Getting Organized on a Dime

By Professional Organizer Lea Schneider of

Organizing products can cost a pretty penny…ur, dollar or dollars. Those lovely wicker baskets lined in decorator colors are not cheap. The fabulous built-in closets can require a loan. But, you don’t need that pretty penny to get and stay organized.

Getting organized is really about what is going on in you rather than what you own. It’s about finding a new routine for doing things or a new way to store things that you can stick to. Creating an organizing plan for getting and staying organized is what really brings about lasting change.

That being said, there are a few goodies that can help you get organized “on a dime” as the saying goes. Most of these items can be found at your favorite dollar-type store.

Small Laundry Baskets-

  • Put a white one and a colored one in each family member’s closet floor to hold pre-sorted dirty laundry.
  • Use them to hold toys or related items, such as picnic supplies. The key is to sort your belongings putting like-items together. So you might designate a laundry basket to hold camping supplies, another for picnicking, another for water toys or one for gardening gear.

Small Tubs

  • Pick up some colorful small tubs for toy parts. Always choose the smallest tub that can hold all the pieces to that given game or toy. If it is bigger than need-be, it will end up with mixed-up multiple items in it.
  • Use small tubs to hold like items together. Put one under the bathroom sink for manicure supplies and another for travel size containers so you’ll always find them for a trip.

Square or Rectangle Baskets-

  • These flat containers, often about 2 inches high, are great for organizing drawers. Use them in the desk for paperclips, rubber bands and pens. Use them in the kitchen to de-junk the kitchen junk drawer. Use them in the bathroom drawer to hold ponytail holders, combs or small tubes of make-up.

Plastic Zippered Quart or Gallon Bags-

  • A box of 25 or 50 bags can go a long way toward organization. Use one for game pieces. Even if the board game box gets dumped over, the pieces will stay together. The same goes for jig-saw puzzle pieces. Use them in the kitchen to hold cookie cutters or corn-cob holders.
  • I’ve got two boxes on the pegboard in my garage for easy access. Grab a bag for the extra parts when you’ve assembled something but don’t forget to label it. Use them to hold cords and wires so they stay untangled and labeled. Use them to hold an open package of picture hangers or nails.
  • You’ll find a bag of batteries in my junk drawer, bags with playing cards in my game closet, bags of spare buttons in my dresser drawer and a bag in my desk holding all the various cords, parts and booklets for my digital camera.

Clearly, I can’t contain myself. (Pun intended!)

Plastic Tote-

  • Plastic totes can help you organize art supplies, homework supplies, toiletries and cleaning products. Use them for any category of things where you need to “grab and go.”

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle into Organization.

  • I’m not suggesting you turn into my great-aunt and save every butter tub and Mason jar that crosses your path. That would be adding to your clutter.
  • However, reusing these kinds of items can be a great way to get organized. Large jars are great to reuse in the pantry. They prevent a mess by containing half-used packages of rice and beans or open bags of flour.
  • Plastic tubs, the type that lunch meat often comes in, make a good organizing tool. I’ve got one under the sink to hold sponges, another in my drawer with foil and plastic wrap to hold extra twist-ties and rubber bands and another in the top of the cabinet with a variety of toothpicks in it.

Tiny Things That Work

There are a couple of small items that are also inexpensive favorites:

  • Cup hooks– Easily screws into wood without tools. Use the hook to hold things you don’t want to lose from the spare key to the dog leash.
  • Magnetic clips- These large clips are great to organize you by holding memos and shopping lists to the fridge so you can find them.
  • Small dry-erase board– These dollar-type dry erase boards are great for the pantry, to note items that are running low, as an inventory for the freezer, as a chore chart for the family or as a checklist for kids trying to get out the door in the morning.

In the end, a buck can buy a lot of organizing- as long as you acquire a heaping helping of determination to use the new organizing method you set up.

© 2011 Lea Schneider, owner of Organize Right Now, is a professional organizer providing organizing and consulting for everything from piles of papers to closets to clutter. Her organizing advice has appeared in numerous places including The Washington Post, Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Natural Health, Better Homes and Gardens Kids’ Rooms and She is the author of “Growing-Up Organized,” (, $14) and was the Grand Prize Winner for the Rolodex Office Makeover Challenge. Lea is a golden circle member of the National Association of Professional Organizers.


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