Organizing Your Way To Frugality

On the surface, it may not seem like organizing and frugality have very much in common, but I strongly believe they are intimately related. I think they can – and often do – feed off of and encourage one another.

Today, I want to share with you four ways that being organized helps you live frugally as well:

1. Prevent Double Purchases

Let’s face it, when things are unorganized and cluttered, it’s easy to either forget you have something or simply not be able to find it when you need it, resulting in double – or triple or quadruple – purchases of the same item.

I’ve talked before about how an organized pantry prevents this from happening, but the truth is that it’s applicable to virtually every area of our lives, from home improvement projects and school supplies to seasonal gear and toiletries. A lot of people live frugally by stockpiling necessities such as children’s clothing, household products and gifts when there’s a great deal to be had, but if you can’t find things in your stockpile, then you’re actually wasting money and time in the process.

2. Organized Spaces Are Addictive

Although organizing is an ongoing task that you have to approach regularly rather than as a one-time event, having an organized space can actually motivate you to be frugal. Once you organize an area of your home, you’re more likely to think twice before making a purchase as you consider whether you have space for that item and how it will fit into your current system.

Of course, there will be times when you need or want to make a purchase that simply won’t fit with your system, and in those cases you’ll need to reorganize to make space for it. Hopefully the thought of redoing your hard work will make you consider whether it’s truly worth it. Thinking about purchases this way clearly quantifies the money and time that we invest in every purchase we make.

3. See the Results of Impulse Purchases

The first step to getting organized is to declutter and get rid of those items that are simply taking up space without enhancing your life. You will be able to clearly see the result of many of your impulse purchases as you realize that the kitchen gadget or tool or organizing item that you just had to have has been rarely used and often forgotten. This process helps inoculate you against future impulse purchases as you calculate the amount of money you’ve wasted on such purchases.

4. Break the Ties to Stuff

Finally, decluttering is also a valuable exercise in letting go of stuff (and yes, I emphasize the word stuff because I think I think it’s important to realize that a lot of the things in our home are simply that – stuff that wastes time, space and energy because we place more value on it than we should).

Obviously there is value in keeping sentimental items that take you back in time to a memory or a connection with a loved one. However, it’s important to differentiate between the items that truly accomplish this – such as a worn photo of your great grandparents, a toy that your mother played with as a child or the outfit your brought your firstborn child home from the hospital in – and items that you’re simply holding onto in an effort to create those memories – such as a cheap trinket from vacation or all 25 onesies that your firstborn wore as a baby.

I’m not trying to imply that organizing or decluttering are easy tasks or that they’ll automatically lead to a more frugal lifestyle. However, I do believe that purposeful organizing and decluttering will help you accomplish your goals of living more frugally while also helping you to live more simply. I’ve seen it happen in my own life!

Mandi Ehman is the blogger behind Organizing Your Way: A Personalized Approach to Decluttering Your Life and Simple Nest: Where Beauty Meets Simplicity. She believes that living simply makes for a rich and fulfilling life and that time invested in organizing and decluttering pays back exponentially!


  1. I wholeheartedly agree. I think a decluttered house is very important so you can figure out what you already have. As I recently decluttered a whole area of my house, I found numerous rolls of tape and I have about three sets of clippers in the bathroom.

    I shan’t be buying any more of them, I can tell you.

  2. Great post Mandi! I actually think it would be difficult to be frugal without being at least somewhat organized. Along with that, I find that the more organized I am, the more frugal I’m able to be.

  3. My experience is that when my space is clear – my mind is clear. As a result, I make better decisions and that usually means I’m more frugal.

    Can’t write any more now, I have to go unclutter my desk!

  4. I had to laugh and read this out loud to my husband this morning when I saw this blog entry. I’m getting my car inspected today and we can’t find my restration so i have to head back over to teh notary when it opens to paying to get anothe registration!

  5. Easier said than done, for me, but I keep trying! When I remodeled/added on to bring my old house from 500 to 1000 sq ft, I made a point of making storage space/closets, of which there were not any…. but I also noted that everything has GOT to fit into it’s own little space or it is going out the door.

    Have to say, I have been in the finished house now for 6 months, and there are still boxes – maybe a dozen yet to go thru… but I have finally learned to let go of stuff also. Not at all easy for me, but I’m trying! Right now about one box every two months goes out the door – to some charity rummage sale or one of the charity thrift stores in town. Eventually I’ll get there!

    I feel so much better when the house is not too cluttered – the reward of that is keeping me firm in my resolve to keep decluttering!

    Good post! Good reminder for me to keep on!

  6. Great post.

    I think storage spaces or garages really help make point #3. It is amazing how much stuff you can pack away in storage only to have years go by and you don’t even remember what is in there. Obviously you didn’t need it.

    I read that a tip that says when you make a box and through it in the garage, put an expiration date on it.

    Then at periodic times, just go in and process/ditch the boxes that haven’t been accessed.

  7. I could not agree more, and I have two examples that fit perfectly with this post:

    1) After my husband and I got married, his disorganization drove me crazy. I organized a few areas of his that were particularly bad. I found 13 containers of dental floss. I will be happily flossing (for free!) until I’m retired.

    2) My mom loves to decorate her house and spends WAY too much money doing so. Her Christmas gift from my hubby and I was to clean/organize her garage (you could barely walk in it). Now that she sees her space organized, was totally humiliated with how gross it was, saw 5 truckloads of her crap go either to the goodwill or the dump, and now knows what she has, she has much better self-control when shopping. I’ve heard her say numerous times since then, “Oh, I don’t need that. I think I have enough vases.” And trust me when I say, SHE HAS ENOUGH VASES!!! 🙂

  8. Number 3 is so right on! I recently organized our craft bins and found all kinds of stuff I can’t believe I bought on a whim or because it was a good deal. Its not a good deal if I’m never going to use it or if its just taking up space!! Great post!

  9. Having a clean pantry may help you be more frugal, but I don’t look down on it. Because you have more than you need and can always cut back in the future on purchases. I usually look for the sales to buy more to stack up so I know I don’t have to buy something for some time.

  10. Organizing our pantry has been one of the things that helped my wife & I cut our monthly grocery budget from $400/month down to $250/month.

    I like your second point – organized space ARE addictive! Once we changed our mindset…everything else has fallen into place…and organization is a BIG part of it.

  11. Hey Craig, I think we’re actually on the same page. By organized pantry, I don’t mean it should be empty. Rather, it should be organized so that you can find those things you’ve stocked up on so that you don’t have to buy them again until they’re on sale again!

  12. @Mandi That makes sense, I wasn’t looking at it from that perspective. I still don’t think its a complete waste because they are items that can be used at some point cutting costs because then you won’t have to shop for them.

  13. @Craig Just wanted to clarify…wasn’t trying to be argumentative with that last comment. On my own blog, I would have added a LOL or something for clarity, but that seems a little immature on someone else’s blog! LOL! (oops…)

  14. @Mandi I didn’t look at it as argumentative or would have cared even if it was. That’s the fun part about having discussions and hearing different points of views.

  15. After 10 years of buying scrapbooking supplies I finally admitted I just don’t enjoy it like I did when I first started. As I’m sorting through everything for my next garage sale I feel sick about all the money I spent. That hobby has been my biggest money waster and it is providing a very high level of motivation to tread lightly with any new hobbies I may try in the future.

  16. Doesn’t everyone save 25 onesies that their firstborn wore? 🙂

    I was actually cleaning out that stuff today. My daughter is SIX! I kept a few very special outfits, and, yes that includes a onesie, and the rest have been donated. Feels GREAT to be rid of clutter – better able to focus on the debt snowball.

  17. This is so true. Keeping closets and my pantry organized gives me a sense of peace and keeps me from purchasing what I don’t need.
    I do need to tackle our basement with this same mindset. It is filled with “stuff” that I haven’t looked at in years, but for some reason can’t seem to part with it!