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Consumer Reports offers cheaper means of organization

Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 11:58 am

Clever organizing solutions don't have to cost a lot. ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports, recently featured cheap organizing finds that cost less than $5 and spotlighted standout sites offering storage solutions for any budget.

“There's no reason to break the bank to get organized,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “Shoppers can find great bargains on a variety of storage items at dollar stores and other discounters.”

Here are five cheap organizing finds that can keep items in order around the home or on the go:

•Car visor CD holder, $1. Be on the lookout for items with handy pockets such as CD holders designed to slip over visors in a car – most dollar stores still sell them. They are great for storing and keeping small items including phones, cameras and cords together in a bag or suitcase.

•Charging valet, $4. A simple charging station can be found in an odd-lot shop for a lot less than those available at other retailers. Having a centrally located place in the house is a great way to keep track of phones and other gadgets when they need to be juiced up.

•Foam kneel pad, $2. This gardening staple is a less expensive alternative to fabric-covered bulletin boards designed for hanging jewelry. It's easy to hang and is a space-saving way to organize necklaces and earrings.

•Plastic bins, $1. Bins of all shapes, sizes and colors are easy to find at dollar stores and can be used for storing toys, crafts and more. Measure the shelves on which they will be placed before buying.

•Plastic tote caddy, $1. Buy a bunch and use them as grab-and-go caddies for all kinds of household tasks, such as cleaning and gardening, and keep another in the bathroom for toiletries.

Sometimes, spending more on specialty organizing items can be worth the investment. Here are five sites to shop and what they are best for:

•BedBathandBeyond.com offers a wide selection of under-cabinet shelving, including products made for pots, pans and lids.

•ContainerStore.com has a huge (though often pricey) selection of tidying products – organizing products that can't be found here probably don't exist.

•Organize.com is best for specialty organizers for hats, shoes and accessories.

•SeeJaneWork.com features cute, stylish desk accessories and other home-office storage.

•Solutions.com is a great source for space-saving shelving and furniture as well as garage and attic organizers.

Your organizing problems solved

•What is the best way to store sewing supplies? Storing like things together keeps craft items from getting messy and all mixed up.

•What can I use to organize shoes? Try clear shoe boxes that let you see what's inside. The uniform size keeps everything looking neat.

•What's the best way to sort “keeper” mail? Corral the mail the minute it comes into the house. Once a week, sort what you need to save.

•How can I organize my spices? A bunch of spices can make your pantry look cluttered and keep you from finding what you need quickly. Store spices in a drawer instead.

•What's the best way to organize and store offseason clothing and make the spring-to-fall switches easier? If you're really tight on space, contact your local dry cleaner to see whether it offers a seasonal clothing storage. Some do, for a fee. Or carve out some room in the basement. Use a dehumidifier to help keep out dampness, and enclose garments in a breathable canvas bag or in plastic bins with a cedar block to help keep them fresh.