Dollar Tree Helps you Get Organized!

I usually start my new year off with some cleaning, organizing, and purging. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this post detailing my January decluttering challenge.  In addition to clearing out clutter, I’ve needed to pick up some new storage bins to help corral the bottles of cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink.

Dollar Tree to the Rescue!

Depending on your needs and esthetic, Dollar Tree has something for everyone.

I got these blue and white totes for under the kitchen sink. One for trash bags, one for cleaning supplies, and one for sponges, brushes, etc.

I also have cleaned out the front bathroom under the sink area and re-organized it. I have plastic totes like these under the bathroom sink (sans lids- but the lids are in the cupboard) that hold:

  • First Aid Kit (We have a fairly large and extensive first aid kit)
  • Period Supplies
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Bodywash/Scrub/Shaving Supplies

If you have some organizing to do, I recommend that you stop into your local Dollar Tree and check out their storage possibilities.

 

 

Taking Care of Yourself and Your Family During Covid Fatigue (& A Giveaway)

So many of us are suffering from Covid Fatigue. Our bodies and minds have been put through the wringer. Worrying about our health, jobs, finances… It takes its toll.

I’m here to tell you- We don’t know when it’s going to end, but there are resources out there to help you. Don’t be proud. Take help that is offered, when you do, it can relieve some of the burden on your mind. 

I post a lot about different free and frugal opportunities to help my readers. When I talk to readers (I text and chat on FB messenger with a lot of y’all), I am frequently met with many of the same responses when I suggest that y’all take advantage of some of the opportunities I post. People feel bad about taking advantage of deals, offers, and freebies. 

I recommend that even if you feel like you aren’t “that bad off”, or that you know there are other people who “have it worse”, take advantage of free food events. Many times I have gone or driven a friend to events and the people sponsoring the events are so glad that SOMEONE has shown up, and because they have X number of items to give, but far fewer people show up.

If you feel like you aren’t in “enough” need, offer to drive people in your bubble, or grab food for t friends and coordinate a porch drop off. Most of them are sponsored or paid for by government entities, grants, or subsidies that are funded by our tax dollars. These resources may not have the ability to store or drive food to people who don’t have transportation. 

Helping others, even if it’s a porch drop off of produce can brighten your spirits. There are so many ways to release some of the heaviness that weighs on you. That heaviness is Covid Fatigue.

Here are a few ways I’ve tried to lessen the stress monster sitting on my chest:

Focus on what I can change. For me that’s making sure we are all clean and fed. That we get outside to play (socially distanced with masks), get fresh air, move our bodies, and get to bed at a decent time.

Work hard, but not to the point where I am burnt out. Tomorrow is another day. Laundry can wait to be put away, the carpet will still need to be vacuumed tomorrow.

Take time to contact friends. It’s hard to be without friends and family for so long. Message them on FB, text them, or pick up the phone. If you don’t have enough spoons for that, scroll through your social media of choice and like some of their statuses. 

Disconnect as needed.  Yeah, I know it’s the opposite of the above, but doomscrolling or constantly refreshing your social media feeds obsessively isn’t good for you. Leave your phone in the other room, or put it in do not disturb mode. 

NuCalm

One thing I have been using to help relax at night so I can get some peaceful sleep is I downloaded the NuCalm appNuCalm is the world’s only patented neuroscience technology clinically proven to resolve stress and improve sleep quality – without drugs. I’ve been using the Reboot for the past few nights, and it’s really helped me fall sleep and stay asleep. You can select whatever amount of time works for you, and you can even loop it if you want to enjoy the peace all night. The kids love NuCalm too. 

Giveaway Time: I’d love to hear about what you do to lessen your stress and battle Covid Fatigue. Leave a comment and I’ll choose one on 12/31/2020. The winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card- But there is one condition- You have to spend it on yourself! Something that sparks joy!

Parents Helping Parents: Behavior Training 3/10/2020

download.jpgOn Tuesday, March 10, 2020, the Santee School district is presenting a behavior training with a “Make it, Take it” for behavior resources at home.

Visual Schedules: Children benefit from increased structure and predictability. Help take the stress out of your daily routine by providing
your child with a visual schedule.

Behavior Contracts: Contracts help keep kids on track and reduce family battles. Let us help you create one for your home!

Zones of Regulation: Help teach your child how to identify how they’re feeling and then utilize a co teach them about self-control.

Positive Reinforcement: Learn how to shape your child’s behavior with positive discipline. This will help to reinforce behaviors we want to increase in the home.

Santee’s Behavior Team Come meet Santee’s behavior team and find helpful strategies to implement at home. You’ll leave with individualized strategies and resources that you can begin implementing right away. You’ll have access to three team members to help you create individualized systems for your child! Listed above are just a few of the strategies you’ll go home with!

 

This event is free- If you have any questions, or wish to RSVP, contact the school district office at: (619) 258-2300

Date & Time: 3/10/2020 9:30am-11am
Location: Santee School District 9625 Cuyamaca. Santee, CA 92071

Easy Home Maintenance: Cleaning Your Box Fans!

Screen Shot 2019-09-15 at 7.35.48 PM.pngRecently, we noticed that our box fans weren’t providing much cool air. Before dropping over $150 to replace them all, I decided to see if cleaning them would improve their airflow capabilities. After all, they were still functioning mechanically, they weren’t putting out the air flow they used to.

With temperatures in excess of 80 degrees almost all year round here, box fans are a needed appliance in our home. We can’t go without them, as running the AC is cost-prohibitive.

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Oh dear.

These fans are all about a year old, and while I have vacuumed the front and back of them previously (I do it once a week), they had never been taken apart and cleaned.

Gather all the tools needed before you start. For this job you will need:

  • A sheet to cover your work area.
  • A screwdriver (our fans all have Philips head screws)
  • A dish to hold the screws while the fan is disassembled
  • All-purpose cleaner. I used Comet Lilac Bliss- it’s what we had in the house, and it worked really well.
  • A stiff-bristled brush. I used the brush I use to scrub the soap scum/hard water deposits out of the bathtubs (like this)
  • Rags or really scratchy paper towels. You need something that will trap the dirt.
  • Vacuum Cleaner with a brush attachment.

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Before: This stuff was tough to scrub off!

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Once again, my Dyson Vacuum saves the day!

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After: So fresh and so clean!

Here are my tips for deep cleaning your fans-

    1. UNPLUG THEM! It seems like a no-brainer, but I’m going to remind you to not clean appliances that are still plugged in.
    2. Remove the front and back plastic pieces of the fan. Ours were held together with 6 screws.
    3. To remove the dirt/fuzz/cat/hair/whatever grossness that was on the fan front and back, I placed them in the bathtub and sprayed them down with all-purpose cleaner. I allowed them to sit for about 20 minutes while I cleaned the fan blade and fan case.
    4. Using all-purpose cleaner and a rag, carefully spray and wipe the fan blades, both front and back sides.
    5. Using the vacuum hand tool with the brush attachment, clean the interior of the fan case, as well as the backside of the fan motor. I was amazed at the amount of fuzz, dirt, and hair was around the intakes for the fans.
    6. Once the fan blades and fan case are clean, return to the bathroom and scrub the fan front and back. Rinse and dry completely.
    7. Reattach the front and back to the fan case, plug in and test out. All 6 fans worked 100% better after being cleaned. This is now a chore that has been added to the end of season home cleaning list.

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Re-assembled and working like new!

Cleaning all of the fans took about 2 hours, and that included time to make snacks for two very starving kids, let the cat in and out a few times and help with math homework. Without distractions, I could have gotten done in about an hour.

In the future, I may invest in some of these Box Fan Filters, which until today I had no idea existed.

Taking care of appliances, like these box fans is just another way that we are able to extend the useful life of often-used items in our homes, and that saves us money in the long run.

Talk Back: What types of small things do you do to extend the life of your small appliances?

How to organize the dreaded toy mess!

One of the things I pride myself on is how we are able to quasi-control the toy mess in our home. It’s a lot of work, but we have a pretty good system, and it might work for you too.

Stage 1: Contain the mess! First of all, a few years ago, hubs bought a bunch of 20 quart Steralite containers with snap on lids at an auction for a song. So, we separated all of the toys by type and put them in boxes with a lid.

IMG_5483Obviously the Legos and Thomas the Tank Engine toys go into larger boxes because, well, we have tons  more then will fit in the 20 quart containers. We also re-use random plastic containers, like these plastic jugs that hard pretzels come in, the large bottles that Nesquik powder comes in, and dishwasher tab boxes.

Stage 2: Label! We label everything. All of the original totes have Kidecals labels, but the newer /larger containers have different labels. I try to do labels that have drawings of the toys too, so it’s easier for non-readers to know what’s in the box without opening them.

I used the terminology that Lil’ Man uses for his toys. The box marked “Guy Men” has action figures and little toys (like his Sesame Street “guys”), and “Mean Animals” (Plastic/Vinyl animals of various sizes).

IMG_5486_2Some of the toys that don’t get a lot of play (or annoy me), are stored in the closet. I rotate the less frequently played toys through, so that all of the toys get loved.

IMG_5485_2Stage 3: Limit Access! Another thing that helps is that we have a three toys at a time rule. Lil’ Man can have three types of toys out at a time. Right now, it’s guy men, mean animals, and cars.

 

 

New Year’s Resolution #7: Get Organized

Throughout December, I’m going to be posting about New Year’s Resolutions. Each post will have tips and tricks to help you navigate through your resolutions to become more successful at all of your frugal endeavors!

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#7 is a resolution that I thought would be closer to the top of the list: Get Organized.

For some people that means professionally, financially or personally.  I can’t help you with your professional life, but I can help you with some tips to getting your finances and personal life organized.

balancing-a-checkbook-paying-billsOrganize your Finances:

You really can’t start to save money unless you get your finances in order.  I cannot stress how helpful setting up a budget has been for our family.

There are a few companies that offer free budgeting tools: I like both Manila and Mint. Check both out and see which one suits your families needs.

Calendar_0Organize your Personal Life:

Use a calendar.  It doesn’t have to be a paper one.  I have a paper calendar on my desk.  I write all of our play dates and appointments, parties, and other functions outside of the house on it. That way I can see at a glance what’s going of for the week. If you’ve got a smart phone, you can utilize the calendar feature. iPhones can sync to the iCal on your desktop computer. If you opt for it, iCal will pop up reminders on his phone and the computer. He uses it for business and home.

  • If you want to use a calendar online, Google’s Calendar feature is great, especially if you use Gmail.  It can add appointments, reminders and birthdays from your email into your calendar and it will remind you of them!
  • If you don’t use Gmail or Google, Facebook has a great calendar under the events tab from your FB feed.  It shows you upcoming events and birthday and it’s easy to plan or add an event with the “+Create Event” button.
  • If you are looking for Coupon Organizational methods, I’ve written about how I organize my coupons here.
  • I am always getting packages! I signed up for a USPS.com and now I get a text when a package ships and when it arrives! It’s a great way to keep track of packages that you are expecting.

How to organize and store coupons

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A lot of you will start 2016 with the goal of saving money by couponing. Here are a few ways that you can organize your coupons to help you achieve your goals.

There are several methods to store your coupons when they are in your home before you go to shop, and there are several more methods for storage when you are out shopping.

Here are just a few examples of organizational methods:

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Inserts filed whole by date

Whole insert: Leave the inserts whole, and file them by date.  You may wish to put each insert  in a tabbed folder and write the date along with the type insert such as SS (Smart Source), P&G (Proctor & Gamble), or RP (Red Plum). Example: 6/6/10 SS I recommend this method for those of you starting out, or if you don’t have a lot of time dedicated to couponing.

Clipped by dated: Filed in a similar fashion as above, but all coupons from each weeks inserts are clipped, put into an envelope, dated, and filed either in an accordion folder or filing/bank box. This can be a time saver when you need to pull coupons from a specific date.  You may choose to have all coupons from the same date filed together, or you may wish to file each insert (Red Plum, Smart Source, Proctor & Gamble) separately. Example: Clipped 6/6/10 All or  Clipped 6/6/10 SS

The next two storage methods are usually done when coupons are stored inside baseball card inserts in a large three ring binder.

Clipped by category: Coupons are clipped and then filed by category.

Clipped Alphabetically: Simply file the coupons alphabetically, either by product name, product type, or manufacturer.

 

Storage Methods

There are several methods for storage of coupons.

If you file whole inserts, you may wish to file inserts in an accordion folder or filing/bank box by date. This is the method that I use, and that I have used for over 10 years. As I have less time to dedicate to couponing, it keeps me organized and able to save the most money (and time!).

If you clip your coupons here are just a few examples of storage methods:

Coupon wallets are commercially available at office supply stores or mass merchandisers.  Coupon wallets  are small, reinforced accordion file with tabs. They can fit inside most purses. Organize the coupons by category or alphabetically.

Use a 3-Ring Coupon Binder with plastic page protector inserts (like these), and use tabbed dividers for the category dividers. In the front, you can put a pad of paper inside for your shopping list, a zipper pouch for pens, pencils, scissors and a calculator.  3-ring binders that zip shut are great too!

Individual envelopes- I do not recommend this method to anyone just starting out. Start with envelopes (I use #10 envelopes) and write the name of each category on the front in large, easy to read letters.  File coupons by category in the corresponding envelopes, Once you have all the coupons sorted and filed, store the envelopes in a plastic tub, shoe box, whatever is easiest for you. This is by far the most time consuming method for storing coupons.

When you clip coupons and file them you can go one step further and arrange them by expiration date, amount of coupon, or alphabetically. It’s up to you.  If you have multiples of the same coupon, consider paper clipping them together.

Coupon Basics: Categories for your coupon storage system

I’ll be posting a series of articles on couponing basics and how to get your coupons organized so that you actually USE THEM and save money (ya know, instead of just collecting dust and eventually getting recycled).

So let’s get started by talking about organizing your take to store coupons. I use a small accordion file like this:Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 8.19.01 AM

I tend to organize my coupons based on how my favorite grocery store is laid out.

Here is a sample layout of a grocery store:Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 8.27.39 AM

I have given examples for each category:

Fruit and Vegetables- includes Bagged Salad, pre-cut fruit and vegetables, dried fruit, refrigerated soy products

Sauces / Dressings / Condiments- includes Mayo, mustard, BBQ sauce, salsa, salad dressing

Canned Goods & Soups- includes Canned beans, canned raviolis, canned tuna or chicken, canned or powdered soup and Ramen.

Pasta / Rice / Boxed Meals- includes Spaghetti, noodles, Hamburger Helper, Asian or Italian style boxes meal kits (such as Tai Pei or Romano’s)

Cereal / Breakfast Foods/Juice- includes Oatmeal, cream of wheat, juice boxes, bottled juice, Instant Breakfast

Flour / Baking / Oil/ Mixes/ Spices- includes cake/brownie mix, Bisquisk, graham cracker pie crusts, Jello and pudding, spray release, flour, white and brown sugar, Splenda

Beverages- includes soda, energy drinks, sparkling water, diet drinks, powdered beverage mixes (Kool-aid and Crystal Light), chocolate milk mix (liquid or powdered)

Meat- includes fresh or frozen beef, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, fish, sausages/brats, pre-packaged cold cuts, breakfast sausage (link or patty), bacon, ham

Frozen Food- includes frozen veggies and fruit, pizza, diet foods (such as Lean Cuisine), individual and family sized entrees, ice cream, popsicles, frozen meat free  alternatives, ice

Dairy- includes milk, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, coffee creamer, butter, margarine/spread, pudding/jello cups, tubes or packages of cookie dough, canned dough

Cookies/ Crackers/ Snacks- includes pre-packed portions (such as 100 calorie snack packs), cookies, crackers, popcorn, chips, pretzels, nuts, trail mix

Baby- Includes formula, diapers, wipes, baby care products, baby food and toddler food and snacks

Bakery/Bread- includes bread, tortillas, pita, sandwich thins, English muffins/crumpets, bagels, rolls, donuts, croissants, French bread, freshly made cookies, cakes and other desserts

Deli- includes deli Meat, cheese, hummus, fresh guacamole, fresh salsa, bagel chips, packaged specialty cheeses (Goat and blue cheese), hot and cold deli salads and foods (such as fried chicken, rotisserie chicken, take and bake pizzas, salad bar, olive bar, freshly made sandwiches)

Personal Care / Medicine- Includes over the counter medications, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, tooth paste, tooth brushes, hand soap, loofahs/bath poufs, bubble bath, lotion, shaving cream, razors, feminine products

Paper Goods / Containers- Tin foil, plastic wrap, disposable food containers, toilet paper, paper towels, paper napkins, plastic silverware, paper plates

Cleaning / Other Household Supplies- dishwashing liquid, dishwasher detergent, home cleaning products (pine-sol, ammonia, bleach), laundry detergent, mops, sponges, brooms and dustpans, candles, scented home sprays, air fresheners.

Miscellaneous- You can use this section for restaurant coupons, specific store coupons, rebates.