How to get yourself organized without all the fuss and cost, Part 3

by cherylone

Using ordinary items, like shoe boxes, to create organizational and storage equipment that cost pennies.

You have pens and pencils everywhere, your magazines are falling over and your bills keep getting lost, what can you do? Plenty; and I'm going to show you how.

Pens and Pencils

Need to store pens and pencils in a space where they will be handy; like a pencil cup?  Don’t go out and buy a pencil cup.  There are so many possibilities that you can use right in your own home.  Take a regular coffee cup or soda cup that you aren’t using anymore (like the plastic ones you get from fast food places) and drop your pencils and pens in (I usually put tissue in the bottom to catch any stray ink), then place in a handy spot. 

A coffee can, a soup can, a spaghetti can, or any kind of can will also work.  Clean the can well (you don’t want any bacteria growing), and make sure it is totally dry.  Then you can paint it, whatever color you want, and paint on designs.  Or you can use construction paper and glue.  Or you can use contact paper with a nice design.  Cover the can (make sure you cover the bottom so you don’t get rust on your desk or table top (if you are using a coffee can put the cover on the bottom of the can and use it like a coaster).  I always tape over or make sure I file down the edges of the can where the cover was cut off to avoid injury. 

Coffee cups and box covers are great for storing pens and pencils at your fingertips. Cover or decorate them to match your decor.
coffee cups
Cheryl Simonds
Box cover works great for pencils
Cheryl Simonds

Covers for shoe boxes and such are also great ways to store pencils, pens, small items like paper clips and note pads, or even staple removers and small staplers.

Paper Storage/stacking

Need to store you paper in a nice neat stack, try cutting a large cereal box up and covering it.  Cut one side panel off of the box along with one front or back panel.  Tape the top closed to make it sturdier and then cover with contact paper or construction paper.  And there you have it!  I left the box to the left uncovered so you could see what I did, but you can use almost anything to decorate it.

Use a cereal box for your paper.
Use a cereal box for your paper
Cheryl Simonds

Taper Candles

Do your holiday taper candles get broken in storage?  Tuck two into a paper towel holder and tape the ends closed.  This will give them added cushioning while they are stored away.

Use a shoe box for the bills.
Shoe box
Cheryl Simonds

Bill Box

Need a box to store those pesky bills until it’s time to pay them.  Take a shoe box, or a cookie box, or even a soda box and cover with contact paper or construction paper.  Mark on each side BILLS and set in a convenient area.  When your bills come in, set them in the box until pay day.  Works well for storing and organizing the little things like labels, calculator rolls, markers, and so on as well.  And, if you are like me, you can also use one to store the bills after they have been paid (separate one for the paid ones, please). 

Scrap bucket

Need a scrap bucket to put all those tiny leftovers in so the dog or cat won’t go digging in the garbage can (and to keep the garbage can from smelling)?  Try using a coffee can and 2 plastic grocery bags.  Put the grocery bags in the can and then put the plastic lid back on.  When you need to put scraps in-remove the cover-dump in the scraps-replace the cover, you can also put egg shells, used coffee filters, vegetable peels, meat wrapping, used grease (not hot), the uses are endless.  Just make sure you take the bag out at the end of the day, tie it good and throw it away.

Magazine holder
marked to cut
marked to cut
Cheryl Simonds
Cheryl Simonds
in use
in use
Cheryl Simonds

Magazine holder

Need something to hold your magazines?  Don’t go out and spend a lot of money on something.  Instead, take a cereal box, cut off the top and cut it diagonal from the top to about 1/2 way down the box on both sides.  Cover with construction paper or contact paper and you have a great magazine holder.  The only thing with this type is it isn't as sturdy as I would like it to be, so you might have to set it against something at first; but once you get several magazines in it, it will stand on its own. I left the one to the left uncovered so you could see it better.

Here are a few other ideas to help you save money:

Don't have a dryer sheet for your clothes?

If you don’t have a dryer sheet for your dryer, but you don’t think liquid softener is enough in the wash-try soaking a dry facecloth with liquid softener and putting it in the dryer with your clothes.

Decorate your laundry room with this cute poster.
Laundry Day I

Have a spot on your clothes?

Try pouring a little of the clothes detergent on and rubbing it in a little before you throw it in the hamper.  The soap will begin breaking the stain down before you even get it in the wash.  (Good for most stains-better if the stain is fresh but I have used it on dried on ones and it worked well).

Wet Wipe Replacements

When my kids were little, I always had to clean up faces and hands, sometimes they had accidents, or sometimes they just got real dirty.  Rather than try to keep a box of baby wipes in my purse, I came up with a better solution.  I took facecloths and got them wet, wrung them almost completely out, and then put them in a plastic bag that seals (I usually took 2-3 at a time).  I would then put the bag in another bag and tuck it in my pocket or purse.  When the kids got dirty, I would fish out one of the face cloths, clean them up and then store the dirty one in the extra bag.  When I got home, the cloths were draped on the tub for the next laundry load.  I didn't spend any extra money and I always had something with which to clean them up.

Need a soup dispenser that won't cost a lot and isn't glass?

Kids make a big mess of the soap container and now it’s broken?  No problem, go to the dollar store and purchase several of those ketchup and mustard squirt bottles.  Fill one with soap and put it on your sink.  The kids can easily squeeze out the liquid soap.  And it is plastic so it will last longer.  If the kids drop it and it does split, it won’t be a big cost to replace it.

Inventive Soap Dish

Instead of getting a regular soap dish that probably won’t fit in the sink anyway, try going to a flea market and buying an old-style potato masher.  Put a pipe cleaner into the loop on the handle and twist it into a loop.  Tap a nail (or a good sturdy tac) into the wall above the sink and hang the potato masher.  Put the soap on it when you’re done using it and it will dry perfectly for the next time you need to use it.  And it will drip right into the sink.  (My sister came up with that one.)

Looking for extra smart decor for the bathroom?

Soap IISoap IIIBulldog Puppy in Miniature Bathtub
Updated: 04/06/2012, cherylone
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cherylone on 06/26/2012

katiem2, I am so glad I could help. I have used these tips over the years and found them so useful I thought I would share, glad you like them.

katiem2 on 06/26/2012

What brilliant ideas to get organized and all without wanting to pull my hair out! I'm very grateful for your series on organization tips and skills. I've been organizing my basement and making room for an entire overhaul. Thanks to you! :)K

cherylone on 04/10/2012

Brenda, your quite welcome, I needed something to organize the magazines one day and that idea came up. I've been using it ever since. Hope you have fun with it. And yes I guess it would work for books, but they couldn't be too thick or heavy.

BrendaReeves on 04/09/2012

I really like the magazine holder idea. That would work for books too. I'm going to do it. Thanks for the tip.

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