rethink before you buy and avoid “sale” mindset
How many times have you experienced these situations?
You have an social engagement or interview: you feel like you need a new outfit, but is this actually necessary of you can you work with what you have?
You’re entertaining a large group at your house: do you really need to buy new dishes so everyone has a matching plate? Do you really need new serving trays, accessories, or decorations?
There’s an amazing sale at an expensive store: you feel the victory of getting a huge deal, but soon realize you never needed that item and it still has the price tag on it months later.
I’ve been playing the waiting game for many years. If I think of something I feel I need, I wait for a few weeks. More often than not, I forget entirely about that item or realize that I was fine without it. There are so many things to buy, but avoiding the initial impulse and not wasting your money is actually very gratifying and the key to making real change. It’s time to stop and rethink before you buy so you can stop your clutter creating cycle.
What free organizing strategies have you used?
I'd love to hear from you, let me know!