Garage clutter could be draining your wallet -

Is clutter draining your cash?

One thing is missing in most garages across America – our cars! They're parked in driveways or on the street because our garages are full of clutter.

Garage clutter can be overwhelming especially when you don't know where to even start organizing what's in there.

What you may not realize is that your garage could be draining hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars from your wallet.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 percent of homeowners with two-car garages don't park any cars in there and 32 percent parked only one.

America Now asked Professional Organizer Adele Mahan in Charlotte, NC, to help a homeowner who didn't have room to park his car in his garage.

"We've got our work cut out, don't we," Mahan said after taking a quick glance at all the boxes stacked up in the homeowner's garage.

Mahan says the garage is often a 'dumping ground' for the entire family.

"People just don't know what to do with their stuff and they get paralyzed with that," Mahan said.

Paralysis, she says, causes us to avoid tackling the problem of organizing the mess. Instead, we keep adding to it.

Sometimes, homeowners fall into the trap of buying lot of plastic containers and other pricey organizational products with good intentions of organizing what they have.

Mahan says that's one of the biggest mistakes most people make.

"It's a good idea to measure your space before you do that to make sure they fit right," she recommends.

Otherwise, you could wind up buying lots of plastic containers on the spur of the moment that won't even fit onto the shelves or in the space you have available.

Here are some other tips that will make it easier for you to tackle the domestic wasteland in your garage.

First, look at your calendar and commit to a date in which can organize the clutter.

"Tell yourself you're going to focus on it," Mahan said.

Next, stage a designated area with plastic bins or boxes clearly labeled -- sell, donate and recycle.

Ultimately, don't forget the throw-away rule.

"If you haven't used it in six months or a year, you're probably not going to use it," Mahan said.

Group similar items together like all your gardening tools.

Smaller items like automotive supplies, potting soil, and insecticides should go into labeled bins, but it's just as important to also label the spot on the shelf where those bins need to go. That serves as a designated parking space in case something is moved.

"Hopefully, that will help everyone in the household to continue to bring it back where it needs to be," Mahan said.

Plastic bins that open on one side are ideal because they allow you to see all your supplies at a glance and what you don't need to buy.

For example, we found several rolls of blue painter's tape that had never been used. That's about $30 in supplies the homeowner didn't need.

"So, you don't ever have to buy tape again, and you can save money," Mahan said.

Creativity is the key to organization.

"I love coming up with clever, inexpensive ways to store things," Mahan said.

A bungee cord is used to hang a rolled-up extension cord and clear, plastic kitchen bags can be used to organize items other than food.

Your garage didn't get cluttered overnight and it's unreasonable for you to expect it to be completely organized in a day.

"Start one step at a time, one section at a time, and take baby steps with it," Mahan said.

Instead of thinking of your garage as a black hole, think of it as a gold mine.

Parking your car in the garage will maintain its value, you'll likely get a tax write-off from any donations you make, you could make lots of money selling bigger items online or at a consignment shop, and you could save hundreds of dollars by not purchasing duplicate items you already have once you know where to find them. 

Additional Information:

In a survey conducted by the National Association of Professional Organizers, 96 percent of respondents felt that they could save at least some time each day if they were more organized at home, and 91 percent felt they could be more efficient at work if they were better organized. Additionally, 71 percent indicated their quality of life would improve with more organization. Price Waterhouse Cooper estimates that workers spend nearly 50% of their time looking for information because it is not organized properly. (Source: NAPO,

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

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