Guest Blog – Organizing Extras: What’s Your Backup Plan
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Guest Blogger: Darla DeMorrow, Certified Professional Organizer ®.


Copyright Deposit Photos There are all sorts of reasons you might need to get organized. One of the most common is going through piles, stacks, and bins of extra personal and household product that you have “just in case”. These backups usually don’t have emotional meaning for us. They are extras that we’ve gotten so that we won’t be without a particular type of product.

In theory, it makes sense. We usually stock up for three reasons:

1. We got a good deal on it. There was a coupon or a sale, and how could we pass it up? Some people specialize in extreme couponing, but most of us don’t.

2. We feel like it’s a critical product that we can’t live without, and there is no amount of this product that could ever be “too much”. That’s toilet paper for me.

3. We can never seem to find it when we need it, and so we ALWAYS buy extra when we’re in the store, no matter what.

We buy and store all sorts of backups like:


paper goods

clothes (for sizes we were or will be)

detergent and cleaning supplies)

paper and office supplies

personal supplies, like shampoo

pet food

This stockpiling of backups, however, doesn’t actually make a lot of sense most of the time, and can actually cause more problems than the calamities that we are trying to avoid.

None of us are in danger of running out of anything critical, with the possible exceptions of medications. Really, most of us can get to a major shopping center within a few minutes. Most of us are stockpiling with no clear plan for why we are doing it. Unlike”preppers” (someone who plans for end-of-the-world doomsday scenarios) who have clear plans for what they need, how long it would last them in dire situations, that’s not what most of us are doing when we stock up.

I often play a little game with myself and my shampoo. When the bottle is 3/4 empty, I start making mental plans to replace it. But in reality, that quarter of the bottle might last me another month or so. I might get to Target six times before I actually run out. And when it does run out, I spend I couple of days using up my trial sizes before I’ll finally go buy new. See? The disaster never really happens.

There are many benefits of not keeping lots of backups for readily available items:

Spending less money throughout the year

Opening up storage space in your home

Having the option to try new products as they come out on the market, instead of waiting until you use up your stockpile

Having less waste, as product won’t expire, rust, or fall apart. Even things that seem shelf stable, like laundry detergent, has a shelf life.

Virtually eliminating the risk that an older product will make you sick or harm you. Older products can breed bacteria, which can lead to infection. This is certainly true of makeup and personal care products as well, especially if they are partially used. Here’s a good list of 77 surprising expiration dates.

So the next time you are tempted to pick up another item at the store “just in case”, play along with me and think about your backup plan. It might surprise you how long you can go without adding to your stockpile, and how much money you can save in the bargain.

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Product Highlight – Over Toilet Pocket Organizer

There is no denying that bathrooms can get quite cluttered – there are just so many things that are used and needed in this tiny little room. If you want to clean up the clutter and maximize available space, while ensuring that everything is within easy reach, the Over Toilet Pocket Organizer is the perfect choice.

We have all gone to use the bathroom, only to find that we need something that is just out of reach. This pocket organizer makes sure you will always have everything you need within arm’s reach, including multiple rolls of toilet paper.

This polyester organizer provides ample space to store magazines, newspapers, and extra toilet paper, or you can use the various pockets to hold feminine hygiene products and other necessities that need to be within easy reach when using the toilet. There is also a small pocket that is perfect for holding your cell phone, which protects against unfortunate and expensive drops into the water. The pockets are also plenty large enough to accommodate wet wipes and diapers if you want to keep them available in the bathroom.

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Guest Blog – Value In Clutter

Guest Blogger: Darla DeMorrow, Certified Professional Organizer ®.


Question : I live in my family home that’s been in my family for generations. The things from the past are crowding me out. I’d be happy to pare down and get rid of many things, if I weren’t afraid that one or two of those trinkets might actually be worth something. I wonder if there might be value in that clutter. What should I do?

Answer : You are doing the right thing by asking the question and doing your research. I chuckled with your comment about “values” versus what people are willing to pay. In general, not many things are as valuable as they used to be because everyone has access to everything now. On the other hand, some things that used to be hard to find buyers for can sell easily since they can find a market on the internet. I myself was looking at “vintage” scratch and sniff stickers on site last night. Who would have thought?

If you believe that some of your things might truly be valuable, get them appraised. A professional appraiser will research one piece at a time, or a number of items. She does not buy anything, but will give you a documented support for what things are likely to be worth. She may arrange to have valuable items auctioned, but she generally does not take possession. Appraiser fees are very reasonable, especially if it puts your mind at ease.

If you are ready to part with your things, take pictures of the items or the entire room and show them to an auctioneer in your area. Unlike an appraiser, they will take possession in order to sell things. Each auctioneer works differently, and may specialize in certain types of buyers. If one auctioneer isn’t interested in your “good junk,” then try another.

Don’t overlook the obvious, eBay and CraigsList are wonderful tools to move those items that might have little or next to no real value. If you are able to take digital pictures and write a description, then you can make money from things that are just clutter in your own home. If you aren’t sure how to do this, you probably have a friend who will show you how, or watch a YouTube video like this one. Unfortunately, there are very few eBay sellers left, because there just isn’t much margin in that business. But for the average person, it’s absolutely amazing what will sell. For instance, I sold some sewing machine parts on behalf of a customer. They only sold for $1, but the buyer paid for shipping. It was more important to the client that the item get used and not end up in a landfill, so it was a good choice for her.

Finally, remember that even donated goods have value, and you can take that value off your tax return if documented properly. Be sure to keep a list of goods you are donating, perhaps take a picture if it is a large amount, and staple it to your donation receipt offered by the charity who accepts your goods. You’ll use this list to estimate the value of your donated goods, which turn into cash when you file your taxes.

If all of this sounds like a lot of work, please reach out to a National Association of Professional Organizers ( member, who can work with you to go through your things and have the most qualified person properly evaluate the value in your clutter.

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