Organizing Our House For The New Year

Taking a lesson from the list-making Mrs. NCN, here’s what I want to get done, this week, before the kids head back to school –

Organize Large Storage Spaces

We have four large storage spaces – our shed, our attic, our garage, and our laundry room.  The shed serves as a mini-workshop and storage space.  We like to keep our garage nice and neat, with a small area dedicated for storing kids’ bikes and outdoor toys.  The attic has room for storing items like our Christmas tree.  The laundry room has a large, tw0-door storage cabinet, for keeping items like detergent, paper towels, napkins, etc.  We’ll organize these spaces first, in an effort to free-up storage space and remove clutter.

Organize Living Spaces: Room-by-room

Let’s see – we have our den, our kitchen, four bedrooms (with closets), two bathrooms (plus a half-bath), and a linen closet.  Our goal is to go room-by-room, cleaning and organizing.  This should be a relatively painless process.  My wife is an extremely organized person (and I try to be), so our house is always neat and tidy.  We just need to free-up some space for the things the kiddos received for Christmas, and get rid of anything we haven’t used in a while.

Clean Outside

I need to – pressure wash the house, check the gutters, clean out the flower beds, and inspect the lawn mower’s fluids and battery.

Clean Inside

I need to – replace air conditioner and water filters, spot-clean the carpets, touch-up the paint in a few areas, and hang two pictures.

Backup Our Devices

We have cellphones, computers, laptops, and touchscreens – and they all have a variety of media stored on them.  I need to go through each one, backing up data, installing updates, and removing unused apps.

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We’ll work in the evenings, taking our time to sort through the things we need an the things we want to sell or give away.  Our goal is to set a foundation for an organized New Year.

What about you?  Are you getting ready for the New Year?  If so, please share your thoughts in the comments – and you can always connect via Facebook and Twitter.  Blessings.

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Getting Ready For A New Financial Year

I’ve taken the time today to do a little financial housekeeping, getting ready for a new financial year.

I reconciled the balances in our various checking and savings accounts.  All checks written have cleared and transactions have posted.  If you are a financial nerd like me, you know that’s awesome.

I then updated our inventory of financial accounts - taking the time to update account passwords and website information.  The inventory is designed for my wife, so that she would have a snapshot of our finances, should something happen to me.

After that, I took a peek at our retirement and college savings accounts.  I really need to do some more research before I touch our current investments, but I’m pretty happy with the progress we are making.

Our final mortgage payment for this year posted last week.  I made a note of just how much interest we paid last year.  We’ll receive a year-end statement in a few weeks, but I was curious.  I’ll stat working on our taxes in a few weeks and having this information on hand will be, well, handy.  I can’t wait until we have paid off our mortgage – in full!

Our insurance premiums are due twice a year.  Our next payment is due in June and I can now add that payment, divided by six, to our monthly budget.  I also did a quick review of our insurance coverage and I’m satisfied we are in good shape.

I have several apps on my phone that I use to manage our finances.  I took a few minutes and made sure that these apps were up-to-date and functioning properly.  I think I’ll write a post this week about the apps that help us save money!  Stay tuned.

new financial year image

Finally, I reviewed our credit reports – checking for any errors.

It feels good to be organized.  With these simple tasks behind me, I think I’m ready for next year.

What about you?  Are you getting ready for a new financial year?  Leave a comment below and share.  Blessings.

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How To Save Money In The Kitchen

I am a big fan of using a combination of coupons and a grocery price-book to save money when buying groceries.  I am also a big fan of saving money in the kitchen, after those groceries have been purchased.  Here’s how to save money in the kitchen – and minimize those costly trips to the grocery store.

These tips work for our busy family of 5.  There are no professional organizers in this bunch!

In the refrigerator -

Keep things neat and tidy.  It’s easy to forget what you have if you can’t see it.

Prep fruits and vegetables.  We have kids – and kids like convenience foods.  Rather than see our fruits and vegetables spoil, we slice and peel them when we buy them, and the kids eat them up.

Use it up.  Waste not, want not.  When a bottle is almost empty, turn it over, let gravity help you out, and use it up.

In the pantry -

Invest in a decent set of food storage containers.  Stale cereal is the worst.  We keeps ours nice and fresh in these cool Rubbermaid containers.  As soon as I get home, we remove cookies, crackers, and cereals from their bags and boxes and pour them into storage containers.  This keeps food fresher – and we think they make things look nicer, too!

Teach the kids to put away the groceries.  Our kids have been taught to help around our house.  As a result, they respect and value the things that we buy.

Put things where you can get to them – unless you shouldn’t.  I have a sweet-tooth, so I put all of the healthy stuff at eye-level – and the not-so-healthy stuff in the back.

Rotate your canned-goods.  Get in the habit of placing newer cans behind older ones.  Check those dates!

Donate what you do not need.  If you aren’t going to eat it – donate it to a local food-bank or homeless shelter.

Cooking -

Invest in a crock-pot.  Seriously.  A slow cooker saves us so much time and theyare so simple to use.  If we are worried about cooking meat before it spoils, we’ll slow cook it in the crock-pot, with a few vegetable and some seasonings.

Use the oven when electricity is cheaper.  Check with your power company and plan accordingly.  Ours offers a plan with less expensive electricity before 2pm and after 7pm.

Make compost.  We have a spring and summer garden – so we are always looking for scraps for our compost bin.  Rather than waste egg shells and apple skins, use them to create awesome soil for your garden!

save money in the kitchen

At the table -

Start with smaller portions.  We have kids.  Kids are picky.  Rather than give them a huge scoop of beans, we’ll start them out with just a few.  If they want more, they can have them.  If not, we can put them in the refrigerator and have leftovers the next day.

Make the kitchen-table an awesome place to be.

Share the clean-up responsibilities.  We clean up our kitchen as a family.  Our kids know how to wash dishes and put them away.

Skip the heated drying cycle.  Instead, dry dishes by hand.  If you have a small amount of dishes, skip the dishwasher and wash by hand.  (I’ve read conflicting articles about how much money is saved when washing by hand versus using the dishwasher.  We use ours for one load a day and always wait until it is full to run it.)

These simple tips for how to save money in the kitchen work for our family.  Our goal is to maintain an organized kitchen where we can enjoy good meals and good company.  Blessings.

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DIY Distressed Wood Mantel – Get The Rustic Look For Less

I am a huge fan of DIY projects – especially DIY projects that save me money.  Brian from the The Wildman Project youtube channel created this awesome DIY Distressed Wood Mantel and it looks great.

He was able to create the look of distressed wood, with just a few tools and some lumber from a big-box store.  Awesome.

If you are interested in tackling a similar project, I have included links and a materials list below the video.

Brian uses a belt sander in the video.  I don’t have one of those – so I used a random orbital sander.  I simply held it at a slight angle to the surface of the wood, to create the dips that you see in the video.  If you have the patience – sandpaper wrapped around a piece of scrap wood would work just fine.

You can pick up the boards for this project at your local big-box store.  The top and front are glued together with simple butt joints and the corners are mitered.  There are no nails or screws used – so they won’t get in the way of sanding.

Here’s a list of other items you might need to complete this project – including wood glue, stain, a sander, and a file.

This distressing process would work for creating a variety of DIY projects.  

I recently used this technique to build a simple picture frame.  It turned out great and I’m thinking about using this technique to add some character to a head board I’m building for our bedroom.  Also, this might be a great technique for building one of those very popular rustic kitchen tables.

You can view more of Brian’s work over at his website – The Wildman Project and the Wildman Project Etsy Shop.

If you are new to DIY and woodworking – I recently shared my list of inexpensive, budget friendly tools.

Check out my new DIY projects board over at pintrest.  Blessings.

 

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