Wanna Save Money in 2017?

8f235f4422591a09bd341f17958e172c.jpgOne of the most common New Years Resolutions is to to save money. And it’s a good one!

Last year I wrote a series with the top ten resolutions:

 

If you feel like you are too busy to “deal with” coupons:

I hope these tips and articles help!

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:

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 8.19.31 AM
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.