Archive for the ‘ Organization ’ Category

 Spring cleaning

Spring is in the air!   Are you loving it as much as I am?  The warm weather has finally arrived and it is now time to tackle spring cleaning.  To help you in your efforts I have created this handy dandy Spring Home Management Checklist.   It is a complete list of all the jobs that will help you get your house ready now that spring is here.  There is a lot to do so I recommend that you get the rest of your family involved.  Remember – many hands make light work!

photo by: storebukkebruse

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to get organized?  How’s it going?  If this is something that you are struggling with, it may help you to get motivated if you realize that your clutter is actually costing  you money.  Here are some ways that your clutter may be costing you money:

  1. When you can’t find something, you buy another one. Did you buy a stapler when you already had 3 of them somewhere in your house.   Perhaps you can’t find something that you have so you buy another one.   Or maybe buy something because you don’t even realize that you already have one.  Whatever the case is, buying duplicates costs you money.
  2.  You are paying for the space for your stuff.  Whether you pay rent or have a mortgage, you are paying to live in your home.  You are also paying for all of this extra stuff to live there too.  Perhaps you are even living in a bigger home than necessary because you have so much stuff.  Or are you renting a storage unit because all of your stuff won’t fit into your home?  Is your garage crammed with stuff while your car sits outside exposed to the elements?
  3. You lose time when you can’t find something.  How much time have you wasted looking for things?  Think of all the better ways you could have spent that time – going to the gym, cooking a healthy meal, spending time with family.
  4. You have to pay penalties.  You lose a credit card bill in the pile of papers on your desk and forget to send in the payment.    Now the credit card company charges for being late, raises your interest rate and your credit score drops.
  5. You lose receipts and can’t return items.  Maybe after you have bought that additional stapler, you got home and one that you already had.  But the next day when you go to return the new stapler, you can’t find the receipt.
  6. Your kitchen is so disorganized that you don’t feel like cooking.  You end up eating out instead.  You might even end up eating fast food which is bad for your health.
  7. You throw away leftovers and expired food that you forgot that you had.
  8. You miss out on new opportunities because your clutter is causing you to feel stressed out and/or depressed.
  9. You hold onto things that you could sell.  There several easy ways to sell your stuff to make extra money – ebay, craigslist, amazon, yard sales and consignment stores.
  10. You lose things that have a monetary value.  This includes gift cards, tickets to events, etc.

In what ways has your clutter cost you money?


I posted this last year but decided to run it again in case getting organized is one of your 2013 New Year’s Resolutions.

Do you have little scraps of paper scattered throughout your house with important information on them?  Do you waste precious time everyday looking for the information that you need?    If you were to get sick or go out of town, would your family be lost without you?

Today I’m going to talk about creating a “Family Manual”.  Some people call it a “household notebook”, “homemaking binder”, home management notebook” or “home organizer”.  Whatever you choose to call it, it will be the key to getting your home organized.

Life is much less stressful when you are organized.  By creating a family manual, you will have more time to spend with your family and do the things that you enjoy.   It will help you save money by making it easier to stick to your budget and meal plan.   It will allow your family members to be “in the know” about the running of your household

The family manual is the command central for your home.   You will use it to keep your house running smoothly.  In it you include all things related to you, your family and your home.

All you need to get started is a 1 inch binder and tab dividers.  You can purchase these for less than $2.

Inside your manual you will have information including to-do lists, finance information, important phone numbers, home maintenance schedules and calendars.

You should organize your family manual whatever way works best for you.  The following is a list of what I have included in my manual:

Holder  with pens, pencils and post it notes

Daily To-Do List

Family Goals & Mission Statement

Sign me/ important


  • budget/spending record
  • financial goals
  • bills to pay
  • list of bank accounts
  • account information/passwords
  • healthcare costs
  • insurance information
  • utilities/services directory
  • magazine subscriptions
  • warranty information
  • vehicle records
  • tax checklist


  • Monthly or weekly forms with fill-in fields for breakfast, lunch & dinner each day and a space for snacks & desserts of the week
  • grocery shopping lists
  • favorite recipes/recipes to try
  • pantry and freezer inventory
  • kitchen appliance manuals

Addresses and Phone #s

  • Emergency Information – Phone #s for 911; Fire Dept; Poison Control; our home, work & cell numbers; our parent’s homes, work & cell numbers
  • Family and Friends addresses, phone numbers and email addresses
  • Yellow Pages – Phone numbers for all businesses and individuals that we do business with
  • church/club directories
  • emergency phone numbers
  • take out menus

Home Management

  • household cleaning schedule
  • seasonal chore checklists
  • children’s chore checklists
  • home maintenance log
  • home inventory
  • home decorating ideas
  • party planners
  • Holiday Planning (home décor inventory, project ideas, gift lists, traditions, activities, recipes, to-do lists)
  • car maintenance schedule
  • recycling inventory


  • personal information page for each family member containing statistics such as  name, date of birth, social security number, sex, relationship, driver’s license number (if applicable), state of license (if applicable) and expiration date of license (if applicable)
  • master occasions list (birthdays, anniversaries)
  • gift suggestion list
  • birthday party ideas
  • vacation information
  • holiday information
  • recommended Web sites
  • list of DVD/videos to rent
  • list of books that we would like to read, movies that we would like to see
  • library information


  • school schedules and holiday list
  • school records for each child
  • school information page
  • school reading lists
  • extra curricular activity information
  • summer programs information
  • PTA materials

Health and Fitness

  • diet trackers
  • blood pressure record
  • first aid kit checklist
  • medical information sheet for each family member
  • emergency directory
  • medical authorization form
  • prescription drug record
  • gym membership information
  • insurance information
  • pet health records


  • travel packing checklist
  • before-we-leave checklist
  • camping checklist
  • vacation idea list

Notes & Miscellaneous

  • Blank pages to keep track of miscellaneous information
  • Magazine Articles
  • Inspiration (inspirational quotes, articles, etc.)

Holder for stamps and return address labels

a year at the table - day 168
Creative Commons License photo credit: slightly everything 

When you are trying to organize your things, do you pick them up, find that you can’t decide what to do with them and put them back down in a different pile. Things get moved around, but the piles never go away.  Do all the massive piles of paper make you feel completely overwhelmed?

The longer things sit in a pile, unorganized, then the more time you will likely spend dealing with these items.  This is a huge time waster.  The more times you handle something the less efficient you are.

It is important to learn how to properly deal with incoming items so that they don’t pile up.  To do this, follow one simple rule – Only Handle It Once.  This won’t be possible to do all of the time, but it should be your goal. 

When your mail arrives, take care of it immediately.  Don’t set it in a pile on the kitchen table.  Recycle or shred junk mail.  Put your bills away in a designed location.  If something needs to be filed away, file it away immediately. 

Think about the extra time that you will have if you don’t have to keep dealing with the same items over and over again.

Photos of a messy house
Creative Commons License photo credit: abbamouse 

Whether you’re struggling to rid your home of clutter, or if you have already decluttered and want to remain clutter free, it is important to follow the “One In, One Out” rule. 

It’s so easy for things to accumulate.  It could be papers, clothes, toys.  It doesn’t matter.  The fact is that you have to work to stop things from piling up. 

For every new item you bring in to your home, you have to take one out.  You can give it away as a gift, donate it to charity, sell it at a yard sale or on ebay.  It doesn’t matter.  Just get rid of it. 

Take the time to identify the areas in your home that are the most cluttered.  It is especially important to follow the rules in these areas.  If the clutter level in these areas is especially high you might even want to institute the “One In, Two Out” rule. 

Before you buy something new, ask yourself if you’re willing to get rid of an item. 

Discuss this plan with your entire family.   Explain to your children that if they want a new toy, they will have to get rid of one of their old ones that they don’t play with anymore.  They might even think twice about asking for something new!  Make sure you follow the rule yourself so that you may be an example to your children. 

If your dream is to live in a peaceful, clutter free home, then the “One in, One Out” rule will definitely help you reach your goal.

 School bus
Creative Commons License photo credit: redjar

To make a new school year as stress free as possible, follow these tips to get organized and have a successful school year.

1. Go Through School Clothes – Go through all your kid’s clothes and make a list of what they have and what they need. If you haven’t already, create a back to school budget and go shopping.

2. Go Through School Supplies – Take the school supply list and check off what you already have. Reuse what you can from previous years. Click here to see my post on Saving Money on Back to School. When choosing a backpack, make sure it is large enough for your child’s books and folders. Once you get the school supplies home, write the names on everything and load it into your child’s backpack.

3. Set up a Backpack Station – Designate a place by the front door for backpacks to go. By having a designated place your kids will know exactly where to put their backpacks when they get home from school and you will know where they are so you can check them for notes and to ensure homework is done. It will also make mornings easier because backpacks can be quickly grabbed on the way out the door.

4. Establish backpack Emptying Routine – Your child is going to be bringing home a lot of papers. Don’t forget to ask your child each day whether anything has been sent home for parents to see. Set up a time once a week to go through the backpack with your child. Make sure that everything comes out that is supposed to come out. File away any graded assignments that don’t need to go back to school.

5. Set up a Command Central – With all the papers that your children are going to be bringing home, you will need a system to keep them organized. You will want to keep important papers and calendars all in one place. If you plan your system out ahead of time, there will be less confusion once school starts. Set up a filing system for old papers. Have a binder or file box for any schoolwork, notes, tests, etc., that your child brings home. If you keeping this up throughout the year, your child will be able to locate things he may need to study for a test.

6. Establish Evening and Morning Routines – Before school starts, figure out what steps need to be taken to get everyone out the door on time. Create a checklist of everything your child needs to take to school: keys, homework, lunch, equipment for after-school activities, etc. Keep this checklist near the door. Pack as much as possible the night before and get your child in the habit of looking at it before leaving the next morning.

7. Create a Family Calendar – It is crucial to have a family calendar to keep up with everyone’s schedule including music lesson, sports activities, dance classes, etc… This will allow you to quickly see where everyone needs to be and make arranging pickups and drop-offs easier.

8. Get your child immunized – Get a current list of required vaccinations. If your child is not up to date on his immunizations, make an appointment to do so as soon as possible.

9. Gather important documents – Schools usually need immunization records and birth certificates. Make sure you have these handy.

10. Set up a homework area – Your child will need a quiet, well-organized area to do their homework and study. Make sure supplies such as paper, pencils, a pencil sharpener, glue and a stapler are close by.

11. Clean up your computer – Make sure your PC is ready for back to school. Deleting old files to make room for your child’s homework and reports. Updating programs.

12. Transition into back to school sleep schedule – A week or two before school starts, move your children’s bedtime back 15 minutes each night until they back to their regular school year bedtime.

13. Start getting up earlier- Start transitioning from vacation schedule to school schedule a few days before school starts. This will help prevent crankiness once school begins.

14. Establish a breakfast routine – Have you been letting your kids skip breakfast during the summer? When kids are in school, it is important that they start the day with breakfast. It is fuel for their brains. Start getting your kids used to eating first thing in the morning.

15. Visit the school and meet the teachers – If your child’s school offers an orientation before school starts, take advantage of this. Ask questions about concerns such as school supplies, sick days, absences, dress code, and lunch options. Pick up all the paperwork that you need to complete.

16. Get the teacher’s email address – Most schools communicate via email nowadays. Ask for a contact phone number, too, in case you have a question that needs an answer right away.

17. Practice going to the bus stop – If your child will be riding the bus, walk with him to the bus stop. Make sure the route is safe and that he knows where and how to cross any streets. Get the school bus schedule, and figure out how long it will take to walk to the bus stop. Discuss the type of behavior the school expects at the stop and on the bus.

18. Arrange before and after school care if needed – If you child is going to participate in a before or after school program, review the procedures ahead of time including times, meals served, activities, and rules.

What do you do to get ready for back to school?

FREE eBook – Conquer Clutter

Amazon is offering a kindle ebook called Conquer Clutter: 3 Books in 1 – Declutter Now, Organize Your Home, Simple Storage Systems – Discover the Secrets of a Clutter Free Lifestyle for FREE. 

This book is specifically for the Kindle, but you can go here to download a free application that enables you to read Kindle ebooks on your PC. 

The price is currently $0, but prices on Amazon can change at any moment.  Be sure to check the price before you make your purchase. 

Thanks, Money Saving Mom

There is a free ebook that you can download from  It is called “How to Organize Small Spaces: Decluttering Tips and Organization Ideas for Your Home”.  Click here to get it.

Please note that the price is currently $0.00, but that could change at any time. Be sure to check the price before checking out to verify that it is still free.

These ebooks are specifically for Kindles, but you can go here to download a free application that enables you to read Kindle ebooks on your PC.

Thanks, Money Saving Mom

Organizing Those School Papers

Report Card
Creative Commons License photo credit: Tony Crider 

As the school year comes to an end, the kids are super excited.  But as a parent, you might be wondering what to do with that mountain of papers that they have accumulated over the year.

The decision of what to keep and what to toss can be extremely difficult.  Unfortunately, we can’t keep everything.  If you want to be organized, you have to make some tough decisions. 

Go through these things together with your child.  It’s important to work together so they learn organizational skills. 

Have your child gather all his paperwork from his notebooks, bedroom, backpack, etc. 

Put any papers that are no longer needed in a recycling pile. 

If you are not sure whether or not to keep something ask yourself – How does your child feel about the assignment?  Did your child come home beaming with pride and immediately stick their paper or the refrigerator?  Or did it sit in their backpack?  Does they get a good grade in a subject that is challenging for them?   Keep only the best and most important papers. 

Pictures are a great way to preserve memories while also saving space.  Take pictures of large school assignments such as dioramas or science fair projects. 

Put away and review school supplies.  See what supplies you already have such as scissors, pencils, paper and markers.  Make a shopping list of items needed for next year.  Post the list on your refrigerator so you can be prepared when these items go on sale.   

If the backpack is not going to be used again next year, consider donating it to someone less fortunate.

Enjoy your summer!

How do you decide what school papers to keep and what to toss?


Creative Commons License photo credit: OnTask

The 80/20 rule states that we use only use about 20% of what we own.  The other 80% is things that we once used, may one day use or feel that we should use.  Figure out which items fit into the category of the 20% of items that you actually use.  Which items are most important to you?  Ask yourself – When was the last time I used this item? Do I need it?  Do I love it?   Does it bring joy to my life or is it just cluttering up my home?  Give yourself permission to let go of those items that are not part of the 20%. USA, LLC