Hobbies:Bullet Journaling

I’ve always kept a planner to help me keep track of things. I’ve also frequently had multiple types of notebooks to help me keep track of my different writing ideas as well as my to-do’s. With my responsibilities increasing I needed a way to keep track of all of my responsibilities in one place. So far Bullet journaling has really helped me get  a hold over our finances. This month I just focused on getting the finances together, next month I plan to include appointments, meal planning, chores, and habits into my journal.

Here is how I plan to organize August in my Bullet journal. organizer-791939_1920

Monthly Calendar

Monthly Income Tracker

Monthly Bills Breakdown

August Debt Crush (Each month I have certain debts I want to get rid of)

Weekly Budget Breakdown

Chore Chart Monthly

Chore Chart Weekly

Chore Chart Daily

To Do List: Immediate, Later, Eventually

Weekly Meal Plan

The Last Time I (tracker) Changed the sheets, bought xyz, Cleaned xyz, etc.

Dr’s Appointments Myself, Daniel, Wesley

Future Purchases

Water Consumption

Blog Post Tracker (frequency of Posts)

Creating this bullet journal has really helped me in laying out my thoughts over the past week. I too often have a million things running through my head, and often feel that there is not enough time in the day. As I get more into bullet journaling you can expect a few how to hobby posts about it. It seems to be a popular idea at the moment, but it is an organizational tool that I am finding to be extraordinarily helpful. It is a one stop shop for all of my needs. Unlike in the past where I would write about my day in my diary, keep track of my future to-do’s in my planner, and make a list of my daily to-do’s inside of the nearest notebook I could find, now I am able to keep track of all my ideas in one spot. There is no right or wrong.

I had been wondering just what I was going to do with the beautiful leather bound journal my husband had gifted me a couple months ago, and now I have the answer. Its been incredibly freeing to just get all the ideas down in one place without constantly having to look for the right notebook to write it down in. Amazingly this organizational tool also has its own community, there are so many people online talking, sharing, and experimenting online with this concept. The inspiration for others on exactly how to do a bullet journal is ultimately refreshing.

So tell me have you experimented with bullet journaling? How do you like it so far? Please share in the comments below.

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Spring Cleaning: Before a Move

Spring Cleaning is an essential part of your yearly routine, it allows you to refresh your home, get rid of the old to make room for all the new that came in over the winter holidays. It’s also a great way to make some extra cash, and begin the packing process if you are getting ready for a move. Even if you won’t be moving for another 3 to 6 months it is great to utilize spring cleaning as a time to begin packing away and minimizing your belongings.

We will be moving at the end of September so as a part of my Spring Cleaning, I have begun packing away my books and nick-nacks as they are not anything I will need as part of my essential daily tasks for the next few months. I suggest setting up at least 4 containers as you go through each room, while you clean.

As you begin Spring Cleaning and prepare for a move take the following steps.

Step 1: Make a list of rooms in your house/apartment. For example my list would look like this.

Living roomhome-1745377_640

Dining room

Kitchen

Pantry

Bathroom #1

Bathroom #1’s linen closet

Coat closet

Baby’s room

Baby’s closet

Master bedroom

Master bedroom nook

Master bedroom closet

Bathroom #2

Bathroom #2 linen closet

Step 2: Pick a room either begin in the back of the house or front of the house, if you have multiple floors pick a floor.

Go through each room, break it down into walls, flat surfaces, and floors. For example the bathroom might be broken down as. Mirrors, counters, bathtubs, toilet, sink, floors.

Step 3: While you are organizing and wiping down surfaces, decide what you are going to donate, sell, trash, or pack away. If you have a while before your move only pack away non-essentials. For example if you are like me and own over 800+ books and have no intention of minimizing that number, it would be a good idea to begin packing away those books you are not currently reading and that you don’t refer to often. Put all trash in a trash bag. storage-38093_640

Depending on how you are going to sell your items, i.e garage sale, craigslist, facebook group, or ebay consider each item carefully. If you are planning for a garage sale, put your donation stuff in there too, you never know what people might take an interest in. Whatever doesn’t sell at your garage sale you can then donate after.

Step #4: For things that you are planning to keep out, be sure to place them in their proper place. For example clothes and towels, should have a set place in the linen closet.

Step #5: Make sure you dust off any items you are packing away in boxes, otherwise you are just creating more work for yourself come moving day.

Step #6: Take your time. Utilize the Single Tasking method. to-do-734587_640

For more articles related to spring cleaning see below:

Kitchen Organization

Deep Cleaning Your Kitchen

Clean Out Your Computer Day

Surviving Life with a Baby Part 5: Chore Chart

Spring Cleaning: Tips and Tricks to a fresh Start of the Year

Do you have any suggestions for Spring Cleaning as you move? Let me know in the comments below.

Kitchen Organization

It seems everyone has their own way of organizing the kitchen, the pantry, and don’t get me started on the variety of ways in which we as people load the dishwasher. When my husband Daniel first moved in with me I was already well established in my first apartment where I had managed to organize the tiny kitchen so that it worked well for me and my style of cooking.

Daniel however, was used to a professional kitchen with everything within hands reach to do exactly what needed to be done. As it was, the way my kitchen was set up was illogical in his eyes. Over the first year of us living together, we made some minor changes to its organization, but it was never quiet perfect for Daniel and he would constantly explain how certain items would have been better placed in such and such location.

When setting up our new apartment, I took special care in organizing the layout of our kitchen based on the constant complaints and exclamations Daniel had made at the last apartment. The following is how I did it.

Pots/Pans:kitchen-487973_640

Place all pots and pans in the drawer attached to the stove, if you do not have one of these you have two more options.

  • Place pots and pans on a rack that hangs over head.
  • In a Cupboard that is next to or closest to the stove, particularly one that sits on the ground, as they tend to be larger than the overhead cupboards.

Also, place all metal baking sheets, steamers, rotisseries, and serving platters in a cupboard closest to the stove.

Cups:

Drink-ware should all be in a top cupboard nearest the fridge.

Note: do not put in cupboard above the fridge as this is very hard to reach. This cupboard should be used for rarely used items and or alcohol/ other products you would like to keep out of the reach of children.

Plates/Bowls:

Keep plates and bowls together in a cupboard that’s easy to view while standing in front of. Keep large mixing bowls here as well if you can. Keeping your mixing bowls here makes it easier to locate when you are thinking to yourself I need a bowl.

Tableware:

Keep all tableware in a drawer either nearest the edge of the kitchen for easy grabbing on the way out/ when you forget to grab one or place in a drawer beneath the location of your plates/bowls.

Hand Tools:

Spatulas, tongs, whisks, basting brush and bulb etc. etc. The items you use frequently should be in a cylindrical container on the counter near the stove, all others that do not get used often or that do not sit properly in the cylinder should be placed in their own drawer nearest the stove.

spice-rack-1650037_640

Seasonings/ Cooking Oils:

Place in a cupboard/ on a shelf that is close to eye level near the stove (we had extra cupboard space in our apartment so one cupboard holds spices at eye level and another holds the cooking oils, extra rice, and cooking wine in a bottom cupboard since the shelves were taller.)

Tub-a-ware:

Do your best to keep Tub-a-ware mess exclusively on one shelf of your cabinets though ideally somewhere that is easy to see and grab from. We have two shelves of tub-a-ware one of which is a mess and contains the plastic cheap to-go containers. On the second shelf it is much better organized, this is where we keep our nicer glassware tub-a-ware.

Baking Dishes:

Put these in an easily accessible location especially if you use your oven a lot, you want to be able to easily locate the proper dish.

Kitchen Gadgets:

There are many different types of gadgets from toasters and can openers to mixers and electric grills; anyone who’s lived on their own long enough has collected at least a few of these gadgets. For the gadgets, you use every day its best to find an out of the way location on your counter-top, preferably near a wall outlet. We keep four such gadgets on our counters including the electric can opener, toaster, coffee maker, and the base of our blender.

As for our Microwave, we thought it better to save counter space for food prep by placing it on a small wooden table, which also acts as a holder for our recipe books. We have an eat-in kitchen so the table sits easily in the corner of our dining area.

Other suggestions for where to put the Microwave include:

  • In the pantry
  • Above the fridge
  • On your counter top if you have the space

So what about all those gadgets you don’t use on a daily basis?

Well in my case, they are placed out of the way in a bottom cupboard, as you don’t use them very often there is less concern to be had about visualization of these items, and placing them one behind another is not a big deal. Just be aware of the order in which you place them. If you use your crock pot more often than your electric griddle, don’t place the griddle in front of the crock pot.

Pitchers/Vases:pitcher-1259521_640

I keep all my unused vases under the sink and as for my unused pitchers; I keep them above the fridge. The cupboard above my fridge is a little taller than some so I like to place tall/awkward items that don’t get used very often in this location as it is out of the way.

Note: My Oven mitts hang off a plastic door hook usually reserved for hanging jackets on the backs of doors. I took an extra one that I had and hooked it over one of the cupboards near the stove. It is the perfect place for quick retrieval of oven mitts when I need them and it holds five perfectly.

Junk Drawer:

There is a junk drawer in just about every house, and more often than not, it is located in the kitchen. Though you don’t necessarily have to fill every drawer I understand the need to do so. In order to prevent the creation of a junk drawer in my kitchen I put assorted lids and straws in one drawer. I then put extra rags for cleaning and using in the process of a quick microwave steam in another drawer. My other drawers holds large utensils like tongs that don’t get used very often. The fourth and final drawer holds the silverware.

Please share some of your kitchen organization tips in the comments:

Deep Cleaning Your Kitchen

There are four main steps to keeping your kitchen clean.

1) doing the dishes

2) wiping down the counters

3) taking out the trash

4) sweeping/mopping the floors.

However, there are a number of other areas that you should really think about giving a scrub down to:

fridge drawers and shelveskitchen-2165756_640

behind the sink

electric can opener

cabinet doors

stove fan

microwave

pantry

cabinet drawers

top of fridge

oven

pot and pan drawer under stove

silver ware organizer

All of the areas I just listed are places that most people forget about or ignore. Many people like to do their yearly cleaning in the spring, me I like to get it done at least once a season in order to make sure my home is as clean and de-cluttered as I can make it.

Many people are busy and I understand this, but if you could just take a few hours one day every three months to do the following steps you would find your kitchen to be cleaner and a more inviting place to eat.

I hope that many of you already clean up messes as they occur, but I also know that some messes go unnoticed or kids and other family members may not be so great at cleaning up after themselves instead leaving disarrays behind them like some sort of spinning tornado everywhere they go. It is for these build ups of uncleanliness that this article is for. Now let us deep clean that kitchen.

clean-571679_1280

Step 1: Easy enough wash the dishes, any dish that is dirty in the house, score every child’s room, bathroom, living room, and play area to make sure that not a single dish is missed. Also, don’t forget to empty the fridge of all those un-eaten leftovers that have long since gone bad sitting in the back of the fridge.

After washing dishes thoroughly in the sink, place them in the dishwasher for proper sanitization. After all, you don’t know how long that cup was growing mold, or how long that pork chop was sitting in that glass bowl.

Step 2: At this point you likely want to take the trash out, as cleaning up the rest of the kitchen won’t be easy with it smelling like the entire last month’s decaying leftovers. While you are at it wipe down the inside of your trash can with soap and water to help prevent bacteria growth from smelling up your home.

dishes-1348213_640Step 3: After all of the dishes have been washed and put away wipe down the counter using your preferred cleaner, I really like method all purpose  grapefruit scented cleaner and their mint glass surface cleaner. Wipe down the counter tops and don’t forget to scrub behind the sink nozzle you will be surprised by the number of food particles and even mold that can form in that area simply because no one thinks to clean it. Also be sure to pick up all counter top appliances and clean beneath them as well.

Step 4: While your hands are on all those appliances give them a wipe down as well. This is also, where we get to the electric can opener. The cleaning of this area may require some special tools in order to make sure you can get into all of the little nooks and crannies of the gears. I recommend using the small part of a bottle cleaner as well as a strong cleaning formula in order to make sure the bacteria is killed. Note it is important to be careful not to stick yourself with the blade while you are cleaning, as it is very sharp.

Step 5: We often don’t think to clean out the inside of our cabinet drawers, but often our drawers get left open allowing dirt, food particles, and dust to make their way in over time. Give your utensils a good rinse or give them a quick sanitizing  through the dishwasher, wipe down the inside of the drawers with a food safe cleaner I like method all purpose for this one. All while your cleaning out these drawers make sure you wipe down all parts of your silverware organizer too after all these things can often become a place for dirt and food particles to gather especially since you often are holding plates of food as you open them and all kinds of crumbs can fall in there.

Step 6: Wipe down the front of all cabinet doors (especially if your cabinets are white, all that cooking can cause grime to build up creating discoloration).

Step 7: Wipe down the top part of your fridge, you will find the most dust collects up here.

Step 8: Wipe down the part of the stove fan that juts out from the wall, when you are cooking with things like oil and steam this area can easily build up with grime as a result of evaporation, dust also likes to accumulate here making for a nasty spot gathering right over the location where you’re doing your cooking. Gross!

Step 9: I’m sure this is an area you are constantly attempting to keep clean, but I feel its worth mentioning anyway, clean your stove tops, remove the burners and soak the drip pans scrubbing with steel wool for those more persistent burn spots. A good way to prevent having to constantly clean these is to wrap them with aluminum foil, doing this allows you to remove the foil when it gets too dirty and just add a new clean one. For those who do a lot of cooking on the stove-top this can be a major time saver.

gloves-415390_1280Step 10: I used to use an oven cleaner to clean my oven, but the fumes from that can be very toxic so I have since switched to using baking soda and vinegar.

Step 11: Don’t forget if you have a drawer beneath the oven that holds your pots and pans, this area often gets ignored. This is very unfortunate as food is very often dropped into this drawer while you are cooking and preparing meals, be sure and remove all the pots and pans and clean this drawer out with all purpose method cleaner.

Step 12: The microwave, this is a spot everyone hates to clean, but so often it requires cleaning, remember the inner glass circle can often be removed and sent through the dishwasher. For easy cleaning, put a bowl of vinegar in the microwave for two minutes, then wipe down with a sponge.

Step 13: Clean the fridge inside and out. Use bleach cleaner on the shelves and drawers. Pull all food products out before commencing the cleaning, throw out all expired items at this time after all no point in putting spoiled food back into the clean fridge. Be sure to remove the drawers and shelves individually in order to get to the back most parts of the fridge as often times when spills occur we don’t think of the possible mess they are making down the back part of the fridge. Also, give the top of the inner fridge a good wipe down as well. Be sure to do the same with your freezer after all it gets messy too.

Step 14: Clean out your pantry, throw out expired and empty food boxes. Wipe down the shelves, and sweep the bottom part of the floor. Dust off all the cans that have been sitting for a while and donate anything you know will not be eaten, but is still considered good. Place the older cans in the front and newer cans in the back.

Step 15: Finally, the last step sweep and mop your floors.

 

If you have any kitchen cleaning tips you would like to share or feel I may have missed something please leave a comment below.

Everything you Think is Wrong Day

I thought it would be interesting this year to highlight some of the unique and lesser known holidays. This Wednesday, March 15, 2017, is Everything you Think is Wrong Day. I felt this holiday was perfectly fitting for how I’ve been feeling about this month. confused-880735_640Despite all of my research and studying about blogging and marketing over the past two years I’m starting to feel like everything I thought was wrong. I’m overwhelmed with the amount of work it is taking to get my blog fully set up. There’s so much to do in order to make sure everything is organized and in it’s proper place. I am honestly starting to wonder why I didn’t do so much of this stuff sooner. In order to help combat the crazy that is my brain I have a ton of lists that I am working with and creating. Basically when you find yourself with too many thoughts that everything you are thinking is wrong, the best thing to do is make a list. Here’s a list of the lists I am currently working with or in the process of building. (Yes I have a list for my lists, try saying that five times fast.)

First, I have a March to do list, with all the things I need to accomplish this month to optimize and improve my blog.

Lists I am making or have already made this month:

Niche Key words for Google Alerts

Posts located under each category

Posts under each tagto-do-734587_640

List of tags used

List of articles by name that I have written

List of most popular articles by month (Top 5)

List of Posts to be used via Social Media (from across the web)

List of memes, quotes, gifs, videos to be used via social media

Make a list of what articles are linked to other articles i.e X article has a link for articles A, B, and C

Make a list of blogs I follow

Make a wish list of products for the business

Create a dump folder for stock images to use on blog and a separate for social media memes/motivational posts

Make a list of promotional activities for each social networking platform

Make a list of items to be printed

Make a list of rooms to declutter

I have also created lists for monthly, weekly, and daily to do’s for the blog and my household responsibilities. I love lists, and organizing my to do’s. To help keep my mind and work organized I set up a whole new system in the form of three poster boards and post-it’s. I stole the idea from one of my favorite bloggers Suzi from Start a Mom Blog. post-it-notes-1284667_640Her Super Simple Weekly Schedule helps me keep track of my events, housekeeping, and gives me some basic ideas of what’s going on with the blog that day. I am also using her Blog Vision Board and Editorial Calendar. The Editorial Calendar could also be used for a monthly schedule if you are not running a blog or if you just want to keep track of your monthly basics.

 

Single Tasking Day

Let’s face it we millennial’s have busy lives as of this year every millennial that was born in the 90s are adults. This means the majority of millennial’s now have bills to pay, and adult responsibilities to take care of. Growing up in the age of social networking, smart phones, and high tech laptops it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount that must/needs to get done.

Instead of trying to accomplish everything at once, give individual focus to each thing on your to do list at a time. I’ve discovered recently that by making a list of to do’s  and goals for the day and giving attention to each item individually I am able to accomplish everything on my list, sometimes I even managed to get more done then what I originally planned.

Cleaning used to really frustrate me, because I would think I had to do everything in a room at once. Since breaking down each of the rooms in my house into individual tasks and assigning certain tasks to certain days I find my home ten times cleaner, and staying clean longer. For example my kitchen is broken down into dishes, counter tops, floors, recycling,  trash and fridge. I could write an entire post on the way I’ve broken down each room into much smaller tasks. clean-571679_1280

For related posts see:

Kitchen Organization

Deep Cleaning Your Kitchen

Surviving Life with a Baby Part 5: Chore Chart

Spring Cleaning: Tips and Tricks to a fresh Start of the Year

In addition, to breaking down my cleaning tasks I have also broken down my work. I assign tasks for each day. I write down everything that needs to be done in the week. I then break down each of those into individual activities. I then take those activities and put them on the different days throughout the week. For example last week looked like this for me:

To do week of Feb. 13-19

Write blog posts for week Feb.20-26

Write Real Estate blog post for March (new client)

Work on e-book 4 hours

Create marketing posts on facebook

February 13-14

Focus on e-book

February 15-17

Focus on blog articles

February 18-19

Focus on facebook posts

Breakdown

Single Tasking Day

Live Streaming Crazeto-do-734587_640

Job Hunting 101

Bouncing Back after illness

Kinnectpay post

Real Estate Post

2 hours with ebook

2hours with ebook

25 fb posts written

25 fb posts written

25 fb posts written

25 fb posts written

Since breaking my work down in this way I am able to accomplish a lot more every week. Sometimes more than I had planned for. By giving each activity its own attention I’m able to accomplish ten times more. Now that I have managed to get my chores and workload under control I’m planning to do something similar with the baby and making it a goal to complete 2-3 activities with him every day so I can make sure he is getting the attention he needs in order to grow.

How has giving your focus to one thing at a time helped you? Will you try to give your attention towards completing one activity at a time today? Let me know in the comments, I always love hearing my readers thoughts.

Clean Out Your Computer Day

I’m not a clean freak by any means, however, I love reading and writing about organization and spring cleaning. Don’t ask me why, because I really don’t know. One of the things that often gets forgotten on our spring cleaning list however, is cleaning out the computer. How many of us have piles of documents located all over our computer. Sometimes it can make it difficult to find or remember where we saved that one document, or where we saved that one web-link. On top of that how many of us have devices we no longer use cluttering up our drawers, and garage? Consider this your one stop shop for all your computer and technology related spring cleaning tips.

Step One:

I always find when it comes to things like spring cleaning it is great to have a list. So begin by making a  list of all the gadgets you have that may need to be de-cluttered.

Phone/phonesoffice-583839_640

Computer

Tablet

Ipod

Memory sticks/memory cards

Step two:

Associate the amount of time it will take to go through each item. Phones can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, your computer will likely take 2 or more hours, a tablet shouldn’t take more than about 30 minutes, same goes for the ipod. Now as far as memory sticks go you will want to save these until after you have done what you needed to do with the computer. It may not take long to go through each one, but you may also need to place certain things temporarily on the computer or you may even need to move some things from the computer to the memory sticks.

Step three:

Get started.

Phones:

Where to begin with your phone? I would first start with the contacts, it is the fastest and easiest thing to clear out. Remove any contacts you no longer need to have in your phone. Update any contacts that need to be updated phone numbers, emails, names, addresses ect. Sync any contacts that you have been meaning to sync with your social networks, but had not gotten around to doing so.

business-2056029_640Next, go through all of your apps, remove any apps you do not use. Delete them from your phone. Also make sure any apps you use regularly are on your home screen so that you are not searching all over your phone for them when you need them.

Finally, back up all of your pictures and video to an online cloud. I like to send all of my pictures to Shutterfly so that when I finally do get around to one day creating that awesome scrap book I’ve been dreaming of, all of my pictures are already their. Once all your pictures are backed up delete them all off your phone so you have space to take more pictures.

Tablet:

Clear out any books or unwanted apps. Check your memory space and consider what apps are important to you and what apps you use all the time on your tablet.

Ipod:

This one is easy, clear out any songs you no longer like, remove any apps you don’t use, and add any new songs you have been meaning to add.

Computer:

Okay this is the hard one, we have so many ways of keeping information these days. We are also all different in the way we use technology. It use to be I had a word document for just about everything. When I got my new computer though and it did not have word on it, I started using Google Docs, so now the majority of my stuff is on there.apple-606761_640

Wherever you keep the information you spend the most time going through and working on I recommend going through those first. Make sure everything is in the correct file, and if you don’t have files set up, create them so that everything that needs its own file has its own file.

For example if you work on your computer and you have files for data over the course of a few years. Give each year its own file and make sure it is marked data. If you are like me and have multiple writing clients with different topics create a different file for each client. If you have personal finances and what not on your computer create a file for this as well.

All word documents, PDFs, and power-points need to be organized so that they are easily accessible and you can easily find where everything is.

Images should be the same way. I will say this though finding images on my computer has proven difficult at times. I don’t know where they go, but every now and again they appear in random places around my computer. I recommend creating a file both in downloads and on your PC where all pictures get saved to. Create a file for them there photography-2188818_640based on either date or if they are images you downloaded online to use for a project like a blog post or work powerpoint you can then place them in a file like blogging images or presentation images.

Just like with your phone I also recommend loading any images you are wanting to save as a keep sake or for scrapbooking to a cloud so that you have them no matter what.

Any documents that if you lost you would be disappointed for forever and eternity I recommend downloading copies onto a thumb drive or into an online memory cloud. You just never know when your computer is going to catch a virus, get stolen or get damaged in a way that is irreparable.

Memory Sticks:

Last, but not least we have memory sticks. The important part about these is that you label them with what they are. In addition, just as you organize your documents with files you should organize your thumb drives and memory sticks the same way. However, writing on the outside of them with sharpie of what they contain is also helpful. (Especially if you are like me and have a handful of these things with different things on each of them, yet half of them look alike making it impossible to remember which one.)computer-accessories-1841254_640

Keeping them in a safe place, preferably in a safe that is fire proof and water proof so you always have a back up if your computer gets damaged in some sort of disaster. Even better if you can keep the thumb drives in a different house all together i.e a box at a bank.

Maybe you are pretty good at keeping your electronics organized with all of your information, but you have a bunch of old gadgets laying around the house. There are safe ways to get rid of your unwanted electronics. In fact you may even be able to make money off of them. Cell phones can be sold to recycle companies or depending on how old they are some people may even give you cash for them via craigslist, or ebay. Just take proper precautions and look out for scams.

Before getting rid of any computers be sure to wipe the memory clean restore it to its original settings so that you don’t have any super personal information just sitting on the computer for anyone to pick up and find. You can donate your used electronics to places like Goodwill and Salvation Army. You can also sell them online.

If they are just that old that they would not be overly useful or helpful to anyone you can take them to a electronic recycling drop off center. Some Best Buys will take old computer equipment to recycle make sure you call yours to check. A quick search of your local area could tell you if your local community was/is hosting an electronic recycle day, and where local drop offs are in your local area. These are usually only hosted a few times a year though.

Whatever you decide to do with your old electronics do not place them in the trash. After all it takes millions and billions of years for those things to degrade down enough. Meanwhile they poison the ground as they release toxins from the heavy metals that they are made out of.

Have any cool tips for cleaning out your devices and getting rid of old ones? Share in the comments below.

For other spring cleaning tips check out these articles below:

Spring Cleaning: Tips and Tricks to a Fresh Start of the Year

Deep Cleaning Your Kitchen

Surviving Life with a Baby Part 6: Budgeting

You can’t have a happy home if your finances are not in order a good way to do that is by following a budget. One of my new years resolutions was to finally get my families finances in order. We have done okay at budgeting in the past, but we always seem to run into a couple of pit falls here and there. With tax returns coming in soon, I felt now was a good time to finally get a better hold over our budget. We have a really hard time at maintaining a budget when it comes to groceries and then of course we have a couple of small bills we frequently forget about until the day they are do and we are then scavenging for cash. I’m tired of this game of paycheck to paycheck, month to month, week to week, day to day nightmare we seem to be constantly stuck in.

So I wrote all of the bills and monthly expenses down. I also tallied up our monthly income. I then subtracted the regular bills that we know what they are every month. I then budgeted a set amount for those “unexpected,” expenses. We also have a plan for how we are going to begin saving money and how we are going to ultimately fix our credit.

Step one at creating a budget:

Determine your average monthly income. I mean after taxes, do not include un-assured income like tips, and side gigs. Any extra income you get like tips and side gigs should be either put towards savings or debt.

Step two at creating a budget:

Write down all of your monthly bills. I mean everything rent, water, electric, insurance, internet, phone, gas (for your home and car), food, entertainment like netflix or cable. (Speaking of which get rid of cable you do not need it.) If you have to go to a laundry mat to do your laundry like we do include that bill to, if you dry clean anything regularly include that bill.

Step three at creating a budget:

Allocate the funds from each paycheck. In fact you are better off cutting every bill in half and paying for half of it with each paycheck if you can. If you can’t currently do that because you are behind, and you are expecting a tax refund this year I highly recommend using some of it so you can start doing just that. This way when you pay rent, you are not automatically broke, you still have enough money to buy food and put gas in the car.

Step four at creating a budget:

Put the money you have allocated for things like gas, food, and fun into three separate envelopes, instead of charging it to the card, this way you know exactly how much you have to spend and you do not accidentally overspend. After you have paid all bills, whatever is left over throw into a savings account. If you allocate a certain amount of money for savings every month (as everyone should) set it up like a monthly bill so that it is automatically transferred over when you receive your paycheck.

Step five at creating a budget:

If you can manage to set it up so you are paying half of every bill twice a month, set it up online so that the money automatically transfers from your bank account to the company. This process is called automatic bill pay and can be found on your online banking accounts main page. By setting up automatic bill pay you can assure that no bills are ever forgotten again.

How do you do your monthly budget? Please share in the comments what you thought about my monthly budgeting ideas.

Surviving Life with a Baby Part 5: Chore Chart

Since my little one was born I have been sending out these helpful Surviving Life with a Baby articles. I have part five for you this month for those who missed Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 please check them out at the links below. There is no real reason why you should have to read them in order though. organizer-791939_1920

Part 1>> The daily Schedule

Part 2>> The weekly Schedule

Part 3>> The monthly Schedule

Part 4>> The Yearly Schedule

We have daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly chores that lets face it, it is important we do if we want to maintain a neat and tidy house.

Yearly:

It is important that at least once or twice a year we de-clutter our homes from top to bottom, if you maintain a schedule where once a year (or twice) you have a set week or month that you dedicate to de-cluttering your home you might just find that your house or apartment is a happier environment.

When I am in the throws of Spring, Cleaning I like to break it up into different projects. My list typically breaks down into different rooms.

Closets

Bedrooms

Kitchen

Bathrooms

Flat Surfaces

Dining/Living Area

For other cool tips on Spring Cleaning Check out this post from 2015.

Spring Cleaning: Tips and Tricks to a Fresh Start of the Year

Monthly:

There are things we should really do to keep our house in order every month, and I am not just talking about paying bills. Here are a few things I find it important to do every month to keep the house clean.

We don’t have a washer and dryer in the house so we have to take our laundry outside the home to wash it. So once a month I gather everything up to wash.

To Do List:

Dusting

Clean bathroom mirrors

Clear out the fridge

Weekly:

Twice a week I take out the trash including the diaper pale, recycling, and kitchen. I bring out trash on Sunday, and Thursday.

To Do List:

Mop

Budget

Meal Plan

water plants

Sinks/toilets

Grocery Shopping

Daily:

My daily chores seems like a long list, but I can generally get each item done in about 10 or fifteen minutes. Dishes however are a different story. It takes me thirty minutes to do dishes. So I do my best to get the dishes done first thing every morning.

To Do List:

dishes

sweep floors

wipe counters

pick up baby toy mess

wipe down the high chair

pick an item from the weekly/monthly/yearly list

I like breaking my to do list down into pieces. In addition, to my daily chore list I also like to give myself two or three daily goals outside of chores to achieve. I really hope this helps you get a handle on all your household chores. If you have older children assign daily tasks, have each day represent a different activity. My little one is barely 18 months old and I already have him helping with toy clean up. I sing the clean up song and put his toys away. He attempts to sing along and will pick up a couple of toys to throw into the container with me. Kids are never too young to learn how to help. Teach them now and you will have less argument later. Form habits. Turn your chores into habits so they are less like chores.

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For more ideas on breaking down your chores into single tasks check out my article Single Tasking Day.

Have any advice or suggestions? Let me know in the comments. I am always looking for fun organizing chore tips.

How I destroyed our Grocery Budget in 2016?

You’ve seen the articles of women who coupon and have those huge stockpiles of diapers, toilet paper, and laundry detergent in their basements. You have watched in awe on television as they go through the store with their coupon book and load up three or four baskets of goodies and make it out of the store only having spent a few pennies, or dollars, on some occasions they even walk away having paid zero! Well this post is not anything like that. In fact, it may even be the complete opposite. However, I want to tell you how I finally hit rock bottom when it came to dealing with the monthly budget, especially when it came to dealing with groceries.

I am the  first to admit that I am not the most savvy of shoppers. However, I do know how to spot a good deal, my problem is I too often get sucked in by good deals that I may not actually need. My local grocery store is H.E.B, now I could easily shop at Walmart, Costco, Fiesta, Whole Foods, or Randalls, but I’m lazy and H.E.B is right there. For those not familiar with the store, they offer in store coupons basically throughout the entire place. Everywhere you can find these yellow slips of paper for $1 off this item or buy this item and get this other item (or five items) free. Generally I go once a week or sometimes every other week and do my shopping. I always check the mailing ad before I go so I have an idea of what products are on sale and I can have a list. I also check ibotta to see if they are offering any rebates for items I buy regularly or for any of the items that are currently on sale. I then go to the store and do my best to stick to the list, sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t.

After my husband had his car accident this past October I was no longer able to drive to the store for my grocery shopping, so I started making purchases via instacart. Instacart was useful, and very convenient. However, after about a month of me doing that it was really showing itself to be quiet pricey as we were not getting the sales we usually get when we shopped ourselves. Because of this I checked the ads in order to buy what we needed for Thanksgiving Dinner. I car-pooled with my neighbor to the store. I realized while doing my shopping that there were some good products, on what I call, super sale. I decided it might be a good idea to stock up on a few extras of these and did so. They had a deal where if you bought a ham you got a turkey for free. I did this and choose to save the ham for Christmas (a few weeks later they had another deal where if you bought a ham you got a bunch of other stuff for free so I ended up buying a second ham). When I did the thanksgiving shopping I bought enough stuff to last us until the week after thanksgiving.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas my husband decided to switch jobs, as a result we did not have enough money to buy food. I was stuck with working with what we had. So I took a long look at what we had in the house, and I realized I had enough to last quite a while if I just got creative. So that is what I did, I got creative. When my husband finally got his paycheck the week before Christmas I went BIG grocery shopping. I did so planning for the food to last us at least three to four weeks, when combined with everything else I had. That is when I bought the second Ham. Christmas came and went and we started looking at the bills for January. We realized we were not going to have a lot to work with in terms of grocery money. However, we had been tighter than that before.

I choose to take it as a challenge. I made a list of everything we had in the house. I then made a list of what items I would need in order to make what we had last us until the end of January. The listed totaled around $40. We could definitely swing that. We are currently in the middle of the hardest grocery challenge of my life, the $40 month grocery challenge.

Between my fridge, freezer, and pantry I had nearly 200 food items, 136 of which were just in my pantry. I had little bits of different ingredients. A handful of nuts here, a half a gallon of milk there, and a bag of frozen broccoli stuffed in the rear. It didn’t make sense. As I looked at everything I really wondered about my shopping habits. I mean I’ve read all of the blogs about how to shop properly, but somehow along the way I ended up with full shelves while always claiming that there was nothing to eat. So I’m going for it. This is the month I accomplish the $40 month grocery budget. I promise to let you know how it goes.

I’m hoping that by doing this I will be able to use up a lot of the overstock I have in my pantry. Then in February my husband and I can work out a regular monthly budget for our groceries.

*Ibotta is a great app for anyone looking to earn some cash back on their grocery shopping trips, if you use my referral code lwhvots you can earn an extra $10 just for signing up. When you use my code I also receive a cash back incentive of $5, so help me keep my budget this month and use the above referral code and start saving money today!!!