Thursday, January 20, 2011

Guest Post: Rachel from Life with Mrs. B!

Rachel is a proud wife and work-from-home momma to an 18 month old and 7 months pregnant with baby #2!  She blogs about frugal living, life as a work-from-home wife, momma, personal growth, and items that find their way into her toilet at the hands of her ornery toddler. Join her as she trusts God through the journey at "getting it right" more often than not.
Welcome to Better Life Bags... the blog, Rachel!
Glad to have you!!
Here is her incredible post of 3 different areas of life to get organized: 

   We all have at least one...or two.....(or in my case several!) areas of life that we desire to get better organized. The problem for me is always starting the process and finding a process that really works for our family. Here are three areas of life that we have worked hard to get organized in the last several months.

The Coupons...
We started our journey using coupons about two years ago. In that time I've used about four different systems for organizing, including envelopes, receipt holders & simply cutting what I think I'll use before heading out to the store. My current system has proven to be the most effective and user friendly for our family.

The basic concept is two photo albums, a larger photo album with two slots per page and a small travel photo album that will fit in my purse. The first album is divided into categories (household, cleaning, personal care, pantry items, fridge items, etc.) 

Within each category I have specific labels and locations for particular coupons. On the "memo" side located next to each photo opening, I have written in the name of the product. For example, the first page opens up with "household" as the category. On that page I have "batteries" written. Next to each photo slot is the name of a specific brand of battery, example: "duracell, energizer." This makes it so much easier to see what I have coupons for without having to dig through a large stack.

The second album is only used for baby items & store specific coupons. This album is used most frequently & is easier to carry around than the larger album.
The Mail...
If the contents of your mailbox resemble mine you have a LOT of mail to deal with on a weekly basis. Our organization of our mail has been an ongoing process that started to evolve when we got tired of digging through stacks of mail on our desk to find one simple bill (true story!).

I receive paper copies of all of our bills & bank statements each month. There have been numerous occasions where we have had to look back on a bill from the past in order to resolve an issue or track spending & we prefer being able to have it in front of us.

In order to ensure that all mail goes to the same location in the house, my husband and I purchased a hanging organizer. All mail gets opened and immediately tossed in here to be dealt with on a set day of the week. I discard junk mail, make shopping lists with the grocery circulars and tuck them into my coupon album, and I use a three-hole punch to sort our bills into their appropriate binders we've designed.

We have a monthly bill binder (mortgage payments, car loan, utilities, etc..), a student loan binder (for all communication from our respective loan companies), a medical bills binder (track receipts from insurance company and bills from the offices), and a bank statements binder. At a glance we can see our bills & have bills from the previous months as well! 

The current plan is to hold on to 12 months worth of bills and statements, but this is open to change :)

The In & Out of Daily Life...
When I started my journey as a stay at home mom, I quickly discovered that household notebooks were becoming popular in the blog world. I attempted a household notebook using downloads from various sites---and the attempt was a total flop. 

The problem was the forms weren't what my family needed. So, for a few months I took notes on what would help me feel more organized as a wife and mom and talked with my husband about what would make him feel more like he knew what our routines were during the day.

A couple of months ago this evolved into a household folder. Literally a three-prong folder contains our household cleaning schedule, monthly calendars, master to-do lists, 2011 goals, weekly planning sheets, freezer cooking ideas for the month, etc. The pockets hold important "need to know" about items like library programs, invitations, and information for my work from home job. You can read more about the specifics of our household folder and how it was made here.
These are tips that are working for our family at this point in our lives. I'm open to adapting our systems for organization at different seasons and have quickly discovered that without customizing systems to fit your own needs, it's hard for it to be successful! 

Set aside some time and think about an area of your life that could use a little organization & brainstorm some ideas to make it more efficient. I promise the pay-off is well worth the effort!


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