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.


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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  1. Just popped over from P31 devotion and absolutely LOVE this idea. I am going to share with my teenagers. Cleaning and organizing can be such an overwhelming task, mentally and physically. This “hides” the enormity of the PROJECT so you can focus on a simple TASK. Thanks Karen (and God!!)

  2. Love this idea! I will have to try it out. Clutter seems to always find a place in the closets, bedroom, and living room. Thank you so much!

  3. My challenge is my list of projects that continues to grow, along with my schedule with work , church, taking our daughter to her extra-curricular stuff, direct sells, etc, etc. So, I often feel defeated because when I have some down time, I am guilty of using that time to just relax a little. I know I have to relax some too, but feel guilty because there’s so much that needs to be done too. I am definitely going to try this idea. I think it will make the list seems a lot less intimidating!

  4. I love this idea! I can easily relate to your comment about the overwhelming feeling of reading all the ToDos from a legal pad. Yes, the card idea is much easier on the eye (and the clock). Thank you! (Would love to get your book!)

  5. Hi Karen,
    My biggest challenge is a huge plastic bin full of mail and paper. The bin consists of unread mail, junk mail and mail that should be shredded. I would imagine that 10% of the bin that is now overflowing is important material that should be filed and kept….Do you see my problem? Not only is the task of going through it daunting, but its also boring! By the way…I heard you speak at SHE SPEAKS this past weekend and thought you were absolutely fabulous! Your message , “LET IT GO” ( I actually just stopped typing to sign that out with my hands) really ministered to me! LOL!!

    1. OK….so I am so disorganized I goofed my response!

      My two big black holes in my house are file cabinets and bookshelves. I think I have old catalogs from 1988 and such stuffed into our large file cabinet and bookcases overflowing.

  6. I think my biggest challenge is that after a full day at work, and a full day at school for the kids, we just don’t have the motivation to work at home. Weekends tend to fill with other things and we just hide clutter everywhere…

  7. As others have stated, the task is daunting and time is limited. Compounding this is a potential out of state move within the next couple months. The waiting is driving me crazy, yet even if we don’t move, the house could use some of your great advice! Excited about the opportunity to read this book!

  8. my biggest area is my entire house. I keep wanting to start but don’t have enough “spare” time. My house is small and I have no “extra” space to put anything. I feel defeated before I even start.

  9. Thanks for the inspiration. My areas of disaster are the basement…out of sight out of mind, the attic…same reason, and the closet in the master bedroom. I’m afraid my time frames would start with a 1 day minimum! Maybe I need to focus on breaking them into smaller manageable time frames.

  10. Love the index card box idea… My biggest problem is starting BIG (I mean, BIG) projects and get so discouraged to see little or no progress that I just frustrated and never finish. Have gotten so close to finishing my attic project (been in house 26 years and most of stuff had not been down in all those years) and can’t seem to put the finishing touches on it! Will start “small” next time!

  11. Tried this idea out. I wrote out my cards and started with my first decluttering mini project. I think this plan suits me well.

  12. my basement is the biggest area… i am constantly take things down there right before company arrives and just “hiding” them… it is scary to even go down there! And it is such a HUGE project that i am discouraged to even start! love this idea!

  13. I have 4 kids and I homeschool. We live in a bungalow that is less than 1000 sq.ft. It is very difficult to find any time at all to declutter. I love your idea about the cards but how do you figure out how much time a certain areas. My biggest challenge is paper. I have tried so many things to stop my paper piles but nothing sticks. I am a challenge myself and am leading my kids by example. I am not happy about this. I want to teach my kids the right way of living. The way we live is embarassing and not glorifying to God. I will be starting your $1.49 program soon.

  14. Having grown children in college who move in and out during the summer, our biggest clutter is in the garage. The kids simply do not have enough room in their bedrooms for all of their junk. Two mini fridges, a sofa sleeper, a desk, spare garage door panels (don’t ask), an old filing cabinet, riding lawn mower, tool chest, and two freezers – with junk piled on all of them. It’s a wonder we can even park in there! I’m embarrassing if someone sees it. I look forward to the kids moving back on campus, so I can organize the garage.

  15. I am just like you…have trouble tackling a task if I won’t have time to finish it. I make a list and then get overwhelmed by the length. LOVE the index card idea!

  16. Awesome idea and one I Wii use to get my home office and guest room done. The guest room is so full I couldn’t put a cot in it if we had company!

  17. Love the index card idea – I think it would work for getting my oldest DD involved too. We need to regime some toys and get ready for an upcoming consignment sale.

  18. I have several problems when it comes to organizing, but I think the biggest challenge is the paper clutter (mail) in particular. I don’t know where to start with it. I like your idea about the index cards. I think I will try it. I would love to win your book.

  19. I love this idea. This fall when my girls (a 6yr old and twins who are 5yrs old) start school I will be using this idea to help my mother-in-law get organized. This will also help me tackle some areas in my home that I have been avoiding. Thank you for sharing with us.

  20. This is a great idea! My biggest clutter catching spot are the kids’ rooms! So many clothes and papers from school, church, etc. They don’t seem to mind, but it drives me crazy! I’m a pretty organized person, and I came up with this method for cleaning/organizing the house: each month of the year, I “deep clean” one room of the house. I tried to match the time of the year to the room I’d chosen. I do bedrooms in the summer so I can wash and hang out to dry the comforters, curtains, etc. I do bathrooms and the kitchen in the winter when I have time to spend cleaning all those cupboards! Having only one room to tackle each month instead of having a huge list of spring cleaning to do in the spring of the year really helps me not to feel overwhelmed.

  21. What a great idea.. I definitely need to do this. I think this will greatly help me meet the challenge of cleaning things out. Now if only someone had a way to counter act the sabotage that can easily occur when dealing with someone who cannot let go of things and finds some kind of value in everything.

  22. I like to tackle projects “whole hog” myself and that’s why many of them go unfinished. I tend to get a lot done after everyone is in bed–go figure! ;)

    The kitchen was something I had wanted to tackle for some time, so I started doing one cabinet a night after the kids went to bed. Before I knew it, I had gone through and organized every cabinet! I even made it more user friendly. It felt really good to have completed the job!

    Thanks for sharing your ideas!

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