Organizing the Filing Cabinet

Here we go!

In my house, the filing cabinet is a fairly big an usually overwhelming task. Who wants to sit down and sort paperwork and place every piece of paper in correct chronological order anyway? I know I don’t. It’s like I told my friend, “I’ll know I’ve finally become an adult when I make my bed every morning”, well… I really feels like this follows suit. In my defence, I’ve switched a lot of our bills, statements and general filing cabinet items online. Therefore, there’s a lot less work going on in this paper-filled cabinet nowadays. I made a first attempt at this about 2 or 3 years ago, when the filing cabinet was about ready to burst, and it was well in need of another good going-over. This time, I made a few changes to make it easier for me to use on a steady basis. A lot of the old tabs and organization was outdated, and no longer relevant to our household, so that needed to be updated to the raw basics, with the addition of some new labels that I wished I had had over the years. This is what I started with:

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Look, I know a lot of people laugh at me when I say, “Go buy the pretty things! If it makes you happy, you’ll be more willing to use it!” But honestly, this is no joke. You know what prompted my re-organization of the filing cabinet? These pretty new folders! I bought them at the dollar store, and I love working with them. I wanted to see these suckers every time I opened the filing cabinet instead of those old drab plain folders that everyone else has, and it was just enough motivation for me to sit down and get it done.
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Aren’t they nice? You never know where you’ll find the pretties, so keep your eyes out for something that suits your tastes!

Anyway, the very first thing I did was whip out my new label maker. Easy to use, a good amount of options, etc. etc. etc. and I broke down what labels I use, the ones I didn’t and which new ones I should add. Obviously these may differ in your household, so you should figure out what paperwork you feel you need to keep, and how you want to organize it. For me the categories were as follows:
-Bills
Power
Phone
Phone/Internet
-Accounts
Credit Cards
Bank Statements
-Income
Taxes
Pay Stubs
-Vehicle
Registrations
Insurance
-Warranties (This was an important new addition)
Electronics
Batteries
Living Room
Kitchen
Appliances
Other
-Barbara D. Photography
Contracts
Model Release Forms
Receipts

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After my labels were done, my next task was to go through the paperwork that was currently being stored in my filing cabinet. I shred pretty much anything that comes out of here for a heads up, in case you were wondering. You might feel as though you don’t need to, if you store something non-personal, don’t worry about it, but it’s a safe bet that you want to shred anything that might give someone the ability to steal your money. I tossed anything that was before 2012 unless it had a special significance, think income tax paperwork. Many things didn’t, and therefore a vast amount of my papers disappeared. Once I had finished going through that whole mess, my filing cabinet already started to feel much more manageable and I hadn’t even put any folders in there yet! So I emptied my filing cabinet and went from there.

I began by using the hanging folders in a colour-coded system, instead of just throwing them in however I wanted to. Yellow = Financial (I would’ve preferred green, but couldn’t find any!), Red = Business, Blue = Important General Paperwork. So I put my label-maker to work again, and got to work with the categories. Once they were placed in the filing cabinet, I added the sub-category folders to them as well.

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Then, all that was left was to throw in the remaining paperwork!
BEFORE:
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AFTER:
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Hahaha, please disregard the idiot date-stamp, I never remember to change/get rid of it!

Isn’t that much nicer? The larger labels are easier for me to read, the simple system I put in place makes it easier for me to find everything, the addition of a “warranties” area makes my life tons easier when something breaks down, especially car batteries! I am still working on improving this, so when I get my new budget underway I’ll probably devote another spot for that, as well as one for each of my kids as they age and begin creating paperwork for me to look after. But for now, this works, and I’m using it.

If you’re reorganizing your filing cabinet, these are my biggest recommendations:
1) Go through your current paperwork. Make a list of new categories you need, and omit those that you’re not using anymore.
2) If it’s over a year (max. 2) old, toss it. EXCEPTION: Income tax paperwork.
3) Keep it simple. Go back to basics. You can add more if you find you really need to, but if you make it too complicated, you may lose track of where exactly you put that bill since it appropriately goes into three of your folders ;).
4) Put your paperwork in chronological order, either back to front or front to back, but decide now and do the same thing for all folders.
5) If you can keep it online, do it! I’ve begun saving the .pdf files to a usb drive in case I need them for future use. Much less space than all of that old paperwork!

Let me see pictures of your new filing cabinet using the hashtag #3toa10life!

Keep going, it’s the only way you’ll make it there!
Barb

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

You know… sometimes, life happens

Wow, I would love to be able to tell you all about how busy I’ve been, and how awesome my house, weight loss and personal lives are coming along. Although I can’t brag about my non-existent sparkling clean kitchen, or my non-existent organized cupboards, I can tell you about the small steps I’ve taken which are slowly pulling me closer to a more organized chaos. This post may be a little all over the place, mostly just updates and some previews about what’s going to be coming up, so if you’re only looking for a post that contains one subject, skip along. If not, stay for the update after my impromptu-vacation from blogging.

I might as well start by telling you guys that I was going to blog, I’ve been over at my computer every night recently. Especially at the crazy hours like this (big mistake), however, when I was cleaning up my desk area (yup, finally got around to it! I CAN ACTUALLY USE MY DESKTOP AGAIN!) I found an old copy of a book I had began writing and instead decided to work on that instead. I feel a little guilty, because, you see… I had so many ideas about what to blog about, but some of them were fueled by the emotion I felt as these things were ongoing, and therefore I’ve lost the ability to write about them as passionately and focused on my book instead. I guess I was hiding from my blog while working on my book. That’s going to change, when I become more organized since I’ll have to include weekly dates for both tasks. However, this time, I AM going to FINISH this book. It’s about time that I finally finished at least one of the damn things I started… and this is really an idea that has stuck in my head throughout the years. Although I gave up on it last time due to a lack of ideas, amazingly enough, after picking it back up again my head is filling with all sorts of new ideas and turns for my story to take… but enough about that, I’ll let you guys know if I ever manage to finish it!

Secondly, I went up to the city and we went to the large Chapters store up there. All I can say is, wow! I’m not usually a bookworm, and I tend to stay away. Recently, however, I’ve found myself in them all the time. Ours is quite small, and I’m sad that I’m going to have to start ordering in online but they really don’t have much in the way of organization or decorating. I actually added a book to my cart a couple of weeks ago and decided to put it on hold until I was 100% sure about the purchase… and then found it at this place! I was so excited! The book is called, “Organize Now!” (the updated & expanded version) and it’s written by Jennifer Ford Berry. It’s a good handy tool to use for self-motivation, although not a really detailed book and I find it lacks slightly in ideas about how to accomplish everything on your weekly list. That being said, the only thing I actually have a problem with about this book is the fact that she recommends that 80% of your weekly groceries be pantry items, while only 20% be fresh. I cannot even begin to tell you how much that drives me crazy! I believe that an organized life, should be a healthier life. 80% pantry items does not a healthier life make /endrant. Really though, if you’re looking for a way to figure out everything you need to do, and a timeline on how to get it done, go have a look at the book at least. I’ll be making weekly posts about my progress from the book, or how I’ve changed things around.

So I was looking online at those books, right? And came across the most beautiful planner I think I’ve ever seen! It’s got a shiny peacock pattern on it, and it’s slightly larger than my usual planners. It began in July 2013, so I took that as a sign that I just needed to have it in my life! Currently everyone is colour-coded, yeah… I know that will never last! Still worth a shot though, makes it look prettier… which, in turn is actually helping me to use it a little more. The only problem I seem to be having is the fact that I’m too shy to make the phone calls I write down that I need to make… for no reason other than the fact that I usually sound like a total idiot whenever I get on the phone. I really believe this little planner will help me with the kids this upcoming year now that they’re old enough to get into activities and the like. My oldest daughter will be starting preschool and dance lessons for sure, as well as speech therapy if her preschool teacher refers her. Not too much going on with the little one, there’s still a little over a year left before she’s old enough to join these programs.

In other news, I hate grocery shopping… like, really. This is probably the biggest reason I’m not eating a healthier diet. I think the prep work for the grocery trip is probably the biggest factor keeping me away from the store, although I will fully admit that I’ve skipped on it for a day or two when I had the list in my hand. This is something new… it’s been a fair amount of weeks since I actually went to the grocery store and picked up enough food to last my family for the week. I try telling myself that if I could work it down to just having to go bi-weekly, I would make time for it. But personally, I know that’s still a lie I tell to comfort myself. As soon as I get one child into preschool, I’m going to start going every Thursday. This way, even if my boyfriend is at work, it’s not a big deal for me to take the little one with me.

On that note, it brings me around to my second weekly update which will be going in effect starting now. Every Thursday I’m going to be doing a weekly weigh-in… or at least a make-shift one. I am fat, fact. So fat, that I am not comfortable posting my weight online right now. So I’m going to be weighing myself once a week, letting you guys know how I’m doing, but it’s going to be in a +2 lbs or -2 lbs format until I hit a personal goal. Then I’ll convert to actually telling you guys how much I weigh.

Anyway, since it’s almost two in the morning, even though I didn’t manage to write everything… I’m going to bed now. Goodnight!

P.S. Happy birthday to me!

Thanks for reading,
Much love to you all!

Barb

The Binge Jar

I have finally taken the time to sit down and create a binge jar (a.k.a. the Anti-Binge Jar, or Instead of Binging Jar)! It really took me forever to get around to, since I had a specific idea for how it should look in my head, and I didn’t have the time to sit down and do it (or so I thought, honestly it didn’t take too long at all).

So, what IS an “Instead of Binging Jar”? For me, it’s a jar that has ideas about what to do instead of stuff my face out of sheer boredom or because of┬ánegative things happening in my life. I am a really emotional eater. I eat because I get nervous, I eat if someone gets mad at me, I eat because I’m lonely, whatever. If I could get over being so awkwardly shy around people, I would probably naturally eat less… but, that’s another matter entirely. My binge jar contains 27 different ideas of things for me to do INSTEAD of pig out. It’s just that simple.

As an added twist, to further my attempts to not eat massive amounts of food, I added a rule. If I do binge, ever… I owe my jar $5. Every single time. The money will be saved and used to purchase sports or health equipment, so it is a good cause, but I think actually losing the money temporarily will help. (So far it has!). #27 is also a play on this, it’s always a risk putting your hand into the binge jar, because I only want to use it if I really can’t fend off the urge to eat by myself, I can pull a tag that means I automatically owe the jar $2, and still have to pick another activity. Just a little additional motivation :).

Some good ideas for your binge jar would basically be anything that involves using your hands, therefore making you unable to use them to eat, anything that takes you out of your house (but not in the area of take-out), something that occupies your mind so that you’ll forget about the popcorn you thought you were craving. Things that usually aren’t good ideas are sedentary activities where your hands are free to get that food into your mouth.

How I made my binge jar:

I wanted something pretty to look at, since this isn’t an entirely pleasant idea in general. No one wants to clean instead of stuffing their faces, BUT, cheering me up and having something pretty should help with this.

Step 1:

I chose a paper from one of my scrapbooking kits that I loved and decided to use it for all of my tags.

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I wrote the following things on the paper:

1. Paint my nails.

2. Drink lots of water (16 oz.)

3. Clean the kitchen

4. Clean the bedroom.

5. Go for a calming walk or jog.

6. Apply make-up.

7. Talk to someone.

8. Knit

9. Drink some tea.

10. Read a book.

11. Send a note to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.

12. Work in my smashbooks.

13. Sing Karaoke.

14. Play the guitar.

15. Write some positive things on sticky notes and post them around town.

16. Purge the house!

17. Clean the bathroom.

18. 100 jumping jacks!

19. Do 50 squats.

20. 100 High knees.

21. Do some budgeting work.

22. Read a magazine.

23. Vacuum.

24. Brush & Floss.

25. Go online window shopping.

26. Write a blog post.

27. Add an additional $2 to the money jar, AND choose another idea.

Then I cut them using a cute pattern, and then glued them onto a larger sheet of scrapbooking paper to make them a little more sturdy.

I fully understand that not all of these ideas are good for everyone, not every idea was good for me. The one that I read everywhere, but opted out on for personal reasons was “Going for a drive”. It might be a good idea for you, but if I go for a drive, I can almost guarantee I will go through a drive-thru and pick up some crap. But if you’re looking for some other options, I suggest you check out some of these sites:
http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/binge+jar
http://bingeeatingtherapy.com/2011/02/02/101-things-to-do-instead-of-binge-eating/
http://www.bubblews.com/news/656686-the-instead-of-binging-jar

Step 2:

While waiting for my glue to dry, I worked on the actual jar itself. I had some Martha Stewart adhesive stencils I’ve been dying to use for months now, so I thought it would be a good time. I started by doing the decorative stencils, waited for them to dry, and then used the letter stencils to write “Binge Jar”. Then it looked like this:
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Step 3:

Cut up the ideas, fold them up, and place them into the binge jar.

You’re done! It is just that easy, I swear! You’ll end up with something like this:
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The only additional thing that I’m going to so is put a little fabric on top instead of the normal mason jar seal as my lid, to fancy it up a little more.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think!
Got any suggestions for things for me to write about? Let me know. Drop me a line and I’ll do my best.

Thanks for reading,
Barb.

Two Week HEALTHY Meal Plan (Includes Grocery List)

My life can get hectic, just like anyone else’s can too. Believe me, I will be the first to sympathize with those of you who end up going through a drive-thru because you realized that you didn’t take that roast out of the freezer last night, or the fact that it’s already 6 p.m. and you haven’t got anything cooking yet.
SO, do you know what I’ve done for you? (And… you know… myself!) I sat down and made a two week meal plan. It includes a breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and supper. The general rule is to simply skip the mid-morning snack if you aren’t hungry. I took the meat out of the freezer three days in advance to make sure it was thawed, and did whatever prep I could the night I bought the food (cut up a chef salad, made a spinach salad, boiled some eggs, etc.) I’m not 100% paleo, but this meal plan was inspired by the two week paleo plan you can find here: http://cavemanstrong.com/mealplans/CavemanStrong-2WeekPaleo-MealPlan.pdf If you’re really looking into going paleo right off the bat, I recommend it. However, I’m not willing to make that commitment yet. I prefer eating more fruits than I do beef jerky, and so do my children. If you don’t like something, feel free to sub it, I promise, I won’t get mad! The only thing I ask is that you don’t crop out my mark. If this inspired your new list, please let others know :). I really need the extra traffic on the site, hahaha!

This is what I came up with: (P.S. Really sorry for spelling Pomello wrong on the weekly lists.)

Meal Plan Template

Meal Plan Template2

Grocery List Template

Let me know what you guys think. Like it? Hate it? How did it work out for you and your family?

Hope this helps get you guys on track!
Barb

All work and no play makes Barb a dull girl.

So much has been going on lately!

On the good news front, the more money I make through working, the more I have to spend on extras for my daughters and to put aside to save. Also, I have actually been asked to photograph my first event! I don’t want to fully release the details as of yet, as it is still in the works… but wow, I am so excited!
Bad news? I can’t seem to find the time to eat healthy and work out! Ugh this sucks! It’s amazing just how much difference I have noticed in myself since I stopped going for a daily run! It’s so insane! I feel like I put on at least 10 pounds (in reality I haven’t added any weight), I always feel groggy and tired, and I am so lazy!

With that all said, my trip to Jamaica is really becomming official! I’ll be heading down for a week with a friend to photograph my sister’s wedding next spring. This is a big motivation factor to light my fire to get up and get moving again. The other thing that I can now add to my motovation? I just ordered 2 pairs of black milk leggings that were limited when they had their museum sale, and I’ve got probably a month before they get here. So here it goes!

I’m going to start doing at least three blogilates videos a day at least 4 days a week, and a half hour of cardio at least 6 days a week. I might switch over to endomondo instead of c25k for the actual runs, using the c25k format though. I also want to get up earlier (which goes along with switching my schedule in time for the massive week of cleaning) and start my day with an automatic mini-workout. So like 3 sets of 15 thighs, 3 sets of 10 push-ups, 3 sets of 15 crunches. I’m also going to begin calorie counting again. I got stuck in a terrible plateau (although on the plus side I took a week off and never gained any additional weight back) and I really feel that it’s caused by the fact that even though I’m eating good food, I’m still eating too much. And just for you fit people who may suggest that I’m building muscle instead, I’m not losing any inches either ;). That was the first thing my friend actually got me to check on when I told her about it.

So, what’s your morning routine? And how do you keep it up?

Barb.

Top Ten (Personal) Reasons to Lose Weight

So I know that there are the obvious reasons one might pick as to why they should lose weight, to be healthier, to live longer, to ward off certain diseases, etc. But when I was filling out my top ten reasons in my smashbook, I came up with these instead:

1) To be more energetic with my children!
2) To see my children get married.
3) To feel more confident on myself.
4) To wear a bikini again!!!
5) To be an excellent role model for my girls.
6) To pass a healthy lifestyle on to my daughters.
7) To get married!
8) To really love myself again.
9) For my trip to Jamaica!
10) To have more get up & go so I can do more in my day.

You may notice two specific themes here, number 1, my kids. Let’s face it, I love my kids to death, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them (even giving up on some extra chocolate!…. well, maybe after this last bite…) and of course the second one being body image related. In grade 11, I had reached a certain weight where I felt confident for once, I stopped wearing sweaters every day and started even getting an extra friend or two because of my confidence… I’d like to feel that way about myself again.

Every weight loss or fitness journey is a personal decision made with personal reasons. This time I decided to actually write my reasons down, so that when I have a bad day I can look at them and remind myself why I keep doing this, even when it hurts, when I don’t want to, and when I’m craving something junky.

What are your reasons?

Anxiety eating

Well, there they were…. duhduhduhhhhhh!!!! The TIMBITS! It felt like they were staring at me, begging me to eat them… I had bought them as a treat for my daughters since we were going for a fairly long ride in the car, but it was all I could do to stay out of them myself. I’m fairly addicted to them, you see. I’ll buy them “for my daughters” and then see one I like, then another, then another… then oops… 7+ of those damn little sugarbombs later I realize that I just botched my whole day.

But today, today was a new experience. I left them alone… not out of my mind, because it was hard to resist them as they sat on the seat next to me. But I did it. It’s at moments like these that I notice unhealthy thoughts begin popping into my head, like “if I could just eat it, then throw it up…” I’m glad that these thoughts still sound totally ridiculous to me though, otherwise, I would have a problem. Really, I hate throwing up… with a passion, so thankfully I could never do it just so I could eat a timbit, lol. I just wanted you guys to know that you’re not the only ones who’s heads get filled with craziness when temptation is only a small arms-length away, however, it’s not really the reason I decided to write this post.

The real reason, is because after that… after I had fended off the urge to eat them, I ended up in a situation where I was told that I had made a mistake, a simple mistake anyone could’ve made, and the guy I was speaking to shrugged it off. No biggie… so you’d think that it wouldn’t amount to anything, right? Wrong. You see, I’m incredibly shy, so any interaction when I find out I’ve made a mistake can be really awkward for me, so I worry about it. The second I got back into my car… I found myself reaching for my second timbit. Yup… second. This was such a “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!?” moment that I almost couldn’t believe it. I honestly don’t remember eating the first one, I remember finishing it… but I didn’t even really get to taste or savour it! What a bummer!! It sucked, I was annoyed that it had been SUCH an automatic reaction that I didn’t notice until it was too late, I felt terrible and guilty… which would usually end with me eating MORE timbits, compounding my problem. This time, however, I put the second timbit back. I was actually able to fully acknowledge what I had done, and although I couldn’t reverse my decision, I was able to prevent further damage to my day. This is something I need to keep reminding myself of… everyone makes mistakes and slips up, but you can’t get down on yourself ans make ir worse. Make a conscious decision to stop doing these unhealthy habits and really work at it.

We can do this together! If I can, you can.

Thanks for reading!

Barb

C25K

I won’t lie… it’s not my first time trying the C25K program. I started it about a month or two ago before my children both got pneumonia and were in and out of the hospital a lot. HOWEVER, this time, tonight I did notice that I could actually finish it… you know, without the feeling of totally dying. That was a proud moment. I finally really did something to break my lack-of-activity streak and get back into the groove of things. Hopefully this is something that will be able to be continued and built on until I’m up to going to the actual gym and working out there. Plus, I have a goal of running in the Bluenose Marathon next year with my best friend Sarah. I have almost a year to get ready for it, so it really should be doable!

I brought my dog Ember with me for the first time tonight. It was a little tough at first. Ember is insanely high energy, and she was going crazy! But, as we started running, she started to get worn out little by little, and at the end she was actually a really well-behaved dog. A great companion since I seem to be unable to get anyone else to go with me!

I’m not much of a runner, and I never have been. However, C25K is a program that can actually motivate me to start running. Even though at the end I’m REALLY waiting for the last bell noise to tell me I can stop running, I’m actually discovering that I enjoy it! If you haven’t downloaded it already, I strongly encourage you to do so. It’s a free app that you can get for any smart phone (I believe). If it can motivate me, it can motivate you too! Let’s do this together, one foot in front of the other.

Ember and I just after our outing.

Ember and I just after our outing.

Ignore the date stamp, I replaced my batteries and didn't reset it!

Ignore the date stamp, I replaced my batteries and didn’t reset it!

We all look at the mirror and say that we want to make certain changes from time to time, but the only way to make them is to take action. Now is your time!

Thanks for reading,

Barb