Sunday, June 19, 2011

Managing Our Homes

Have you noticed how many home make-over programs there are on television lately? Many of the homes the producers select for the show have a serious problem with organization. It makes me wonder how many women know how to organize a bookshelf, closet, or room. Some homes are downright despicable.

Since we are moving into the summer season when many moms take a break from school, I thought it would be appropriate to give a few tips on basic organization.

Don’t Be a Pack Rat!
  • Throw away broken-down, worn-out items, but be careful not to throw out toys without asking your child first.
  • Dispose of old medication.
  • Get rid of old magazines and newspapers.
  • Discard anything you haven’t used for the last 12 months.
  • Store kitchen utensils in compartments in drawers or hang them on hooks near the countertop, and keep plates near the sink or in the dining area.
  • Keep all tools in a tool box or on hooks on the wall where they may be recognized and reached quickly.
  • Store toys according to size or type. Keep a toy box or bucket in each room where children can toss the toys in them for a quick clean up.
  • If you live in an older home that has a fuse box, it’s a good idea to keep spare fuses, a fuse puller, a flashlight, and an electrical screwdriver on the shelf near the fuse box.
Making Lists
Making lists is a great way to manage your time and stay organized.
  • A running shopping list is helpful; this way anyone in the house can write on it if they notice thins have run out.
  • Reminder lists on a blackboard or tack-board are useful if you want other family members to notice and remember dates, duties, and other items.
  • Some people will keep a “To Do” list with things to be done and phone calls to be made. Check off items as you finish them and transfer uncompleted tasks to another page when the finished tasks out-number the unfinished tasks. Place them in a designated spot so you do not misplace the list.
Filing Systems
Bills, receipts, correspondence, and important documents can become disorderly and out of control if let go for too long. This is one area that you want to have control over, because a lost document can cause you expense and perhaps loss. Try using these categories when creating a filing system:
  • Unpaid bills
  • Medical (to include paid bills, prescriptions, and medical invoices)
  • Financial statements (to include bank statements, certificates...
  • Automobile (to include titles, insurance papers, auto club, and relevant correspondence)
  • Home (to include maintenance and repair, insurance policy papers, home purchase papers, or terms of apartment lease)
  • Utilities (to include account information on gas,electric, telephone, water, and garbage removal)
  • Warranties and instruction manuals 
  • School district correspondence (to include approval from superintendent to homeschool and test scores)and lastly: 
  • Hobbies and travel. You may want to keep a home inventory if you are running a business from your home in an event of fire or theft. A good rule in keeping receipts is to always keep financial papers (bank statements and mortgage loans; credit statements; important bills and receipts; tax papers, ect.) and legal papers for seven years after you are finished with them. After that, you can throw them away.
Some good ways to file:
  • Box Files: Large cardboard boxes, separately labeled. You can also use shoe boxes (where you can store old used checkbooks).
  • Accordion files: These are indexed and useful for filing receipts and unpaid bills.
  • Folders: These are useful for papers you need to carry along with you.
  • Filing Cabinets: A double-drawer cabinet should hold enough papers for even the most complicated household.
  • Card Index Files: Useful for addresses, business details from service people, or information on particular interests.
Managing Money
This is the category that I believe takes true skill. Living within your means is always a balancing act on
one income. It’s not one of my strong areas, but I've always made myself a student of learning to tighten our monthly expenses. I never seem to stay ahead of the food budget with five hungry teenagers. Wouldn't it be nice if we didn't have to eat?

Here are some helpful management tips that can help your finances:
  • If you have not made a budget, begin by totaling your household’s yearly income, making sure to include any bonuses and dividends in addition to salary. Then list your fixed and your variable expenses. Add your expenses and deduct this from your income. If you have more money going out than coming in, pare down some of your luxury expenses, such as entertainment and gifts.
  • Always budget a contingency amount for unexpected expenses and place it in a higher-interest account.
  • Check all bills carefully for their payment due dates to avoid paying extra charges. Write the due date on the outside of the envelope.
  • Always reconcile your bank statement and your checkbook. With on-line banking, you can reconcile it as often as you like to.
  • Take account of seasonal sales for saving substantial amounts on merchandise. Clearance sales are normally held after peak demand periods. 
  • Food expenses may be your greatest monthly expense, so shop wisely. Every article I have ever read
    on cutting food costs have always mentioned weekly meal planning. We spend more on our food budget than we do our monthly mortgage payment, so meal planning has saved us time and money.
Credit, Savings, and Insurance
  • If you take out a loan, you will normally save in the long run by making the largest down payment and paying it off in the shortest time you can manage.
  • Once you finish paying off the loan, it is a good idea to continue putting the same amount into your savings account.
  • A married woman should continue to keep some bills or credit card (if you have any) in her name in order to maintain her credit rating. This is important, should circumstances change due to death or divorce.
  • Make two photocopies of all your credit cards, in case they are loss or stolen.
  • Try to set aside a fixed amount of money each month for savings.
  • Make certain your husband is protected by an adequate amount of life insurance. Some Christians don't believe in life insurance, but if your spouse works in a dangerous line of work - it may end up being the only money you live on for a while.
Organizing Your Cleaning
  • Try to get in the habit of returning items to their proper places once you have finished using them.
  • Do small chores as they arise rather than putting them off.
  • When you are straightening up, carry a basket around to collect everything that’s in the wrong room, then put it away when you arrive at its correct place. (You could also have your children come collect what is theirs.)
  • If you make your own cleaning solutions, be certain they are as effective as the commercial brand.
  • When cleaning a room, start at the ceiling and work toward the floor. First dust the ceiling and walls for cobwebs, then the furniture from the top down. Always vacuum last.
  • The kitchen and bathroom are the two rooms where strict hygiene and cleaning are important! Toilets and bathroom sinks should be cleaned regularly. Kitchen counter-tops should be routinely wiped clean after food preparation to prevent bacteria. Sweep and damp mop kitchen floor as often as possible. 
The nature of our work as "keepers at home" is to manage the affairs of our household, so the sphere of our work is the home. Keeping our home in order is vital to the well-being of our husband and children. If you've been behind the power curve lately, why not try the above steps to get your home back in order.
    Helpful Resource: