The Household Budget

{Image: Billy Frank Alexander}

Sometimes, it’s not all about dollars and cents; sometimes, it’s about feet and inches.

Living an organized lifestyle is a lot like living on a budget, except with space as the currency. Instead of allotting a certain amount of money to a budgetary expense, you allocate a certain area on a shelf or in a closet or under a bed. (Apparently, organization requires a lot of prepositions.)

Take inventory of your household space budget. Be meticulous. Just like your finances, organizational success depends on being honest with yourself. You have to live within your means. In this case, quite literally.

Here’s a potential list of budgetary categories:

  • Closets
  • Bookshelves
  • Cabinets
  • Drawers
  • Shelving
  • Furniture
  • Baskets
  • Bins
  • Jars
  • Tins
  • Bags
  • Boxes

Are you overdrafting any of these areas? Are you living on borrowed space? I know I was! Through all the sorting and cleaning I focused on how to fit my stuff into the spaces. When I had the cash, I bought extra storage bins to hold the extras. Then I realized I was going about it all wrong … I didn’t need to squeeze it all in. I needed to keep only what fit–and to choose those items wisely–and remove what didn’t. It was the sorting equivalent of cutting back on that extra cup of Starbucks during the week, or shopping the sale rack. It’s all about being savvy.

When the closets are full, the bookshelves stuffed to the brim, bins overloaded, and cabinets can’t contain another can of green beans, the budget has run out. You either need to make more space, or reduce your space spending to fit.

As for us, we’re doing the latter.  Just like I’m working on spending our hard-earned money on only the things that we need or really want, I’m also working on keeping only those physical objects that are useful, fit our space, and bring me joy because of practical or emotional value.

How do you balance your household budget? I’d love to hear your ideas!


Filed under Ponderings, Storage

7 responses to “The Household Budget

  1. Elaine

    My bookcases were always full. When they became stuffed, I would just buy another bookcase. Simple solution, but what really I needed to was sort them and only keep the most “valuable” books. The summer before last, I sold 3 big bookcases and about 90% of my books. It was hard to sell the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books, but I enjoyed them for 40 years, and they belong with young girls.

    This left me with 2 book cases. One my grandfather made for my mother when she was a teenager. I have my pretty glassware in that one. The other one is the active bookcase. I allow myself to only have a many books as will fit in there. Sometimes it’s tough, but I go to the library a lot more now. And even though I love the look of books and think a house is not a home without them, my computer room just looks a lot less cluttered.

  2. joy

    @Elaine – That has to be the hardest thing I ever do! Sorting and ridding myself of books… Normally I only really part with books I ‘had to’ read (i.e. for work) but sometimes I part with things I really did enjoy.

    Of course, I still have a few boxes at my parents house they haven’t made me move……yet………

  3. Agreed. It is so difficult paring down. Elaine, I don’t know if I would have had the willpower to get rid of a Nancy collection! I love the idea of an “active bookcase” that has an ever-revolving contents.

    Joy, my dad claims I still have boxes at his house, too.

  4. I love this concept of a living within your means in terms of storage space. One thing I’m trying to work on is not borrowing from Peter to pay Paul–running out of room in the appropriate storage area, and then sticking it someplace else. I want my storage to have defined zones.

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