How to De-Clutter Your House for $1.49

Ever wish you could just stop life with all of its work, errand-running, kid-tending, hubby-pleasing, crazy-busy activity and just get your home de-cluttered and organized? Maybe just for 3 or 4 days no one would need you to cook, wash, answer or do ANYTHING! Then, you could take the time to sort through your closets, dressers, cupboards, garage and basement and get rid of what you no longer need or use and straighten up what is left.

Usually each summer I go on a de-junking journey. I do it again the week after Chrsitmas. {I write about how in this book} However I wasn’t able to fit this in last Christmas OR last summer. So clutter of the drawer, cupboard and closet kind was hollerin’ my name. If only I could stop life to get caught up.

{sigh}

Since with our family’s schedule this summer that was simply NOT an option, I came up with an idea. A $1.49 idea to de-clutter my home.

Now you must know that I don’t work well on projects in little snippets. If a task takes about 5 hours to complete, I don’t work on it for ten days in a row a half hour at a time like some of my friends do. No ma’am. I wait until my family is all gone and I dive in and work for five hours straight, button it up and move on to the next task.

But I knew that this summer the process of de-cluttering my hidden junk {the house looked fine on the surface. Just don’t open that closet or that drawer!} would take a looooong time since it had been a while.

So here is my $1.49 idea. I trekked off and bought myself a set of index cards {49 cents}  and a little organizer box to keep them in {$1}.

Next I made a card for all of the projects I had waiting for me and also listed about how long I thought they would take.

Then, I put them in the file box under a label with the time frame of the jobs.

Now, when I have a chunk of time in my day, I can ask myself, “How much time?” Then I pull out just one card, tackle the task and throw the card away.

Yes, yes….I know I could have just made a list of the projects and then crossed them off as I went but the long list would still be starting me in the face and making me feel frustrated and defeated.

This $1.49 method made me MOTIVATED AND ENERGIZED!!! I even started to pull out a 30 minute card at night and set my alarm for 30 minutes earlier just so I could knock off a card.

Then, I’d haul e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g out of the drawer, closet or cupboard, wipe it down, sort the “stuff”, put the unwanted in a donate {or garage sale} box or recycle bin and neatly arrange back what was left.

I didn’t go making major purchases either. I found all sorts of little baskets from the dollar store, organizational cubes I’d picked up from a garage sale, plastic crates, etc… to re-purpase and reorganize. I became so motivated that in only three weekends I tackled the entire kitchen, living room, hall closet, master bedroom, guest room and all the bathrooms. I know if I had just made a list on a legal pad it would still be staring me in the face because it would seem like such a big a task.  I’d never have rolled up my sleeves and even gotten started.

Now, here are a few pics of my results. {I know I should have taken “before” pics to so you could have seen how cluttery it was originally but I didn’t plan on blogging about this until a few friends I was chatting with decided to make their own sets of cards.}

The office closet.

Kitchen baking cupboard

The kitchen baking cupboard.

Master bedroom closet. There is tons of wasted space in here because the builder made it so that if you hang items on the top rack, you can’t use the shelf just above the bottom rack because the bottom of the clothes touch it. Dollar store bins and garage sale shelving now hold medicines and cosmetics.

Oh…and on my dejunking journey I found a TON of socks with no match. Not sure if they will be redeemed later when we find their mate or will be tossed into outer darkness for eternity turning into dust rags so I made this:

Well, I hope this gives you some summer clutter-busting motivation!  Leave a comment here on this post about your biggest hidden clutter challenge. When I return from a short blogging break, I’ll pick three winners of my book The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized and a $5 Target gift card to buy your own $1.49 system and a little treat to eat while you work :-)

Happy sorting!

NOTE: I am taking a blogging break  until August 1st (give or take a day) in order to focus on our Proverbs 31 She Speaks writers, speakers and women’s ministry leaders conference being held in Charlotte, NC at the end of the month. To make sure you don’t miss my posts when I return, consider signing up to get all my new posts sent you your email box. Easy enough? Click here to do so. See you in August!

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  • My biggest clutter challenge is a tie between unfolded laundry, unsorted papers in office and the guest closest!

  • Biggest Hidden Clutter Challenge – no place to put stuff in our small old rented house (which means no closets and no home improvement projects to add shelves/storage). Plus all the stuff that I have to sort and decide on my own.

  • Karen, I love these ideas. I love organization. However, I took on the responsibility of caring for my parents last August. My dad has Alzheimers and my mom was very tired and had some health issues. Today she is using a walker to get around and last week I had to bring in some assistance because I too was beyond exhausted. They were both pack rats my whole life. I don’t even know where to start. I know I have to start small and take one thing at a time. I hope I can do that soon now that I have some relief. Its hard to even find clothes that fit to advise the caregivers when I am not there. I am going to try this 1.49 idea and I bet your book has some awesome ideas! Love your stuff!!!

  • My biggest problem is photos – both printed and digital. So overwhelming. Second comes homeschool clutter; and third is yarn! :) Sometimes it’s space, sometimes it’s memories, sometimes it’s pure laziness… but I just keep plugging away. Your index card plan sounds like a good plan. I’m going to give it a whirl! Thank you!

  • Love the postcards! Just a thought to turn the cards around and place in back of box so you can re-use them next major cleaning time! Thx Karen!

  • I love your ideas! I, too, get overwhelmed by the lists of what I have to do. My biggest clutter problem is my kids artwork, records, etc. I have great ideas of how to organize and keep it as keepsakes, but the time never seems to come. I have so many other “have to do” things that come up. :)

  • Ummmm, my clutter challenges aren’t hidden….at ALL! We’re working on managing it, but it’s a HUUUUUGE task. As far as hiding clutter goes….I guess you could say my garage and/or shed….b/c I can close those doors when I don’t want to look at the mess behind them. :)

  • What an easy and simple solution!! I’m a pile-maker, so I will use it as you suggest for de cluttering, but may try a variation to help me work through all my piles too. Have a great summer!!

  • Great idea! I think this would work great for kid’s chores too! It’s overwhelming to kids, just like it is to us. Maybe one card is putting away dolls or craft supplies, or putting away their own laundry? Make it fun by putting a scavenger hunt on the back of the card for a small prize, like new crayons or erasers, something they need that can be reused!!

  • Love this idea! My biggest challenge is our shelves near the door. They always seem to be a dumping ground for papers and stuff. Can’t wait to read this book!

  • Love, love this idea!!! I also need to make cards (like I did several years ago when I was a stay at home mom) for the regular cleaning jobs to be done – I tend to “forget” the ones I don’t want to do!

  • What a great idea! My house is so cluttered right now, full of toys and clothes my kids haven’t used in years. I struggled for years with what I thought was depression, laziness, being a bad mother and wife – I was diagnosed a year ago with severe narcolepsy. After some trial and error with different medications, I finally, for the first time in years, can make it through most days without needing several naps. Coincidentally, my husband and I also found Jesus and fell in love with each other again. (Before the diagnosis we were in the process of getting a divorce.) My family has begun healing and I’m finally optimistic about my children’s future. So now it’s time to tackle my house. When I think of all that needs to be done, I become completely overwhelmed. I get stressed. Stress makes me tired. So instead of tackling a project, I sleep. Reading about your $1.49 system had me feeling energized and motivated, and excited about getting my house back in order! And at $1.49, it’s something I can afford. (Along with everything else we’ve gone through, my husband lost his job in November. We went from living very comfortably to needing public assistance.) I can’t wait to start organizing my home, thank you so much for a great idea!!!