Budget Binder

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This is a great way to organize all of your finances!

I started with dividing my binder by months, this way when it comes to tax time I can just take my whole binder instead of a pile of papers and just start a new binder next year!

Now the miscellaneous stuff that you will have in your binder that don’t belong in your dividers would be your first and last pay stubs from your current job (the rest of your pay stubs should be somewhere safe)…

Recurring Expense Sheet 

Recurring Expenses

Year at a Glance Sheet

Financial Goals Sheet

Financial Goals

Checkbook Register

Checkbook register

A Monthly Ledger

Monthly ledger

Savings Information Sheets 

Savings information

Bills Checklist

A Year of Savings Sheet (I have one for loans and one for a house)

Year of Savings

Now for each month I tucked away a 2015 Calendar in each divider to let me see what days that bills are due.

Next is the Month at a Glance which gives you an overview of bills, extra spending, and savings.

Month at a Glance

After that you have your Monthly Check In which helps you to get an understanding of your goals and how you are doing each month with them.

Monthly Check-In

After that I have my Budget Worksheets that I made in Excel. It’s easy enough to do and if you download my worksheet all you have to do is punch in your numbers and it will calculate everything for you. And you can change your budget however you want! This is just what we stick to.

Next is our Paycheck Budgeting Sheet which breaks down each of your paychecks.

Paycheck Budget

I have all of those for each month so that way I have a handle on our finances even if they fluctuate.

I also include in each month a printout of each bill that we pay, so that way when we do our taxes at the end of the year we have proof that all of our bills were paid in full and on time. I also include sells I make either on Etsy.com, Ebay.com, or another site so I am counting that extra income for the month as well.

At the back of my binder I have a section for our debts, because this summer we are going to start paying off student loans. I have a Full Debt Overview, Outstanding Debt Information, and a Snowball Calculator.

So after taking a look does this look doable?? I think it is 😉 After putting your binder together and sticking to it, it becomes easy to keep everything together!

I really encourage everyone to make a Budget Binder. Even if you are not a “binder person,” this will do you a world of good!

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Creating Your Binders

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Having binders helps tremendously when you want to be organized!! If you are not an organized person I would suggest starting with this so you can get your filing out of the way! It will help you out in the long run!

You first need to brainstorm and figure out what binders you will actually use. I have several binders:

Budget Binder

My Binder (I take this with me everywhere)

Christmas Binder

Thanksgiving Binder

Family Binder

Holiday Binder

Summer Binder

Medical Binder

Red Binder (Emergency use)

Recipe Binder

Assistance Binder

So as you can see, I have a binder for everything! But it has helped me so much in the past and saved me the hassle of digging through piles of paperwork!

Next break down your binders. I go over this in each post about each binder so if you want to read about those just click on each binder.

Lastly just grab your supplies and get crackin on the filing! It doesn’t take took long to organize everything. Grab all of your paperwork and start sorting through it all and make your piles according to binder! Then once you are done just stuff your binders.

Couldn’t be simpler!

I found a lot of my inspiration from other binder-enthusiasts and compiled a lot of their ideas into my own!

The Kitchen is the Heart of the House

I find that when I am not organized, I am not happy. If I am not constantly straightening up, filing away, cleaning spills and grime, or being productive in some way, I feel incomplete in a way. As a wife and mother, I feel like it is my job to be the organized and productive one.

Not saying that my husband doesn’t do anything! lol

But I try to model myself after the Proverbs 31 woman (which I will be doing a blog about in the not-too-distant future) and she was on top of EVERYTHING!

From finances, to her children, to taking care of her husband, all of that! So I strive to be more like her.

STARTING WITH THE KITCHEN!

If things are not organized in there then I cannot function, dinner is blah, and no one is happy.

THEREFORE, I grabbed some tools to help me be a little more efficient. I don’t have everything I want yet because I can’t afford them yet, but I am getting there little by little! I pick up things here and there once in a while and I build up my usage!

One thing is for sure, I LOVE containers. They look better than cardboard boxes and they can fit more than they can! I put our cereals, crackers, and those sorts of foods in big containers on top of our fridge.

I also have containers for our baking staples such as flour, sugar, baking powder, and ground flax seed. It is SO much easier and NEATER to put them in canisters and not have to worry about the mess that the bags make. We got our canisters from Bed Bath and Beyond and have been happy with them for 2 years now! They are suction seal so that helps keep the staples fresh. Someday I would like to get more to put my pastas in!

Another item I found (at Goodwill!) was a small tiered rack that I put all of my little spices on! Beforehand all of my spices were just jumbled in my cabinet and I couldn’t always see what I had. Once I went through it all I found out I had about 3 things of chili powder, 3 HUGE containers of cinnamon, and (I kid you not) 5 giant salts…

I guess you can never go wrong with having too much of those things, but still… I would not have gotten them at the store if I had known they were there in the first place!

So now with my tiered rack I placed all of my spices neatly on the shelf and I can see everything I have!

Amazon also has a lot of great tools that I love! One is this under-the-shelf basket that just slides under the shelf and hangs there for things such as plastic wrap or tin foil! It’s handy and pretty inexpensive! If you want to see it on Amazon, or buy it, it’s right here!

Under the Shelf Basket

I also made an inventory (we will go into inventories later on) of everything that I have in my spice cabinet so I don’t run into this problem again!

Another little thing I did (right when we got married) was get a couple little wicker baskets that are on top of our microwave and they hold miscellaneous stuff… right now they are holding rice and chocolate chips ha! But they originally were for snacks on the go. (I’ll have to fix that when I get home tonight) I would portion out snacks like raisins, crackers, nuts, granola bars, fruit cups, etc. into little containers (who would have thought?!) and put them into the wicker baskets so that way when one of us was on the go, we could grab a snack in a rush!

That brings me to another wish of mine for my kitchen…for my fridge actually. I have seen so many people use plastic bins in their fridge and freezer to maximize room in there and hold foods and it is my ambition to do this! Our shelves are CRAZY right now and it would be so much easier to just have everything in designated tubs.

Ah…someday!

Another area of organization in your kitchen are your drawers… this one can cause nightmares for some people! They’re messy and sometimes impossible to open from everything jammed in them! That is when I discovered little dividers at Meijer to help keep everything in its place in my drawers! I use silverware dividers and small square ones as well to catch all of the little things (like teaspoons, snack containers, etc.)

Some of my drawers are not very deep, so it’s difficult to find the right containers to divide everything, but for now I work with what I have.

The next area to discuss is under the sink.

Oh dear.

This was a disaster zone for us at home for the longest time. I didn’t want to touch it because it was so nasty…but finally I mustered up the courage to tackle the mess!

I pulled everything out, made an inventory (ha!) of all of my cleaning supplies and guess what? I had MULTIPLES of EVERYTHING! This is what happens when you make an inventory. You realize how much stuff you really have! I then found a couple of boxes that we had lying around and put all of our cleaning supplies in those boxes so that way they’re contained and out of the way.

I left out a couple of cleaning supplies like Lysol wipes, disinfectant spray, Windex, and Fabreeze out and within an easy reach because I use those on a daily basis.

I also had empty bottles that we were planning on using someday (key word, someday) and finally decided that we weren’t going to any time soon. So I recycled those. If we want to use some in the future we can wait until our other ones are empty and use those.

We also had a small green plastic bin from the dollar store that I had gotten a long time ago and it wasn’t getting much use out of it, and I put all of the things we need on a daily basis in there. These things would be the dish soap, the sponges, rubber gloves, and sink stoppers. That way when it comes time to do the dishes at night I can just grab them easily, and once morning comes and it’s time to put everything away, they’re in their places and out of our way.

The last thing I did under the sink was collect all of our wrappings. Tin foil, plastic wrap, wax paper, that sort of thing, and I put them all in an empty cereal box until I can get a magazine holder to put them in. This way they stay rolled up and they don’t get lost among everything else down there!

The next area I tackled in our kitchen was the kids cabinet. This has all of the baby food, plates, utensils, cups, bottles, and food. It was hard keeping all of the plates to stay stacked since most of them are divided and they would end up falling out whenever I opened the door. So I took another trip to Goodwill and found a small plastic bin that I could easily stack all of the plates and travel containers in. This actually saved space and has been a great tool!

The last area I tackled in our kitchen was our can cabinet. This one was easy. I just put the big cans on top, the medium cans on the middle shelf, and the coffee, tea, honey, and peanut butter on the bottom. (I still have to make an inventory though 😉

I do have a freezer inventory going, but I will get to that when I go over inventories.

So that’s it! I still have a lot I want to do, but I have to wait until we have a little extra income before I do anything more. Now onto the next project! Can’t wait! 🙂

Tackling Your Space!

This can be a very scary place for first time organizers. This is your sanctuary! You know where everything is! …at least, where it is in the pile. Or stuffed in the drawer!

Trust me, now is the time to get everything straightened up. You can’t stay a teenager forever!  It’s time to turn your big kid room into an adult room.

And don’t worry! It will still be your room! Just clean and organized 🙂

CLOSET

Start with your closet. I’ve talked about doing this before in my Purge your Splurge post. You want to get rid of anything that you know you are not wearing anymore. And if you want to try the reverse hanger method for a while after that to really see what you do and do not wear, go for it! But for now, at least clear the items out that you absolutely know you haven’t worn in at least 9 months to a year.

After you’ve gone through your clothing, take a look at your shelves. If you have piles hanging off the edges trying to escape, bring them down, sort them out, and put them away.

It might be a good investment for you to purchase some boxes you can store in your closet as well to hold either hats, scarves, or even sentimental belongings that you don’t want out in the open.

DRESSER

Next is your dresser. THIS can get a little scary.

First thing’s first…your underwear drawer. Any underwear that is “holy” (meaning see-through without meaning to be), stained, stretched, or too small, pitch them. Don’t even think about donating them. I think it’s disgusting to donate underwear in the first place, so don’t burden someone else with your nasty findings.

After going through your underwear and only keeping what’s good, move on to the socks. Find all of the lonely socks and put them in a pile (we’ll get to them in a second). Next dump all of your socks on your bed and sort them by whites, darks, and patterned. If you have over 20 pairs of white and dark socks, start purging. You only realistically need about 5 pairs of white socks, 5 black, and 3 brown, tan, grey, whatever. You know how often you wear those socks. If you only wear black socks about once a week, only keep one or two pairs! Just be honest with yourself about how much you wear them.

For your patterned socks, go through them and decide which ones you still wear and which ones you haven’t worn since high school. Yes, patterned socks are fun, but if you are an adult with a grown-up job, odds are you only wear patterned (or fuzzy) socks at nighttime or weekends. If this is the case, start purging! Keep the ones you KNOW you wear, and give away the ones that you haven’t worn in forever. Be realistic. For example, if you have 5 pairs of MSU socks, one is your all-time favorite, one you wear when your all-time favorite pair is dirty, and the rest you haven’t worn since you got your all-time favorite pair, give away those other three pairs. They need a home that loves them for who they are.

Now, onto your lonely sock pile. Start sorting again. Soon you may start finding that some belong together. If so, put them where they belong, whether it is in your drawer or in the donate pile. If you end up with socks that have no partners, either throw them away (because who wants just one sock?!) or if you are crafty save them for sock puppets with your kids! Or give them to someone crafty for the same reason.

Once you are done with that drawer, move on to your other drawers. Go through your shorts, pants, shirts, pajamas, etc. and start purging! You realistically only need 3 pairs of dress pants (black, grey, and tan/brown), 2 pairs of jeans (flared and skinny), 3 pairs of shorts (2 denim, 1 khaki), 3 sets of pajamas, and 2 sets of sweatpants. If you are holding onto clothing for sentimental or nostalgic reasons, but you never wear them anymore, I would suggest either tucking them away in your hope chest, or purchasing some Ziploc space saver bags and putting them in there. This way you can suction the air out and tuck them either under your bed or in a closet.

BEDDING

Now that we are done with the underwear drawer we can move on to bedding. If you are like me and you have about 17 pillow cases, of which 6 actually go to a bedding set you have all together, and the other 11 accumulated in your house over time and have no home. These are the pink, off-white, sky blue, occasionally patterned, pillow cases that came in your hope chest, were dropped and forgotten by an overnight guest, or mysteriously walked into your house in the middle of the night and found its home underneath your bed (we all have that one..).

You do not need 17 pillow cases.

Start purging.

First, get your complete sets together. This would include your bottom fitted sheet that wraps around your mattress, your top sheet, and at least two pillow cases. Set your complete sets aside. These ones you will keep. Complete bed sets can sometimes be expensive, so it’s better to have a couple on hand at home in case you have visitors or you have to change bedding in the middle of the night because your 3 year old decided to crawl into bed and pee all over the place.

Once you’ve done that, get going on your other bedding pieces. Sometimes you may find that you have incomplete sets, which are good to keep too. If you go through it all and find that you have mismatched pieces, donate them. I will allow keeping 2 extra mismatched pillow cases (again for overnight guests) but that is it, because you already have your complete sets that you are keeping.

In the end, you should really only keep 2 complete sets (not including the one on your bed), 2 incomplete sets, and 2-3 mismatched pillow cases. If you regularly have house guests that stay the night maybe keep one more set. But if you rarely have overnight guests, I would definitely say purge as many as you can. We found 5 incomplete sets, 2 complete sets, and about 10 mismatched pillow cases in all of our bedding. We kept the 2 complete, 2 incomplete, and 3 mismatched pillow cases.

Once you store your bedding, do not put them somewhere that can get damp or humid. This can cause the bedding to start smelling old and funky. Keep them inside either in a linen closet, or in a tub. You can even add a few dryer sheets in the tub to keep them smelling fresh. Lastly, one easy way to organize your bedding to save space is to open one of the pillow cases and tuck the matching bedding inside of the pillow case and just stack them on top of each other like that.

After you’re done with your bedding (since that took FOREVER) now it’s time to move on to your shoes.

SHOES

This was the hardest part for me.

How many shoes does a girl really need?

How could I ask such a question…

This part is rarely hard for guys because most of you only own the necessary pairs. Sneakers, dress shoes, boots, flip flops, and some of you, cleats, and that’s it!

For girls it’s almost like we stitch our souls to our shoes…well no more!

Start purging!

Yay!

For me, I love my heels. So I got the hard part out of the way first. I kept my dressy black heels, my oxfords, and another pair of tan heels, my red heels that I got for my 18th birthday that make me feel like Dorothy, and my casual black wedges with elastic straps. I also kept a pair of camo heels because my husband is a hunter and it was only fitting that I wear them with my little black dress. 🙂

Next, move on to your casuals.

I got a lot of TOMS shoes when they were first getting big and I felt like I was doing a good thing by supporting them. If you do not know what TOMS shoes are, just click the link and you will find out. Basically you buy a pair for yourself and another pair goes to children overseas who don’t have shoes. It’s a great cause!…but I don’t need 6 pairs anymore. So I kept my tan pair and my black pair.

I also tossed my old nasty running shoes and kept my new pair. No sense in keeping a pair I don’t need anymore!

I moved onto my boots and only kept one black pair and one tan pair. I had a pair of wedged tan boots but I hadn’t worn them since I bought my other tan pair. I also kept my goulashes and my winter boots (which will need replacing soon!).

Finally onto the flats. I only have one pair of flats, but if you are one who prefers flats to heels, you will probably keep more. Just be honest with yourself about how much you wear them. Keep one basic pair of each color. You don’t need 3 black pairs of flats, not matter how cute the little bow is.

If you have any other shoes you need to go through, do it now while you are on top of it all. Don’t skip it! Just get it done!

UNDER THE BED

After you are done with that, take a look under the bed.

Are there any monsters?

How could there be! There is no room for them to fit!

Go through everything under your bed and start purging. If you don’t want to get rid of anything, then either put them in their proper homes or find a good storage case to put them in.

I bought those Ziploc space bags that you suction the air out of and stuffed sweaters and more comforters in them.

TOP OF THE DRESSER

FINALLY we get to the top of the dresser.

This is not the catch-all!

Clear off the surface area and put everything in its place.

Next, sort all of your jewelry that is just chilling everywhere and put it all away in your boxes.

If you do not keep your jewelry on your dresser top, then designate that space for useful items you need in the morning to get ready. This could be your alarm clock, makeup, jewelry on the go, deodorant, hair ties, etc. Make it a functional space that you can work with!

Well, that is it. You’ve successfully gone through your entire room in less than a day (hopefully). This is just one step closer to reaching your dream organized home!

Great job and keep it up! 🙂

For More Eyes Than Your Spouse’s

You know the last place you want your guests going is your bathroom, and it’s the last place you forget to clean because you’re too busy making sure the living areas are all spit-spot!

And then you go in when everyone is over and you realize how awful it actually looks… to you at least.

The toilet hasn’t been cleaned in a few days.

The sink has toothpaste in odd places.

…what kind of spittle are these people shooting to make toothpaste reach BEHIND the faucet?!

The trash is overflowing.

The mirror is covered with suspicious spots.

And you could make a small dog a sweater with all of the loose hairs that have found their homes in odd places.

So as you pretend to be going to the bathroom you are frantically splashing water on the sink and the mirror to wipe away the big clumps of toothpaste and spittle (gross!), you take a wad of toilet paper and wipe down the ring of the toilet to make it look like you clean every so often, and you use your hands to shuffle all of the hairs on the floor into a neat pile, pick it up like a dead rat and shove it down into the trash bin so it doesn’t look like it is too stuffed for its britches.

There. The band-aid to the problem. Now you can at least go and enjoy your guests for a little while before they leave and you REALLY tackle that mess with rubber gloves and a hose!

I am so that person, which is why I resolved to make a difference in the lavatory department.

I first went through all of my bathroom items and got rid of the things that were either trash or I wasn’t keeping (see my post about decluttering), took the trash out, and swept the floor.

I then purchased some fabric bins that fit the shelves behind our toilet and designated them to fill my nail polish, hair stuffs, makeup, and a catch-all in a hurry. I also got a little desk organizer with drawers for our medicines and labeled each one for either prescriptions, cold and flu, or other. This is also on the shelf behind our toilet.

We do not have a closet in our bathroom, but we do have shelves in the hallway right outside our bathroom, so I put our towels stacked neatly on the top shelf, and our small towels on the shelf below that. I also got a 97 cent storage bin from Wal-Mart and put small things in there like soap, razors, that sort of thing. That also goes on the self with the small towels.

Underneath our sink I got another small bin from Wal-Mart for the same purpose, but these are things that we would grab in the bathroom.

I also sewed a toilet paper holder that hangs below the dispenser because we do not have a good place to put a huge thing of toilet paper! It can hold up to 4 rolls at a time, which is perfect in case we run out on the john!

Finally, I made a routine for each night before we go to bed for cleaning up so that way we do not accumulate muck in the bathroom!

Each night before bed I close the bathroom curtain (so it won’t get nasty when it is folded and wet), and I wipe out the sink and faucet.  I have a weekly Cleaning Schedule (click to download) that covers other parts of the bathroom that I wrote up a while ago.

So that is how I tackled the bathroom situation! I still have more ideas, but I will go over those sometime when I have a little more cash to spend! 😉

Cleaning Schedule

Morning

Put Dishes Away

Make Bed

Evening

Wash Dishes

Wipe down stove/countertops

Wipe down bathroom sink

Sweep Kitchen

Straighten Up

Weekly

Monday: Vacuum/Bills/Countertops

Tuesday: Clean toilet and sink/Water plants

Wednesday: Light dusting/wipe down entertainment center

Thursday: Wipe shelves/small trashes

Friday: Laundry Day

Saturday: Grocery Shopping

Monthly

Week 1: Deep vacuum (furniture), washing bedding and chair blankets

Week 2: Clean mirrors/windows/TV/stove, wipe down walls

Week 3: Dust picture frames/knick knacks, Clean fan, wipe kitchen counters

Week 4: Wash cabinets/stove fan, scrub shower

(Week 5): Wash out fridge, wipe down microwave

A Little Bang for your Buck!

This section is all about donating and selling your stuff that you are not planning on keeping. What’s wrong with getting a little out of what you give away right?

As you are going through everything, once you come across something that you know you are not going to keep ask yourself, would someone buy this? Could I get a little money back from this?

If it is something really used, like your old sweaters or flip flops then no…either trash those or donate them to a Goodwill or Salvation Army. But if you come across something that’s still new, usable, and looks good, then it’s a good chance that you might be able to turn around and resell it!

I recently found some great things in our house that I can sell in different ways. You can either sell online, in a yard sale, (they have virtual yard sales also like on Facebook), etc.

If you want to sell online there are a couple websites that I can recommend.

One is Etsy.com and it is a site where you can either sell your homemade stuff or sell items that you have! I have a shop on there myself called JennyBethTasteofHome that I post homemade scarves, jewelry, etc. on if you want to see what it looks like! It’s easy, affordable and actually kind of fun to explore. It only take 20 cents each listing you post and that’s it! So it’s really cheap.

Another site I would recommend would be Ebay.com. Not as cheap, they still take out a percentage depending on what item is listed and the price, but it is a good way to reach out to a global community wishing to buy. It’s user friendly and doesn’t take very long. Just make sure you are using good pictures and use details to describe your item so that way it can sell faster! And always account for shipping. I would recommend setting the shipping cost as an actual cost for a flat rate packaging because it will sneak up on you how much shipping actually costs!

If you are not technologically savvy, then I would HIGHLY recommend doing a garage/yard sale this upcoming spring or summer! You take in so much satisfaction after it is all over and you can sell quite a bit doing it! Make sure you are putting your best items out in front so it draws people in. Whether it be a great dress, chair, or kids toys, people are always looking for a bargain!

I would recommend doing the yard sale before selling online because you will sell faster in a garage sale. However, if there are items that you are confident you can get a decent amount for that you wouldn’t get in a garage sale, save those for your online sales. That way you are not shorting yourself. Also, if you start your yard sale early in the season, try selling online for a month or two and it hasn’t had any nibbles, you always have more time to do another yard sale to get rid of those stragglers!

And if it comes down to it that you are at the end of the good weather season, you’re tired of waiting on buyers and you just want everything out, you can always opt to take everything to a donation location. I definitely think it is a good investment of your time to sell, however. Give it a little time and patience, and I believe you will see the benefits of waiting! 🙂

Well that is my blurp about donating and selling. I hope you take a little time to digest what you’ve taken in while you’ve been going through your things and consider doing a little work to sell your items! Get a little bit of bang for those bucks 😉