SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











I love the concept of an organized life.  I have a bookshelf full of how-to organize and how-to declutter.  In theory, it creates a sense of peace.

I’m not so hot at the application!

Most of what I’ve read on organizing and decluttering goes room by room.  Well, that means I get a room nice and neat while the rest of the House of Cheaptitude is a hot mess.  My bedroom, for instance, usually looks like it’s been ravaged by Hurricane Mama.

On Pinterest lately, I’ve seen a lot about a “Konmari Method.” Apparently, Marie Kondo is a professional organizer with a ginormous waiting list for her services in Japan, and she’s written a bestseller about her method.  She details the order of decluttering, even giving instructions on how to fold and store your clothes.

Have I read her book yet? Naw.  It’s got a waiting list at my local SoBo library and I’m certainly too cheap to purchase it.

My takeaway from other blogs and articles, however, is that you gather your crap target items in one central area.  Instead of room by room, you do categories – in a hurry!  And category #1 is clothes.  You take everything out, physically touch every single thing down to your socks, and ask ” Does this Spark Joy?”. If not, it needs to leave.

Can my drawers really spark joy?  I mean, my super dee duper VS bras spark lots of joy for me.  But for real?  Everything else I put on is for function and to be a law-abiding citizen.

But with the kitchen and living room straight (and I’m still mentally blocking lesson plans!), I need a project.  So this seems to fit.

I’m not sure why clothing is the first category. Using this method, you put all of your clothing in one place (I keep reading “floor” but I have a queen-size bed and aversion to laundry!). Please keep in mind, I have 3 baskets in the family room waiting to be put up, but since those are clothes I wear all the time, it makes sense that I won’t declutter them. Right?

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Closet before


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Closet before


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Closet before

So my closet is obviously overstuffed. Not only do I rarely get rid of clothes I purchase, my mom has sent a bunch of clothes when she worked at Coldwater Creek (for Monkey #2, but they fit me!), and I have a ton of hand-me-downs from family and Pioneer Woman. Many items are too big and need to be altered but time/Cheaptitude keeps them hanging out in the closet.

There’s also crap a lot of stuff that belongs elsewhere, to be dealt with later.

I did not realize just how much clothing was on my side of the closet until I saw this mess on my bed!
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I share closet space with Grizz and had this much on my own! And I broke a rule of the strategy, choosing to ignore shoes and accessories for right now. This was literally just clothing.

My dresser (which I don’t share was not much better.
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The top needs clearing, sorting, etc. The drawers were all closing (recall the 3 baskets in the family room?) and all of the clothes were in their proper pieces of real estate, but…decluttering was definitely in order.
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See the pretty striped bin? Bed, Bath & Beyond, from Aunt Janice for Christmas. I have 2 that size. Until this point, they have both been overflowing with tightly rolled spirit shirts for school. Who needs that many tees? There are maybe 36 Fridays in a school year and I always wear an 8th grade or Yearbook shirt. Cheaptitude at its worst, I suppose.

The worst part is I also had 2 full drawers brimming with other tees and knit tops. Plus my top middle drawer is full of tanks. Oy!

Once I unloaded all of my clothes onto the bed, I started the process of touching each piece and asking if they sparked joy. OK, not really. But I did cull 8 grocery sacks of clothes to donate, added to my T-shirt quilt pile, and filled a bag to be altered. The donation bags traveled straight to the trunk of the pimpmobile before I could second guess myself. The other items that weren’t going straight back to the dresser or closet were relocated as not to be in my way.

The Konmari method is very specific about how to fold and hang your clothes once you’ve removed the joyless stuff. I went to my good friend Google and found a YouTube video so that I could fold and file my clothes. Tees and tanks are still the bulk, so I tackled those first.

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Spirit shirts


Now my spirit shirts are easy to locate and take up only a bin and a half. I feel like I fit more rolled, but that lent itself to a bit of a mess, honestly. I can locate my options more easily. The extra bin has several non-work t-shirts now, which frees dresser space!
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Loving the semi empty T-shirt drawer!


I watched two YouTube videos and still cannot “file” my jeans or drawers properly. I gave it the old college try and it’ll work for now. Because the underwear drawer is so flipping neat now, I needed to create a divider. Use what’s on hand, right? I happened to have an old shoebox left over from Monkey #2’s much smaller feet. I could go purchase something cute, but I’m the only one who sees it, and it’s just not necessary.
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Neat and organized drawers drawer 😉


I felt really accomplished by the time I finished re-loading my dresser. With it being a league night, I just hung stuff back in the closet and didn’t really organize it. That’s tentatively on my list for tomorrow. I also didn’t take after pics of everything yet, but it was so great to pull clothes out today! Most of what I still have I actually love. As I folded the three baskets this afternoon, I added to my next donation pile. Laundry is going to be so much easier now!

I’m so excited to declutter the monkeys and Grizz next….

Have you tried the Konmari method? What are your thoughts?

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{March 25, 2015}   Organizing: Schedules

The older I get, the crazier my schedule seems to be.  The monkeys have more going on at school, church, karate, grandparents.  My husband has work obligations and pool league.  I’ve taken on the school yearbook this year, as well as regular 8th grade activities and school obligations.  Hubby and I, now that the monkeys are more self-sufficient, have a lot more social doings as well.

How in the crap do we keep it all straight?

I have a calendar with my Google account on my phone.  It makes the grands nuts, but EVERYTHING goes in that calendar.

I have my paper planner.  I love love love it.  My mother-in-law ordered it for Christmas from a blogger I adore.  I had it printed and spiral bound at Office Depot and it’s probably my favorite Christmas gift this year.

I also keep a calendar in the kitchen, where everyone in the house has easy reference.  The monkeys have learned that if it isn’t on the calendar, it isn’t happening.  Everyone has their own color on the calendar, just my CDO in overdrive, but I love it.

I’ve noticed the monkeys write things now, too.  “Military Ball.”. ” Sleepover with Karate BFF.” They know. They don’t color code, but that’s coming.

Do I still get overwhelmed, over worked, and over extended? Of course.  I’m a mom and I forget to ask for help.  But this system is working for me.

How do you organize schedules?

~ Katie

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{August 20, 2014}   Monkey Spaces: DIY Organization

The little monkey is growing up quickly!  She decided recently that she’s outgrown Tinker Bell, along with a lot of her books, toys, and decor.  Her papaw promised her a new headboard and footboard if she kept her room clean for a month. I think she’s doing a great job! She’s picking up toys, books are shelved, dirty clothes are hampered, and she’s making her bed daily!

I’m hopeful she’ll earn that frame she wants.

While cleaning and reorganizing, we moved a lot of things around, including her dresser and bed. We dismantled the desktop computer and removed the old-fashioned school desk, creating great space. She still has “room for activities” yet her space looks more tween appropriate.

One thing she showed an interest in was a set of shelves in the garage. Yo Yo’s sweet husband, the Fireman, and I built them many years ago for Grizzly’s diecast collection. Once we moved, they didn’t really go with our new direction, so we put them in the garage, where the got dirty and became a dumping ground for crap.

I measured the shelves, measured the wall, and realized it could be done. The shelves were built for 1:24 model cars, though, not books and games and toys.

We stacked several books on the shelves, but there was a ton of leftover space. Monkey put some of her Littlest Pet Shop and Lego sets in canvas bins on the shelves. Her awesome 31 totes are too tall. I had an idea, though.

Soup can organizers!

She picked out stickers and paper and pretty duct tape for her organizers.
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I envisioned labeling them for her arts and crafts, but she snatched them up as soon as the decoupage was dry!

Another goodie we have on hand this time of the year is the oh so versatile shoebox. I decided to cover one to match her other organizers. She can keep some of her other little toys in it.
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I glued the paper down, Scotch taped it in place, and then sealed with decoupage. I think it was a great idea and it fits on her shelves.

I haven’t taken a photo of monkey’s organized shelves, mostly because it’s an unfinished project! But it’s a fun one.

How do you organize your kiddos’ spaces?

~ Katie

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{August 19, 2014}   Organizing: Greeting Cards

I like to keep cards on hand.  However, I cannot find a single one when I actually need it.

I’ve bought cutesy organizers in the past. That works for about a hot minute.

I’ve seen really cool strategies on Pinterest. But nothing I think will necessarily work for me.

And I love to repurpose.

Once upon a time, I was addicted to those photo storage boxes. When the craft stores would run specials, I’d purchase a bunch. I was pretty particular – black, with a handmade scrapbook label. VHS movies = organized.

As I’ve decluttered those dinosaur tapes, I’ve kept the boxes. Of course. Everything can be repurposed. I now have one for razors/shave preps, deodorant, etc. These boxes are great for my stockpiles. For the longest time, I had one dedicated to loose game pieces, and one to Nintendo DS and gameboy games.

I had a feeling one of these boxes might be an easy solution to my greeting card issue. One year for Christmas, my father-in-law gave me two very pretty photo boxes. I decided to create my card organizer from one of these.
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It’s very pretty, without being too horribly girly.

I had to search high and low for the dividers. I had nearly given up and decided to create some when I located them in Grandma Sweitzer’s cedar chest.

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The “index” side does nothing for me. I flipped the cards over, and created my category labels.

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These are the categories I’ve chosen so far:
Birthday
Baby
Get well
Christmas
Holidays
Just because (blank notes!!)
Thank you
Thinking of you
Wedding

I’ll probably throw anniversaries in with wedding. I have more blank cards than anything, and need desperately to stock up on birthday cards – Aunt YoYo and Ace say it’s not a birthday without a monkey card.

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It may not be as big a project as I usually take on, but it is functional. All I have left is to tape a small calendar of important dates to the lid.

And I actually use it!

How do you keep up with cards and such?

~ Katie

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There are 4 residents in the House of Cheaptitude who wear socks on a somewhat regular basis. There’s also one who eats them, but that’s another post.

Somewhere between the wearing and the washing, I usually end up with a bunch of mateless socks.

I have tried several strategies over the years. I used to keep a cute wicker basket with all of the socks, and then I’d sort them while watching The Real Housewives.. Eventually I came to the conclusion it was easier to fold as I go and just leave the mismatched ones in a basket.

The basket is too big for the number of socks I usually end up with, and I had a better purpose for that basket. So now I have 2 little utility baskets – a white one for white socks and a blue for colored socks. Much better, but the baskets are usually full.

I think the dryer eats sicks, too.

Then, one day on Pinterest, I saw the most adorable laundry room organization. One thing that caught my eye was the random sock board. There are several versions, apparently, and all super-cute. And I’m always looking for ways to improve my utility room.

The sock thing stayed on my to-do list most of the summer. There would have to be a cheap way to do it or it wasn’t happening. Finally, Grizzly cleaned out his truck and there was a perfect board! Being married to a painter, I found a container of off white paint and gave the board a coat. Then I marked the length I wanted and gave it to Papaw for cutting.
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I decided to use some vinyl lettering left over from a science fair poster.
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It didn’t look quite right. I kept working with the letters until it looked good.

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And because I have so much green scrapbook paper, I got a little creative.
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Now it hangs on the wall over my dryer. It only holds 8 socks, so it’s definitely more decorative than functional. But it’s fun and cute!

How do you deal with missing socks?

~ Katie

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{August 9, 2014}   The Recipe Binder

I am one of those people who would love to be a stay-home mom. If I could ever stay home! I get a taste during school breaks, but end up running around so much that I’m always ready to face the 8th grade again.

One of the things I love about being home is the idea of cooking. Notice, it’s the idea. I try to cook nearly every night, but often it’s something I throw together (beer pancakes and eggs, anyone?). Or, on really busy nights, a can of store brand ravioli (gasp!). I have several cookbooks and a box of recipes that I really like, but our schedule often limits my kitchen creativity.

And, honestly, how many of us really explore every recipe in a cookbook? I have one cookbook that I’ve tried several new things, but with most of my collection, I have only one or two. And what good is my recipe box if I can’t find Aunt Fran’s cocoa mix recipe when I want it?

This is where my recipe binder is coming in.  I will have a place to maintain those frequently accessed recipes, while decluttering my cabinet.  My dividers will have pretty traditional categories, with a few exceptions.  I need a divider for clipped recipes I’d like to try, as well as one for my freezer to crockpot recipes.

Where is my binder?  It’s still all in my head, totally in the planning stages.  I’ve copied and pasted all of the freezer recipes I love to a Word document and can print those any time now.  And I sold off several cookbooks in my garage sale last week.  So I’m getting there.

It’ll be a fun distraction when I should be lesson planning.

The dividers I’m planning so far include:
1. Freezer to Crockpot – this is for the recipes I’ve collected since starting to freezer cook – a lot of Sidetracked Sarah and Six Sisters.

2.  DIY Convenience Foods – breakfast burritos, oatmeal, granola bars, etc.  Things I might buy but should save money and do myself.

3.  Appetizers – I don’t do a lot of appetizers, but this is where I can include yummy dips and such.

4.  Sides, Fruits & Veggies – “Car-house” grandma’s macaroni & cheese, her applesauce, and that sort of thing.

5.  Main Courses – sorted by meats

6.  Casseroles

7.  Desserts & Snacks

8.  Beverages – grown up as well as kid-friendly! I will probably color code these….

9.   Family Favorites – tried and true things that I need quick access to regularly.  This should be near the front.

10.  Test Kitchen – recipes that I want to try.

11.  Miscellaneous

I thought about including DIY household and beauty, but I think my cleaners will better serve in my cleaning binder, and beauty stuff in my self-improvement binder.  I love a good binder.

So that is my next project, with the added bonuses of decluttering my cookbook collection and some Pinterest boards.  How do you handle recipes?

~ Katie

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Have I mentioned that my Bunco Babes like my ideas but hate my vocabulary? They believe “cheaptitude” has such a negative connotation! And, honestly, when you really think about it, who wants to be cheap?

I do.

Cheaptitude is a positive attitude about frugality.  Cheaptitude, for me, has been an entire lifestyle change. It involves repurposing, decluttering, couponing, budgeting, organizing, and examining your life in a whole different way.

I like cheaptitude. I love cheaptitude. I live cheaptitude. This is as positive as you choose to make it.

Jeepnmom is having fits with me.  She is having trouble figuring out how to make all of my ideas blend and work at the same time without becoming overwhelmed – or her family throwing her out because her CDO isn’t meshing well with the Life of Cheaptitude.  Which leaves me trying to figure out how I make it all work together.  There is a reason all of my pieces are separate posts!

And I don’t have the answer.  I just do it. I have perfected nothing.  My house is a wreck and I forget that my big monkey has to serve Mass every time the church doors open.  I’m just better at all of this than I was in the past.

So let’s address the first step in the Journey to Cheaptitude.  Honestly, the first thing to do is determine your purpose and set some goals.  Is the clutter in your house making you crazy?  Did you or your partner lose a job and you have to tighten the purse strings?  Are you worried about how smoothly your house would run if you were unavailable suddenly?  Why are you exploring Cheaptitude?  Determine your purpose.  What are your long and short-term expectations from a life of Cheaptitude?  Set your goals.  Once you know your purpose and goals, you can work on putting all of these puzzle pieces together.

Household Management Binder

One of the pieces of the puzzle is a home management binder.  I have several other posts (11, I think) about the sections in a management binder.  My way is not the only way!  It’s just the way it has worked for me.  Tweak it, modify it, make it your own.  As I’ve stated before, my original binder looks nothing like the one(s) I’m compiling now!  A quick Google search can take you to some great starting places.

In my particular baby step system, the first thing you need to do in setting up your binder is gather your supplies.  Some of the basics I use are:

That’s really all you need to get started.  Put all of your junk in your binder and you’ve completed the first step. Easy Peasy.  You may have all of this stuff on hand already.

If you’re feeling spunky and want to get started on filling up your binder, I suggest the Emergency Information section.  This one is pretty easy and you’ll feel accomplished without taking a whole lot of valuable time.

Cleaning

I’m not a naturally neat person, nor did I marry one.  However, my house is not dirty.  And I’ve tried, over the years, to streamline the process.  In order to do this, take a pen and piece of paper and go into every room in your home.  In each room, list every possible cleaning chore that occurs in there.  No joke, right down to cleaning the reflector bowls in the stove.  This list for each room will be potentially overwhelming.  I’m sorry, but it’s the way it has to be.

Now that you have your lists, go through with a highlighter and mark the 5 essential chores for each room. These should be the 5 things that have to be done in order for your home to have a semblance of clean.  Some people call this list the Magic Minimums, some call it Company-Ready chores.  These are the things that need to be done on a regular basis to keep you satisfied with your home.  For example, mine includes “no dishes in the sink, countertops wiped down” etc.

Decide on a frequency for your chores.  I need to dust every week, but the laminate floors need to be swept daily.  Assign a frequency to every chore.  Slide this list into a pocket in your binder.  We’ll come back to it!

Budgeting

Budget is not a favorite word with most people.  But it is necessary when adopting Cheaptitude. Again, set a purpose and goals, because this helps make your budget stick.

When Grizzly and I attack our budget, we start by listing our total, after-tax income.  Then we list our fixed bills (mortgage, car note, etc.), our variable bills (utilities, gasoline, etc.), and our occasional bills (monkey lunch money occurs August-May, air conditioner service contract is renewed once a year).  We include due dates and amounts, and we plan for savings.  Every time my paycheck hits the bank, $10 is automatically transferred into our household savings account, and it takes an act of Congress to convince me to move it!

I strongly suggest a Google search for budgeting tips and forms.  Personally, I like to see it on paper.  That helps us visualize what we can cut back and how we need to redistribute things.

If one of your goals is debt reduction (as mine is), check out Dave Ramsey.  We attended the Financial Peace series a few years ago and it was eye-opening.  I’m snowballing now and it’s working well.

Food

I love food.  I received some amazing goodies during Teacher Appreciation Week, but what stands out is the food (love some meat pies!)  Organizing your food and meal situations is a huge part of Cheaptitude.

Take your handy dandy pen and paper and go to your pantry/cabinet.  Make a list of everything that is in there.  Highlight those things that you always use, always need to have on hand (12 boxes of cereal, anyone?  3 jars of peanut butter?  My friends know I have weird stockpiling tendencies).  Do the same with your fridge and freezer(s).  The highlighted items should form the basis for your grocery list.  Those are also the items you can make your main focus for couponing and stockpiling, huge money savers.

What meals can you make with the standard items in your home?  Planning meals ahead saves time, energy, and money.  Use your coupons, weekly circulars, and family favorite recipes to build a basic menu plan.  I am a huge proponent of freezer-to-crockpot meals – inexpensive, healthy, filling, and tasty.  It is less intimidating to plan a week at a time in the beginning.  Use what you have, and plan one night for leftovers.

Hoarding Stockpiling

One of the tricks to saving money is buying things when they are at their best prices, and buying enough to last until they’re at a good price again. When I started stockpiling, I focused on some of the things that we constantly run out of and spend the most on.  My friends think I’m crazy, but I try to keep 12 boxes of cereal in the pantry at all times.  I have two monkeys, one of whom is a 12 year-old boy ( they should come with warning labels), and Grizzly loves a bedtime bowl of cereal. Ergo, 12 boxes.  When you shop with a purpose, and shop regularly, you get familiar with when you can get a good price on things.  And I’m not particularly brand-loyal, which helps.

I also stockpile toilet paper, shampoo, and shaving needs.  I haven’t purchased a deodorant in a year.  And everyone still smells pretty fresh.

Decluttering

Isn’t it ironic that right after discussing stockpiles I want to talk about decluttering?  My stockpiles are not clutter.  My stockpiles are in established areas that have been set aside, specifically purposed for stockpiling. Decluttering is a whole different thing.

All of us have some kind of clutter in our lives.  Clutter takes up valuable space, energy, time, etc.  I’ve been working for a long time to declutter my home.  I focus on small areas, a drawer or a shelf is a great place to start.

Clear the entire area and clean it up.  Then sort all of those items into categories: put away, throw away, give away, donate.  If the items do not fit into the purpose for that space, find them new homes!  You’ll be amazed at what leaves your home.  And I’m pretty sure you won’t miss it.

I used to set a timer for decluttering.  It works.  If you set a timer for 15 minutes and devote your energy and attention to one area that is bothering you, you can accomplish a lot.

I’m not such a timer girl anymore.  I have a another trick I use to make decluttering “fun.”  A friend of mine, PT Lady, calls me when she’s cleaning toilets.  Well, Jeepnmom and I talk usually once a week, at least, and while we chat, I declutter.  Knowing that my kitchen drawers have been a steaming hot mess and bug the poop out of me, she even texts me occasionally that it is time to tackle a drawer.  It makes the chore more fun.

Routines and Habits

I hear all the time that it takes 21 days to establish a habit.  I think the same pretty much applies to getting routines in place.  Schedule yourself some time each day to declutter, binderize, clean, plan.  I like 15 minute increments, personally, because that’s about the longest I can have time to myself and I can get a ton done in that short amount of time.

I guess these are my suggestions on how to get started and putting it all together.  I don’t have this system perfected, but what system ever is?  It’s a work in progress, and yours won’t look like mine.  But maybe this will get you started (JEEPNMOM!!)

What else do I need to throw in here to help jumpstart your journey?

~ Katie

 

 

 



{February 9, 2013}   Updated Posts

Just an FYI:  I’ve updated some of my past posts and added some printable pages (freezer inventory, etc.)  These forms might be useful if you’re compiling a household notebook, or to post on your fridge.  I’ll continue to update with printables, because I figure it will help someone else in the quest for cheaptitude.  So you might want to check out some of my older posts every so often.

~ Katie

Coupon Organization

Organized Freezer



three ring binder

Couponing.  I LOVE it.  I stockpile, I shop smart, and I save money.  I’ve written before about my tight budget and my love of couponing.  One of the most important things to remember with couponing is that you must be organized or it just won’t work.

If you watch that show or if you’re an expert Googler (like me), you’ll find there are MANY ways to obtain and sort your coupons.  I’ve tried a bunch before finding what worked for me.

Couponing is not a part or full-time job for me.  I am a teacher outside the home, which often carries over into my home, and at home I am trying to run a household for four 2-legged and one four-legged individual.  Saving money is crucial, but I do not have the time to devote that you see on tv.   Nor do I want to.  I spend and hour or so each month printing coupons from the internet.  I buy 2-3 Sunday papers each month for the purpose of clipping coupons.  I’m saving money.  I’m saving a good bit of money.  But I cannot allow couponing to take away from my family.

Internet Coupons

  • I suggest sticking to well-known sites when printing coupons from the internet, such as Coupons.com.  If you just Google for coupons, you are liable to infect your computer.  I speak from experience.
  • Many companies offer coupons through their Facebook pages.  I received a great coupon for Kool-Aid last summer by “liking” their Facebook page.
  • I personally subscribe to some “Extreme Coupon” newsletters.  The Krazy Coupon Lady is one of my favorites because she shares really good store bargains, as well as letting readers know about upcoming coupon availability and Facebook promotions.

The Sunday Paper

If you already subscribe to your local paper, good for you.  Unless you know there are some really amazing coupons that week, I would not run out and buy extra copies.  That’s your personal choice, but I coupon to save money, not spend it.

The way I know ahead of time what coupons to expect in the Sunday paper is by subscribing to The Sunday Coupon Preview.  It varies, of course, depending on region, but it’s usually very accurate.  I also know ahead of time if there will be no coupons that weekend.  This saves me $1.50-1.75.

Another thing I’ve done, if I have friends or family who will be out-of-town over a weekend, I have them pick up a paper for me.  Monkey 2’s godmother travels a lot for her job and Atlanta or Los Angeles will have different coupons (and MORE) than we have in my neck of the woods.  Someone is headed to Dallas for the Cowboys’ game?  Forget Tony Romo’s autograph.  Bring me back a paper, please!

Clipping Services

There are clipping services where you can order a bazillion Kotex coupons if you so choose.  Just kidding.  But you can order multiple coupons for a fee.

I’m in this game to save money.  I believe my sister has used a clipping service, but I do not know how that worked out for her.  I am not familiar with any in particular, and won’t recommend any.  Google is your friend.

Share and Share Alike

If you have a pile of Pampers coupons, see if you can trade with someone for the Dog Chow coupons you’re needing.  People even have “coupon trains,” where they mail each other coupons.  What a great way to get coupons without spending a bunch of extra money.  Be organized about it and kind of keep track of what you send to whom. (Sounds like a form is needed here)

Not only do you need to be organized in the acquisition of your coupons, but you need to have them  organized once they’re in your possession or they won’t be of any use in your shopping excursions.

The Envelope System

With the envelope system, you have envelopes for each major category and coupons go in the envelopes.  Within the envelopes themselves, I imagine you could sort the coupons by type or expiration.  When I used envelopes, I had to do a lot of digging to get to what I needed, coupons expired before I used them, and I couldn’t always remember what coupons I had.  Envelopes are nice because they slide into your purse.  If you use envelopes in a great way, please let me know!

The Shoebox System

This would be for your hardcore couponer, I think.  What I’ve seen is shoeboxes or those awesome photo boxes (Michael’s and Hobby Lobby often run them on sale!) with category dividers.  As long as your box isn’t cram-packed, I think this would make for easier access.  Never having so many coupons, I’ve not tried this one myself.  If you’re a box couponer, share your tips!

The Binder

I love a binder.  Even before I started teaching, I have always loved a binder.  When I was five or six, my Grandpa Lew bought me my first Trapper Keeper and I was hooked for life!

On TV, I notice they use lots of zipper binders with huge rings. Monkey 1 has to have one of these for school since they don’t have lockers.  They’re really expensive. I just recycled an old 3 ring $1 binder to use for mine.  The seams are starting to separate after almost two years of good use, but I imagine I can come up with a dollar or so for another one.

I made my own dividers.  I printed the categories on pretty paper through my computer and then put the pages into page protectors.

I have a pencil pouch at the front, to keep up with a pen, various store loyalty cards, sometimes a calculator, etc.  Some of the store cards are the small, keychain version and I keep those on a keyring.  I also have a binder clip on the front cover to hold my grocery list.

My coupons are kept in trading card pages.  Sometimes I have to fold them, but I’m ok with that. I keep like coupons together, with the newly expiring at the front.  For example, I may have a Yoplait $0.40 off 6 in the same pocket as $0.60 off 8.  Like coupons.  This is what works best for me.

Behind those trading card pockets I keep my store policies for the stores I frequent most often.

And of course there are more organizing methods out there, but I’ve really only tried the envelopes and the binder.  The box is kind of appealing.  There is also a file system but I feel like I would miss a lot of deals…..I may write about that one once I know more.

Couponing should not be excessively time-consuming, stressful, or costly.  It should be organized, or it really will not garner the results you seek.  Are you a couponer?  What works best for you?

~ Katie

Coupon Sorting Mat

 

 



{November 25, 2012}   The Cost of a Disorganized Pantry

Right now, in my refrigerator, I guarantee there are two partially used bottles of ketchup, at least two barbecue sauces, and maybe multiple jars of pickles.  Does this make any sense?

Part of the problem is that I share my living space with Grizzly Adams (he isn’t DH today – he forgot to make coffee) and two monkeys.  If there is a gene for organization, they all lack it. I’m not the most organized woman in South Bossier, but I do know being disorganized costs money.  How does it money?  Let me count the ways.

  1. Any kind of storage in a house is a piece of real estate.  Your house is worth $X/square foot.  This includes your storage.  If you’re not using it efficiently, you’re wasting money.
  2. Stock rotation is important. I worked in hospital pharmacies for years and it was a concept that nobody loved, but it saved money.  Use what’s there and going to expire first.
  3. Keep track of what you have.  When I was trying the www.organizedhome.com system, I actually kept lists on my freezers and cabinets of what stock I had – and it helped.  If you have 10 bags of sugar already and no major project, do you really need another bag when you go to Kroger?  Well, I don’t.

But my pantry is a hot mess now.  I actually have two converted closets in my utility room.  While one is strictly food storage, the other has my stoneware, canning supplies, and infrequently used small appliances.  I feel like I can put my valuable real estate to better use.

Organization of any storage space is such an individual thing.  There are beautiful photos of stunning pantries all over the web.  And my Pinterest boards.  But not everyone has the same type or size storage space.  Like I said, I’m blessed with two converted closets in the utility to use as pantry storage, but I haven’t seen anything online that remotely looks like my storage.

I’m thinking if I sort things by frequency of use and type of meal, I’ll be a lot happier.  The second pantry can serve as back up, overstock, etc. along with my infrequently used gadgets.

So this afternoon, I took before pics (oh my goodness!) and emptied the main pantry.  It really didn’t take long to reorganize, but what a mess I made!  There is a lot of wasted space where there are no shelves, so I have to be creative.  The top shelf now has two crates to hold my cereal stockpile.  Next is my canned and boxed goods – beans, fruits, Hamburger Helper, etc.  Those things I might want to prep dinner (actually, DH, because I rarely do Hamburger Helper!) Below that shelf is my pastas, taco shells, rice, etc. and a dish bin containing extra spices and barbecue sauces (of which I found 4 bottles today!)  Next I have a breakfast & lunch shelf.  Peanut butter, all of my precious jars of jelly, a container of open cereal, oatmeal, grits, and fruit snacks.  The bottom shelf has a drawer of lunch snacks, crackers, and drink mixes that won’t fit in the pocket organizer on the door (a repurposed shower caddy.)  The dog’s food I keep in a small tote and it fits under the bottom shelf now.

But that left my baking stuff without a home.  I don’t bake much because of my oven situation, but I do have things in case I ever get it fixed.  With all of the jelly and sauce out of the back up pantry, I noticed I had some space to spare.  So I unloaded that pantry and reorganized.  My indoor grill is now on the top shelf, since we rarely grill indoors, along with a baking stone I almost never use.  My canning supplies are on a shelf to themselves now, and my actual baking supplies take up two shelves, very neatly, and share with my crockpots.  My bread machine still sits down below and I’ve moved a drawer to the floor in there for bags  and wraps.

It was a really productive late afternoon for me.  I wish, as I had been working, that I would have gone ahead and created my pantry inventory but I suppose it can wait.

How is your pantry organized? I think mine will suit my purposes for now. At least I know not to buy any more barbecue sauce when I go to the store this week!

~ Katie



et cetera
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