Organize Now! – Week 3

So, how did I do last week? I think I did pretty alright. I do still have to work on scheduling in time to do the things I wish I did more of, but otherwise things are great. Also, I am getting 7-8 hours of sleep nowadays, but it appears to be sort of on the wrong side. I’m still going to bed late, and therefore sleeping in. That two hour readjustment is something I’m still working on.

So now, on to week 3. Man am I ever glad I’ve been busy working on some other things! Because this week is a breeze.
I already do all of my scheduling in one beautiful planner, the girls don’t belong to many activities yet, and therefore we don’t need monthly meetings about our family schedules.
I do need to focus on working on my to-do list. I can’t leave my planner next to me when I go to bed as one of my daughters will surely get to it and begin uhhhh… “scheduling” in her own work, just like she checked off a number of things in this book for me well before I even had a chance to get to them.. so I’m thinking maybe just a little notepad and pencil. That way I can still jot things down, and schedule them in the next day, but I won’t have to worry about the little hands.
Otherwise thd rest of this week is pretty much about making to-do lists. Seems easy enough… now all I need is one for house renovations, one for cleaning, one for heavy-duty cleaning, one for my outdoor area, one for my garden… hm, maybe this week will be slightly more time-consuming than originally thought afterall.

Oh well, it’s about time I started writing all of these things down!

Keep an eye out for a post about the recent organization that’s been going on.

Til next time,
Barb

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Have money, will spend. (Budget Envelope Introduction)

Part of my organization and clean-up is my financials. I keep telling myself that I’ll go pull out money for this and that when I get a chance, and next thing I know… POOF! The money seems to have vanished. Am I the only one this happens to?

Didn’t think so ;).

There are two “worst parts” to this for me personally, number one… it makes no difference if it’s $500 or $5000, if it sits in the bank account, it’ll be gone before the next pay. Secondly, it doesn’t seem like we’re living a much more enriched life or anything if I spend it as opposed to bank it away. At least if we had a ton of awesome stuff to enjoy it would feel slightly more acceptable… but we don’t.

So now that we’ve wasted some money over the past few weeks, I’ve decided it was really time for a change. I want to be able to save more for the more important things in life! My dreams include travelling with my children, going out to places you dream about… I would love to see Australia and New Zealand one day. So, now what I’ve done is gone over my expenses and come up with these envelopes. I made them all from my random scrapbooking paper, because beautiful things make me happy, and at the end of the day, if it’s pretty I am more likely to use it. I know, I know, it’s stupid… but… why not?

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There are seven envelopes:
Gas 1
Gas 2
Groceries 1
Groceries 2
Bills
Mastercard
Extras
(Others you might want to include would be Rent/Mortgage, each separate bill, Children’s activity fund, or gym/classes fund)

These are our regular monthly expenses and it just about covers everything. Because of pay days, we get paid once a week, however, we tend to focus on a bi-weekly system. What I want to work down to is filling the envelopes once with the first pay of the month, and top them up throughout the month if absolutely necessary. This method will get the money out of my easy access, since I’ll no longer be able to simply swipe a card with seemingly endless possibilities. It makes sure that we’ve covered our basics (not that we’ve ever been in such a bad position that we couldn’t, I enjoy spending money… but I’m not THAT compulsive). Also, taking the money out means more will go directly into our savings, which is ALWAYS a good thing.
Beginning next month, I’m also going to start tracking receipts and transactions so that I can get a clearer image of what exactly it is that I’m spending money on and I can adjust my budget accordingly. My guess for the big money drain? Junk food. It’s time we started going full out grocery shopping again so that we don’t need to make a trip to the store every night to get supper. This is awful for so many reasons! But mainly in this instance I’m talking about the budget reason. I can usually feed this household three meals a day, for seven days (at least 3 adults and two children) for less than $200 a week. Usually, it’s more like $160. I hear that that’s nearly impossible, but with healthy, whole foods, I can do it all the time. All I need is the motivation to sit down and fully prepare a list. This is starting again now, due to this budget. I refuse to waste hard-earned money on crap food, which is just pushing me further away from both my health goals, as well as the financial goals I’m now coming up with!

The other plan I’m implementing with these envelopes is to pay my bills ON PAY DAY. I write down the exact amount I need to pay on each bill directly on my calendar located in my planner. On pay day, I just write “Pay bills” on the morning of to remind myself to look. This way I don’t have to look up all of my bills online and figure out how much I have to pay here and how much there, it’s all right there, no excuses. This way my bills are sure to be paid perfectly on time. I’m strongly considering putting aside an “emergency” fund as well, this way I could use it for things like replacing my windshield, instead of having to use either savings or having larger sums taken out of my pays.

Alright, well… I’m off to do a little more budgeting work to get this all figured out so that I can implement it next month. Should be including new meal plans too, since I’ll be making them myself!

Remember, if you don’t like the way you’re living… Change it!
Barb

Getting ready for the big clean

Well today marks two weeks until Aldric will have his first vacation this year. Why is this so important? We’re going to spend the entire week cleaning the house like CRAZY! Ending with a two-day yardsale, whatever doesn’t sell during those two days will be off to our local salvation army. We’ve already managed to fill the lower part of our hallway with things to sell, be it baby items, clothing, knickknacks or whatever, I want it out if here.

My daughters make the fifth generation of us to live in this house on the property, which means lots of items to inherit, and all of the usual storage space has been taken up by this collection of items. I’m not looking to get rid of everything, but I am looking to end up with a house that is easier to clean, because everything will have it’s own spot. No more having to deal with the clutter and junk before getting time to clean!

So far we’ve managed to make it through our bedroom, the kitchen and the living room, there are a few things I’m still unsure of, like the cupboard full of old vhs disney movies and whatnot, so as of yet they haven’t gone anywhere. But mostly those rooms are done. This still leaves my daughters’ rooms, the hallway, my father’s room (which has become a catch-all), the rec room, the attic, the basement, and the extra room. Even I can admit I would be a little over-ambitious if I expected to fully tackle each of those areas, but I do need to make a serious dent in them so that we can start living a relatively more normal life.

I’m going to make a plan of attack, one area per day, and I use the keep/sell/toss/donate sorting idea, generally limiting myself to how many containers I’m allowed to keep (say 1 or 2 per room). This really helps me to retain the important items. If I haven’t used it in over 6 months (because that covers winter/summer items) it’s an automatic sell. This has opened up so many more storage options already, I’m reclaiming space that I should’ve had in the first place, and it’s a really accomplishing feeling.

So, what do I have to do within the next two weeks to get ready for this? Number 1: make a plan. Starting around 8 every morning, ending around 5 every day (or taking a break in the middle and working into the evening).
Number 2: Plan some organization. Every room will go back together organized, places like the attic or cubby will have inventories so that I can remember where exactly I put all of thia stuff.
Number 3: Change our sleep schedules. We usually go to bed around midnight and get up as late as possible. This needs to change (preferably permanently).
Number 4: Make a meal plan for the week that consists of self-cooking or little-work healthy meals so that we don’t need to detract from our main objective, and we won’t have to be ordering crap from our pizza store.
Number 5: Get some busy bags/playtime ideas ready for our daughters. Hiring a babysitter for the week just isn’t an option for us, so we’re going to need a way to keep them entertained while we work.

PINTEREST HERE I COME!

Let me know which aspect you guys are most interested in hearing about!

Barb

Reorganizing the “Under-the-sink” area

Do you dread opening the cupboard doors underneath your sink? Is it the massive clutter of cleaning products, or the pile of unsorted garbage bags that scare you away? Do you look at that space and wonder how to make the most use out of it? Well, so did I. Sadly enough, there weren’t many pictures or ideas about it that I could find on Pinterest, which is why I decided to make my little venture into the area the first organizational blog post. I’m terribly sorry for not adding any “BEFORE” pictures, but I’m sure you can all imagine the insane amount of build-up that lies in that area. To be honest, I don’t much like documenting the before, but I promise to work on that so that you guys can see what the actual improvements are to the areas that I’m working on.

This project probably took me about 2 hours of actual work, not including the time it took to locate and buy the new items.

Step 1: Empty out the entire space! I had someone watch my children in another area of the house for safety reasons while doing this, and I’m going to suggest that if you have little grabby-fingers around, you do the same. This is a really critical step though, so please don’t skip out on it or skimp. I took every single item out and washed down the area.

After it was emptied.

After it was emptied.

Step 2: Toss the things you don’t use. I seriously had some cleaners in there that hadn’t been used in over 5 years. I kept them because I always thought that maybe, maaaaybe one day I would use them… but come on. I think a general good time is about 6 months. If you didn’t use it when you did either your fall or spring cleaning, or any time in between. Toss it. It’s taking up precious space, and you don’t need it. One of the harder choices was to toss my old dish rack. I mostly run the dishes through the dishwasher, so there isn’t much to be washed. I had an older thick dish rack, that took up almost an entire cupboard. I found a little lime-green folding dish rack at a clearance sale when our local Zeller’s was closing down. Probably the best choice I made in this respect was purchasing that new dish rack. If you can toss your old one, I suggest you do so. There’s only so much space below your sink!

Step 3: Measure everything! I measured the areas underneath the pipes, underneath the built-in cupboards, between the pipes and the built-in cupboards, the height of the area I had to work in, and the width. Write them down so that when you go shopping for any organizational pieces, you’ll be able to make sure things will fit in place. The last thing you want to do is get home and find out that “oh-so perfect” rack won’t fit unless you put it in slanted…

Step 4: Begin the actual organization of the area. I bought a shower rack (that is supposed to hang behind the shower head), a short width-adjusting rack, a three-tiered rack and a sink basket. Because of my set-up, it was easy to figure out where to put the new things I had bought. The last thing to do was to decide where to put everything.

Step 5: Putting everything back in place and finding everything a home. This is obviously a very important step, and it’ll probably take the longest to do. The way I handled it was to figure out how often I used the item, and put it in a place according to that. I started by putting all of the lesser used cleaning products into the sink basket, that way when I’m doing any serious cleaning I can just pull the whole thing out and it’s portable. The second thing I did was put the stuff that gets used every little while away. Vacuum bags, garbage bags, recycling bags, etc. I put these all easily within reach. The key with these items was to put them somewhere where they wouldn’t get covered or buried so that I could avoid having to go searching for them when they were needed. Lastly, it’s time for the everyday items. I put these on my most commonly used shelf, as well as on the shower rack. That way I simply open the cupboard door and have everything I use constantly at my fingertips, which also makes it easier to put it away.

Everyday use area.

Everyday use area.

Left-hand side of my area. Medium-use items.

Left-hand side of my area. Medium-use items.


Two weeks after original organization.

Two weeks after original organization.

I found that this area needs to be “tidied up” about once every month or so. It’s generally only me that uses it, so I tend to put things away in the right spot. Although I have found that when my boyfriend uses things, I need to clean up after him a little more than I would like, lol. It’s okay, at least it means he’s helping :).

Hope this helps you out!

Barb