Thursday, March 4, 2010

Organization on the Cheap

All those store bought organizers are really cool, but you can easily create your own system much more inexpensively (or find a deal on the store bought ones, like we did today... more on that later).

For coupons, I use a system of bill organizers. I have one for grocery items and one for toiletries. These are great, because they fit nicely into our reusable grocery totes, so we never forget them. I like having the two organizer system because it allows me to have more specific categories. The categories I have for groceries are: cereal/breakfast, canned goods, cleaning supplies, dairy/meat, condiments, snacks, pasta/rice, frozen, baking, and misc. There generally aren't many coupons for produce, but when I have those, I put them in with dairy and meat, since I associate these with perishability (not a word, but go with it). For the toiletries one, my categories are: toothpaste, oral care (floss, toothbrushes, mouthwash, etc.), medicine, soap, shampoo, shaving, lotion, deodorant, feminine care, makeup, and misc. Since I sell Mary Kay, the only makeup things that go here are chap sticks or items that I think people would like as gifts or stocking stuffers.

For favorite recipes, I've created a binder system for most of my recipes. I started out with one, but have had to expand to two. The first is for main dishes (soups, casseroles, meats, pastas, etc.) and sides. The other binder is for appetizers, breads, and desserts. I use a divider system within the binders to keep things more organized, so that chicken is separate from beef and seafoood, etc. Any recipe I find in a magazine or online gets torn out or printed and then put into a plastic sheet protector. When I make the recipe for the first time, I make a note of the occasion, date, and what was good about it. If there were things I'd change (i.e. cut down on liquid, add more pepper, etc.), then I also note that. (And of course, if it was a total flop, the recipe gets recycled.) One of the binders I use came from my mom as a Christmas gift, which is where the idea came from. The other is one that a student left in my classroom a few years ago, which I claimed as my own when it was never claimed. (This meant that I was giving this binder a new life and saving it from Janitor John and the giant, rolling trash can.) The sheet protectors are nice because they make things easy to keep clean when I make a mess on the counter (which happens often).

Today, we began organizing the office (again) since Benny brought a nice lateral filing cabinet home from Raleigh a week or so ago, that originally came from Goodwill. We're organizing all of the paper junk that accumulates there and will have a friend help us move it upstairs, hopefully this weekend. It will be a nice, solid piece of furniture and will allow me to use the shelves and drawers in the closet for organizing other things, like luggage, crafting items, and my Mary Kay supplies.

During my snow day today and Benny's day off, we ventured out to Lowe's to do some research on patio pavers for the spring project and to check out programmable thermostats. We didn't plan on making a purchase, but took our Lowe's gift card just in case. And we hit the jackpot! Benny and I have been eyeing the closet organization systems in Lowe's and elsewhere for over a year, but couldn't rationalize paying what they were charging for the pieces (over $100 for the whole wall system). Well, they're discontinuing one brand of closet system, so we found several pieces on clearance for anywhere from 50-75% off. So, we came home with the framework and two drawers, as well as the middle shelf and three rods for $28. Not too shabby, huh? Benny's going to check out the Lowe's where he works to see if they have the matching pieces that will allow us to finish out the closet. We'll repurpose some Goodwill baskets on the top shelf to hold the linens for the bed and other things we don't need as often. So, if you're looking for something like that, check out Lowe's, because it looks like the whole chain is discontinuing that brand in favor of another.

Hoping these tips help you get organized, and let me know if you've got any tips of your own to share! I'd love to hear from you. Sharin' the green love and savings!

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