Category Archives: organization

WFMW- Budgeting

Prov. 31:16

She looks over a field and buys it, then with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.

I may not apply this verse with fields and gardens.. but the following post explains how I “put money aside” in order to can fulfill this trait!

Ever since I moved out of my parents house… 18 years ago.. I’ve always tried my hardest to keep a budget. When I first started, I was waitressing, and bringing home lots of cash. As a young woman on my own, I knew I needed to find a way to keep my money set aside for paying bills like rent, food, electric, gas etc… but it was so hard to keep track! As a waitress, it was exciting to walk out the door on a Friday night with $200 in small bills in my pocket.. but it was also easy to BLOW almost that much money going out with my friends or on a trip to the mall.

So.. I started budgeting.

I knew what my “fixed” expenses were, so I wrote them down.ย  Then I figured out what I would typically make in a month.ย  Then I came up with percentages for each expense based on the formula expense/income.

I wrote these percentages down on envelopes labeled with the appropriate category.

Then, every night, when I emptied my pockets of all that cash… I would sit down with my calculator and put the right percentage into EACH envelope. That way.. I KNEW that when the rent was due… I would have enough money to pay for it!

Over the years… I grew up! (how on earth did that happen so fast by the way?)

I changed from an all cash situation to earning a paycheck, and I also added quite a few “categories” to my expense list as I added people to my family. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, I developed a spreadsheet to be my “envelope” system on my computer.

realtimebudgetcapture

For demonstration purposes I've used random numbers in this image.

This “budget” spreadsheet is something I open everytime I balance my checkbook or use my Quicken. It is formatted on one tab to have an easy at a glance summary of how much money I have set aside into each needed category.

There is another tab that looks like this:

)

Numbers used are not real! ๐Ÿ™‚

This tab helps me figure out what my percentages are…. AUTOMATICALLY! That way, as my needs change, and my budget changes.. I can easily change and update my “envelopes”. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve created a version of my spreadsheet that has “comments” on the main page so that I can make it available to you all! The “comments” are like directions for how to use each column and tab properly. But once you get it all set up it’s really simple and really only involves a weeklyย  copy/paste to accurately divide out your deposits.

Here’s a view of it with the comments attached. Remember, they can be turned off in excel once you get the hang of it!

formulamakerwithcommentscapture

If you’re interested in downloading this excel spreadsheet for yourself, you can get it here:

Deni’s Budget Spreadsheet

It will help if you go ahead and think about the categories that might work for your family budget. Remember to do your Fixed expenses first, and your discretionary expenses last.

After you get everything set up and start using this system, it’s important to make sure you don’t “steal” from a certain category just because you seem to have leftovers. This system really helps keep you organized with your spending. If you find that after a year you have a major surplus in one category, then you can take from it and readjust your budget number to reflect what you actually need. I’ve found that in the “electric” category it seems like I have “extra” for a few months… but if I leave it there.. it really helps during those super cold months when the heat bill goes up or during the really hot months when the AC is running full blast. I don’t even notice that my bill is higher than usual because I left the surplus alone on the months when my bill was lower than usual.

Make sense?

Well, it works for me! ๐Ÿ™‚ Let me know if it works for you too!

siggy1

PS- If you want to see some more Works for Me Ideas

Click this picturew4mw

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Filed under Getting Started, organization, Works-for-Me Wednesday

W4MW- Keeping up with the deals

w4mw

I’ve recently had a few people ask me how on earth do I keep up with where all the great money saving deals are. So I’ve decided to share my best time saving secret!

igoogle homepage!

If you go to google.com and you have a gmail account or any google account, click in the top right corner on the igoogle button and you will then be prompted to sign in or create an account. From there you can select a “theme” and save your settings.

On my igoogle home page I have access to my email.. and then the other boxes are reserved for RSS subscriptions of all my favorite deal finding bloggers! Don’t get tricked into adding all sorts of other “gadgets”.. you’ll need all the room you have to see the most Deal Bloggers at a glance.ย  (although I admit I did add a local news feed to my page too)

Here’s what mine looks like! (click on it to make it larger)

igooglepage

The way I set these up is really quite simple.. you can start off by adding my feed to your page! Click on the green RSS feed icon in the top right corner of my page. (Looks like this: g28 )

It will then prompt you with 2 options: Add to Google Homepage OR Subscribe in a Readerย ย  I use the Google Homepage Option.. and then the RSS feed is delivered right to my homepage every day! Make sure you save your own google homepage as the homepage for you web browser..

Now, as you surf around the helpful sites that many of us money saving bloggers talk about, you can subscribe to all your own favorites!

I love knowing about the latest CVS, Walgreens, Publix and even Target and Walmart finds as soon as they are up! It really helps me plan my shopping trips… and I don’t have to go clicking around in my favorites trying to remember which site talks about whichย  store yada yada yada…

I also have a few other “tabs” on my google homepage reserved for other blogs I’ve run across that I like. For instance I have one for friends and family… (these aren’t usually updated “daily” so it’s just easier to have them on their own tab, so I can randomly check in to see when they are updated with out going around to each different page)

I hope “what works for me” will also work for you! I also hope I’m not posting about something that everyone else is already using!!! LOL

Let me know! I love getting your comments!

siggy1

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Filed under organization, Works-for-Me Wednesday

Wednesday Double Dose of Good

worshipwed2

Today I want to praise God for…

my parents!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Without my parents committment to loving me and teaching me the way I should go, I would be lost and miserable. So, I praise God for choosing the parents he gave me. ๐Ÿ™‚

w4mw

I am also joining in with a fellow blogger Called Rocks In My Dryer as she shares ideas that “work for her”. I will be taking part in this challenge along with many other bloggers. Click on the picture to go see all the other “Works-For-Me Wednesday” ideas!

My Works-for-Me Wednesday idea is something I read in a magazine last summer. When I organize my linen closet, I used to have a mess on my hands.. with sheets from different sets ending up mixed together. Now I use those left over Christmas ribbons or even my daughters old headbands.. to bundle each set together in the closet! Makes it super easy to grab the new complete set! No more searching for the matching pillowcase!!! The entire set is securlely kept to gether keeping my linen closet neat and saving me time when changing sheets.

w4mw-007I’ve also found that rolling big comforters and wrapping an old belt around them to secure them is a great way to keep the blankets from falling out when you grab the one on the bottom. ๐Ÿ™‚

Please comment and let me know what works for you!

siggy1

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Filed under organization, Works-for-Me Wednesday, Worshipful Wednesday

Helpful Spreadsheets

excel_2007

I’ve found that spreadsheets give me a strange sense of satisfaction.

Here are a few very helpful spreadsheets that I’ve found around the web.

Grocery Geeks– has an overall grocery savings spreadsheet that I use for all my grocery/household/toiletry items.

Crazy Coupon Ladies– offers a scenario spreadsheet to help you plan your trips

IheartCVS– offers a CVS tracker that helps track your spending AND your ECB’s. I altered this one in a separate spreadsheet to also track my Walgreen’s spending and RR’s.. but haven’t figured out how to add in the rebate stuff too yet!

Pinching Your Pennies– has a Price Book that I’m going to attempt to use. It gives you a list of average good to excellent prices for over 150 normal items. (I’m printing it out and keeping it in my binder) and also some blank pages so I can begin to track prices of certain things between stores here locally.

Maybe I’ll invent some of my own someday. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s one I made for my family to use for budgeting purposes many many years ago. I’ll be posting about this in a WFMW post soon!

Download here

or view a preview:

siggy1

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Filed under Getting Started, organization

Clean House Friday- Intro

Today is my first “Clean House Friday” post…. but it’s certainly NOT my first clean house Friday!!

For the past decade at least…. I’ve made it a goal in our house to always have the house clean when my husband gets home from work on Friday. Lord knows he would love it to sparkle and shine every day, but we’ve settled on at least once a week he can expect to walk in the door and not get onto the kids about their rooms or have to look at that strangely growing pile of stuff at the bottom of the stairs and on the counter.

So… here on my blog, I would like to encourage all you other Mom’s out there who never really thought about how we keep our house is a reflection onto our husbands. With kids and pets and lots of other stuff in our lives, it’s a good thing to keep them as priorities… but it’s also a good thing to still maintain a pleasing environment to live in!

Today’s Clean House Friday tip is:

Dawn Simple Pleasures dish soap now comes with an air freshener on the base of the soap bottle. This air freshener always seems way too strong for my kitchen counter. I prefer to smell the foods I’m cooking over air freshener. BUT… I discovered that you can REMOVE the air freshener base! It’s attached with tape, and grooves, but it comes off quite easily.

Today, I cleaned out my garbage cans that are in the house. We have a cabinet with 2 cans built into the sliding cabinet. One for trash, one for recycling. After cleaning them both out with Pine Sol for freshness, I decided to use that Dawn Simple Pleasures air freshener to maintain that fresh smell in my trash cabinet. I placed it way in the back of the cabinet… back in the corner where the trashcans won’t bump into it.

Now when ever I open the trash cabinet to put something in the trash I’m blessed with a pleasant smell instead of a trashy smell!!!

You can download a coupon for $1off here:

Just make sure you wait and use it when it’s on sale! ๐Ÿ™‚

Join me on this Clean House Friday!! Got any tips or special techniques you use to keep things clean? Leave me your link!

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Filed under Clean House Friday, organization

Everything has it’s place

(Scroll to bottom for updated version!)

One thing I have learned about myself over the years is that I tend to accomplish more when I’m organized. My life can get messy if I don’t take the time in advance to organize things!

So, when I took on the whole idea of couponing… I got set up with a coupon binder right away. There are many different ways of organizing one’s coupons, but for me a zippered binder seems to work the best. I’ve taken pictures of my binder and I will explain how I’ve organized it to work best for me.

The binder I use is an old, ripped binder leftover from my kid’s school work last year. ๐Ÿ™‚ I didn’t have to spend any money on it this way…. recycling at its finest.

In this picture, you can tell it’s not even zipped at the moment. The front section has a zippered area where I stash the coupons I wasn’t able to use at the register (sometimes this happens and I don’t like to have loose coupons floating in my purse!)

On the inside of my binder, you will notice that I have a pencil case (another leftover from my son). This case carries my papercutter and/or scissors, pens, postit flags and a highlighter. There is also a bunch of notecards just to the left of that case. I often write my store specific lists on these notecards when I’m planning my trip. I also have a calculator in my binder. I’ve found it very handy while at the store to be able to figure out the price on on the spot deals, as well as keep track of my spending on big grocery trips where I didn’t make a complete list. The highlighter and postit notes get used most frequently while going through the ads and planning my shopping trips.

Also included in this particular binder is a very handy accordian file system. This is where I keep my individual store flyers. I also have a section here for “uncut q’s”. There have been times when I bought multiple papers because of a few particular coupons.

So, for those extra inserts, I write a list of all the q’s inside of it, mark the date of the paper as well as the oldest expiration date, and paperclip all of them together. When a big sale comes up on these items, I can quickly scan through to find the coupons I need to cut.

Now, for most of my coupons I precut them all. Even the ones I’m not sure if I’ll use or not. I’ve discovered many new products in the past few months because of this. You’ll be surprised how fun it is to “buy” an item you’ve never tried before because you have a coupon that makes it free! I do however, make a pile of coupons that I KNOW I won’t use (like baby stuff and cat stuff) and I send those on to my coupon train.

I lay them out on my table, separated out into sections that match my binder’s categories… which makes it easier to put them in when I’m all done. Here’s a picture of 2 newspapers worth of coupons! When I have more than 1 paper, I divide each insert and lay the pages flat on top of each other before cutting.. this saves time and finger power!

cvs-and-wags-0111

To organize all of these cut q’s, I’ve placed photo pages that hold 2 toploading 5×7’s into the binder. Each pocket holds a category of coupons. The first page has a section for my Check-out q’s and Re-file q’s. (Sometimes if a store is out of a particular item, I will have to refile my q later) When shopping I start with my “planned” coupons in the refile section and as I put the item in my cart, the q gets moved to the checkout section. This helps speed up the checkout process which makes my cashier happy and the guests in line behind me. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, because I am organized, but also cheap… when I bought dividers for my sections of coupons and discovered they were not wide enough to stick out past the other pages, I created makeshift tabs out of colored index cards. I’ve broken my sections into the following categories for easy page flipping:

Toiletries, Cold items, Boxed/Bagged items, Household/Cleaning items, Store specific/entertainment

Once you flip to that “section” you will then find that each pocket is also labeled. The longer I work at my couponing, the more pockets I end up with. For now this is how I break down my sections and pockets:

Toiletries: Makeup/skincare, Medicines, Feminine Products, Soaps/Lotions, Razors/Shaving, Hair, Deodorant, Tooth Health

Cold: Refrigerated Items, Lunch meats/Cheeses, Meats, Frozen Goods

Boxed/Bagged: Cereal/Breakfast, Snacks, Beverages(not cold), Breads/Fruits, Condiments/Dressings/Spices, Boxed/Pastas/Baking/Canned

Household/Pet:School supplies/Pets, paper Products, Kitchen, Bathrooms, General Household cleaning, Laundry, Household goods (like batteries, lightbulbs etc), Airfresheners/Candles.

Store Specific: Each store I use has a separate pocket for store specific coupons and ECB’s or RR’s.

Entertainment: fast food, restaurants, movies clothing stores etc.

As particular pockets end up getting overfilled, I then subdivide them even more specifiably by adding new pockets.

At the end of each month I go through them all and pull any expired coupons. I’ve heard that some overseas military families are allowed to use expired coupons, but I haven’t actually sent mine on to them yet.

Okay… now that you’ve seen a glimpse of how I organize my coupons. Would you like to see the stockpile I’ve been building? I only started in July… andย  you need to remember that I’veย  spent LESS than I normally spend. And here is my growing stockpile. It’s my very own store of stuff I don’t need to buy anytime soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

in the guest bathroom closet, extra toiletries and pantry items

in the guest bathroom closet, extra toiletries and pantry items

in the kitchen, extra frequently used food items

in the kitchen, extra frequently used food items

NEW BINDER PAGES

The longer I coupon, the better organized I become. I found that after awhile the 5×7 pages were getting rather full, and I was often wasting time in the grocery aisle with a handful of coupons looking for one in particular. So, I did some googleing around and found a better format.

I bought a few packages of baseball card holders at Walmart… and now my pages look like this:

cvs-and-wags-008Within each “category” section like Toiletries… I then have a sticky tab labeling each page with it’s smaller category, like Deodarant. Then on that page, each slot holds ONE brand. That way, when I’m looking for a particular coupon, I can simply turn the pages and see each one in an instant without removing a whole “pile”.

cvs-and-wags-009This system takes a little bit longer when I’m filing them, but it makes everything so much faster and easier to flip through while I’m shopping.

I still keep a section in the front just for CVS and another one for Walgreens. I reused one of those old 5×7 pages to hold rebate forms and additional $/$$ coupons.

cvs-and-wags-005

Anyway… hopefully this system might be helpful to one of you! It’s paid for itself over and over again… and I love always knowing where my coupons are! You’ll never see me fumbling for that illusive coupon anymore!!!

siggy1

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Filed under Getting Started, organization