15 Awesome Storage Solutions for Under $10

By Linsey Knerl on 8 April 2010 (Updated 6 April 2011) 14 comments

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This article shares tips from the newest episode of Dealista, our podcast that'll help you get more for less.

Feeling the need to do some Spring Cleaning? Not sure where to stash all your stuff? These storage solutions are not only clever, but they are super affordable (many are free!). Check out our expert-recommended list for the easiest organization ever!

Those who are a bit creative will love these DIY designs for homemade storage solutions. Jamie Novak, author of the newly released book Stop Throwing Money Away, loves these first few tips:

1. Hook it. Using a piece of lattice from your local garden center (just $5) and a little paint to give it some color, you can make your own hanging storage. Just attach it to a wall or the back of a door, then use S-hooks from your hardware store to keep dog leashes, scarves, and little baskets in their place!

2. Make your own magnet board. A used cookie sheet wrapped in a fabric scrap can be secured to the wall for a quick way to organize notes, takeout menus, and more. Customize some cool buttons by gluing magnets to the backs – they’ll look adorable stuck to the board! (Total cost is less than $4.)

3. Reuse that wine box. Old wine boxes (with the insert still inside) can be procured from your local liquor store for free. Remove the insert and wrap the entire box in wrapping paper (leaving the top open). Then line the bottom with a garbage bag and some kitchen sponges (to soak up moisture). After replacing the wine box liner, you’ve got a clever way to store umbrellas the next time guests come visiting!

Not so crafty? No problem. Use these boxes as-is for a better way to store stuff:

4. Stack file boxes (or bankers boxes). Use them in any area of the house as easy storage for most everything. Just be sure to label the contents! (Thanks to Charlene Anderson of Anderson-Shea, Inc. who suggested buying a pack of 6 for under $10 on sale!)

5. According to Elizabeth D. Cooley, President of Compass Organizing, tiny tea tins are a classy way to store Q-tips, cotton balls, and band-aids in the bathroom. Use them in the kitchen for sweetener packets and matches OR reuse them as cute gift boxes.

6. Plastic shoe holders are great for everything (not just shoes). Over the back of a porch or garage door, they can hold sunscreen, gloves, and gardening tools. In a bathroom, they contain hairbrushes, styling products, and barrettes. In a kid’s room, they are perfect for Barbies, matchbox cars, and all those Pokemon cards! (A big thank you to Ellen R. Delap for this prize-winning tip!)

7. Ball jars are a hit for holding just about everything! Our own Myscha Theriault first turned us on to all the ways you can use these gems, and Stacey Platt, author of What's a Disorganized Person to Do? agrees that they are perfect for keeping bolts and nails together in the garage.

Tracy McCubbin of DClutterfly had so many tips, we couldn’t use them all! Here are our faves:

8. Soap boxes are super for keeping business cards and electronics cords under wraps. They are free and beautiful!

9. Shoe boxes are a time-tested solution for keeping lingerie in order. Use the lids, which will fit inside any dresser drawer.

10. Ziploc bags (or any other brand) are spectacular for storing computer/camera/and cell phone cords. Clearly label them to be sure you know what gets plugged in, where!

11. Bento Boxes are great for keeping jewelry organized. They can be found at Asian department stores and World Market outlets for very little.

12. Plant pots are great for keeping utensils collected on a kitchen counter. More affordable than the utensil caddies offered in stores, they can be painted to match your mood and décor!

Still need more tips? These were common solutions to everyday storage problems:

13. Check boxes are free with your check order and perfect for keeping your junk drawer tidy. (Plus, I love using them in my carry-on luggage to keep biz cards or power cords contained.)

14. When buying edible gifts (fruit, chocolate, etc.) look for containers that are reusable. Many will come in neat tins and crates that you can use year-round to keep clutter under control.

15. Ice cube trays are super for storing paper clips, tiny trinkets, and craft pieces. They can be found at dollar stores and garage sales for pennies.

Dealista is a collaboration between Wise Bread and Quick and Dirty Tips, the producer of popular podcasts such as Grammar Girl, Money Girl, Winning Investor, and Mighty Mommy.

If you enjoyed these tips you can find more in our show's archive.

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Guest's picture

I'm impressed with this post, first of all. When I saw the title, I feared it would be about cheapo plastic stuff you could run out and buy to keep your extra 'stuff' in. But no! This is a serious article about how to use stuff you can find all around the house. Just a few things to add:

1. you can use glue and tissue paper or decorative napkins to decorate cardboard surfaces (or even wood ones) that you will have displayed in your home. Just 'paint' the tissue paper onto the cardboard surface and you can make something tacky look nice.

2. plastic food containers are often nice and shallow (also perfect for use in the junk drawer or just a desk drawer.

3. I use old shoe boxes and small fruit/veggie bins from the farmer's market to organize my sock/underwear drawer.

4. I use old wine bottles for storing lentils I buy in bulk. . yeah, that's kind of random, but it works for me.

Thanks for the great article!

Guest's picture
gt0163c

I wash out plastic milk cartons and then cut them down to the right height to fit in my drawers. Great way to keep little things organized.

Linsey Knerl's picture

I appreciate the kind comment!  I was surprised that so many organizing professionals were really on board with helping people solve their clutter issues in a frugal way (not requiring them to run out and buy expensive storage solutions.)  It's encouraging :)

And I love the milk carton idea!

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture

I like that idea about using old wine bottles to store lentils. That would work well with all kinds of dry beans. Also a user of shoe boxes to separate lingerie in my drawers, I line mine with fabric or wall paper.

Another inexpensive storage idea for all kinds of things: large, attractively patterned gift bags from the dollar store:

http://savvysavingbytes.com/2009/07/storage-for-pennies/

 

 

Guest's picture
darkwingdave

Cigar boxes are good too, depending on where you get them they can be free or cheap. And no, I'm not talking about the cheap cardboard ones (although they have their uses too) but the elegant looking ones are great.

Guest's picture
Grissom

Haha, I know most of these solutions, but still , it is a impressed post!

Depends on your conditions, you should at least use four to five suggestions from it. I like to keep all mail box and use them to keep all my miscellaneous items.

Thanks for author to give us a great list of storage ideas.

My blog at http://www.tophotdeal.com

Guest's picture

Ooh you just gave me an idea: ice cube trays for storing jewelry.

Guest's picture
Guest - Isabel

 

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Here’s my 2cents:  I like to fix door knobs that quit working, anything that would be fixed with a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, mending tape etc. I carry all this small tools and screwdrivers and nails on a milk plastic jug.  To make this work I cut a whole ( as big as you need it to carry your stuff ) on the corner/edge opposite the handle so that whenever I need the tools I just grab the milk jug with all the tools in it where they are easy to reach. I imagine you can carry any kind of hobby/cleaning stuff or anything else you can think off that needs to be carried around and easily stored away. They look pretty cool too!

Guest's picture
Guest

My personal favorite is "the banana box." I can usually get a couple at markets any time. They are very sturdy cardboard boxes that have handles (holes cut in sides). They usually come with a piece of heavy-weight brown paper rumpled in the bottom, and sometimes this has a little sticky banana gunk. But whatever, this paper doesn't usually lay flat. If you remove the paper, there is a significant hole in the bottom of the box. I just slip in another piece of cardboard, or a flat paper bag.
Banana boxes also have no printing... just a clean brown box. The tops have all the printing. I usually do not use the tops, or I cut them to make new box bottoms. However with out the tops, the boxes do not stack well (unless you criss-cross them). The downsides to the tops is that they fit so snug, they are hard to remove (they are the same depth as the bottoms). A solution around this is to cut the top so that it just has a couple inches of overhang, so it will be less work to get the top off.
With or without the top, banana boxes can slide nicely under most beds. I use a sharpie to mark the box contents on the end of the box. Because they are so readily available, at any time I can get more, so that all my storage boxes are uniform in size.

Guest's picture
Guest

I have a weird attraction for vintage drawers. I have a small collection of drawers from old sewing machine cabinets... the faces of the drawers have unique designs. None cost more than $10, but some were free. I've found other kinds of drawers on the curb, such as a small drawer that had painted lettering indicating it once held old small tools. Larger drawers can slide under a bed. My neighbor screwed drawers to her wall to make a book case. I have to confess, however, that I first collect the drawers because they appeal to me. They have interesting hardware or other features. Once I bring a drawer home I have to justify it's place in my house. So I find something to store in it, which is kinda backwards.

Guest's picture
Shona

Some good storage tips here. Egg containers also work well for storing those tiny trinkets, screws, nuts, bolts, small stationery items etc. When travelling, the inner rolls from paper towels come in very handy to store many items of lingerie or underwear inside.

Alternatively, store small underwear items inside shoes and other items. They fit in almost anywhere.

Guest's picture
Guest

I respectfully disagree about egg containers, as they have carry a salmonella risk.

Guest's picture
Linh

Heh, not too sure on everything here, but plastic shoe racks for gloves.. genius. Dunno why I didn't think of this before instead of laying them out everywhere, ha.

Also, my mom has done the pots for utensils for ages. The hard part is finding a narrower pot that doesn't flare out at the top too much. But the weight is usually enough to keep ladles and such from falling over when tossing them in. Just line the bottom w/ foam or something and it's perfect. Ikea works well for this.

Also, if you need a good way to hang headphones... banana holder.

Guest's picture
Guest

Also plastic diaper wipe containers are great to keep little stuff in. Most have a pop-up lid for quick access.