Friday, September 20, 2013

My Organization System

We have made it over four years of living together with little to no organization or schedule of cleaning.  Considering how absolutely crazy I am, this is absurd.  With my staying home, I knew that in addition to the laundry, cleaning and cooking that I would take on full time, I would have to get an organization system together for paying our bills and keeping the house running smoothly.  It has surprised me how awesome and how much more of a home it feels like now that clean and organized is our new normal!

Ok, so one of the places we needed the most help on was budgeting and making sure our bills were paid, especially the irregular bills (i.e. medical bills, parking tickets, lawncare, annual insurance premiums etc) !!  This is a work in progress in some areas, but I found a system that has been a REALLY great start.  We used to simply have a little basket where I'd put the important mail, bills to be paid, anything to file in our non existent filing system, stuff to keep.  This resulted in an ALWAYS messy mail counter, bills that weren't opened,  bills that we thought were paid but weren't, bills that were paid, but we weren't sure if they was horrible.  Pete took care of the money and paying the bills; so, in theory, he was supposed to take the bills from the basket to work, pay them and then bring them back to file (read: throw them back in the mail basket to be confused with all the other crap because I never filed anything).

Anywho, enough with the disorganization!  This is how we're organized now...

So, here's what you'll need...

1) A small, open file container.  I suggest one that matches your home decor!  I chose one with a small area for pens, but if yours doesn't have that, I'd get a matching pencil holder.  Mine also has an envelope sized area in the front.  Again, if yours doesn't have that, you'll need something to store these items for mailing in as well.
2) 3-5 cute folders w/ tabs to write on
3) 2 heavy duty, magnetic clips
4) A magnetic notepad for shopping list.  Simply write down things you run out of or realize you need on this notepad.  I then use this list to create a grocery shopping list after meal planning every Monday before I go to the store.  Sometimes I'll do it on Sunday night if I'm feeling productive.
5) This weekly organization sheet.  I have about 15 preprinted and in this clip for easy access.
6) A calendar made on any word processing software with your monthly bills already filled in.  I did the next 6 months all at once so I don't have to go back every month and do this again.
7) Blank Envelopes (and blank thank you cards if you'd like!)
8) Stamps
9) Checkbook
10) Address Book
11) Pens, pencils, tape etc.
12) A larger home filing box to be kept somewhere else in the house with hanging files and tabs.  Tax information, birth certificates, marriage certificates and bill receipts will be kept in this.

Our filing system includes the following folders...
- Bills to Pay:  When the mail comes in, open each piece and throw away all the enclosures and envelope.  Place the bill flat in this folder.  If the bill is not on your usual monthly bills list, outlined on your calendar by date, write the name of the bill on the date that it's due on your calendar before filing.
- Bills Paid:  Every week, check your calendar to see which bills need to be paid.  After the bill is paid, write the confirmation number on the top of the bill, the date you paid it and your initials and file in this "Bills Paid" file.  Once a month, you can move everything in this file to a binder or file that you keep elsewhere in the house.  I have a binder that's divided by month that I keep with a small filing box that includes tax information and important documents.
- To File:  After I go through the mail each day, I place items like important receipts, annual statements and paystubs in this file.  Once a month, I take this file up to that filing box I was telling you about and file these in the appropriate long term file.
- Artwork:  I have this file because our mail counter was always covered with Jacob's artwork and his box of old artwork is elsewhere in the house, pretty inconvenient to get to!  I place all of his artwork (that doesn't go on the fridge) in this file and clear it out when it gets full.

*outgoing mail gets prepared and placed in front of the blank envelopes to be taken to the post office/mailbox.

The calendar is pretty directly related to the files listed above in its functionality.  But, other than listing bill due dates, I also list appointments, vacations and major weekend projects on this calendar.  No joke, I have our next three months of weekends filled with some sort of project or vacation.  At least I know we have a plan to get all of this stuff done before the baby comes! :)  Just to warn you, putting this calendar together takes time.  I didn't have a template, so I literally had to custom create each calendar and just move the days around for each month.  Thank God for copy, paste and grouping functions.  Hopefully, your word processing software has something that will be easier to use!

WHEW.  That was a lot!!  Remember, the first part of this is your weekly planning.  Check out this post for a free template that will help you plan out what you're doing every day, your meals for the week, appointments you need to make and things you need to plan to purchase or order outside of groceries (i.e. Jacob: new shoes, Sadie: crib, Mom: birthday present etc).

My next step is to really get a grasp on where our money is going.  I have a spreadsheet that I should be filling out once a week of itemized purchases so I can make sure it lines up with my other monthly budget spreadsheet.  That's just so much work.....  Hopefully I'll come up with an easier system soon so we can really be organized.  It feels great to know what's going on and to feel like your finances and home are under control.  It just took us four years to get there!! :)

HAPPY FRIDAY!!  Use your weekend to do at least one thing that will improve your peace of mind next week... maybe putting together this system in a way that works for you?! :)

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