Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Organizing - To Keep My Sanity

Life is crazy!! With 3 kids that have to be at 3 places all at the same time saying that life is crazy is a drastic understatement.  Being a stay at home mom means I am responsible for pick up/drop off of the kids, dentist/doctor/orthodontist appointments, bill paying, checkbook balancing, cleaning...basically everything with the exception of actually making any money.  But it's fun...right?? All of that free time that I have to watch tv and get manicures is amazing.  Yeah, that was a bit of sarcasm.  Picture this....3 months ago....my house...Boondocks, Mississippi, I depended on my IPhone.  I couldn't function without my IPhone.  I scheduled every appointment in my calendar, every bill had an alarm.  I did EVERYTHING with my IPhone.  One day I sat down to pay bills.  I spent 5 minutes searching for the checkbook, 5 minutes trying to find the website to pay a bill and 10 minutes resetting the password for that website because I always forget them.  15 minutes on 1 bill alone and I had like 6 of them to pay.  Needless to say, ain't nobody got time for that. 

I'm a Pinterest addict.  I LOVE Pinterest and am unsure of how I survived before it.  I can't even remember what we ate before I discovered the unlimited library of recipes now at my disposal.  My husband seems to love my addiction, after all that is where his favorite steak recipe came from.  During one of my many breaks to browse Pinterest, I noticed a pin with the caption Home Management Binder.  Curiosity got the best of me and I clicked on it.  Dude, was I amazed!  This wonderful pin was exactly what my organized/OCD side needed!! I knew with a few changes and some personalization I was on my way to finally having every ounce of my life in order.

After several days of research and many hours of sorting through online templates, I finally decided what items I needed to make my day run smoothly.  I am a visual person.  I love my IPhone but I work better when I have a calendar to write everything on, that I can peek down and see the entire month in one quick glance.  I also knew that one of my most chaotic areas was keeping school activities and attendance organized.  Last year the boy kid had 19 unexcused absences.  In reality he had about 4 but for some reason the 2 weeks he missed after having tonsil surgery were counted as unexcused.  Had I been more organized I could have fixed that very simply.

Introducing: The Thompson Family Home Management Binder. 

This is the table of contents for our binder:

My whole life is managed by this little blue binder...and it works wonderfully.  I have saved countless hours since making this.
A brief description of each section:
Monthly Calendar: This section includes a calendar for the entire month.  Here is where I list all activities, appointments, anything that is scheduled for the month.
   A. Weekly Cleaning Chart:  I have divided the weekly cleaning into 6 days.  (Sunday is my off day) By doing a few small things every day, in addition to the usual picking up, I end up with a clean house by the weekend without spending the entire day Saturday cleaning.
   B. Monthly Cleaning Chart:  This is where I list all of those things that you should do monthly but sometimes forget.  My list includes: test smoke alarms, clean ac filter and vents, clean dryer vent, clean vent hood filter, clean windows and blinds, clean oven and microwave, clean ceiling fans, clean dishwaher, washer and dryer, clean carpets, bathe dogs, wash cars and clean furniture.
As I am sure most of you know, when you plan a weekly menu you save time and money at the grocery store and you eliminate those costly trips to the store midweek.  I this section I include our weekly menu and a running list of items I will need to pick up when I go to the store on the weekend.
This is my favorite section :)  It's the one that I use almost every day and has made the biggest difference. 
It includes: my check register, bill calendar, bill checklist, monthly budget, snowball payment plan, contact information for every credit, utility and account that we have and a section for usernames and passwords for every online account.
The checkbook register that is included in checkbooks was too small for me and always looked messy so I found a full page template online and began using that.  I now have room to write and it looks neat.  The bill calendar has each bill listed on it's due date.  The bill check list is just a spreadsheet with each bill listed along with the months of the year.  I can simply check off that bill each month once it is paid.  This allows me to see at a glance what has been paid and what needs to be paid.  The monthly budget shows what I have allowed us for groceries, etc for the month.  The snowball payment plan is my favorite. It is a spreadsheet with all of our bills, payoffs and payments listed.  I began paying on the smallest bill we had.  Last month I paid off a medical bill.  I was paying $100 a month on it.  Instead of having an extra $100 this month I will apply that $100 to the next bill in line and continue to do so until all of my debt has been paid off.  By doing this I estimate that our house and land will be paid off in around 6 years..a lot less than it is financed for!  Cha ching for saving on interest!!  Finally, I have a listing of all of our accounts with the contact information and account number for each, along with the online account information.
Emergency Info:
In this section I have a page for everyone along with a copy of their birth certificate.  Each person's individual page has information needed in an emergency.  It lists their full name, address, contact info, employer/school, birthday, SSN, blood type, eye/hair color, height/weight, allergies, medical conditions, medications, doctor, dentist and pharmacy.  It also includes a recent photo.  I don't like to prepare for the possibility of my husband or child being missing but doing so is responsible.  If I were ever in this situation I would not have to waste time searching for this.
  A: Absence Calendar and Doctor Excuses
As I said before since we had attendance issues last year I am determined to be prepared this year.  I have a calendar that I jot down every absence, tardy and check out on along with the reason for it.  I also photo copy each doctor/dentist/orthodontist excuse and add to this section before sending it to school.  Schools are busy places and sometimes excuses get misplaced..it happens and now I am prepared if it does.
  B: Notes
This section is for any correspondence I have with the school.  I haven't had any issues so far so it may stay empty :)
C: Handbook
I added a copy of the district's handbook.  It's a handy thing to have around when you have questions about the dress code, policies or when you have a crazy mom moment and forget how much lunch costs.
Lastly, we have the important documents section.  This section includes our property deed, insurance policies for the home, vehicles and life, vehicle titles, retirement account information and anything else that is important to us.
Having all of this in one place is a life saver.  In the event of a fire, natural disaster, any reason that we would have to get out and in a hurry I know that my "bug out"/home management binder is always under the table by the door.  Everything that we would need is in this one location.  I don't have to worry about replacing birth certificates, titles or getting a copy of our insurance policies if we have to evacuate for any reason.  Being this organized has made my life so much easier and my days more productive. 

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