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     Free And Inexpensive Storage Solutions

Everyone searches for STORAGE solutions at one time or another. There are many items and gadgets to choose from to organize everything from shoes to yard work tools. While these are the answer to some storage dilemmas, there are also free and inexpensive ALTERNATIVES for solving storage problems.

Sometimes the answer to a storage problem lies in changing our thoughts about how much we actually NEED. We fill our lives with things, and they all take up space in our homes. When lack of space becomes an issue, we need to determine if our possessions are needed and useful or are merely providing us with a sense of SECURITY and self-worth. Years ago, my definition of excess was "anything I didnít have room for." I kept items "just in case," purchased items because they were "a good deal," and felt as long as my cabinets and closets were full I was safe and successful. Life has taught me otherwise, and today my definition of excess is "anything I can give away and be able to replace if I need or want to."

Keep a box in a closet or the garage specifically for items that you can DONATE to a charity or give to family and friends. We continually bring new items into our homes, so it is logical that we need to continually take items out. Constantly REMOVING possessions that you donít need or use will keep your storage areas under control. Like many people, I have been through some lean financial years. Goodwill and yard sales were my shopping arenas. I remember feeling absolutely ecstatic whenever I came across a necessity that I could afford. Now when I am deciding whether to keep an item or give it away, I first determine whether or not I actually use or need it. If I hesitate on the decision, I try to think of someone I know that could use it. If no one comes to mind, I then determine whether someone in need could use it more than I will.

Some of us have massive storage space, and some of us have minimal storage space. We can INCREASE our storage capacity by using such items as stackable plastic containers or small wire shelves, but unless we move, our overall storage space remains the same. We need to be realistic and keep our individual storage space in mind. We can always FIT what we truly need into the space we have.

If your storage space is limited, keep only one extra of all your STAPLE items, such as shampoo, shaving cream, laundry detergent, cleaners, and printer paper. This will save space and also have financial rewards, since you will have a minimal amount of money invested in your household inventory items. When the item being used is gone, REPLACE it with your extra item and then purchase a new one.

Whether you store items in a garage, attic, closets, or under your bed, keeping a storage LIST makes retrieving the items simple. Your storage list will include each item or group of items and the storage location. The list can be sorted by either item or location. Keep the list with your other files and records and update it as needed. If this task seems overwhelming, choose one storage area each week to INVENTORY and record.

Use storage containers that you ALREADY own. Your empty plastic containers, baskets, decorative boxes and tins can all be used for storage. Free-standing wire shelves and clear plastic containers are inexpensive storage solutions. Wire shelves will double the storage capacity of a cabinet shelf, and plastic containers come in a variety of sizes and can be stacked for storage efficiency. Label your storage containers to easily locate stored items. Organizing your storage spaces does not need to be an EXPENSIVE endeavor. The next time you are faced with a storage problem, remember that the solution may be as simple as letting go of some of the items. You can free up some of your space and possibly help out someone at the same time. Consider using basic, inexpensive organizing tools. You can use your generosity and creativity to discover your storage solutions!


Betty Jean Bowers is the founder of An Orderly Way in Raleigh, NC. You may contact her at www.anorderlyway.com or 919-649-7556.

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