Did you stop by Clever Girl Organizing’s page to see how she recently helped me organize my garage? (You will see a lot more detailed photos of my formerly hive-inducing garage in her post.) It’s wonderful to be friends with a professional organizer and get a discount on her services, so I wondered whether it would be worth it to pay full price for her help. Here are my calculations, to help you decide whether a professional organizer is worth the expense for you.
The hourly rate for a professional organizer will vary based on location and their experience, but you should expect to pay $50-$100 per hour. Our big garage cleanout took 5 hours. That would cost $250-$500, depending on who you hire.
There are a lot of intangible benefits to having an organized garage, which Kathy mentioned in her post. There are also some quantifiable benefits to cleaning it out. For one, I found some missing pieces that allowed me to use certain items again. I also was able to identify more yard sale and consignment items, which will put a few dollars in my pocket. Cleaning out the garage not only will save me almost $350, but it helps me make a few bucks in the future because we set up “outgoing” areas. Thanks to working with a professional organizer, I have an area to store the yard sale and consignment items that will go out the door, box for books I plan to sell or donate, a shelf for collecting empty beer bottles to return, a space for collecting toner cartridges to recycle, and a donation box that will help me get things out of my home and into the hands of someone else who could use them.
Money we saved by having a professional organizer’s help:
- Bookshelf pegs: $21.99. When we moved in, we lost some pegs to our cheap bookscases, which meant that instead of 3 shelves, we could only use 2. Now that the pegs have been found, I don’t have to go out and get another bookcase. So, it saved me $20.
- Costume: $15. My son thrashed his dinosaur costume last Halloween. The tail was muddy and split open, with stuffing falling out. I couldn’t bear to just toss it in the garbage, so I pulled out the stuffing with the goal to repurpose it into next year’s Christmas ornament gifts. Once I pulled out the stuffing, though, I realized how easy it would be to toss it in the laundry and see if the mud would come out. Voila! The mud came out. So, I re-stuffed the tail and sewed it back up during a marathon Dexter-watching session. The dino costume is destined for next fall’s consignment sale, where I’ll price it for $15 and I think it will actually sell for that much, if not $7.50 on discount day.
- Toy Storage Bins: $30. I was eyeing additional storage units for my son’s toys until we were able to clean out the one I had downstairs and move it into his playspace. It was storing toiletries and office supplies in the garage, but with the bigger shelves and better organization on the shelves, I could fit all of those items onto the shelves and free up the toy storage bins.
- Toner Recycling: $2. The cleanout uncovered a used toner cartridge that I’d been meaning to recycle with Staples for $2 in Staples Rewards.
- Grill Brush:
$6$0. Oops. Found that too late. We’d already bought a replacement.
- Food: $25 (approximately). In the stockpile cleanout process, I checked expiration dates and discovered pastas, soups, and cereals that were close to their expiration dates and in need of being eaten or tossed. I saved about $25 in groceries by moving those items to the forefront in our pantry cleanout.
- Insurance: $250 (potentially). If only I had the car in the garage during Superstorm Sandy two years ago, I wouldn’t have paid our $250 deductible to get it repainted where branches fell and scraped the paint. Besides that, those of you who live in cold or rainy climates can probably appreciate how awesome it is to go from your home to your car without having to set foot outside. I hope to never have to clean crusted ice and snow off of my car in the morning again. It also allows the plow to clear our driveway much more effectively than if I have a car parked in the way.
Other Scenarios where you might find that hiring a professional organizer will pay for itself:
- Selling your Home: This is the scenario where hiring a professional will give you the most bang for your buck. Bringing someone in to help you cut down on the clutter and make your home look organized will result in higher and more offers on your home.
- Moving soon: During a move, there’s nothing worse than wasting time, space, boxes, and back muscles on moving stuff that you no longer need or want. Trust me. Before our last move, we had a basement full of things I had forgotten about and a moving truck that wasn’t big enough to fit them. Because we were moving 3 hours away, we didn’t have time to go back for all the
stuffjunk, and had to rent another moving truck the next weekend, in order to get rid of it all. I would have much preferred sorting through it in advance, having a yard sale a month before the move, and disposing of the things that weren’t worth moving. It will save you money in moving and storage costs.
- Items you no longer need: If you have a closet full of stuff that you never use, but hope to use, a professional organizer can help you make the decision to keep, sell, or toss. Potential payout will vary, depending on the amount and type of stuff (one old dining room set could get you $500, whereas a pile of unwanted CD’s might only get you $5). Stay tuned for my upcoming series of posts about Turning your Clutter into Cash, and you will see just how much you can get for your unwanted items if you find the right place to get rid of them.
- Sentimental items: If you’re struggling with what to do with past birthday cards or outgrown clothes or a sentimental earrings that have lost their mate, a professional organizer is going to have suggestions for you that will reduce the amount of space the items take up. The payoff here varies by the value of your home’s square footage. If you clear out a closet full of stuff that you’re holding onto but don’t know what to do with, how much is that closet space worth to you?
- Storage units: If you rent a storage unit to store items that you rarely use, a professional organizer can help you quantify whether you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Like your finances, once you organize it and see what’s taking up all the space, you may find that 50% of your storage unit is taken up with “good boxes” that are useful for an eventual move. Yet, people are always giving away free moving boxes after they move. You can even find piles of free boxes at UHaul. There is no sense in storing something easily replaced for less than what you’re paying to store it. Again, the payout will vary based on how much you’re paying per month for your storage unit.
- Workout Space: If you have exercise equipment you can’t use because it’s holding up your dry cleaning, because your closet can’t fit any more clothes, because it’s storing boxes you haven’t unpacked since your last move, then you may need some organizing expertise. Most of all, you may be able to stop paying for the gym every month if you can use your home equipment. Or, once it’s unburied, you could probably make a few bucks from selling it on Craigslist.
If cleaning out will save you money, your next question is probably: Is it worth it to hire someone to help?
You know I like to DIY whenever it will save me money, so of course I thought I could do this without Clever Girl’s assistance. Honestly, though, if I could do it on my own: Why hadn’t I don’t it already? Right? My garage has looked like that — or worse — for almost two years.
Here is what Clever Girl did for me that I couldn’t do for myself, and couldn’t ask any other friend to help me to do:
- Hand out some tough love. Kathy encouraged me to acknowledge that, yes, my ski pants from high school may still have marks on them from where I hit the plastic gates in my race to last place at the bottom of the hill (I was not a great racer, but it was a lot of fun). But no, I did not have to keep them if they didn’t fit anymore. In my defense, they still fit until I had my son! But they don’t fit now and I split them the last time I tried to fit into them. (See? I still have a hard time letting them go!)
- Share creative ideas for getting rid of stuff without wasting it. When faced with a box of wedding and birthday cards I’d accumulated over the years, Kathy suggested that I send them to St. Jude’s card recycling program. I hate creating garbage, so that was a good solution for me. She also knew of a place that could recycle my shredder. Although, if I needed a new one I would have traded it in at Staples for a $20 credit. 😉
- Get into the nitty gritty details. At one point, Kathy and I were sitting on the cold floor in the garage, sorting out all the random screws, nails, bolts, nuts, allen wrenches, etc. that were in my shoebox of random hardware. It took less than 20 minutes, but I kept thinking, “I can’t believe she’s bothering with this little random thing!” A friend who was just helping me get organized might not resist my suggestion to “don’t worry about that, it’s not a big deal.” Not Kathy! And in the process, we discovered the bookshelf pegs that gave me a shelf back.
- Suggest I do “just 20 minutes more.” Seriously. I was ready to quit for lunch and she said, “just 20 more minutes!” Now, any friend who was helping out of the kindness of their hearts (or a free lunch) may have been perfectly happy to call it quits at lunchtime. Not Kathy. She knew that 20 minutes would turn into 45, which led to us clearing out underneath my table and storing those boxes on one of the new shelving units. From there, it was an easy next step to empty out the toy storage bin that was holding toothbrushes, pens, razors, and more — and putting that toy storage where it belonged: In my son’s playspace. Minus the razors.
- Repurpose found items. When we came across a set of over-the-door hooks that I had tried to store in a box, I set them aside to be stored in a different box when I found one big enough. Kathy put them over the door to the laundry room and when we wondered what to do with our backpacks, she hung them on the hooks. Now, I can save the hooks in case we need them in our next apartment, but we can also use them in the meantime. It’s that kind of resourcefulness that sets a professional organizer apart from someone who is just helping out.
- Tell you when you’re wrong. Not in harsh words of course, but if your professional organizer is telling you it’s OK to save your son’s crib for the next baby, it feels great to know that you’re not a hoarder. So, you listen when she suggests that saving all those “good boxes” for your eventual move is really counter-productive. How many of your friends can you count on to disagree with you when the time comes to decide between keeping or tossing an item?
There you have it: I’m sold! I don’t think I could have paid for Clever Girl’s services right now because our budget is extremely tight, but if I were in different circumstances — like selling my home or moving or currently renting a storage unit — I’m sure her help would literally pay for itself. In fact, if I had hired her before our last move, her help would have saved us money. We would not have rented a second truck and wasted an entire day moving our junk from one house to another.
If you’re interested in finding a professional organizer in your area, check out the National Organization Professionals Association website. I assure you: The site is very well organized 😉
Have you ever hired a professional organizer? Are you in need of one?