Cheap garage organization tips for practical people

The last place I want to spend a lot of money is making my messy garage beautiful.  I have so many things I want to do inside my house, that I hate to waste ONE DOLLAR on the garage space.  

If you agree that having garage storage bins that all match is BS, this post is for you.  Here are some ideas for organizing your garage without spending a lot.  Don’t get me wrong, I was tempted to add overhead storage racks and peg boards for my hand tools.  But then I asked myself, does this really make my life better? or does it just look good on social media?

I don’t care if the inside of my garage looks beautiful on social media.  There are only two things that matter in my garage.  First, do I know what’s there so I don’t waste money buying things I already have.  Second, do I plan to use what’s there.  There is no “just in case I need it” stored in my garage anymore.  

The Psychology of Storage

Here is a great example I bet you can probably identify with. First, I have two extension cords, one is 100 feet.  It’s so large that it has its own bin.  So I have a giant bin filled with a thing that I’ve not used in 5 years or more.    I also had a bin of Halloween decorations that my sister couldn’t bear to give away, but I haven’t used them in 5 years either.  I have no plan to use either of these things, so why am I coming up with storage solutions?

Second, I have a bike with rotted tires.  I haven’t ridden it in a long time.  The difference is I DO have plans to use it.  But I DON’T have plans to add an expensive wall bike rack to my store my unused bike.  I have so many things in my area that I can bike to that I want to hold onto it.  

It seems that the more extra storage space we have, the more plastic bins full of stuff we jam into it.  And then we have to make all the junk we store look pretty.  Do we really?  

I think the magic is in storing LESS.  Don’t use up all of the available space as a dumping ground.  The best part about a small garage is that I can’t fit much stuff.  There literally isn’t enough floor space.  

Practical Storage That’s Free

There are ways to organize the things inside your garage without spending anything.  Here are practical Do’s and Don’ts.    

  • Don’t keep everything in a bin.  Do Use cardboard boxes to store items if you don’t have plastic storage bins around.  Use a sharpie to write what’s inside each box.  I use both, cardboard and plastic bins.
use cardboard boxes
  • Don’t hang up peg boards or any tool rack on the garage wall.  These are designed to keep all of your tools visible, but that’s not required.  Do keep tools in a bucket is a great idea for easy access.   
organize your tool box
  • Don’t mount everything to the wall, it takes a lot of time and it’s overkill.  Do stack bulky items like large garden tools in a corner.  This is a perfect solution and it’s a budget-friendly option.  
stack in the corner
  • DO stack heavy to light.  If you don’t have shelves, just use organized piles.  You don’t need expensive garage cabinets.  Heavier items like sports equipment underneath lighter items like holiday decorations.  We never like to show anything “stacked”, but this was how we organized before Instagram told us that storage had to be pretty.
  • Do put what you use most at eye level.  If you have freestanding shelving units put small tools and cleaning supplies in the middle.  This gives you quick access to the most used things.   Put seasonal items like your Christmas tree up high.
garage storage at eye level
  • Don’t keep leftover paint that is old or you don’t even know what you used it for.  Take paint to be recycled.  
  • Don’t use baskets.  I don’t know about you, but baskets are really great for collecting dust.  They are not good for outdoor storage.
  • Do put similar items in one location.  This tip will save you more money than any other thing.  

The best practice is not to have a picture-perfect garage.  I just want everything to have a place.  I’m tired of seeing images all over social media that don’t reflect what a REAL garage looks like.  It’s the same as a pantry.  

Do I really care if all of my baking supplies are in matching clear containers? Amazon loves this but it’s not a great way to spend money.  

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