Sometimes my ability to be a perfectionist clashes with my wallet. However, I’ve recently come to find that it doesn’t have to be expensive to beautifully organize your space.
Was one of your new year goals to organize your space? Here are a few of my finds for organizing on the cheap, but still making your space look chic.
- simplehuman Grocery Bag Dispenser: This plastic bag storage makes my life so much easier. Mine came with my house and having a place to not only store bags but easily retrieve them is key. Go green by reusing grocery bags for your pets or lining tiny bins!
- Copco Non-Skid Cabinet Turntable: I’ve had this lazy susan for years and I use it to place my spices onto. Rather than stacking them and knocking them over, I can quickly spin and get the spice I need. It’s also super affordable compared to other spice racks. Bonus tip: If you want a nice set of spice containers, collect empty glass containers of an existing spice that you like. (I use Trader Joe’s.) Then refill it with any spice for a more cohesive looking spice collection. Things look more pleasant when you store items in identical containers instead of having 20 spice containers that are all different styles.
- Oblong Poly Woven Basket: I’m slowly purchasing cheaper baskets such as this one for storage. A wooden basket is dressier than plastic and can still hold the same and sometimes be cheaper. I highly recommend using these for toilet roll storage. It hides them away, makes it accessible, and gives your bathroom a spa-like vibe.
- Mason Jars: You can buy these online for cheap, but if you only need a couple you should be able to find them at most dollar stores. These are my favorite way to store items. They’re adorable and clear, but provide your storage with that cohesive home-made look. You can also use them as cups, food storage, and a vase. Bonus tip: Purchase a set of smaller ones for dumping all of your batteries into and labeling the jar by battery size. This has saved me so much time when I need a new battery ASAP!
- Amber Glass Bottle: I featured these beauties in my post on my medicine cabinet and my post about jojoba oil. They work for storing liquids that are in an awkwardly sized container and keep a more cohesive look. I personally prefer the eyedropper to disperse the right amount of liquid onto a cotton swab. Also, I feel like items I’m storing for my skin long-term should be in glass, not plastic.
- Design Ideas Vinea Letter Holder: Letter holders are cheap and can be used to organize paper (obviously) but are also a great solution for storing make-up palettes.
- Smead Frequency Expanding Files: I use these to store all of my receipts. All you need is one per year, organized by month. Then throw those annoying slips of papers in and be done with them.
- InterDesign Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Bin: This beautiful little thing helps me organize my refrigerator. All of my condiments are stored so that I don’t have to stick my head in the refrigerator. These are also great for the freezer in a larger size, to throw in individual items. Bonus tip: You may also be able to find these at your local dollar store. Check there first!
- Chalkboard Labels: I’m a huge chalkboard fan. (You can ask my kitchen walls, which I’ve covered in chalkboard paint.) I buy these to label all of my clear pantry canisters. Not only do they make my pantry look cohesive, but you can easily erase the writing when you’re storing something else to re-label.
- Peg Boards: These are underrated and can be used for almost anything. Also, they’re so cheap! You can paint them and hang them on the wall. Buy the supporting hardware for a few more bucks and hang up almost anything.
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I’d been contemplating how to solve the “empty” look in my living room. My decorating style is minimalist (big surprise) but it still looked too empty for my taste. I like a safe middle ground between simple and decorative.
I was performing my daily Pinterest browse when I stumbled upon a frame gallery board. Light bulb! That’s when I knew I wanted to add a gallery of frames above the TV.
Here’s how to organize your own frame gallery without making a million holes in your wall:
- Decide on an arrangement. Search the web for common size arrangements, or use this guide if your stumped and want some frame arrangement ideas.
- Get out some paper and cut (or tape together) the shapes for each frame you’ve chosen for your gallery.
- Begin taping your paper to the wall. The idea here is that this isn’t permanent. You’ll quickly figure out what works best for your space, without consequences for moving the paper around.
- Once you have your arrangement, go ahead and purchase the frames. I was looking at these from Pottery Barn, but cheaped out and went with IKEA alternatives. Hey, I’m a girl on a budget… But if you have change to spare, Pottery Barn currently has their frames on sale online!
- Measure the location of where you’ll need nails on the frame. Take that measurement and place it onto the paper hanging on your wall.
- Hammer nails in place!
- Remove the paper. Just rip it right off the wall, and the nail shouldn’t budge.
- Hang your frames.
- Don’t sweat over imperfections. Not every frame will be perfect and some space may vary. Imperfection adds character! Mine aren’t perfect, but I love the results.
Simple, isn’t it? I used to use the trial and error method. Let’s just say my last apartment needed some serious TLC when we moved.
Now comes the fun part — filling the frames with artwork!
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Living within your means is the secret to success. Right? I disagree! I think living below your means is the way to go. Be the cheap-o, the coupon-er, the deal-getter. Be conscious of where your money is going.
Josh and I drove from Florida to California to start a new life here right out of college, and it hasn’t been easy. We adjusted to living within such a small income because we had to. Since then, Josh has gotten a pay raise and I’ve also started working. But it doesn’t matter, because we generally try to live the same way we did before all of that happened.
You may think I’m crazy. Most of the time I would agree, but here’s why I think this works and how you can get there.
- Savings. Spending a lot less money than what you’re making means you will have money left sitting in your bank account. This lets you save for essentials like emergencies (you should always have an emergency fund!) and also lets you save for goodies you may be wanting to buy in the future.
- Quality. When you’re keeping an eye on your money, you’re probably paying more attention to what you’re buying. You buy things knowing they will have a purpose and it’s truly what you’re looking for.
- Purpose. You’re not buying things just because you have the money to, while others go without. And that’s a pretty good feeling.
- Donating. Maybe you even have enough to donate to something you feel strongly about. Wouldn’t that be better than buying something you didn’t really care for?
- Smarts. I go into places with coupons and walk away paying less than the person in front of me who paid full price. I also notice a lot of people don’t read the fine print on coupons and don’t realize when stores accept expired coupons or if you’re allowed to use more than one. Know your stuff! You can end up saving a lot just being savvy.
How to do it
- Don’t adjust. Did you get a pay raise? Congrats! But still stick to your current budget. It’s easy to adjust to your income level, but once you live below what you’re making it’s easier to stick to than to stop when you’ve gone too far.
- Prioritize. Savings or credit card debt should be taken care of the minute you get paid, not at the end of the month. That way it’s taken care of. Because it is, after all, the most important thing next to food and the roof over your head. You pay rent every month, and you should pay your bank account too!
- Cut out. Look at what you pay for every month and see how you can alter or cut out some things that are keeping you from being under budget. For me this is usually subscription services and gourmet coffee.
- Save up. When I want something expensive I put money in a special place to save up for it. Paying a few bucks each month is easier than paying the entire chunk at once. Can’t wait? Sell your valuables online and see if you can make up for some difference, or try and look for a savings deal in your area.
- Treat yourself. Finally, it’s okay to buy a few things that make you happy. That is of course after you put money into savings and make sure you’re out of debt. Otherwise, those things should take priority. Once they’re taken care of for the month, there’s nothing wrong with a little indulgence! (Which in my case, probably still involves coupons.)
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Sometimes we can try to be as productive as possible, but we have problems getting up in the morning and staying enthusiastic throughout the day. An easy way to combat this problem is getting enough sleep! But I’ve noticed a lot of people don’t know how or think they’re stuck when they just need to take action. Here are my tips.
1. Cut the Caffeine
How much do you drink? Drinking 4 cups or more of coffee a day can lead to problems with your body, along with this big one — insomnia (1). Now you may think… “I definitely don’t drink four cups a day!” We’re talking units and not physical cups. Your mug could hold multiple cups of coffee. A medium size coffee at Starbucks or McDonald’s could, too.
Caffeine is a drug and it is addictive. People react to it differently. For me, a cup of bold coffee from the gas station gives me tremors and heart palpitations. I’ve even had it trigger major anxiety. But not everyone reacts the way I do.
Make a change. If you start drinking decaf and caffeine-free sodas you’ll eventually start realizing that you can fall asleep faster and wake up more well rested. I did! You may even find your body going through withdrawal after cutting it out, which should make you realize how much you were actually dependent on it.
2. Count the Hours
How long do you sleep? Doctors recommend getting between 6 and 10 hours of sleep each night. This number varies from person to person. Some are fine running on six to seven hours of sleep each night, others (like me) need eight to nine or else we pass out during the afternoon because we’re exhausted. You need to find out what your number is and stick to it. Do something we often forget — listen to your body!
Only need five hours? Your body needs more than that to properly repair itself and keep itself running in top shape. It’s not true that you can make up for lost sleep. A short nap can certainly help but research has shown that uninterrupted sleep is the best type of sleep to develop cerebral skills such as memory retention (2). Give your body time to do what it was created to do! Plus, if you’re taking long or multiple naps each day you will have a hard time falling asleep when you should.
3. Note the Time
Your body has an internal clock. If you’re always going to bed and waking up at different times, you’re confusing your body. It’s best to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Granted, I sleep in an hour or two on the weekends… But it’s best not to, or at least keep it as close to “normal” as possible. This helps when it comes to your internal clock. Your body will eventually get tired at the same time every day and wake up automatically. You’ll feel a lot better and probably get more sleep!
4. Limit Distractions
Try to relax before bed. Josh is a big “tv in bed” fan and I’m not at all. But I do put up with it. I’d recommend not watching TV at all at least an hour before bed. It stimulates your mind and makes it harder to fall asleep. Same goes with playing a fast-paced game or reading an exciting book. Try to keep it on low key activities to help ease you into sleep.
5. Don’t Snooze
The snooze button is not your friend. Yes, that’s right. The sleep you’re getting (and interrupting) every five to ten minutes by hitting the snooze isn’t doing anything for you. In fact, it’s probably making it even harder for you to actually get up.
Cut back slowly. If you hit the snooze button five times each morning, cut it back to four times for two weeks. Then three times the next two weeks. Eventually you should be getting up right away. Still can’t do it? Look at this app — it sends out an embarrassing tweet every time you hit the snooze button as a punishment. Now that’s worth getting up over!
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I came across a blog entry a few weeks ago that made an argument for having less clothes because you’d do less laundry. I nodded in approval. That makes sense, right? But I also considered that having less clothes also meant you’d have to do laundry more frequently.
So which is better? I soon found out.
The dryers in my apartment building have gone rogue and management can’t keep up with fixing them, so I decided it was time for my first coin laundry experience. I went in with my bag and…major shocker for simple-minded me!
- People were using two, three, even four jumbo sized dryers that could each fit three people inside.
- I saw a handful of people that were folding their clothes out of the dyer from the time I came in, and an hour later when I left they were still folding.
- I counted one lady putting eleven large garbage bags of clothes into the washers.
- One woman folded what seemed like enough towels to restock Bed Bath & Beyond in every color.
- I helped one poor woman carrying a baby get the clothes back into her car because the bins were too heavy for her to lift.
- One woman was folding jeans for half an hour. I’ll leave the number of jeans to your imagination.
I went in there to wash a week (maybe even two weeks) of clothes from Josh and me and our bed sheet set. I took up two of the smallest washers — one for whites and one for darks. I threw everything in a jumbo dryer, which didn’t even fill up a third of the way, and then folded to leave. I was in there for about an hour total and spent under $5. The bigger, high efficiency washers are four times more expensive than the smallest washers, by the way, and since I was able to dry all of my clothes in one jumbo dryer I actually saved a ton of money compared to doing it in my laundry room back at the apartment.
The other people there were, I think, monthly washers. I can only speculate that they leave all those clothes on the floor (there’s no hamper that fits five to ten garbage bags of clothes) and then once a month pack it up in the car and spend a lot of money to clean it all.
If you have a ton of clothes it’s easy to put off doing laundry. But wouldn’t you rather have to do laundry once a week and only spend an hour doing it, rather than spend an entire day and tons of money at once to get it done? It just seems so much simpler to me to have less and wash less!
More Laundry Stress-Saving Tips
- You’re probably using too much detergent. Especially Americans. I saw one lady pour about two whole cups of bleach into her white load of laundry. Unless you’re hiking in your clothes every day or work construction, a gentle wash with a little bit of detergent is all it takes to get them fresh.
- Wash gently, unless otherwise indicated. Read your labels and you may be surprised. Most clothes are supposed to go through the gentle cycle both in the washer and dryer. The only whites I have that recommend hot water are my bedsheets, but I do them in a cold gentle cycle as well. This saves energy, time, and also saves a lot of premature wear on your clothes.
- Re-wear clothes. Those jeans you wore to class for three hours aren’t dirty, and neither is that dress you wore to dinner. Washing clothes when they aren’t even soiled is totally overrated. I re-wear my clothes until they’re dirty and it saves me tons of time and money. If you’re super stingy you can refresh clothes with the iron’s steam setting.
- Buy clear detergent. I don’t understand why companies put dye into a cleaner. Buying a clear and gentle detergent is safer for the environment, your clothes, and your skin. So why not? Some people are addicted to scents but there are some that are wonderfully lightly scented. Or mist your clothes with Febreeze after washing!
- Fold your clothes. If you throw clean clothes around they wrinkle to the point of being unwearable and you either don’t wear it or toss it right back into the laundry basket. How many of us break out the ironing board? Just avoid the headache by folding directly after it comes out of the dryer!
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