This time of the year makes me think of one of the many cycles in our individual lives that we perpetuate ourselves, namely buying new stuff, storing old stuff then chucking out old stuff to make room for the new old stuff because we just bought or were given a lot more new stuff.

The beginning of the New Year is a great time to contemplate what we should sell, give away, recycle or, failing any of the former, toss onto the scrap heap. For the things we really need to keep, storage can be a costly problem, but it doesn't need to be.

One of the simplest ideas is under bed storage. The dollar store version is a 42" x 18" x 6" vinyl storage bag with a zippered top and pull handles. It isn't impervious to nicks or tears, but it will keep the dust off of your sweaters if all it's doing is sitting under a bed 24-7. At a buck a piece, you could buy several of these fold-able containers for the same price as one hard plastic under bed storage unit, which costs $9.97 for a 32 1/8" x 19 1/8" x 7" size with wheels that I found at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart also stocks a three piece vinyl and fabric storage set for about $10 that includes an under bed bag that's 42 x 8 x 18" big and two sweater bags 15 1/2" x 13 1/2" x 3" each.

Space bags are a great idea that promise to protect against moisture, mildew, moths, odours and allergens. They close like a zip-lock bag on one end and then you use your vacuum cleaner to suck the air out and flatten 'em , thereby gaining a lot more storage space. My local dollar store has one that's 33 1/2" x 19 3/4" and flat like a zip-lock bag. I tried it out and it works great. Pretty neat for a buck.

You could store quite a few out-of-season clothes in one of these. My local Wal-Mart sells space bags in sets of two -- large and jumbo -- for $18.87. I couldn't see sizing on the packaging but it says they are good for storing comforters, blankets, pillows, sweaters and jackets, so these would probably be your best bet for storing bulky items.

If you don't want to shell out the money for a jumbo space bag, dollar stores also have zippered fabric comforter bags with vinyl windows in them so you can see what's been stored. I paid $1 for mine and I also found a 12" x 9" x 3 1/2" fabric covered bin for a buck that's just the right size to help organize drawers. It folds flat when not in use.

If you're looking for storage ideas, it might be worth your while to check out availability and prices at a dollar store in your area.

Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and dollar store diva. She writes ideas and tips for decorating using only items found at the dollar store.


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