Five Ways to Organize for Free

Organizing your home doesn't have to cost a thing with these easy tips.
Organizing your home doesn't have to cost a thing with these easy tips.

There are lots of great strategies for getting organized that don't involve spending a dime. After all, why add to the clutter with still more products that may or may not revolutionize your closet space or make cleaning a snap?

Five tips for getting organized in a frugal fashion are just around the corner.

Junk It

While it might pain you to throw out those old sneakers you've stomped around in for years, let's face it -- they've seen better days. And there's a chance you might find a use one day for that stack of two-decade-old magazines, but be honest -- you probably won't.

These excess possessions can all get in the way of an organizational scheme, so take a closer look at what you're holding onto. When trying to decide what gets the ax, consider when you last used each object. If the answer is "never", "can't remember" or "not within the past year,"this could be a prime candidate for the trashcan. If the answer is more favorable, it could mean a more positive prognosis.

Making tough decisions like these is the first step to organizing. And not only does it cost you nothing but a little ownership anguish, it can even put a bit of money back in your pocket. While you might never again sit down at a typewriter or wear maternity clothes, there's a good chance someone else might have use for these sorts of items. If a garage sale isn't appealing, there's always the option to donate at your local charity or post on Craig's List ( or the Freecycle Network (

Prioritize It

Take care when selecting a new spot for those items you can't bear to part with, or that are found out-of-place while you organize. Rarely used objects do not need to stand front and center in closets and cupboards. By putting them back out of the way, you'll have an easier time accessing -- and, more importantly, replacing -- items that you use frequently.

In short: whatever survived the round-up, but isn't something you need on a regular basis, should be stored behind and under items that are needed more often. With the more frequently used articles at the forefront, it won't seem like such a hassle putting them away.

Consolidate It

Another aspect of organizing to keep in mind is not just whether something is in the proper location among other objects, but also whether it's even in the right general location to begin with.

For example, if you keep your fridge and stove instruction manuals in a drawer in the kitchen and the blender instructions in the small appliance warranties folder in your office file cabinet, things could get confusing - and quick.

Storing like items in one location is more conducive to an ongoing victory over disorganization. It can be much easier to stay organized if things have a precise home and aren't scattered about -- and as a bonus, everything is easier to find too.

Evaluate It

One of the best ways to organize your home and keep it clutter-free is to have a firm grip on everything that enters it. The more possessions, the more quickly they seem to get disorganized.

There are lots of strategies that can help control the inflow. You might make a rule that if you plan on buying something new, a similar possession you already own is going to have to bite the bullet. Doing this can call to mind a crowded closet or overflowing shoe rack and put the purchase in perspective. Plus, it can also help maintain a budget. This type of tactic may be useful after a child's birthday as well -- each new toy received replaces an older, outgrown one.

Another good way to get organized is to evaluate items for other potential uses. You might have bought a cabinet to store old magazines, but if you ditch the past issues you've got a great place to centrally store a photo collection.

Systemize It

One of the most important aspects of living an organized lifestyle is to make it a habit. It's not enough to clean once; a few weeks later, you'll be losing things to looming piles of clutter all over again. By developing effective organizational patterns that work for you, you'll be able to make staying organized the "new norm."

Here are a few great tips:

  • Try getting used to dealing with bills right after you get back from the mailbox.
  • Leave your keys, purse and coat(s) in the same spot when you get home each evening.
  • Put things away directly after you use them.
  • Allow yourself a few places for clutter to reign. Maybe have a basket of random stuff on the kitchen counter or a clothes-covered corner of the bedroom, but make that the extent of it.
  • Use old Tupperware, washed-out food containers or used delivery boxes to organize everything from nails or tools in your garage to shoes and socks in your closet.

Don't worry if your first attempts leave you shuddering amid a giant mess in a matter of moments; it can take time to evolve a system of strategies that works for your particular situation. Just keep at it, always remembering the goal: you want to get yourself organized, but you don't want to have to shell out a bunch of cash to do it.