This post is part of a series based on Laine’s Home Economics: 50 Ways We Paid Off Our House on One Income. Previous posts in the series are listed on my Budget page. Laine is a Christian woman living with her family in California and living off one income. I first started following her via an email list about 7 or 8 years ago.
I wouldn’t call myself the queen of organizing, though as a mom of 5, being organized has helped me stay frugal. Though naturally an organized person, I first learned strategies for being organized when I worked at various nonprofits as an office manager, special events organizer, and membership manager.
When I decided to stay home and homeschool our oldest and then the rest of our four children came along, I read books like Deneice Schofield’s book, Confessions of an Organized Homemaker: The Secrets of Uncluttering Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life and Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Now, after 18 years, I’ve tweaked my system enough to have something that works well most of the time as long as I maintain it.
When I fail to follow/maintain a system
I’ve been incredibly busy this fall with volunteering at my children’s school and blogging. Things have fallen through the cracks because I don’t have time to use my system. Most of the time it’s not a big deal when I forget something. And then there’s the time when it isn’t.
I have weekly automatic withdrawals set up for our main checking. A few weeks ago, I increased the amount just for one time. I forgot to go back and change the amount back for the following week because I didn’t have time to do financial tasks. Two weeks later, I was charged $175 in fees. A huge pit formed in my stomach. That’s two and a half weeks worth of groceries. Fortunately, the amount was returned to our account, and we were refunded $140. Still, $35 would buy a lot of clothes for my family at Goodwill.
In the home, my motto is a place for everything and everything in its place. I declutter several times a year, and make sure that items used frequently are store near where they are used.
Bill paying – I have automatic payments set up for 90% of our bills. Generally, I check our accounts and keep running total of money for each budgetary item. I also pay credit card expenditures weekly rather than waiting until they are do.
Meal planning – Evernote and Springpad are my tools for planning and recipes, though I’m slowly migrating the recipes into Evernote. A few months ago, I started writing out monthly menu on paper calendar for planning purposes. I like having the job done at the beginning of the month with flexibility to tweak plans when needed.
Homekeeping – Almost all of my lists in Evernote, and organized by context, i.e. calls, office, and kitchen. Anything requiring more than one action steps goes into project notebooks in Evernote with lists and notes. Toodledo holds my daily and weekly repeating tasks, modeled after the FlyLady’s system. At this point, I have the repeating task memorized, though it’s helpful to have a list to look at when I’m overwhelmed by deciding what to do next.
All my Evernote lists and notes are available on my smartphone including my running grocery list for generally shopping and Costco. I also use the Evernote app to capture any tasks I need to remember, ideas for posts, or pictures of items to look at later. Recently I started emailing my notes directly to Evernote which eliminates a step on the smartphone.
My only list still on paper is a running list of needed shoe sizes and uniform needs, plus sizing info for husband and oldest son. At some point, I need to put this information into Evernote.
How My System Works
Each week, in addition to reviewing our financial accounts and budget, I do a weekly review as per GTD. It takes me about an hour to go through the following list:
- In box
- Weekly Tickler file
- Calendar – Paper
- Calendar – Google
- !Inbox notebook in Evernote
- Project Notebooks in Evernote
- Next Action lists in Evernote
- Menu plan – Springpad
Please share your successes and failures with staying organized and being frugal.
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