By coville123 from Brockville, Ontario
I like everything in my kitchen tidy; the cans facing all the same way, plates stacked neatly, pans where I can use them, etc. What happens is you get in a hurry, and everything get in disarray fast. I have discovered doing it right the first time saves time in the long run.
I live alone, so I have to check dates on canned foods, things in fridge and freezer to make sure they are still good. The best way to do this, is have all of your cans stacked in order neatly. For example: I have soups in one row or area, and vegetables in another. Keeping them separate makes it easier to rotate these items; making sure nothing goes to waste.
Keeping food in boxes take up a lot of space and can allow bugs. Unless you eat it up fast, I have found it best to take the contents out of the box, and store it in same-sized plastic lock containers. Having these containers keep everything fresher longer, and make everything easy to see. I have organic cereal which I don't eat a lot of, and it has been fresh for months. So in the kitchen, toss out the boxes. You can find these containers on sale, and even at thrift stores in great condition.
What I eat more of, I try to get on sale in bulk and freeze. If it's in the right container, it saves space and saves the food from freezer burn. Living thrifty means buying on sale. These containers are great for soups, and things that you make ahead of time and freeze. Bread is great to freeze. Make sure you put it into another bag (even plastic store bag helps), to prevent freezer burn. Date it, and don't put where it could be damaged before it freezes. Once it's frozen, depending on space, you can stack it.
Before you go out to the big sales, un-clutter. Examine the food you have and clean out freezer before buying more. It will save you money not to let what you may have forgotten go to waste. I weekly go through the inside the refrigerator to see what I may have forgotten. I check the dates on condiments, and make sure milk or other dairy products are good before buying other things. This saves money and time, and makes meals so much easier. Once a week, I plan my meals, and eat what's there or clean out what may not be good.
Take a minute to put away dishes, pots and pans neatly. The cabinets will have more room, and later you will get to what you need faster. If you have things you don't use donate it. Chances are if you haven't used it in 6 months you probably aren't going to. If you use the 6 month rule on most things (except china or holiday things) and rid yourself of it, you'll have more space and time.
I have very little drawer space. My towels, fiber cloths are neatly stacked in a basket in cabinet next to the sink. Having them in a nice basket helps me keep them looking nice and neat. It's OK to throw away or use for rags, the old holey dish towels. You can find them at dollar store, 2 for $1.00. Take inventory, and rotate so you aren't using same one over and over. They all will get equal use this way.
Sometimes being thrifty, we feel bad about buying anything extra. I loved the way my baskets looked when I bought new dish towels. A few years later they still look nice. Throw out the old rags, and make new rags with old towels.
In the kitchen I also got rid of the mixed silverware, and old plastic containers that I didn't need. It's surprising how fast saving used plastic containers stack up and are forgotten. In my tableware drawers, I got rid of what I didn't use, got the right dividers, and put them away correctly. It stays neat.
I don't eat out, but my son loved fast food. When he was here, he kept all of the plastic spoons and forks. They were everywhere. I didn't throw them away of course, they are in plastic bags. They are great for on the go (grab a yogurt). Those plastic containers I told you about are great for straws, plastic forks. Don't throw it the drawers.
Clutter can be anywhere, with anything. My answer is the 6 month rule, and having the right containers. Buying all of the right plastic container helped so much in every area of the kitchen. Being organized will take so much stress out of your life. It is just easier when everything has its place. Donate it, have a garage sale, or toss it if it's not good. I have found everything is better when everything is neat, orderly, clean, and less money is wasted.
Source: Life. I was always a clean nut. But until my son left, I had no idea what he had in the back of my cabinets, closets, drawers, etc. I learned that less is usually best for me.
By Luana M. from San Diego, CA
When you take on such a daunting task, it is easy to get frustrated. Make it a 30 (or 15) minute limit per area. Stay in one space and try not to wander from room to room. I usually will have a basket with me for stuff that needs to go to another room. Everything else that has no home or no use is immediately put in a give away pile.
By Auliya from Kinston, NC
After going through this I am determined not to put my children through this hardship. I have been sorting through all the stuff my husband and I have accumulated over the years. I have sold things at flea markets, yard sales, and given to our local Salvation Army. I have earned money not only by selling but finding things I probably would have bought in the near future.
I am more aware of the stuff I bring into my home now. I weigh each purchase. The best is I save time by not having to move "piles" from one area to the next. We enjoy are home more because we are not always stepping over things and battling clutter. Home is a calmer more spacious place to be.
By Pat W. from Eastern PA
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So, if you're bored between now and the shopping frenzy of the weekend, consider sorting through it all. Go through your craft supplies, toys, clothes, and books. In this season of spending and plenty, there's lots of folks who'll be doing their holiday shopping at thrift stores. If you can, donate generously it clears space for you and gives back to your community. And, seeing what you're donating can even help you choose purchases during the upcoming New Year a bit more wisely.
By Dorrie from Norman, OK
It is important to set a goal the night before, mapping out the square yard area of clutter I want to clear and writing down ten - 15 minute tasks, to do to achieve that goal. Also set out 4 boxes or laundry baskets with labels on them for "keep", "give away", "throw away", and "store: emotional attachment -- get rid of later", according to Don Asslett's method, which works for me. The next day when I get up and am fed, washed, and dressed, I set the timer for 15 minutes and proceed to go through my list of 10.
I do the same thing each day until I have achieved one whole room. I go from room to room following the same principles, until the whole house is complete.
When you bring items into the house, put them away immediately. If you do not have a place for them, you don't need them.
It is important to do maintenance one day per week, checking through the already tidied rooms for "hot spots", as Fly Lady says in her lessons on clearing up clutter. She also recommends the "fling boogey" daily, where you take a plastic garbage sack, hang it over your arm and with the timer set for 15 minutes you go through the house and collect 10 items to get rid of. When the buzzer rings, you take it out to the car ready to take to the thrift store.
In conclusion: I do not find the skeleton closet method to be at all effective. It just creates clutter in a space that has already been tidied. Stuffing things out of sight leaves one feeling cluttered inside, and you still have to deal with it later in an enclosed space. You can see below in the photos how ineffective the skeleton closet method is.
Source: Don Aslett's "Clutter's Last Stand" and Flylady.com, both good sources of help for clutter management. I also acknowledge the Amway sales tapes as a source for the "Inch by inch, everything is a cinch" statement.
By Leila B. from Brookings, OR
Some things can be used as gifts, some recycled, and others can be donated to charity. Heirlooms make fine gifts for family members or special friends especially if you write down its history and such. I gave my son my old-but-still-good sewing machine with a note saying how I came by it, and all the baby clothing, Halloween costumes, and such that I'd made on it for him. This meant a lot to him.
Craft supplies should be evaluated and used or given away. Often, after-school programs, Girl Scouts, daycare centers, etc. can use them. It feels good to give these things away when you are able to share a story about them.
By Jennifer from Gilbertsville, NY
Now this doesn't sound new, but the system won't stay uncluttered unless you commit to never letting it overflow! Art supplies spilling out of the tub? Thin them out. Your daughter has three robes but only two hooks? Donate one. Too many magazines for the basket? Time to take them to the library or used book store. Bought too many cake mixes on sale? Have a tea party and invite all your friends or bake the extras and meet your neighbors with gift in hand.
If you don't exceed the dedicated space for stored items, you won't find yourself in piles of overgrowth. Now, all you need to do is go through the house and sort your belongings, choose the best storage solution for you, and then never let it get bigger than your containers.
By Padma Raga
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My file folders are all a different color, red for bills to be paid, etc. Whatever color works for you. I throw out and shred any junk mail right away. As soon as any member of my family comes in they all know where to put their coat, hat, shoes, briefcase, etc. NO STACKING ALLOWED! You can begin this today and know that it usually takes 21 days to form a habit. You will be pleased with the results and have less clutter, which is so freeing.
By Bobbie from Rockwall, TX
By Lois Ann from Franklinville, NY
The items people accumulate is really mind boggling. I saved a few favorite toys (our children have grown, no grandchildren yet) and the rest to give away. That is a few shelves free immediately. Why do I save books after I read them?No more! Better yet I am starting to use the library more frequently.
How many dishes does a family need? Ones that I have not used in the past year are going! In another cupboard, I noticed we have four cans of leather spray for shoes and boots? I have enough tea to last me for two years! Clothes, way too many! It really is quite silly.
As I clean, I feel so much "lighter" and I am actually having a great time! Leading a frugal lifestyle taught from the wonderful entries on this site has inspired me to use up what I have before buying and to find new ways to not spend money. It has become a great lifestyle change!
By ldraisen from Saskatchewan
Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here: http://www.thriftyfun.com/post_myfrugallife.ldml
Last year I was surprised when I factored the cost of my new computer. Even though it is crucial for my work, it still didn't seem to be earning its keep. We had a productivity meeting, and it took on some new tasks such as on-line bill pay and tax filing. All of these new tasks saved me money and thus justified the cost of the new system. Now my monthly payments on the system seemed well worth it.
That year I realized that we were driving a gas-guzzling, heavy duty, extended cab pickup which could tow a house, and we didn't need to be. It drank a gallon of gas every eleven miles, and we both commuted nearly twenty-five miles a day. This wasn't our most practical choice. Instead, we re-evaluated our needs. We didn't tow our camper but once a year; it was permanently parked at a campground. We hauled some mulch, leaves, and an occasional piece of lumber. Worse, there was little room for groceries and other small items which couldn't be put in the truck bed.
We decided to trade the truck for an SUV. We didn't get ahead on the payments; they were the same once we paid the truck loan and took another. Where we did save was on the overall package. The SUV allowed us more versatility in use, and with a small landscaping trailer we still can haul larger items. It has the snow traction we need in winter and the passenger room. Meanwhile, we saved money on gas with a few extra miles per gallon, and we downgraded our yearly tags which saved nearly $50 a year. It was the better, and more surprising, choice for us.
Investing the yearly costs from the RV in a large vacation seemed to be a better option. We set out to cancel our lease on the site and sell our RV. When our need to enter the outdoors arose, it was wiser to rent a cabin than to pay all year on an item that we only to used a few weekends a year.
I have a long icky story that I won't bore you all with, but I am in a bit of a pickle. I have made huge strides in de-cluttering and clearing my home. I began 3 weeks ago with the easy stuff, garbage, old magazines, papers, etc. that were most visible and I knew would make the "visual" impact that would keep me motivated.
Now I am at the hard stuff. Let me give you a scenario. I have a ______ (enter "box, closet, room, container, etc") containing the following: letters, books, important papers, pictures, office supplies, crafts, samples, toys, kitchen items, bathroom items, shoes, etc.
My question is, what do I do first? Sort and put things where they are supposed to go? or purge? (do the emotional part of deciding to toss, ie., do I need this, do I have another one just like it, does it work, does it make me sad, happy, etc.).
I'm going to call you Econo for short 'cuz your user name is too long for me to memorize as I scroll down the page to respond. :) Congrats for the first step! I'm like you, the visual improvement motivates me to continue the de-cluttering process. Just be aware that it can also cause a false sense of achievement! (Been there, still dealing with that!)
My best suggestion involves eight bins or bags with eight different labels:
1) Keep - Put back where it belongs.
2) Donate - Items must be clean and functional
3) Recycle - Plastic, paper, etc.
4) Trash - Trash, soiled, broken, dysfunctional, 'Nuf said
5) Sell - The garage/yard sell stuff
6) Sell - the more valuable E-Bay/auction stuff
7) Repurpose - Wood, fabric, etc.
8) Keep - Sentimental
As soon as the #1 bin (put back where it belongs), the #2) bin (donate), the #3 bin (recycle) or the #4 bin (trash) gets full, deal with them: put up, donate, recycle or trash at each days end.
Bins # 5, 6, 7, & 8, as they fill up, will need to move into another area for later action. (These will be the toughest to deal with and you will feel better by giving yourself a second, slightly delayed, opportunity to validate your original quick sort decision.) Honestly, however, by allowing yourself a second chance to go through these items you will probably find more and more items to eliminate via the trash, donate, recycle options. You will feel more confident in these choices as you give yourself the opportunity to think through it twice!
For most, the room by room method works best, but for others, it's drawer by drawer, or wall by wall. Just keep your system flexible enough that if you get stuck ("what do I do with this?") you can forgive yourself for not tackling it immediately and move on to another area that helps you keep up the momentum.
Be realistic as to how many hours per week you can actually devote to de-cluttering. Even if you get behind schedule, never beat yourself up as long as you are making significant progress on a routine basis.
I got into my own cluttered life style because a) I'm sentimental - my grandparents and parents were all gone before I was 33 years old and I inherited a lot of their stuff, b) I'm frugal, borderline cheap, and can tell you within a dollar how much I spent on every item in my home, not wanting to part with a dime and c) I can't stand throwing away anything that still has a useful purpose, even if I don't have a useful purpose for that item. (In part, that's why I use so many bins.)
I'm getting out of my cluttered life style because I'm weary of being the caretaker of "stuff"! Wishing you the same sense of sanity and best of luck with the process.
Clutter control tips from our readers. Post your ideas!
Egg cartons, tops cut off, make good organizers in drawers for little things. Earrings, safety pins, jewelry, keys, etc. For larger things, entirely fill a drawer with cut-off cereal or other boxes. Makes nice compartments and you can customize them to whatever you plan to put in them. Underwear drawer--just cut cardboard "dividers" fit to size. The clothing will keep them upright. Also you can use bowls from the thrift store for the "junk" drawer. One for keys, one for bread ties, one for popsicle sticks, whatever you save for later use.
Zip-lock baggies make nice organizers for your purse, suitcase, briefcase. Baskets are nice too, for catch-alls in the bathroom or on your dresser, such things as hair barrettes, small bottles of cosmetics, clippers, things like that. I keep a plastic desk drawer organizer on TOP of my desk. A little slot for paperclips, staple puller, note paper, calculator, etc. On the countertop, a large vase holds your most-used utensils. Only keep the ones you use frequently in here, the rest go into the drawer, so they don't just sit around and get dirty. I built a little shelf, VERY simple, top & 2 sides, to give myself more room over my kitchen countertop. Now there's 2 layers there with more workspace.
Some of your stuff looks good organized into a "collection". This way you get to show it off and enjoy it instead of considering it clutter. For instance, a pile of books on a coffee table. Keep them dusted. Maybe tie them with a ribbon and a silk flower on top. Baskets of yarn are especially nice to look at. Seashells too. Green or blue glass. and you can store smaller things in jars and make an arrangement. Hang shoe pocket organizers on the backs of bedroom doors, or make some out of fabric like old jeans, they're not hard to make. Boxes, shoe boxes especially, can fit into the most amazing places, like under the bed or behind the couch. Label everything if you do this. Mostly, just go around your house and see what's causing you the grief, then figure out what it would fit into, and whether you need to hide it or not. Now go have some fun, you have lots of work to do! LOL.
Turn your "clutter" into cash by selling clothes, collectibles, etc on ebay! Too much trouble? Set a goal of a major garage sale at least once a year and donate remainder to charity. I make a LOT of money selling "junk" each year.
When shopping, live by the mantra "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without".
Yup, that's me. I'm a 53 YO male packrat from a long line of packrats (on my Mom's side). This fact of course results in a lot of clutter. There are a lot of great tips here but one just occured to me and I intend to start today. The plan is this: set aside a certain period of time every day to methodically sort, store, donate, or toss the stuff.
The best place to start would seem to be the storage areas themselves; closets, the basement, attic, garage, shelves and pantry, etc. You can't put anything 'up' unless 'up' has room for it. Then perhaps by starting at one corner of one room and working out from there, my paths will expand until they're not paths anymore, but large areas of open space.
I'll probably start with an hour a day and see how that works out. Since there is no one here but my cat and me, blaming it on the kids (or getting them to help clean up) is not an option. However, an advantage to this is that it doesn't matter how long it takes to do it. Nobody suffers from my clutter but me (and the cat, who doesn't seem to care).
Tips for reducing clutter in your home. Post your ideas.
Log into Yahoo.com and search for FreeCycle groups within your state and in your county/area. I believe every state and a lot of countries are represented on this site. FreeCycle is an international group created to keep things out of landfills and to promote a healthier environment. Members on this site do not throw away anything. Nothing is sold or traded, strictly give away.
They recommend that you start the group with an offer. I have seen EVERYTHING on this site: books & magazines, movies & music, furniture, clothing, toys, appliances, food, and even automobiles. I have also seen, offered and received things like empty kitty litter buckets, butter tubs, coupons, empty wine bottles & corks, plants & seeds, used lumber, countertops, sinks. You name it, you can either find it or give it away on these sites.
Before I purchase most things, I will place a WANTED on this site first. Hey if someone has it sitting around collecting dust, I can give it a new home. I save money (which us thrifty people love), save the environment by keeping something from a landfill and from the pollutants created by the manufacture of a new item, and I help the giver declutter.
Some area groups have rules against offering or requesting pets, but we have been able to give (2) wonderful kittens a new home. On 11-18-06, we received our first one and on 11-18-2007, we received our second one. This website is wonderful!
FlyLady is great. Also, we live in a location where we have to evacuate periodically for hurricanes. Seeing a Category 5 storm headed toward your house helps you realize what is important and what is not. Would you be heartbroken if a particular item was lost to a natural or other type of disaster? If your entire house were gone, what would you really miss or want to replace? If you only had 12 hours to pack up and leave, would you be able to find the things that are most important to you? I went through my entire house and asked myself those questions about everything. That helped me throw out, give away, sell, donate or recycle a lot of excess stuff. It is a great relief to have space to breathe!
I am trying to get rid of clutter, but am not quite sure as how to get started. Any ideas?
Start one thing at a time. I would suggest getting boxes ready to put things in and making arrangements to have those items removed before you do anything else. Than decide on one item that you are going to go through and get rid of the extra.
Get every book that is in your house and find a home for it, get rid of the ones you decide to not keep. Than go through your kitchen drawers, get rid of duplicate items. Go through your kitchen cupboards one at a time and only keep what you have used in the last year.
Go through dresser drawers and closets. Get rid of those items that you can not wear any more. Keep only the current size that you wear plus one size up and one size down from your current size. Fix any buttons or holes and put those things away or get rid of them.
Call your friends and ask if they need the extra or post to craigslist or have Goodwill come and take it all.
That is a start. Now I guess I have to go do my kitchen drawers and cupboards since you made me think about it.