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The Cost of Disorganization…


We have a linen closet at the end of our hallway. I tried to keep it organized but every time I reached for something, I knocked a bottle of shampoo over or hit a bottle of hairspray. After a while, I just threw things in and slammed the door before something fell out.

Um, this is what it looked like. Please don’t tell my mother.


I didn’t realize this disorganization was costing me money until I decided to spend $20 on little clear boxes from Walmart and organize the closet over the three day weekend.

I found, among many other things, two thermometers (last time I checked, I only need one), 6 boxes of daytime cold medicine (4 expired), 4 boxes of Benadryl (3 expired), 3 bottles of pain reliever (1 expired).

My disorganization has made many pharmaceutical companies very happy. Last time I checked, I need the money far more than they do.

No more. Here’s the closet now.


Please make me feel better. Misery loves company. Tell me you have a messy, wasteful closet too.


  • Reply Denise |

    You are not alone!! I clean our linen closet every couple months and it saddens me at the amount of things that go to waste!

  • Reply Janelle |

    Next time you need plastic bins go to a dollar store. You can buy those 8 in the picture for only $8 instead of $20!

    Good job on the organizing. I love to organize!

  • Reply Melanie |

    eh…yeah, can’t show you my closet. We can’t let our cat get in there or we’ll never find her again. A huge purge is definitely in order!

  • Reply Nancy |

    That’s a great idea! I did that several months ago and was amazed at how many bottles of lotion I own…I probably have enough stocked up for the next few years..lol Another great place to organize is the pantry! I found that I had ingredients to make all kinds of things without going to the store!

  • Reply mom |

    Mom here. So you decided to do a little organizing huh? (Why couldn’t you have gotten into one of those cleaning/ organizing moods when you lived at home?) I must say daughter dear, it looks rather nice. Since you know that I don’t pry or peek, your secret mess was always safe with me. However, now that you have voluntarily opened up those closet doors, I must ask…. are any of those towels mine?

    Love, mom

  • Reply Julie Bestry |

    As a professional organizer, I can tell you that far more people have closets that look like yours did than like those in magazines. Far, far more.

    I’m always so happy to see how giddy my residential clients get when they see how much money they save by getting organized. In your case, you will now eliminate buying duplicates of things you already have; other people find that organization helps them take advantage of opportunities (rebates, tax refunds, early-bird pricing, etc.), while still others appreciate the value of saved time.

    Congrats and keep up the good work. I’ll warn you…the organizing bug can be contagious!

  • Reply junie |

    I just cleaned out my pantry. Talk about waste! So many yummy treats were past their “best used by” dates! The lesson I learned is not to keep things for a special occasion. Let every day be a special occasion. Thank you for always being an inspiration!

  • Reply Dee |


    I probably own three or four pairs of tweezers and nail clippers because every time I need one, I can’t find them and buy another pair!

    I’ve also bought extra batteries and antihistamine because I was disorganized.

  • Reply brooklynchick |

    Oh, I could give that closet a run for its money! I have an entire STUDY filled with boxes of crap. I bought pretty boxes at the Container Store (ugh, over-priced) so at least the boxes of crap would LOOK good.

    Most people have a drawer, a closet, a garage, a room like this…good for you for tackling it!

  • Reply emmi |

    We keep using OTC meds until they get more than two years after the expiration. No bad effects from that yet. But yeah, owning something but not being able to find it costs real money.

  • Reply Lynn |

    Thanks for the kick in the butt. I need to go get bins for my closet. Mine looks very similar to yours(before not after!). Everytime I try to get a towel, I knock over a bottle of shampoo and it drives me crazy. My problem is that my husband works for Johnson & Johnson and we get to buy products from their internet store pretty cheap so I keep stocking up on things (especially Neutrogena stuff) I don’t need. I really need to figure out what is in there and throw out stuff that I bought just to try because it was cheap. Ugh!

    BTW, I clicked on your mom’s site to see whether or not it really was your mom (she is definitely as witty as you are!) and she does some amazing stuff. I wish I could sew like that.

  • Reply sandra |

    Haha!!! Is that really your Mom? Love your writing – I have MANY closets that look like picture #1 – including cardboard BOXES of toiletries. Some are so old a museum would probably take them!

    Good Job!

  • Reply Eddie |

    …happens all the time, but at least our 3 closets are tiny and easily re-organized.

    We call it spring cleaning! Makes for a good chuckle at the oddities we sometimes find.

  • Reply Melanie |

    Your closet looks awesome! The last time I cleaned out my closet, I found a lot of the same things, but I didn’t want to dump all my old medicines carelessly. I found a place to get rid of them, so they wouldn’t go into landfills or down the sink:
    I hope there’s one near you!


  • Reply Caitlin @ ClutterCubed |

    Way to go!
    Disorganization can really cost a lot, as you’ve proven, when you buy extras of something because you can’t find the one you already own.

    I also agree with Janelle – I get all my little organizing bins from the dollar store. They work just as well for a fraction of the price.

  • Reply JusFrugal |

    I did have a few messy closets like that and I finally broke down and organized them. I threw away my share of expired cold meds too. And gave away some things because I just had TOO much in the stockpile. Its such a great feeling to have things organized, and easy to find, and yes, a moneysaver!

  • Reply Claire in CA, USA |

    I can’t believe I came here for a break while organizing my spice cabinet to see this post! I was getting frustrated, because almost all my spices had ended up on the counter-top instead of inside the cabinet. I was just thinking I should get some little containers to separate them somehow. Alphabetically? I don’t know. But, I’m headed to the dollar store to look for something to help. Thanks for the tip!

    Oh, and I don’t have a messy closet anymore. I don’t have one! My dh made it into a utility closet/toilet paper and toiletries closet, and I lost 2/3 of the space. I scaled back drastically, so now I don’t have a big stockpile of shampoo or soap. I keep it pretty neat, which is probably the only place in my house that is neat.

  • Reply Mar |

    I still need to do the toiletries part of our rather large linen closet, but the sheets, towels, and table linens have stayed organized since I did some purging a few weeks ago. We gave away about as much as we kept, especially since we no longer have a double bed and all those linens could go. I hope to finally do the toiletries part this weekend.

    Of course, about 10 minutes after I was finished with the closet, I heard a noise and found that the cat liken the new streamlining because there was now a beautiful spot for him to lay on top of the towels. Fortunately, the bath mat was on top of them and since he lays on it when it’s on the floor, I just make sure it’s always on top of the towels, just in case.

  • Reply Stef |

    Mine looks exactly the same, only worse…and I’m sure your mom knows since she stayed here while we were away! Glad to hear it’s not just me! You inspire me! 🙂

  • Reply Alcoholic Millionaire |

    I totally agree. Being organized can save you a lot of money. I’ve recently bought a new pack of blank cd’s, only to clean out my computer desk area and find a dozen or so blank disks.
    Organizing the fridge is another money saver. If you know what you have to eat than you will waste less.
    the list goes on and on…

  • Reply Beks |

    Whew! I’m not alone!

    Julie – You are so right. I’m eyeing up my pantry to organize again!

    Dee – I have THREE pairs of tweezers! I feel you on that one!

    Lynn – Yup, it’s really my mom. She’s far more talented than I am. She is very skilled in quilting and it shows.

    Claire – I tried to organize my spice cabinet and gave up. I threw everything in a box in the garage and somehow, it works. ; )

  • Reply Beks |

    Oh, and mom, yes. Some of those towels are yours. Um… MOST of those towels are yours. Stealing towels from you is an art.

  • Reply mom |

    I knew it!! I had no idea where all of my great beach towels went either.. even though a clearer picture is now emerging! I have come to the conclusion that all of you dear children have gone shopping in my pantry, my linen closets, my freezer, my bedrooms, etc. My guess is that all of you are hoping that dad and/or I have checked out mentally prematurely. The last straw was when I saw one of my night stands, from your sister’s old room, in Michael’s bedroom at his house…. and he won’t even give it back! 😉 All I can say is that it’s a good thing that I love you guys as much as I do. Here’s hoping that I don’t check out prematurely on that! Hugs, mom

  • Reply Sarah |

    Long, long ago I forced us to adopt a bucket system for our medications and such in our linen closet. That doesn’t mean that it won’t ever go missed but it definitely helps. Now, if I could just do that with the pantry….

  • Reply Karen Foster |

    Great job on the organizing! And the comments are awesome….if your readers come up with tons of un-opened lotions/shampoos/deodorants from their purging to pass them on to homeless shelters or hospice care in their areas.

    I just did this and it was very fulfilling.

  • Reply Stephanie |

    I just wanted to fill you in, you did the best thing organizing your closet. I’m in the midst of paying down a HUGE amount of debt and doing everything possible to do it. I made an inventory list of every closet in my house. As I use things I cross them off. SEriuously, I’d buy cereal because it was on sale just to add to the 10 boxes in the basement. I did a list too of mty kids clothes and what they may need for school. This is my downfall, clothes for the kids. But after going through everything I was shocked, my kids don’t need a thing until summer of 2011. Yep you read that right. I’ll resale their clothes and apply it to my debt. It helps to be a bit organized. CONGRATS.

  • Reply Erin |

    It looks so much better now. My only concern if this were my closet would be the towels. I face all my towels with the rounded nice side facing out.

    I love organization!

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