In the spirit of the year winding down and in thinking about my resolution/to-do list for 2011, I started thinking of some things I did in the last couple of years that seriously made my life SO much easier, and saved me money
- Keep Gift cards and coupons in one, easy-to-transport place. Buy a small accordion file (about 4”x6”) like this one. Get a sharpie and label the tabs A-Z. Get all of those coupons – you know – the 20% off at Bed, Bath and Beyond cards and the 15% off days at Macy’s. Before dropping your cards in their designated letter, get index cards and list out the coupons or gift cards you have and when (or if) they expire – put this card in the front of your file. Now when you shop you have them all with you, and are more likely to take advantage of the coupons that do expire. (I like to highlight the ones that expire soon!)
- Make a Bill Box and List. I made a ‘bill box’ that includes a ledger of all bills we pay (how we pay them and when), checkbooks, stamps, envelopes, pens and return-address labels I made rather than write every. single. time. I also put together a ‘bills’ document. It has four columns: (1) type of service provider, (2) name of service provider and all contact info (phone number, address and website), (3) our online information (user name, password, etc.) if applicable and (4) ‘how to pay.’ Some bills charge $15 to pay online. Some charge $5 to pay over the phone. The column tells you how to pay each bill and the penalties for not paying it right way. Having this 2-pager and bill box make it SO much easier to do this sucky task. I get the AMEX bill, I look at the list and I know what to do and when to do it!
- Develop a full grocery List. Once. Take the time to make a list of everything you buy at the store. Yes, everything (Black Beans, Gum, Laundry detergent). If you have a significant other who helps you shop, be specific (Bush’s Black Beans, Eclipse Gum, Tide original scent 32 loads). Once EVERYTHING is on there (even stuff like stamps if you buy them there), organize it by section of the grocery store. Then format into columns with small boxes (bullets) to the side. Try to get it on 1 page (front and back) with 3 columns on each side. Now, print out numerous copies, and when you go to make a grocery list you have something to start from, rather than a blank page, increasing the odds that you get everything you need and don’t have to go back. Make sure to add some blank lines just in case, and if you find yourself putting the same items on there, update your full list!
- Buy (and use!) kitchen drawer organizers. Really. I know it seems simple (and it is!) but get some, especially for that drawer that has all of the little measurement spoons, can opener, pizza cutter, etc. With organizers everything has a space and it’s easier to grab what you need, especially when you’re cooking.
- Create a shared Google Calendar. If you share your life with someone else, share a calendar. When we get an evite or invite, I can go to the calendar and quickly see if we have a prior engagement. When we have household things to do (like change the air filter), we can schedule this on the calendar for every 5 months. We also keep up with important birthdays, events and more – all in one place.
- Rely on meal plans. I know I preach this all the time but I really feel that this helps you in so many ways. Aside from just eating better because meals are ready on hand, it saves you back-and-forth trips to the grocery store. Here’s how I plan meals for anyone who missed it!
Q: What’s your #1 Organization Tip? What did you do in 2010, or plan to do in 2011, to make your life easier?
I'll post more about today tomorrow (today involved a marathon cooking event with FIVE new recipes!). Until then HAPPY NEW YEAR! And please share a tip you love or one you want to try so I can be more productive in 2011!