There are some common mistakes people make when they begin to
get organized. Some of them are relatively minor, an old habit to
break or a new habit to form that doesn’t seem very important, but
actually has a big impact on serenity and order. Others are larger
issues, like compulsive behaviors that seem like they would be
helping in the organizing effort but are actually detrimental to
it. Today, we’ll look at two biggies: over-buying and


Over-buying is usually a mistake made by a compulsive or
impulsive shopper, whose shopping habit has created the
disorganization in the first place. When a compulsive shopper
decides to get organized, too often the first thing they do is go
to Target or get on the computer and purchase a bunch of organizing
supplies. Without a plan, the supplies just sit there and add to
the chaos.

Another symptom of over-buying is buying in bulk. It might seem
like thinking ahead and stocking up on paper towels and chicken
soup is a great idea, but unless you have the storage room and use
the items regularly, it makes more sense to just buy what you need
and maybe one or two extra. Decide if giving up storage space is
worth the savings, especially if you are also spending money on gas
to drive to a bulk store out of town.


On the flip side, under-buying is not as common a problem but it
can cause disorganization. When someone is not willing to invest in
the organizing process the results are mediocre. For example,
making do with containers that don’t really work or a filing
cabinet that tips over every time it’s opened makes putting things
away a drag. When a task is difficult or unpleasant, we tend to
avoid it. The right tools make organizing easier  — and even

Also, I’m amazed when people continue to live with things that
are broken or constantly malfunction, another symptom of
under-buying. I certainly don’t advocate tossing something out if
it is only slightly flawed, but if a piece of equipment constantly
lets you down, get rid of it.

My grandmother spent 30 years sewing on a machine that never
maintained proper tension on the bobbin, which meant that every few
stitches she had to stop and adjust the tension. Life is too short
for this kind of frustration, especially when the activity is
supposed to be fun or creative but ends up being stressful and

When my grandmother handed the Singer down to me (and bought
herself a snazzy new sewing machine), I tried to make it work. I
wanted to be as diligent and frugal as she was, but learning to sew
on such a lemon was a horrible experience akin to learning piano on
an instrument that won’t stay in tune. Dumping it felt like a
victory. Remember — your time has a value, too.

Look at where you might be overbuying or underbuying and try to
balance it out. If you find yourself buying more clothes than you
can find room for, maybe it’s time to stop visiting the outlets and
start looking at spending a bit on closet design or a new dresser.
If you can’t leave Home Depot without a new power tool, try
focusing on purchasing a work bench or better shelving in the
garage to organize your stash.

Giving yourself organized access to what you have often prevents
overbuying. Shopping your own cupboards and closets can be as much
fun as trolling the stores—and far healthier for your finances.