Sunday, October 18, 2009

Messy Monday: Why Piles Particularly Enjoy Piling Up in Frugal Homes

(This really is my counter on a bad day. When company comes over, this pile heads south--to the cupboard below)

There must be something special about my house that piles seem to like it so much. They get comfy on my counter, they fight over who gets to plop on the buffet, they really take a liking to my dresser, they enjoy sitting at my desk. These resident piles are not welcome anymore! They affect the appearance of my house. Could they please pack their bags and leave? But wait, they don’t have a bag to call their own, and that’s the problem. They have no place to go. Because I’m frugal, I haven’t bought my piles their tickets out. In the meantime, I don’t know where to put them, so they’re camping out indefinitely.

Frugality can work against us if we have a problem with piling. The reason is because we don’t spend money on the organizational tools we need to help control the clutter. What we don’t have, we can’t use. If I had a filing cabinet, I really think I would use it (most of the time). Instead, we have a stuffed-to-the-brim banker’s box downstairs. It’s inconvenient to get to, and there is really no way to cram anything more in, so…you guessed it…there’s a pile of papers on top of the box (I tried!). Purchasing a filing cabinet would be an investment for sure, but is the money spent worth it to buy your papers a home? At some point you have to decide if you want to spend money to buy what you need so you can have a less cluttered-looking house, or if you want to save your money and your piles too. It is a trade-off.

Another organizational hang-up I have is figuring out where to store special keepsakes for the boys. Their first birthday cards, hospital wrist-bands, first scribbles and drawings--it’s a no-brainer that these are currently housed in a pile. But what about buying each of the boy’s a banker’s box (or even finding a nice free box for the truly frugal among us that you could cover with drawer-liner or scrapbook paper) and calling it the boy’s keepsake box? Then everything special you want to keep goes in here. No more piles.

In her book Messies Manual, The: A Complete Guide to Bringing Order & Beauty to Your Home(which I’ve referenced many times before), author Sandra Felton says that the less organized you are, the less frugal you can afford to be, and vice versa. Those with organizational problems cannot afford to save the things we save in an effort to save money when we have no place to put them. Does that make sense? Take the example of saving plastic containers. If you have a nicely organized place to put them, and they all look so pretty when you open your drawer or cabinet, no problem. If on the other hand, opening that drawer causes an avalanche that knocks you in the head, you have a problem. The plastic containers need to go to your organized neighbor, or the recycling bin, until you can figure out a way to store them in a neater fashion (and maybe you still need to get rid of many of them).

Felton encourages the “messies” among us to stop being so tight-fisted with buying what we need to in order to better organize our homes. She advises against baskets and anything else that will allow a pile to occur, even if it’s contained in something pretty. She recommends finding systems that get papers and other items upright. For example, if your cupboards are crammed, hang your pans (if you can). You don’t even have to buy a pan rack; if you or your husband is handy enough, you can make your own. Put magazines in upright holders (or make your own out of sturdy cereal boxes). Buy a hanging file cabinet for your papers. Do what you need to do, and don’t feel bad about spending some money to buy a solution to the piling problem. Shop around for the best deal, save up if you have to, shop thrift stores if you want to, and find what you need to send the piles packing once and for all!

1 comment:

  1. SAGE advice. I am a frugal fisted gal, but when it comes to shelving, closets, organization items, I don't think twice. The key for me is not having TOO much stuff to store, but GOOD storage for what we have. This is where I am needing to learn SO much patience currently, as our ancient home has nil for closets and storage, but we are slowly customizing it to work practically and prettily. In the meantime, we also have piles of rubbermaids and "stuff" that doesn't have a proper home. I dream of when all my storage solutions are in place!