How Much Is Your Stuff Costing You Every Month?

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How much stuff is in your house, your garage, or your shed? I saw a TV show on Sunday that spotlighted a speaker talking about stuff. He talked about some of us having our garages overflowing with so much stuff that we must park our car or truck outside. He gave statistics about carports, single-car garages, two-car garages and three-car garages. I can’t remember the stats, but I had to laugh and giggle at all of them. Yes, I am part of the statistic since I have a three car garage, but one stall is full of my emergency prep stuff so parking a car there isn’t an option!!

We have a three-car garage, although that third stall would have to be for a very small car. That’s where I store my emergency preps on heavy-duty Costco shelves you can only buy online and they have extra sturdy wheels. We can park two cars in the double-car side. Thank goodness we only have one car because whoever designed these garage stalls must not have had very big cars, or medium cars, only small cars. Very small cars. You get the picture.


I have talked about decluttering our stuff for a few years now. I guess because I just had a garage sale on Saturday with our junk and made a whopping $16.00. I will NEVER have a garage sale again. I decided to donate everything leftover to the local thrift store. Now, my friend made over $200.00 so that was a good day for her. I’m still decluttering, I think it never ends.

I have made a point to explain when I give something to one of my daughters that they could use and I no longer need, that they need to get rid of something. I don’t want them to overload their homes. I have to laugh because the last time a few of my kids came to visit one of my grandsons said: “My mom is a hoarder.” First of all, she is not a hoarder like you see on the TV shows. No way. But, I have learned a lot from my older grandkids that are worth considering. They don’t want things. Nope, nada. They want to live a more simplified life. I’m very proud of them for that. They don’t want stuff. Proud grandma here.

Our Stuff

I decided to break down how much our stuff is costing us every month to have around the house. Some of you may have your homes paid off, your rent may go up or down, every situation is different. I want you to think about how much you spend on rent, your house payment, taxes, and insurance. Look around your home or apartment, you may have a couch, a lounge chair, tables, chairs, bar stools, beds, clothes, towels, food storage, emergency preps (had to throw that those in), shoes, socks, computers and so much other stuff. Take your payment and utilities and divide the amount by the square footage of your home. It may be a little or a lot. Does it matter? It’s all about the budget. So each room costs so much to “store” our items.

I went so far as to figure out how much a certain bedroom cost us. I think of my daughter who lives in California since she is the one people always love to stay with. She loves the company, but with the price of renting a home there, it would have cost her $500.00 more each month to accommodate the guests if they only needed one bedroom. I told her to have them bring sleeping bags when they visit and skip the larger more expensive apartment. For the short time the guests stay they can sleep on the couches and floor, particularly the kids.

Storage Units

I have counseled former clients to get rid of those pricey storage units. Often the reason people rent them is that they can’t make a decision about which items they need to keep, so they “store” their stuff. Or maybe they think they may need those items someday, so they can’t part with them. A typical 10′ by 10′ unit is approximately $165.00 a month where I live. Now they can be more expensive if you need climate-controlled units.

Here’s the deal, I am not saying get rid of your belongings, let’s be clear here. I just want us to think about how much that storage unit would cost us to store our stuff for say five years at $165.00 a month, that equals $9900.00! YIKES! Sometimes those units are worth it if you are building a new home and need a place to keep the items until you move in. But if you look at the numbers, does it make sense to continue to store and make payments for long periods? You need to decide that for yourself, but often the rent paid is higher than the value of the items being stored.

Why We Hold Onto Stuff

  1. I can’t part with my belongings, I may need them one day.
  2. I know someone who has every “Rolling Stone” magazine for the last 20 years or more.
  3. I don’t want to do a Garage Sale.
  4. I don’t have time to sell the stuff.
  5. I’ll go through the stuff in a few months. Then the months turn into years. And so does the payment.
  6. These items are going to be worth a lot of money one day.
  7. These items are too sentimental to give away.
  8. It’s too overwhelming to go through all this stuff.
  9. DVD’s, CD’s, and gadgets we accumulate that could probably be found on Netflix or Apple Store.
  10. Books, magazines we can’t part with for some reason.
  11. Old VHS tapes that bring back the good old days.
  12. Empty shoe boxes that can come in handy some day.
  13. I don’t know where to start when it comes to getting rid of things.

I hope today this post makes you think a little about what it costs to store/house our stuff. Life is good, enjoy a simple life. May God bless your family. Stay well and stay safe.

Get Organized by Linda

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Clutter picture: AdobeStock_27654526 by Sixninepixels

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How To Declutter Quickly And Stop Buying Stuff

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Well, I’m talking about how to declutter quickly and stop buying stuff today. You know, stuff, we don’t really need. You may remember me talking about my 15-minute timer trick. If you look at your home, whether large or small, it can be overwhelming to know where to start to declutter quickly. There is something about looking at clean horizontal counters, dresser tops, kitchen counters, etc. I LOVE having nothing sitting out on counters. Yes, I have the toaster and my cooking utensil holder, and of course the phone.

Where I live, we must keep our home landlines otherwise I would be sitting on the coffee table to talk to anyone who calls me on my cell phone. We have had this home for 13 years now and nothing has changed as far as the cell service goes. Our daughters come to visit and their service works fine in our home, but if we drive into town we can lose service more than once along the way. I really wonder what cell phone service would really work here in Southern Utah.

Anyway, back to how to declutter quickly. The picture below gives me anxiety, luckily my house doesn’t look like this. Yikes!

Declutter Quickly

Grab some black 33-gallon garbage bags for trash or broken items, and some clear bags to donate stuff or sell at a garage sale. Yes, boxes work great as well. If you haven’t worn something in a year or more, I say get it out of your closet and don’t look back. Donate it while someone else would still buy it at a thrift store. Let it go and you will feel awesome, I promise.

declutter quickly

You can use a timer if that would help you get started decluttering. I have the same kind of timer my mom had growing up. This is like the one I use: Minute Timer  Next, turn on some music or some upbeat audibles you can listen to while you start the process of organizing one room at a time.

This is one of my all-time favorite audible books: You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jan Sincero. I have given the hard copies to several friends, I like it that much. I will caution you about the language, but it’s a very upbeat book. I have listened to the audible book at least 10 times because I love it.

declutter quickly

If you have some music you love, crank up the volume and start decluttering one drawer or closet at a time. It feels awesome, I promise.

Declutter Quickly-Stop Buying Stuff

One thing about decluttering is how great you feel when you see less in a closet or less on horizontal shelves and countertops. Now, this is where we need to be disciplined by not buying more stuff to replace the junk you let go of by selling or donating. Let’s be honest here, how much stuff do we really need? Very little, sometimes I look at stuff and say “why did I buy that?” Good grief!

Now when I shop for anything, I think to myself “Will I be donating this stuff in a year?” First of all, where I live, you can rarely find much of anything at the local stores, so I typically shop online. I spend less gas driving around looking for something. I need only to realize it’s not going to be in the stores here. I’m hopeful I can find it, but odds are against finding stuff I need in our small town.

I buy a lot on Amazon because it saves me time and money 99% of the time. One thing to keep in mind is we need to stop buying stuff we don’t need. Period. It’s so easy to just order online, but I want you to think about what you buy, think hard whether it be at the brick and mortar stores or online. Do I really need this or will I be donating it a year from now? I have laughed with my daughters about this statement as well as with friends.

Things To Think About

Instead of buying stuff, maybe some of these things may work for you and your family to bring simplicity and happiness into your life rather than thinking you need stuff to make you happy.

  1. Gift giving, slow it down, trust me, less is best.
  2. Teach pioneer skills to your family and friends, it may save their life.
  3. Share your love of making bread with everyone you know.
  4. If you sew, teach others.
  5. If you can piece a quilt like my great-grandmother (and myself) teach others the joy of seeing those fabrics that were once a special dress or shirt incorporated into a quilt.
  6. If you can cook in an awesome Dutch Oven, teach others how to do it.
  7. Invite your neighbors to a potluck at your home, it beats shopping and bringing stuff home you will eventually donate to a thrift store.
  8. Share your time, energy, and laughter with friends and neighbors.
  9. Visit the elderly, they love to talk to you, I promise.
  10. Please get to know your neighbors, people need people.
  11. Be kind to one another and listen to your tone of voice when you speak to others.
  12. Send notes of kindness to people you love, you may not get another chance to mail one to them.
  13. Think about what you buy before you buy it, you may not need it.

May God bless you and your family to be prepared for the unexpected. Please be safe and teach others to be self-reliant as soon as possible.

My book is available to help you be self-reliant:

Simplify Your Life by Linda

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Pile of clothes: AdobeStock_65947771 by Luanateuzi

Bedroom picture: AdobeStock_1106456 by Joseph Helfenberger

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How To Let Go Of Stuff And Enjoy Life

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I’ve been working with friends on how to let go of stuff and enjoy life. It seems the older I get the less I want or need. In fact, I want less of just about everything, except chocolate, of course. I have the giggles because I love chocolate and See’s Candy is one of my downfalls. Well, actually any chocolate. But, in all honesty, today, I will be at lunch with friends or friends and we seem to zero in on the fact that we want less stuff. We want food storage and water storage but we all want to live a simpler life.

I have helped people move over the years and every single time I hear the same thing, “I need to get rid of stuff”. We always laugh and say we all need to declutter. It seems sometimes people move their stuff to a new house and never seem to be able to let go of items they have boxed up years ago.

enjoy life

Keep in mind I’m not talking about letting go of family treasures or sentimental items. I’m heading over to a friends house this morning to help her declutter and organize her laundry room cupboards. She’s picked up some plastic containers she can label so she can find items quickly when she needs them.

I live in a subdivision of very small homes, so storage is a premium. I left a home up north that had a basement where I could store things. When Mark and I moved here, we had to let go of a lot of stuff. We are still working on it 13 years later. Did I say, 13 years??? Yes, I did. Good grief, that’s a long time!

Let me tell you this, I have been donating, selling and trashing items that no one would want. And it feels awesome. I want to sip a homemade lemonade in the backyard this year and simplify my life now. Bring on the lemons, I may even plant a Meyer Lemon tree.

Enjoy Life by Letting Go

I want to challenge you and myself to let go of stuff and enjoy life. Look around your home, grab some clear bags, garbage bags or boxes and label them to recycle, keep, donate, sell, or trash some items. We can do a cupboard today, a closet next week.

There is no hurry to let go of stuff and but you will enjoy life a whole lot more, I promise. Divide the stuff you may want to let go of in the following ways:

  1. Keep
  2. Donate
  3. Trash
  4. Sell
  5. Give to someone

Enjoy Life

Here are some things I want to do to enjoy life more, I hope you will share your ideas as well. Let’s make this list really long.

  1. Simplify lateral counters (let go of stuff you have to dust around).
  2. Stop buying clothes that need to be dry-cleaned.
  3. Spend just one day a month in solitude, no TV, cell phones or internet.
  4. Watch the sunset, it’s amazing and simply beautiful.
  5. Decide on getting up one hour earlier each day, oh my, that one-hour rocks.
  6. Take your lunch to work, you will save money and eat healthier.
  7. Skip the soda and drink water, good water (not tap water, at least where I live) I have reverse osmosis installed.
  8. Before you buy something, take the time to think about it, if you bring it home, get rid of something else.
  9. Set a savings goal and stick to it.
  10. Organize your bills, important documents, tax returns and file them.
  11. Buy a golf pass, that’s for Mark, it saves us money and all his friends get a discount to golf with him.
  12. Simplify your gift giving, money doesn’t buy happiness, gifts are not always needed, spend time, not your money.
  13. Don’t answer your phone if you don’t want to, let it ring, they can text a message if they need you.
  14. The doorbell, who invented the doorbell? LOL! Don’t answer the door if you don’t want to, it’s usually a sales pitch.
  15. Cancel magazine subscriptions, sometimes they become clutter and you may feel obligated to read it.
  16. Buy clothing that will work with all your colors in your wardrobe, less clothing, less money spent.
  17. Rent a home, I know, I was realtor and mortgage broker, but I can see that renting has positive options, oh yes, you may have to move, but you no longer have to maintain a home with repairs, if you let go of stuff, you can downsize and travel if you so desire. I remember one neighbor mention to me, “I love renting because I can try out this neighborhood, move out (she’s condensed her stuff) and travel for six months and find another neighborhood to see if I like it”. I always felt owning a home was the American Dream, but is it, really? Do you like your neighborhood, your neighbors? If you are renting, you can move when your lease is up.
  18. Meet friends for dinner at a restaurant once a week for date night. No one has to cook and you get one night off from planning a meal.
  19. Stop getting newspaper delivery, you can see the news on TV or on the internet.
  20. Go for walks and listen to audible books, they are free at your local library, typically.
  21. Pay off your house if you decide to buy as quickly as possible.
  22. Practice planting a garden, it’s so relaxing when you dig in the earth God gave us to grow our own food.

I have worked since I was 7 or 8 years old, cleaning houses, babysitting, being a mom, working at corporations, I owned my own mortgage company, and now I want to enjoy life, what about you? Thanks again for storing food storage, water, and all the necessities to be prepared for the unex[ected. Please enjoy life, you deserve it.

Declutter by Linda

Plastic Storage Bags

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Chalkboard: AdobeStock_102972988 by Marek

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How To Declutter Stuff In Your Home Quickly

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Well, it’s that time of year when I feel the need to declutter stuff around the house and garage. Again. I actually helped a friend yesterday declutter stuff in her master bedroom closet. I don’t know about you, but if someone will just come and talk to me as I start pulling stuff out of closets, it’s a lot more fun. I had gone to breakfast with her and she mentioned how overwhelming it is to organize closets and cupboards, etc. I told her I would help her, then I went to pick up some zippered bags and called to see when we could get started. I brought my Minute Timer but we didn’t use it. We jumped in and started tossing, recycling, and boxed stuff to sell. I like to clean my house in 15-minute increments because then it makes me work faster as I hear the timer tick.

Anyone that knows me really well, understands my passion for organizing everything. I really think I am OCD and I own it. If my daughters mention a closet could use some organizing, I’m on it. They know I love cleaning out stuff and labeling everything. It’s probably a good thing I don’t live close to IKEA or The Container Store, I love those stores. I could browse in those departments with containers and organizers for hours.

Let’s make this easy today, you can use 33-gallon clear bags for donating stuff, black bags for trash, or if you have some empty boxes you’ve saved for moving, just them and be sure to label them based on what’s inside. If the stuff you pull out of the closets, cupboards, drawers, or the clothes hanging up in closets are no longer useful or no longer give you joy, it’s time to let the stuff go. I promise you’ll feel calm and joy in your life with less. The biggest bonus you can give to yourself is letting go of clothes that someone else could use today, not ten years from now. If you haven’t worn them in three years, chances are you will never wear them again.

I know, I can hear some people saying, “but this cost me $$$$,” but if you aren’t wearing it, why hang on to it? Has it been ten years since you wore it or used it? Is it a collector’s item, Or is it just clutter? Let’s keep the good stuff and let go of the rest. Maybe it’s my age, but I don’t want my daughters to have to go through useless stuff after I pass away.

I know it’s hard to let go, I get it. My friend mentioned a quilt made by her grandmother was frayed on the edges, but she felt a sentimental attachment to it. You could tell it was a well-loved quilt. I told her I would help her “bind” the quilt another day. We put that special quilt in a zippered bag to protect it with love. These are the bags I buy, you can get them at Bed, Bath & Beyond or order them online. Sweater Bags and Quilt Bags. I used to buy those “vacuum bags” but they ended up not working out for me. They would pop open and split.

Now, the kitchen “stuff” is a totally different ball game. I’m a kitchen gadget junkie, I confess. I love cooking, baking and trying new recipes, it’s my passion for life, I guess. Yes, I do have those cupboards organized pretty well. But I will organize them another day. Again to see if I can eliminate things that haven’t been put to use, no matter what the reason. Somethings the tuff decision is whether to throw the items away or give them away. My husband tells me that someone can put to use the things I don’t want or need. He likes taking things to organizations like Goodwill, or the Deseret Industries.  He figures those folks know best what can be sold or placed elsewhere, so we drop them off and let the people there make the decision. Worst case, things like the clothes will be used to make scrap or rags.

Declutter Stuff

declutter stuff

This is where you have to be ready to make a decision whether you can let go of stuff or not.


I know, I can hear some of you say “it’s overwhelming to know where to start” or you may say, “I hate to declutter stuff.” Or you may have zero interest in cleaning out any closet, cupboard or dresser drawers. No worries.


I remember my great-grandmother taking pieces of fabric from worn out dresses, shirts, and blouses and “piecing” a quilt with the different fabrics. Those quilts continue to be treasured. Donate what can be recycled.


You can have a garage sale, sell stuff on Craigslist or Facebook Market Place. You may be able to take some items to a consignment store. This will help your pocketbook and help someone else at the same time to purchase items they couldn’t normally afford to buy. It’s a win-win for everyone.


When in doubt about stuff, keep it and wait six months when you have time to purge your house again. I have an extra Bernina sewing machine I bought a few years ago. I won’t sell it because I would be lucky to get pennies on the dollar if I tried to sell it. I am saving it for one of my granddaughters who will get married someday.


If the item(s) cannot be fixed, repaired, or recycled, place them in your trash can. And don’t look back. Trust me, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.


Here’s the deal, there are so many people that could wear those shoes on the shoe racks that you will never wear, those shirts that no longer fit you, or those jackets that would be great for someone else to use. I went with a young girl and she purchased prom shoes and a prom dress at a thrift store. She was thrilled and looked beautiful in that slightly used dress! I was thrilled to hear that P.A.W.S. has a place to donate stuff to help the pets in this world have some money to help them. Yes, I dropped some stuff off today. What a great feeling.

I hope this post helps you declutter stuff that can be used by someone else, give you some extra cash, and feel the joy of living with less stuff. May God bless this world to be prepared for the unexpected.

Remember Moms Timer by Linda

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Declutter: AdobeStock_112066550 by Marek

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How To Declutter Bedrooms And Love It

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Do you need a little help on how to declutter bedrooms in your home? Someone called me yesterday and mentioned she had seen my declutter post with a Minute Timer to help you clean in 15 minute time periods. Time To Get Organized In 15 Minutes Or Less by Linda. She said it’s overwhelming to think about all the rooms that need to be cleaned and decluttered in her home. Are you like me and you may have let the decluttering slide for a few months or maybe years? Mark is happy with never decluttering, so you may be like him. That’s fine, I’m just OCD with “stuff” in our house the last few years.

Declutter Bedrooms

Here’s the deal, we can’t look around the house and say “oh, my gosh, where do I start, there’s so much stuff?” I mentioned to my friend that she should start with the smallest room in the house. I said, start with a bathroom. Our houses are small, so think of the cupboards and drawers in one bathroom. We both only have two bathrooms, so I told her to do ONE bathroom today. Trust me, it will take very little time to declutter. Bathrooms are sometimes small and easy to clean quickly.

Declutter Bedrooms

declutter bedrooms

These are the items you will need to declutter bedrooms today, boxes labeled thrift store, boxes labeled trash, boxes labeled “keep for six months”. Now, you can use clear bags for the thrift stores and black bags for the trash and boxes for the “treasures” you can’t part with. Whatever works for you. Please think about the people who can use some gently used clothing, sheets, or whatever we have crammed into our bedroom drawers, closets or cupboards.

15 Minutes

If you have a timer on your watch, or a minute timer, set it for 15 minutes and get started. Turn on some of your favorite music and start decluttering. Oh, the load it will take off your shoulders is invigorating, I promise. If you can let go of shirts, T-shirts, tank tops, blouses, pants, shorts, skirts, or dresses that no longer bring you joy, let them go to someone who can use them.

We all are busy, but we can squeeze 15 minutes out of our day to declutter bedrooms. If you have items that no longer fit you, let them go. If that red plaid blazer no longer gives you joy, let it go.

Thrift Stores

Some of my grandkids buy clothes at thrift stores, it’s awesome. Some even recycle them with a sewing machine. Proud grandma here!! Of course, they buy clothes at the malls, but they check the clearance racks first. I’m just saying how great it is that kids can buy affordable clothes at thrift stores and other affordable locations.

One night I went to a thrift store with a young girl who had been invited to a school prom dance. She bought beautiful name brand shoes she could wear for a fraction of the price at a well-known store. She looked beautiful in her thrift store prom dress she purchased as well. I’m so thankful that two people donated those shoes and that beautiful dress so this lucky young girl could afford to go to prom. It was a blessing for her to buy a dress and a pair of shoes she could afford.

Facebook Market Place

I have a friend, Kay, who taught me how to sell clothes, shoes, purses and most everything in my house on this awesome page. If you look at Facebook on your phone look down at the bottom you will see a “house icon”, click on that after you take pictures of your items and upload your pictures and write a description and state CASH ONLY. Of course, you need to be careful with any online sales program. I have sold several things and I’m using the cash for something more important in my life.

Garage Sales

I actually like going to garage sales or estate sales, but I would rather not “dicker on price” with people over a few cents for items I’m selling at my house. I know people make money doing them and I have sold many items at garage sales for pennies on the dollar.

Thrift Store Booths

Now this one was new to me. In a city near me called Hurricane, Utah you can rent a “booth” for about $100.00 a month at a local thrift store, depending on the space size and sell items there. Now, you may think that’s expensive, but let’s evaluate it. I’m left-handed and it’s always about the “numbers” to me. If I were to rent a booth with three other friends, that’s $25.0o a month each. My friend goes out and changes things around in her booth she shares with a friend. She pays $50.0o and her friend pays the other $50.00. She sells both little and large items. She does not sell really LARGE items since it’s hard to haul them to the location, and not many would fit.

She sells clothes in the store that must be approved beforehand by the owner and they are hung up in the clothes rack area. She gets a check every month for “stuff” she no longer needs or wants for a minimum of $300.00 a month. One month she received a check for $900.00!!! Easy peasy, she doesn’t have to sit in her driveway as cars go driving by.

Items To Declutter Bedrooms

declutter bedrooms

Remember, look at all items quickly, keep, thrift, sell or trash broken items that no longer bring you joy.

  1. Shirts
  2. Blouses
  3. Skirts
  4. Pants
  5. Shorts
  6. Sweaters
  7. Coats
  8. Shoes
  9. Boots
  10. Hats
  11. Purses
  12. Sunglasses: non-prescription ones
  13. Knick-knacks
  14. Excess lamps
  15. Excess bed sheets
  16. Bedspreads and pillow shams
  17. Check under the bed and remove what you no longer need or want
  18. Start with each dresser drawer. I pull out each one and dump it on my bed, one at a time. Discard, thrift or sell items that are no longer bringing you joy.
  19. Check for socks without mates, etc. Toss them or recycle them.

Just think of all the “stuff” you no longer need or want and how you can de-clutter bedrooms and help someone, or help your bank account. May God bless you for “thrifting” to thrift stores. If you make a little money that’s awesome, too! I love having my bedroom be a sanctuary, that’s how I roll. No clutter, clean, neat, and simple.

P.S. None of these bedroom pictures are my bedroom, but I can dream……….enjoy.

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Declutter your Home in 5 Steps

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Declutter your Home in 5 Steps If you are not looking for spare room you either have a huge home or you don’t need this article. For a prepper clutter equals less room for food, ammo, water and other resource storage. Though this article doesn’t come from a website that features gas masks and other …

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Can Prepping & Minimalism Co-Exist? 6 Tips to Make It So!

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prepping-vs-minimalismLast year we added a third child to our 2-bedroom, 800-ish square foot house. Once she started moving around, it felt like our space shrank dramatically. Around the same time, my parents downsized, and I inherited several pieces of family heirloom furniture. At heart, I’m a minimalist, and between these factors, my minimalist side rebelled. I wanted to get rid of everything we owned!

Among other minimalist advice, I familiarized myself with Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. Her ideas are mainly to de-clutter or sort by category, rather than the traditional advice of doing a room or a closet. For example, do all your books at once. She’s also known for getting people to ask if any given item “sparks joy” or makes you happy, or if it detracts from your life because you’re constantly tripping over it (my paraphrase).

NOTE: Get Survival Mom’s free ebook, “Declutter & Organize Your Living Space.”

This may all be very good advice, but along with being a minimalist, I’m also a prepepr. I’m determined to be prepared for everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios, using this handbook as a guide. With the addition of a child and furniture to my household, my prepper self was thinking about the future–both the bigger political and economic picture and our own family’s financial security. There was a good deal of “stuff” that I felt we needed to keep if we were to be prepared for any number of crises, but how could I continue with my commitment to minimalism?

Can prepping & minimalism co-exist?

There are certainly lots of articles out there about decluttering in general, and plenty about finding creative storage for your preps. But what do you decide to keep and store in the first place? For myself, I came up with 6 criteria I used to evaluate what to keep on hand to satisfy the prepper side of me and what to eliminate to keep my minimalist side sane.

Identify your big categories

From previous conversations, I knew that our main prepper categories as a family were generally: Food & Water, Education, Clothes/Warmth/Shelter, Security, Health (including mental/spiritual), and Communication. Whatever I decided to keep should generally fall into one of these categories.

Everything Accessible

In the middle of the exploring toddler and the inherited furniture, we had an incident in which one of the kids got injured while I wasn’t home, and my husband couldn’t find the right box of first aid supplies. We had absolutely everything we needed for the situation, but he had to take all the kids (including the injured one) to the drugstore to buy it all again because he didn’t know where I had stored it. This was a significant learning moment for me, because being prepared and having all the right “stuff” doesn’t matter at all if you can’t find it or get to it when you need it! So one of my goals was to make everything as visible and accessible as possible.

Double duty items

Of course you also want to be familiar with all your tools and equipment before the SHTF. One way to do this is to incorporate as much as you can into your daily life. For example, your cast iron pans can be used now on the stovetop or over a campfire in the zombie apocalypse. And once you’re using those on a regular basis, perhaps you can part with some of your other cookware, freeing up more kitchen space.

Space vs. Value

Throughout this process, I was always asking: does the value of this item justify the space it requires? If not, the item went in the give-away box. One of the tactics I used was to incorporate practical items into my decorating. For example, I mixed lanterns with my prized antique books on the shelves. They fit together perfectly!

Meeting needs, not wants

When evaluating my space, I had to embrace the hard truth that I just wouldn’t be able to keep everything I wanted. Once I accepted that, though, it was easier to make decisions based on my other criteria. For example, it was important to keep books that are reference material, or educational, and less important to keep contemporary fiction. Of course, entertainment and distraction is important in times of stress, so I kept plenty of fiction, too, but evaluated it in terms of quality and our family’s interests. So while I evaluated each reference book (and got rid of a few!), I prioritized those over fiction where space was limited.

Very limited hide-away storage

None of your storage does any good if it’s hidden away and you forget about it. For me, keeping lists was too much hassle for our current schedules, so really limiting unseen storage was my priority. Now I can tell you exactly what I have stored in the far corners of my basement today, and I can count it on one hand!

We have a few tubs of sentimental items and photo albums. There’s a set of collector drinking glasses from my grandma that I cannot safely display in our current space, but definitely want to keep. Our file boxes are clearly labeled by year and can be sorted/shredded as they hit their “keep until” dates. There are 5 pieces of the furniture that I could not incorporate into this space, but are certainly worth keeping in hopes of a larger home someday. And our Christmas decorations (which are definitely minimalist!).

My results, so far

Three months into our newly decluttered–but still prepared–home, here are a few observations:

It’s been easier to identify needs and priorities. We all have limited resources, and sometimes it’s hard to know what to get next. Once you know what you do have, you can easily see what you don’t have and prioritize these needs. For me, one of the items that wasn’t on any wish list, but that jumped out at me as a need was a small household tool kit, which I now have.

My choices are now more obvious. Once you identify your needs, you still have to make a choice about how to fill it. For example, a wheat grinder was on my list. Typing “wheat grinder” into Amazon gave me almost 500 results! But now that I had decluttered the kitchen and kept my Kitchen Aid mixer, my choices for our space and needs seemed obvious: a Kitchen Aid attachment, or the Vittorio Deluxe Manual grinder. Then it was just a matter of evaluating only 2 choices, and making a decision.

I have room for new items. Since I earned my Ham radio license earlier this year, my radio equipment has been cluttering the top of my desk, which was messy to look at and probably not the safest for the radio. After I decluttered, though, I suddenly found I had an entire drawer free just for ham radio equipment.

I have more time and less stress. As someone who reads between the lines of the evening news, there’s enough to worry about already. Reducing our clothes and kitchen items has made a dramatic improvement in maintaining the household. Our laundry and dishes are noticeably less! And now I can spend my newly found free time on developing skills and relationships.

How do you make the most of your space and still stay organized?


51 Best Organizational Tips with Ikea and More

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organizational tipsFull disclosure: My kids ask to go to Ikea. I have been known to take them their for a special dinner, and no, actually not a joke. My parents introduced me to it. Twenty-five years later, they are still using their Billy bookcases. Really, the whole family loves Ikea. As a result, this round-up has ended up with quite a few IKEA tips to help you stay organized in every room of the house.

If you don’t have an IKEA near you, you can find similar items other places because most of these tips are really quite simple.

declutter and organizeIf you need more ideas, check out the Survival Mom Pinterest boards! The boards Wood Pallet Projects and Decluttering and Organizing (the January Skill of the Month) both have lots of great ideas. It’s worth a little time to look through. Another great resource is the mini-guide Declutter and Organize Your Living Space.

10 Anywhere Ideas

These great ideas will work in so many different parts of the house it isn’t worth trying to pin them down.

1. Dollar Store Organizing: Hair supplies, cords, crayons…. There are 150 different ideas here!

2. Organize Your Home: These 50 ideas use everything from chopsticks and silicone muffin cups to bookcases to help you organize your home.

3. The Small Things: The brush-organizer just made my short list of to-do projects, but the ring storage box is what really got my attention.

4. Every Cord is Awesome: Use Lego minifigs to hold your cords.

5. Hang it Up: From storing flip flops to Ziploc baggies, there are tons of ways to help organize and tidy up your home.

6. Pill Boxes: They hold so much more than just pills.

7. Garage Storage: This has many cool garage storage answers, but the lattice is my favorite. It could work for so many long, skinny (hard to store) things.

8. Hard to Store Items: Cords, reference magazines, belts, and other random bits of things can be a challenge to store, but this makes it simple.

9 . Mason Jars: Infinity versatile, they aren’t just for the kitchen.

10. Drawers: A simple project to organize your drawers, especially the ones full of little bits and pieces.

5 Ikea Projects

1. Crafts: I love Alex. I really, really love Alex. Alex isn’t a person – it’s my six drawer storage unit from Ikea. You can see a white one in this article. (It’s $119.) Ikea has held my kids Lego (shallow enough to see pieces), arts and craft supplies, and completed Lego sets. It would be perfect for holding holiday flags, if you collect them like my Mom does. I may get one for my closet because those shallow drawers would be good for lingerie and other small items. I love Alex, even if the silly people at Ikea do still think it’s office furniture.

2. Expedit (cubicle-style bookcase): This is actually an entire series of posts, but it really grabbed me because we have two Expedits in our master bedroom closet. We use them instead of dressers. We have a third downstairs full of records – that’s right, actual vinyl. (They are the perfect size.) In our old house, we had one in the kitchen. I love Expedit.

3. Ribba Picture Ledges: So very many uses, all over the house. For some reason, I particularly like using the ledges for storing nail polish.

4. Fintorp: Fintorp is a rail-based system with hooks and bins.

5. Rolling Cart: You’ve seen it if you’ve read the other links in this post because Raskog is a popular little cart that has tons of uses all over the house.

Bonus: 37 Clever Ways to Organize Your Life with Ikea: These clever ideas include using a tea towel holder for tank tops and hooks for your necklaces. There are also some ideas created for small space, such as a shoe rack  (Trones) you can use to hold other items in your hallway, bath, or other tight areas. Next weekend, I’m heading to Ikea so I can make the bike rack they show here!

10 Kid Organization Ideas

These aren’t all just for kids, but they are definitely ones parents can appreciate!

1. Storing Matchbox / Hot Wheels cars: We ended up with bins of the darn things. They got dumped together so no one could see anything. This would have been much better.

2. Little Bits and Pieces: So very many tiny things come with tiny people. This has ideas for ways to corral many of them.

3. Hacks for Parents: I love the light up table, but I think my kids would prefer the Lego table.

4. Storage for Stuffed Animals: People just love to give kids plush, even if they already have 500 of them.

5. Bath Tub Toys: From dumped all over to tidied up, this is the quick solution that’s so easy even the kids can do it. (Not that they will.)

6. Family Travel Hacks: Silicone muffin cups in your cupholder and a cereal box trashcan are two of the brilliantly simply tricks to make travel a little easier.

7. Movies: I’ll be honest, I have more movies than this poster in a specific category like “military history” or “Westerns” – and those are not the big categories in our collection – but the ideas are still solid.

8. Crate Seats: Turn a crate into a simple seat and you have the storage underneath. Bonus: You can see what’s inside!

9. Lego Storage: Lego storage is a safety issue. (On a scale from one to stepped-on-a-Lego, how much does it hurt?)

10. Their Bathroom: Kids need help keeping the bathroom tolerable. This is that help.

5 Prepper Projects

1. Organize Your Stockpiles: Yep, it’s a big project and you may have done it before, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need done again.

2. Space Saving Ideas: The bed lifts up and lets you store more under it.

3. Survival Roll: This convenient little container holds all your little BOB basics.

4. First Aid: It’s an oldie but a goodie: Use a tackle box to organize your first aid supplies.

5. Batteries: Replace the cardboard package and corral them all into one easy-to-use storage solution.

5 Kitchen Organization Projects

1. Ideas for Maximizing a Small Kitchen: Ways to make the most of the space you have, even if it’s just on the side of the fridge.

2. Store Cans: Use photo boxes to store your cans and keep them clean.

3. Spice Storage: It can be hard to find the right spice when half of them are hidden behind the others in a cabinet. This is a simple solution.

4. Trash Bags on a Roll: Enough said.

5. Under the Sink: Equally valid for kitchen or bath, it’s an area that often gets wild and out of control for no good reason.

5 Laundry Organization Ideas

1. Laundry Basket Dresser: I do not want this in my bedroom – but I think it just might be perfect for my teen.

2. Laundry Room Storage: Everyone needs to store things in their bathroom. This is a way to do it attractively without breaking the bank.

3. Organization Ideas: A cute way to store your detergent. Wall storage for lint. (You re-use it as a fire-starter, right?) Repurposing the springs from a crib mattress. This has a little bit of everything!

4. $85 Laundry Room Remodel: This space was totally redone on a tight budget – she even painted the washer so it matches the dryer now!

5. Write on it: Write notes on the top of your machine with a Dry-Erase marker. (Test it on a small, out of the way space first, of course.) Brilliant!

10 Wood Pallet Projects

You can search out free wooden pallets to make these projects or buy two by fours at the home improvement store.

1. Garage Storage for Long-Handled Tools: Looking for a way to store your long-handled tools like shovels and rakes? Look no farther than this wood pallet project!

3. Firewood Storage: Inexpensive, functional way to keep your firewood corralled in one place.

3. Tool Storage: Storage for your small tools. Of course, you can personalize for your tool collection.

4. Bench: This cute bench is the perfect place to sit and put on your shoes, and the shelf under it is perfect for storing boots or other small outdoor items.

5. Patio: The prepper in me can’t help but think those sections of flooring can be removable, and other items stored underneath. Clearly, on a patio that is very limited by the fact that it is outside and very vulnerable to weather and critters, but the same idea could be used to create a new floor in other areas.

6. Doggy Dining: They don’t show it, but how could this cute little table not open up to store a few more things?

7. TV Stand: Game consoles, DVD / Blu-Ray / VHS, Cable, streaming video – the things we “need” to connect to our TV are seemingly endless, and different for every family. Why not use some pallets to make a custom one to suit your needs?

8. Recycling Center: Label it and maybe – just maybe – the kids can put things in the right spot. (Maybe.)

9. Platform Bed: Plenty of space to hide things underneath where they can’t be seen, and the mattress on top will keep the dust bunnies out.

10. 25 Creative Ideas: My favorites are the multi-tier storage unit and the under-cabinet unit they use for fruit.

Don’t forget to download the mini-guide and check out the SM Pinterest boards!

organizational tips