How to Save Money by Not Buying Storage Containers

I think if you like to organize or pretend to organize (like me!), then you probably love pretty storage containers, bins, boxes, and baskets. I know I do. However, I do not buy them. At least, I try not to buy them until I have a SPECIFIC purpose in mind for the bins. I love my Mr. Bump bandage bin that I picked up from the Target Dollar Spot earlier this summer.

Band Aid Bin

Mr. Bump Bandage Bin

However, as much as I love the Mr. Men and Little Miss books by Roger Hargreaves, I did not buy any of the other character bins. Why? I knew I planned to use Mr. Bump to store bandages but I had no purpose for rest of them. I might have thought of a purpose for them later but they’d simply be additional clutter in our home until I did.

I was in Target a couple of days ago and found bins and bags themed after The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle in the Dollar Spot. That book remains a favorite around here and I love his style of art. I wanted to buy all those bins! However, I did not. Why not? I had no specific purpose for them. I tried to think of one. Believe me I tried! However, I could not so they stayed put. I did realize later I could use the bags for wrapping gifts as I prefer to give our gifts in reusable packaging as much as possible. Did you know those reusable bags are usually cheaper to buy than the paper gift bags?

Even when I buy storage containers with a specific purpose in mind, sometimes the organizing project is a complete bust. My recent Refrigerator Redoux comes to mind. My husband actually complemented me on our refrigerator yesterday because it was “back to normal” after I’d removed all the organizing efforts. SIGH. It means I’m left with these empty bins:

These bins didn’t work as well as I’d hoped in the refrigerator but they will find new life in another project

Once I get to the point where I need containers of some sort for an organizing project, I start by searching here. I look for containers that aren’t being used efficiently like the ones pictured above. If I cannot find something here that works (and often I can), I will go out and start looking for containers to buy. When buying the bins or baskets, I try to keep in mind both the purpose of the project as well as the persons using the bins or baskets. For example I’m still in the middle of my linen closet make over and determined I needed new storage containers to make my system work. I looked at many beautiful bins and baskets at Old Time Pottery one day. However, I continually reminded myself that the baskets would be hidden in our linen closet (I don’t give tours of our towel closet when we have company and have no desire to start) and the items I’d be storing had the potential to tip or spill. I didn’t feel it would be a wise choice of our funds to buy beautiful lined baskets that only 4 people (with 3 of them being boys!) would see and that could possibly be ruined by a tipped bottle of hand soap or leaky tube of toothpaste. I went back to my favorite place and found these beauties in the Target Dollar Spot:

These Target Dollar Spot baskets aren’t as pretty as lined wooden baskets but they’ll work better and the price fit my budget much better as well.

I’ll use the clear rectangular bins I’m removing from the linen closet for another purpose (maybe they’ll be used in a second try at refrigerator organization). I’m always amazed at the storage and organizing solutions I find when I shop our home first. How do you decide on which organizing supplies to buy or not buy? Do you shop your home first for storage containers or anything else?

This post is linked to Frugal Fridays. Be sure and check it out over at Life As Mom for many other money-saving ideas!


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8 thoughts on “How to Save Money by Not Buying Storage Containers

  1. susan

    My mom is the queen of frugal containerizing (is that a word?) She takes free cardboard boxes (like the kind stuff ships from Amazon in) and cuts them down to the size she needs. She seals up the edges with duct tape to make a sturdy box that is the perfect size to fit the space.

    I’m always in AWE of her when she does this.

    I guess if you wanted them to look pretty you could always paint them. But seriously, I think organized is pretty enough.
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  2. Hannah

    I’m always looking for new ways to re-use something that I already have in my house. I do buy storage containers, but only with a certain purpose in mind.
    BTW, I was at Target on Tuesday and had that same inner argument with myself about the ADORABLE Hungry Caterpillar bags! I realized that I didn’t have a use for them and consoled myself by buying a pair of Hungry Caterpillar socks for each of the kids’ Christmas stockings this year.
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    1. Jean Post author

      Oh, I hope you kids love their socks! I really don’t know how I’m going to have the willpower to visit the dollar spot until that stuff is gone.

  3. Deanna

    The bandaid container is a great idea! Too cute!

    I used to be guilty of purchasing storage containers without a specific use at regular mass retailers, now unfortunately I purchase them at second hand stores 😉 Thankfully, there’s not usually too many that are in great condition. Ironically FILING supplies are always in like new condition 😉 Yes, I buy those.

    Sorry about your fancy fridge restructuring not working out. I’m sure you’ll find a nice use for those cute stacking bins.

    1. Jean Post author

      The bins were sent to G’s room to store “stuff” Oh, filing supplies are a weakness of mine. I never would have thought to search them out in a second hand store. Hmmm…


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