Two summers ago, in a jumble of national park vacations and preparation for a new school year, we moved into a new home. Untouched boxes went from the old garage into the new garage. The kitchen was unpacked willy nilly. Glasses seemed like they should go here, my waffle maker here and, um, the food, I guess over there. The bathroom had no medicine cabinet so everything was just stuffed under the sink. Good enough.
Until now. The garden is winding down. The holidays have not ramped up. And the kids are back at school. That means it is time to declutter and organize.
I've been slowly working my way through the house starting with the garage. At this point, I've only completed the garage, the family room, tackled a third of the kitchen and jumped ahead to a bathroom. In doing so, I've uncovered three very cool vintage rings I bought as a student abroad 20 years ago, 3 bottles of shampoo, two bags of cat treats, more dried beans than we could eat all year (though we'll now give it a go!), mixes for my SodaStream and a ton of other awesomeness.
So now you get it about the free money. It's not that I found money. Well, actually I found an old emergency bag with a little cash in it, but I'm also saving bundles. After uncovering those three bottles of shampoo, I won't be buying any for half a year. Those rings will keep me off of Etsy but provide the same thrill. Canisters and a trendy monogrammed tote (yes, with my initials) will keep me organized. And we'll be swimming in bean soup and stew all winter.
I've saved money, natural resources, donated 8 bags to the thrift store and Freecycled other things. I feel lighter, happier, less stressed and have a sense of accomplishment. All without spending a dime.
Here are my favorite "free money" tips:
1) Just because it is cute or "green" doesn't mean you should keep it. If you've not used it in the last year to two, ask yourself if you really need it cluttering up your home - even if you technically have room. Some things that hold special memories may get a pass here.
2) As you organize and declutter, take stock of what you have and use it up. I uncovered a box of Borax and a box of washing soda when I used to mix my own dishwasher detergent. My husband hated the smell so I switched to 7th Generation. I just ran out of laundry detergent, though, so a mixture of the two will see me through the next month or so and, eventually, clear some room on a shelf. And let's just say that if you have any good recipes for dried beans, send 'em over.
3) Keep donation, recycle and trash bags or boxes with you as you work. Otherwise, it is tempting to toss everything into the trash.
4) Never get rid of a basket, bin or canister!! I keep a laundry basket in the garage where I put empty containers until needed. When I go on an organizing binge, they are waiting to cradle toy cars, oatmeal toppings or reusable sandwich bags.
5) Speaking of containers, not only should you not get rid of them but you should keep an eye out for attractive ones at thrift stores, garage sales and so on.
6) Work with what you've got. Accept that some shelves cannot be moved, some containers aren't as pretty as others or just won't fit. Put on your thinking cap and you'll still come out way ahead.
7) Donate and reuse as much as possible. So little is landfill worthy these days. "Goody bag" toys and such can be rounded up and given to doctors, therapists and dentists for their "treasure boxes." Even if a thrift store won't take it, odds are that someone will if you post on Freecycle or the free section of Craigslist or put it on the street with a FREE sign.
8) Stay organized about organizing. On Pinterest, I came across a monthly schedule for deep cleaning. It suggested cleaning baseboards one month, windows another, and so on. It is not such a bad idea, instead, to tackle one room a month for organizing, decluttering and cleaning. Pinterest also has lots of great ideas on repurposing for the purpose of organizing. Things like using a magazine holder to stack cans or aluminum foil boxes.
9) Take lots of breaks but don't let it fall of our your radar. Some weeks, I conquer only one shelf or cabinet but I am plodding along and leaving a wake of organization in my path.
10) Think of how you will use up all the treasures you've uncovered and enjoy.
** Linking to Thrifty Thursday at Thrifty and Fabuless, Seasonal Celebration Sunday, and