Organizing Projects:  DIY or Buy? from

I really like my spaces to be neat and organized. I also really dislike spending money.

Most of the time, these two personality traits don’t conflict. In fact, they often work together. When I need an organizing or storage solution, I usually “shop” at home. For instance, my drawer dividers are old stationery and other boxes. I have a collection of bins and baskets that my family rotates through, and I always turn to them first when a new storage need arises.

But of course there are times I can’t use what’s on hand. So I either need to create the organizing system I need, or commit to real, spend-my-own-money shopping. I need to choose: DIY or buy.

I love to read blogs, and I often see clever and creative solutions that people build themselves. But these people own tools I don’t have. More important, they have skills I don’t have. And I think a lot of them actually enjoy building things. I am not a handy person, and I don’t aspire to be. So unless a project is as simple as drilling a few holes and turning a few screws, it’s unlikely that I’ll do it myself.

So that leaves buying. Frugality is a virtue, and I’m glad that I don’t generally throw money around. But I also know that my reluctance to spend money can get in my way when I’m trying to get organized. I’ve balked at the price of organizing products because they seem too expensive for what they are. (“It’s just plastic! Why does it cost that much?) More expensive items, as you’d imagine, can be even harder for me.

But as time passes, it’s become easier for me to spend money on organizing supplies. I’ve shifted my focus away from the cost of the items I’m considering and towards their value to me. So now, if I can save the trouble of a DIY project I wouldn’t enjoy, I find it easier to go ahead and spend some money. Or if a little plastic item makes my life easier, I consider it worth the expense. (Within reason, of course. :-) )

This summer I was reminded again of my reluctance to DIY. My son had become more interested in sports, so I needed more storage for balls in my garage. I searched Pinterest and found a really clever solution that used bungee cords and some wood strips. It wasn’t complicated, and I knew I could do it.

But I never did. I just never worked up the motivation to buy or measure the wood or figure out what size bungee cords I needed. Eventually I bought a storage bag that I was able to quickly drill into the wall—no assembly required. The bag was overpriced. It holds less stuff than the DIY one I’d initially planned on. But it’s up and the balls have a home. That made it totally worth it to me.

Another example:  A while ago I was looking for a magnetic knife strip. I needed an unusual size to fit on the side of a cabinet in my kitchen. When I finally located one online, I hesitated. I thought it was overpriced, and the shipping cost was high. But eventually I went ahead and ordered it. That knife strip got an ugly knife block off my counter, increased my work space, and made my kitchen feel less cluttered. Looking back, I think it was worth ten times what I paid!

This is a personal issue, of course, and everyone’s budget varies. But in my own case, I’ve realized that I usually benefit when I give myself permission to buy things to make my home run more efficiently.

When it comes to organizing, do you prefer to DIY or buy? Please share in the comments below.


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Nancy Vorsanger loves how her organized home makes her family’s life easier. She opened her own organizing business to help other families get—and stay—organized, with practical, no-fuss strategies tailored to their own needs and lifestyles. Nancy also loves coffee, word games, blogs, her husband, and her children—not in that order. She lives in central New Jersey.

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