SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

Credit CardThis was the Money & Finance Divider.  I’m doing things differently this go-round, setting up a separate binder, but I’m glad to share how it was set up in the past.


One of the most important things in the Money & Finance section is that ugly B-word that so many people my age no longer believe in: BUDGET.  I used to keep both weekly and monthly budgets, along with a spending record.  Was it overkill?  A little.  Was it overwhelming?  Absolutely.  Now I keep a monthly budget and it is much easier to keep these days.  My snowball plan goes with the budget – I love love love watching bills shrink!


I also kept up with bills to pay in the binder.  I used pocket dividers labeled Week 1, Week 2, etc., and that is where the bills would live till they were paid.  Now I pay most bills electronically, and the pocket dividers are not as necessary as they were years ago.  I now envision a calendar to track bill paying.


Credit Card List:  OMG.  When Grizzly and I were early marrieds, I probably couldn’t have told you what credit cards we had.  We were living on credit, I think.  Years and a Dave Ramsey class later, we’re near the other end of the spectrum.  Thank goodness!  But we do still tote a little plastic.  A list of credit cards, the payment information, and maybe even photo copies (in case of a stolen or lost wallet) would be helpful.


I also kept a directory of utilities and subscriptions. I listed the service, our account number, and any relevant contact information for said service.  When we lived in NoBo, our electricity went out at least three times a month, and I was so happy to have a ready reference to call and report an outage!  While we don’t have that issue anymore, I don’t know that Grizzly would be able to change anything on our satellite account or water billing without asking me.  Which is part of why this list is a good idea.


Insurance information, a home inventory, and warranty information can be kept here.  Over the years, we’ve added life insurance and home owner’s insurance to top our vehicle insurance.  I also have a small policy through my workplace. So many times, when a spouse or parent passes away, people don’t know what insurances are out there on their loved one.   Having everything in one location aid the big guy in settling things should something ever happen to me.


Other things for this section might include:


  • Vehicle information: financing, insurance, maintenance.  The blue lemon has its own binder, due to excessive maintenance since it joined our family.
  • Safety Deposit/Fire Box inventories:  This one is necessary because nobody knows where I keep anything important.
  • Banking information:  I’ve always used multiple financial institutions, and keep a list of accounts, as well as statements, with the rest of my financial foo fa.


I like everything in one place, easily accessible.  What else should go in a money binder?


~ Katie






three ring binder

The next section of my binder is home management.  This is the section that is going to make sure the House of Cheaptitude runs smoothly.  Well, it will if the appropriate people utilize it.

This is the subdivision where I’ll keep information about cleaning, entertaining, storage, and various inventories.  In other words, the home management section is the residence of my beloved lists!  This is my basic plan:

  • Running to do and wish lists
  • Cleaning schedule: I find if it’s on a list, I’m more likely to do it.  And making a list, I can break chores into smaller, bite-sized chunks.
  • Occasional chores:  We all have things that need doing around the house only monthly or even seasonally.  I will probably list these by month in this section.
  • Monkey chores:  I’m pretty pleased of the monkeys.  They have a few household tasks that they perform regularly, often without being asked.  However, they’re getting older and can handle more these days.  For example, they can clean their bathroom (the “public” one) now.  I’ve also been working with Monkey 1 on laundry.  21 days to establish a routine….
  • Entertaining lists and ideas:  I want to keep track of what is where, from table linens to birthday candles.  Most of my holiday decorations are in the attic, in labeled totes, but remember the stocking mishap this past Christmas?
  • Decorating ideas:  furniture, appliances, projects, etc. that appeal to me.  That makes this a binder-version of Pinterest, I guess.
  • Home inventory:  I need to do this anyway, for insurance purposes.  Furniture, major appliances, electronics, etc. need to be listed, with purchase dates and prices if possible.  One copy will go in my binder, and another, hopefully, in a safety deposit box.  Now to get a safety deposit box….
  • Home storage inventory: Grizzly and I do not rent a storage facility.  I guess if it ever comes to that point, I’ll need to get rid of some junk!  But Grizzly has no clue where anything is.  So anything packed away (clothes for Monkey 2 to grow into, the back stock of school supplies, etc.) will go on this list, with the locations.

Other items I’ve kept in this section in the past include our car maintenance schedules, recycling locations, yard sale checklists, and stain removal guides.  These were ideas from Organized Home.  However, I keep a separate binder on the Blue Lemon because it lives at the dealership every month or so.  Yard sales I just kind of throw together with family or friends, and stain removal is better located with all of my other Mt. Washmore items.  As for recycling?  In theory, I love it.  Across the river, people are required to do it, with special trash cans and all.  I like the idea, but if I can’t repurpose it myself, I usually end up throwing it out.

I may include simple instructions detailing how to operate the different appliances and foo fah around the house – washer, dryer, oven, microwave, etc.  After all, the point is to get the rest of the fam involved, correct?

What lists/instructions do you need to leave so your home runs smoothly?

~ Katie

Master Cleaning Checklist


If you don’t have little monkeys climbing around your tree, you can skip this one.  I, however, have two little monkeys.

At two different schools.

On two different schedules.

With two different sets of extracurricular activities.

And I work in one, in a completely different district!

So this is a pretty important section in my management binder.  I thought at one point about setting up a binder on each monkey for school stuff, but I think one section in the main binder will be fine for now.  After all, we’re already in elementary and almost done with middle school at this point.  I’ve added “dividers” for each monkey within this section.  And a lot of this information is stored safely away in my head, but that doesn’t help Grizzly if he needs to meet with the P.E. teacher, or if PaPaw wants to check someone’s grades before a fishing trip.

What do I keep in the school section?

  • a district calendar: the kids’ district and the one in which I teach
  • lunch menus: not always accurate, but I check the website regularly.  I can also keep up with their lunch money accounts in here.
  • school information page: each school’s address, phone numbers, website, teacher emails, and online grading login
  • Bell and class schedules
  • IEP/IAP when applicable:  Monkey 2 used to receive 504 services for speech therapy.
  • Student Handbooks (as a teacher, I’m like the dress code police!)
  • school reading lists:  Monkey 1’s teachers can’t seem to let anyone know ahead of time what books he’ll need to read.  I do keep both monkeys’ Accelerated Reader info in this section.
  • Websites:  a list of helpful websites, like our state’s test prep program (Louisiana PASS), Easy Bib (Monkey 1 still doesn’t get how to cite sources!), and anything else educational and helpful.
  • Passwords:  I have some educational games on my desktop computer and the monkeys can’t ever remember their passwords.
  • Summer Programs:  I get flyers about summer reading programs, usually in April, and for the past few years, we’ve participated in our library’s summer reading program.

If you home school, this would be a great place for any home school records.

I also end up sliding report cards in this section.  Yes, cleaning out my old notebook, I found report cards from 2011.  Really?

I will probably include a stack of fill-in-the-blank bus notes, so I don’t have to scribble 2 notes at 4:30 in the morning every time the monkeys have to go to PaPaw and MaMaw’s after school.

This section involves more hole-punching than form creation.  Can you think of a form I might need to create?  What would you keep in your school section?

~ Katie


{February 19, 2013}   Household Binder: Update

My reference materials.

A lot of my to-do’s are left undone after my long weekend.  My head is still killing me and I’m finally tackling some of the mountain of papers to grade.  Didn’t make it to the parental units’ till this evening, but I don’t think they minded.  And I got a start (finally) on a meeting I wound up in charge of for this coming fall – sometimes that “no” thing just doesn’t work out as well as it should.

But in the back of my aching, exhausted brain all day as my eighth graders and I visited the world of Johnny and Ponyboy on Jay’s Mountain was my management binder.  Ideas for things to add were bouncing in my head all day.  And me with a pooped out DROID (no colornote today – but the new one will be here tomorrow!!)

So here are some binder updates:

  • I found the most amazing website ( ) with my idea of the perfect binder.  WOW!
  • I’m definitely setting up a separate binder for major house things (warranty, insurance, mortgage, etc.) I’m also setting up a separate one for finances.  Our finances are personal, and should be kept a little more private.
  • After I see how the kitchen section goes, I may end up with a separate binder for in there.  I have this awesome binder of family recipes from Granny-at-the-Farm and I want to start another of recipes Grizzly and I like and have modified and have turned into family favorites.
  • I created a cover that I can love.  I’ve seen several binders today that incorporate family pics and I can live with that.  Mine has a good picture of our family, along with some quotes about being a wife and mom – some funny, some biblical, all appealing to me.  I still need to make a spine and back cover.  I always use the binders with insertable covers for my management notebooks.
  • I did break one of my own rules of cheaptitude and purchased an organizing e-book.  Don’t judge me.  This way, Granny-at-the-Farm and Grizzly can’t poke fun at another organizing book on my shelf.  It had some neat binder pages, what can I say?

I’m ready for ink for the printer so that I can print my pages, put my binder together, and share my progress with you!  Maybe this weekend I can focus.  With everything else that is going on right now, I feel like my binder adventure is a real contribution and something I can actually control.

No questions for you today, my friends.  My headache and I are heading to bed…..

~ Katie

Section 4 in my binder is Family.  Family is the center of my world (even when it seems like school is!) and it is the heart of my binder.  This is where all the miscellaneous hodge podge about Grizzly and the Monkeys needs to be found.

I need to keep a master list of special occasions.  Birthdays, anniversaries, etc.  Seems like a duplicate of a page from my planner but this will be a permanent list, instead of yearly.  This will ensure I don’t ask MaMaw and PaPaw to monkey-sit on their anniversary.

I need a personal information page for each member of the House of Cheaptitude, including the four-legged furball.  Birthdays, allergies, basic likes/dislikes, etc.  As well as I think I know my family, they do surprise me occasionally.  I will also create a page for tracking everyone’s clothing sizes.  That way, when Super Nana calls me from a retail therapy appointment because she’s found a great deal on shoes for Monkey 1 or swimsuits for Monkey 2, I can tell her what size to buy.  Not that she always listens to me….

Next, I plan to include a gift suggestion list.  I’m thinking a spreadsheet with the family member’s name, item, occasion, and where to buy it.  The Monkeys are constantly asking for something they’ve seen on tv (pillow pet, anyone?) and this way I could keep up with it.  But I plan to add all of the people we have to give gifts to.  Maybe Grizzly can do some of the shopping if he has a reference list.

Some other things that can go in the family section include birthday party ideas, good websites for the Monkeys, movie and book lists (for school or fun), and other things we might want to do as a family.  Again, I think this will encourage Grizzly’s involvement in planning events around the house.

If you don’t feel up to the task of making your own forms, Jen at IHeart Organizing has some really adorable stuff for sale in her Etsy shop. Of course, Organized Home is one of my favorite places to visit still. There are a lot of home management binders with freebies floating around the web, also.

What do you think?  Did I miss something?

~ Katie


Office Calendar

Office Calendar (Photo credit: glindsay65)

This section has been my planner. It is, without a doubt, the thickest and most complicated section.  Ugh.  But it is necessary for the House of Cheaptitude to run smoothly.

What goes in this section?  Honestly, it would be easier to ask what doesn’t.

  • Monthly calendars
  • Any long and short term to-do lists.  I’ve mentioned before mine reproduce themselves exponentially (there’s that word CrazyMathLady would love!) with startling speed.
  • Reminder notes.  The guidance counselors at my school are amazing about putting little conference sheets in my box at work.  I wish they did it less frequently…..
  • Birthday calendars.  Since I don’t get on FaceBook often anymore, this would be helpful.  There are very few birthdates I remember off the top of my tinsel-covered head.
  • Work schedules.  This would be the school year calendar for my district, meeting dates, reporting dates, etc. For Grizzly?  His is all in his head, which makes me insane!
  • School schedules.  The district school calendar for the Monkeys (they attend in a different district than I teach), Monkey 1’s class schedule, and important dates for Monkey 2’s school.
  • Activity schedules.  This would be karate, church, PSR, pool/softball/whatever Grizzly is up to,  Bunco, etc.
  • Any piece of paper with a date on it.

Most of these items are “handouts” from work, school, church, and other activities.  I can hole-punch and add these easily.  They could go in page protectors, but I don’t see the need as the longest most are useful is a year.

I have a calendar on my kitchen wall with everyone’s “stuff” listed.  To do this, though, I have to track down every crumbled scrap of paper with a date on it.  In the planning section of my binder, I can just open it up and transfer dates each month.  The kitchen calendar then acts as my daily reminder of who needs to be where at what time.

I would not include my cleaning lists nor my menu plan because I keep those in other sections of the binder.  My bill-paying calendar may go in this section, as I am planning to set up a separate finance binder and don’t care to access that one every day.

I have not created any forms for the planner section, yet.  There are too many cute templates available for download that work just fine for me.  At some point, I may make some forms, but I doubt it.

I’d also like to color code everyone’s activities on the main calendar, even though it’s less than necessary.  Grizzly is a visual guy, though, so maybe it would be helpful for him.

What would you include in the planner section of a home management binder?

~ Katie

I fondly remember address books.  When I was in middle school and high school, I used different address books for my family, friends, and a service organization to which I belonged.  It’s been years since I maintained an actual flip-the pages address book, though.  When Grizzly and I first bought a computer, I utilized an address book program in Microsoft Works.  Then, in an effort to digitize me, he bought me a Palm Pilot for Christmas one year (found it yesterday in the computer hutch).  Now, my handy-dandy (actually, it’s in pretty rough shape right now) DROID is my go-to for everything.  The monkeys have to hit the “memory” button on the house phone to call any of the grandparents, and Grizzly can’t recall a number to save his soul, I think.  Many times he’ll ask me to call someone because only one of us has the number.

As I re-vamp my binder, I realize how many of the details I used to keep there reside now in my cell phone.  This is good, because who wants to tote a binder with them everywhere?  Besides me?  But last night was an example of how I need to keep up with numbers outside of my DROID. (My phone would not turn on and stay on at Bunco, one of our players was ill, and I needed to call my BFF, whose number I do not memorize,  to sub.  It didn’t work out.  We ghosted the missing girl the rest of the night.)

My binder chore activity today is Section 2, The Phone.  This will help Grizzly and the monkeys if I’m not home to give them a number off the top of my head.  What information will go in the section?  Any number we might need to know!

  • family
  • friends
  • numbers Grizzly and I need for work – employees, subs
  • phone numbers for activities – church, karate, bunco
  • services – repairmen, utilities, etc.  I actually have some business card pages from the last time I kept up with my binder.   They were inexpensive, hold 10 cards to a page, and fit perfectly in the binder.
  • restaurant info & takeout menus – because we do so much dining out (NOT!)
  • anything scribbled on a scrap – Monkey 2 has misplaced her boyfriend’s phone number
  • anything important on the house phone caller id
  • phone message forms

I think that’s everything.  Do you think I missed something?

Are you tackling a management binder, too?

~ Katie

Frequently Called Kids Friends Numbers

Frequently Called Numbers

Frequently Called Numbers to Add

Frequently Called Restaurants & Takeout

Frequently Called Services

Phone Messages

Phone Numbers

et cetera
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