Food & Fitness

The Living Healthy in the Real World Guide to Cleaning & Organizing, Part Nine: Budgeting

This is the final part of our Cleaning & Organizing mini-series! Be sure to check out our previous installments:

Part One: Why Should I Clean?

Part Two: Starting Fresh

Part Three: Dealing with Housemates

Part Four: Cleaning and Organizing the Bathroom

Part Five: Creating a Welcoming Living Space

Part Six: Working in your Kitchen

Part Seven: Making the Bedroom a Relaxing Area

Part Eight: Storage Options

Part Nine: Budgeting

We already did an entire mini-series on Budgeting, but we didn’t really discuss budgeting in terms of the home specifically during that six-part Guide. The sistertraveller has returned at last from Southeast Asia (welcome home sistertraveller!), and that means that she is taking back all of her belongings that I’ve held onto for her these past nine months. This includes her bed that I’ve been sleeping in, her coffee table and chair that have been my living room furniture, and all of her dishes, pots, pans, and measuring cups that I have been making use of in the kitchen.

She moved everything this past weekend while I was off on another backcountry camping trip with the boyfriend and his mother and father dears, so I am in need of an emergency shopping trip! Especially because I don’t even have a couch that I can sleep on now that she has taken the bed. Oh dear.

Here are a few tips and tricks for budgeting when it comes to saving money on furniture, cleaning supplies, and organizers:

1) Teamwork. People accumulate a lot of stuff over the years that they really have no use for. Ask them if they have anything that is just taking up space in their home. This is a win-win situation: the piece of furniture is off of their hands and they get a free place to store it (your home), and you get a piece of furniture without paying a penny, seeing as you will be returning the item. Talk to your friends and family about it; there is bound to be someone who is willing to lend you furniture, at least for a little while. Also suggest the idea of working together to clean and organize: tackle one place at a time and be sure to take plenty of breaks and to serve refreshments to make the experience that much more enjoyable!

2) Borrow and use second-hand.* I love antiques, but unfortunately they tend to be just as expensive as (if not more expensive than) new furniture. However, there are many second-hand stores which sell nice things for a cheap price. Go window-shopping at more high-end boutiques to get ideas for what you would like, and then search at less expensive shops for something more within your price range. You can also raid your grandparents or parents home for their old things. The mother dear has given me her mother’s silverware set so that I don’t have to go out and buy cutlery, and she has also given me half a dozen of my grandmother’s bone china teacups.

3) DIY. If you are handy, “doing it yourself” is a great option. You can make all kinds of furniture or organizers just with some scraps of fabric, a few pieces of wood, and some nails. At least, that is what people tell me; not being handy myself, I have no idea if that is true 🙂 Even if you don’t know how to build things, you can still take the DIY attitude in terms of being creative. As we have mentioned before, baking soda and vinegar are fantastic ways to clean items. They cost pennies, compared with fancy household cleaners you can buy at the store. You also don’t need special cloths to clean; instead use old rags that you can wash and re-use again.

4) Use the Internet and the Library. If you are interested in learning more about feng shui or if you want to hear other tips about the best ways to clean, make use of all the free information at your fingertips! Check out library books about building a balanced home and you will save anywhere from $10 to $40 right there.

5) Go Roy Cohen-style and really reduce clutter (and save tons of money) by living in an unfurnished place! While I don’t expect that many people are prepared to do it, I love the concept and I think it’s a wonderfully freeing idea. Remember that less is more. Don’t be afraid to let go and get rid of things. You can even sell them to make a tidy profit.

6) Think twice, buy once. Really think about items for your home before you purchase them. Put them on hold at the store if need be to let yourself mull over it for a day. Too many spontaneous purchases aren’t going to be of use to anyone!

Cleaning and organizing can be done alone, but don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it: sharing ideas with others is one of the best ways to get a handle on a messy, cluttered home.

Have I missed anything in this mini-series? Add your suggestions and advice in the comments section below!

*Do not take mattresses, couches, or anything similar from the dumpster or a back lane. The most common reason why people leave things out there is because of bedbugs. You definitely do not want those in your home! Borrow or buy second-hand from people that you know.


  1. fd

    i would check out what furniture people are selling off in quite well off neighbourhoods. my parents and all their friends are now quite sick of alot of the excellent quality industrial design 60s/70s furniture they bought when they were young and trendy. now its coming back into fashion and i’ve found amazing dining room table and chairs and coffee table as well as leather armchairs for less than they would have cost me at ikea and with much better craftsmanship. (this is a take on getting second hand, but a little more targetted).

  2. Emergefit

    When I have owned furniture — and I will again (someday), it’s been a lot of antiques — yes, they can be expensive. But most of the one’s I have owned have come from friends and family wanting to get rid of them. I’m always amazed that they don’t see the potential or the character and charm in them. They have often been free!

    Oh, and here’s one for the guys: If you shave in the shower, don’t waste money on shaving cream; use shampoo. Smoother, works much better, doesn’t take much, and it’s already there and paid for.

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