Still digging out from the winter holiday clutter? Hey, it’s enough to bring down even the most disciplined home manager. Try these thrifty tricks for getting organized on a budget.


For keeping cleaning supplies organized, I’m a huge fan of those inexpensive painting buckets (the smaller size) available at box hardware stores. I use them as cleaning caddies to store a basic collection of cleaning supplies that I can easily remove and replace from under the sinks of my kitchen and bathrooms. Each bucket holds what’s needed for that room. For example, the kitchen one has an old toothbrush for cleaning tough smaller places like around the faucet, scouring powder, rubber gloves, a bottle brush and spray cleaner. The buckets aren’t on display, so appearance isn’t a concern. You’re only going for a storage solution that keeps items from being tossed under the cupboard randomly and creating clutter. Using the el cheapo buckets from the hardware store gives you a grab-and-go solution that doesn’t cost much at all.


I love using open bins to organize loosely stored, but related items. For example, on our wheeled metro shelves that provide storage in our garage, office and kitchen, we’ve used metal bins for extension cords and electrical strips, and bin-style baskets for things like produce and spices. For areas that aren’t as exposed, like our pantry and storage closets, colorful and inexpensive plastic bins from the dollar store are pressed into service for storing packages of sesame seeds, paper muffin tin liners and extra soaps.


For old files such as tax documents and smaller items you wish to store in a space-efficient manner, purchase multipacks of file boxes from the office supply store. They cost far less than small moving boxes, and allow you to store things more efficiently because they are all the same size. Having things stuffed on shelves in containers that are all different sizes keeps things jumbled. Uniform sizes streamline the process. Additionally, file boxes have spaces on the front where you can easily label the contents so identifying what’s inside when you need to is a breeze.

The other type of box that I’ve grown fond of for frugal storage are the clear shoebox sized containers with the snap-on lids. You can usually find them at large box stores such as Target, although I have seen them from time to time at dollar stores as well. In addition to the fact that I can easily identify the contents when I need to because the box material is translucent, I love that these boxes easily stack on top of one another. This makes them perfect for organizing items under the bathroom sink such as hair accessories, nail care items and extra shaving supplies. We also use them in the office for extra bits and bobs such as sticky notes, pens, staples and receipt storage.

If you’re prone to moving for work, or live in an area where evacuations are a likelihood, these clear shoeboxes are great as well. Because they store as easily in a box as they do on shelves and under sinks, you can get out of Dodge quickly by stretching a file band around the whole thing for extra stability (the cheap ones only close so tight) and stacking them in a moving box or rolling footlocker. Parenting tip: If you’ve already trained your teens to use these clear boxes for everyday organizational use, you’ll be able to skip the drama that inevitably comes with changing routines due to family relocation stress.


If you’re looking for see-through storage on the cheap, pick up a set of those giant resealable bags that both Hefty and Ziplock are each making. They’re great for seasonal items such as soccer and beach balls for the kids and certain camping supplies. Store them on the top shelf in the garage and know that you’ll be able to easily see them when warm weather rolls around again. Smaller resealable bags normally used for food items also make great organizational tools. For example, the quart-sized freezer bags make sturdy packing organizers for things you’ll need to separate out for airport security. Why pay 6 bucks a pop for a special one, when you can get an entire box of them for less than 3 dollars? You can also use the snack-sized ones to organize guest bathroom supplies such as cotton balls, swabs, bobby pins and small homemade hostess soaps.

These are my favorite low-cost ways to get organized on the home front. Do you have any tips and tricks you’d like to share? Be sure to sound off in the comment section below!

Myscha Theriault

Myscha Theriault

A lifelong money cruncher who can squeeze a nickel ‘til it cries, Myscha is a syndicated columnist, best-selling author, and founder of Trek Hound and We Be Sharin’.