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Organize Bills

Household bills can be a big contributor to paper clutter. Everyone has bills and they can seem to arrive faster than you can figure out what to do with them.

It is easy to just throw them in a pile and think you will deal with them later.

Does later ever really come?

With a good system to organize bills you will be able to tame your paper piles, save money and live a happier, more organized life.

Before we start talking about organizing bills, let’s define “bills.”

On this page I will show you ways that you can organize all of those recurring payments that you make each and every month. Things like…

  • Your electricity bill
  • Your telephone bill
  • Your auto loan payments

Don’t confuse your monthly bill for your auto insurance policy with the insurance policy itself. Your monthly bill falls into the category of bills, but the policy itself falls into the category of vital records which need to be organized in an entirely different way.

How Long to Keep Your Bills

With only a few exceptions, there is no need to keep your monthly bills any longer than one year.

If any of your recurring monthly bills will also be used to substantiate claims you will make on your tax returns, after you pay them they should be kept with your income tax records.

If you have a dispute about one of your monthly bills, make your notes about the resolution on your statement. Write down who you spoke with, on what dates and any information that was provided to resolve your dispute. Keep that statement for at least 2 years, in case the issue comes up again.

So now you might be asking, how do I organize my bills?

How to Organize Bills

How to organize your bills is somewhat of a personal decision. You have to create a system that works for you and your lifestyle. If your system is not easy enough to maintain, you won’t do it.

Here are two great methods that I have used. Both work equally well. Choose the one that best suits your needs, or use these ideas as a jumping off point to come up with your own system.

The Two Drawer Method

For this method you will need a two-drawer, plastic storage unit, small enough to fit on your desktop. Designate one drawer for unpaid bills and the other drawer for paid bills.

Whenever a bill comes in the mail, immediately place in the unpaid bill drawer. When you have paid the bill move it to the paid bill drawer.

At the end of every year, shred the contents of the paid bill drawer and start fresh for the new year.

This system works well because it allows you to see, at-a-glance, what bills you have outstanding. It also eliminates the possibility of years worth of unnecessary bill stubs piling up and creating clutter.

The Monthly Folder Method

For this method you will need 13 file folders and either a file box, stand-up file, or file drawer. Label 12 folders with a month of the year. Label the last folder “Unpaid Bills” and place the folders in your file box, stand-up or drawer.

When a bill comes in place it in your Unpaid Bills folder. As you bill each bill, place the stub in the folder for the current month.

The following year you will start off each month by shredding the existing contents of the current month’s folder. The main difference between this system and the Two Drawer System is that you only have to shred one month of the previous year’s bills at a time.

Choosing the System That is Right for You

Whether you use one of the systems I have described or create one of your own, the most important thing about a system to organize bills is that it works easily for you.

Don’t procrastinate about creating a system because you don’t have time to go back through the 5 years of old bills you have stashed away and start completely fresh. Start your system now. Put the old bills in a box and work on discarding them a little bit at a time.

Start getting your paper piles under control with a system to organize bills.

Kids Birthday Party Ideas

I used to think that throwing a cool kids birthday party meant either spending a fortune to have the party at a popular location or spending hours planning lots of games and activities for home. The truth is that a fabulous birthday party does not have to be that difficult.

When it comes to throwing a birthday party, my advice is to keep it simple. Kids will have just as much fun with a couple of inexpensive activities and they will never know (or care) how much money you spent (or didn’t spend).

Choose a couple of activities that the kids can do on their own. Things like coloring pages for younger ones or a simple craft project for older kids work well. When the party guests arrive, invite them to participate in the projects at their leisure. If they want to do it they will. If not they won’t. The point is that you will not have to be stuck overseeing anything and can attend to whatever else you need to.

A pinatta is always a fun birthday activity for children of all ages. Pull string pinattas have taken the place of swinging a bat for smaller children. Instead of taking turns, my son always invites his friends to all grab a string and pull on the count of 3. This way, nobody feels badly that they were not the one to break open the pinatta.

Birthday Party Food

Another challenge can be the food. It is easy to get carried away preparing food for a child’s birthday party. You may think things like…

  • you can’t serve the same thing as last year,
  • you have to have a variety to suit different tastes and
  • you have to have food to appeal to the adults as well as the kids.

This kind of thinking truly just over complicates things. It’s a kids birthday party. It is okay to cater to the kids. Nobody will be expecting gourmet cuisine.

Pizza, salad, chips and cake will go over great with the kids and make it easy on you. Foods like this are a perfect choice for a kids birthday party, even if it is the same thing you served last year.

Party Supplies

You don’t even have to leave your house to buy all of your party supplies. From invitations through thank-you cards and everything in between. You can get it all with the click of a mouse.

Another huge time-saver that I have discovered is Birthday in a Box. Birthday in a Box seems like it was made for parents trying to save their own sanity while planning a great birthday party for their child. It has worked for me and I know it will work for you too. Find out why I love it.

Party Planning

Here is a checklist to get you started planning and hosting the perfect birthday party at home…

Before the Party

  • Pick a theme based on the birthday child’s interests.
  • When sending the invitations be sure to state a start time and an end time for the party.
  • Decide upon the party area. Good choices would be your backyard, your finished basement or your child’s play room.
  • Purchase decorations and supplies based on the chosen theme.
  • Set up a table and chairs for the kids to eat in the party area. A tablecloth matching the party theme makes the table look fun and festive.
  • Set up a table or two with age-appropriate craft projects.
  • If your party will be hosted in an area where your child’s toys will be available for party guests to play with, be sure to put away any special or fragile toys that your child would not want to have accidentally damaged.

When the Party Starts

  • When the children arrive, show them to the party area. Introduce the craft project and invite them to do it at their leisure.
  • Show the adults to the area you have set aside for them to gather and enjoy the party.
  • Let the kids play for a little while and then serve the food and cake.
  • Open gifts after the cake is finished. Be sure to enlist somebody to write inside each card what gift was given to make thank you notes more personalized.
  • Try to time it so that the kids will have about 15 more minutes to play before the end of the party.
  • If you need to suggest that the party is over, begin cleaning up at the stated end time for the party. Parents should get the hint that the party has ended and begin rounding up their children to take them home.

I love to entertain for any occasion and I like my guests to feel comfortable and to have a good time.

In the past I have planned my son’s birthday parties, not only for the kids, but for the adults as well. I have learned, though, that a kids birthday party is just that…..a party for the kids so I have started planning just for the kids and I have found this to be a great way to throw a successful kids birthday party.

My son has a blast at his parties and your kids will too.

I hope your next kids birthday party is a huge success!

How to Organize Your Kitchen

Why should you take the time to learn how to organize your kitchen?

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It is where people tend to gather during parties, it is where you prepare meals for your family and friends and it can be a room you enjoy being in if you follow some simple tips to help you keep it organized.

How to Organize Your Kitchen
Identify and Fix Hot Spots

Hot spots are areas in your home that seem to attract clutter and disorganization and a kitchen is full of them! Let me walk you through some of the infamous kitchen hot spots and show you how to tame them.

How to Organize Kitchen Counters

Kitchen counters are prime suspects for clutter. They get filled with mail and other papers, and overcrowded with small appliances and decorative accessories. There are some simple things you can do to declutter your kitchen counters:

  • Place a basket near your entry door, or mount an organizer on the wall to hold the daily mail.
  • Reserve counter space only for appliances that are used every day. Appliances that are only used occasionally should be stored inside a cabinet or nearby closet.
  • Limit the number of decorative items you place on your counters. Your kitchen will look more beautiful if it is well organized. Bring any unnecessary decorative items to Clutter Central.
How to Organize Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets can become cluttered, making it impossible to find what you need when you need it. Learn how to organize your kitchen cabinets and simplify your life. Here’s how:

First, remove everything from all of your cabinets. Spread the items out on the counters and a table, if necessary. If you see anything that you simply never use bring it to Clutter Central. Since your cabinets are now empty, this would be a great time to give them a thorough cleaning.

Next, separate the items you use frequently from the items that you do not use very often. The seldom used items should be stored in the cabinets that are more difficult to get to, including cabinets over the refrigerator, the very back of deep corner cabinets or very high cabinets.

Last, separate the frequently used items into groups: pots and pans, mixing bowls, dinnerware, serving pieces, etc. Put these items away in the most logical location depending upon their use:

  • Place pots and pans in a cabinet near the stove.
  • Place dinnerware in a cabinet near the table or entrance to the dining room.

You get the idea. Remember to put heavier items in lower cabinets or on the lowest shelf of upper cabinets. The key is to make the most efficient use of your kitchen storage.

You can also take care in arranging cabinets that you use to store food items and organize your pantry.

How to Organize Kitchen Drawers

Having drawers in your kitchen can be a real luxury. Your use of drawers will depend on how many you have.

You will need a drawer for cutlery, which can easily be kept tidy using a cutlery organizer.

If you have a drawer near your food preparation area, I would suggest purchasing an in-drawer knife organizer. It will eliminate a knife block from your counter top and it will protect your knife blades – and your fingers when you reach for a knife inside the drawer.

Drawers can also be the perfect spot to store dish towels, food storage bags, plastic wraps and foils, serving utensils and any other small kitchen accessory you need to store.

Keep your kitchen drawers organized by following these guidelines:

  • Group similar items together.
  • Do not overstuff your drawers or you will never be able to find anything in them.
  • Store items in drawers located nearest to where the items will be used. Place knifes in a drawer near the food preparation area, place cutlery in a drawer near the table, etc.
Avoid the junk drawer!

Many people have a tendency to create a junk drawer for all of those little things that tend to gather in the kitchen. It starts off as a good idea, but a junk drawer can quickly turn into a disorganized disaster.

Assess the items you have in your junk drawer. Determine the best home for these items and put them there. If some items do not have an existing home, create one for them. Be persistent. The reward will be an organized kitchen.

How to Organize Your Kitchen

How to Organize Your Kitchen

Make it Efficient

Now that you have learned how to organize your kitchen, here are some tips you may want to consider to keep it running smoothly:

  • If you do a lot of cooking invest in a large chopping block. They are indispensable for making meal preparation more efficient. You can chop every ingredient in the recipe and place them in piles on the board where they will be ready and waiting for you when you need them.
  • Be sure to have a plastic or silicone cutting mat on hand to use when chopping meats. These mats can be placed in the dishwasher to sanitize them after use and you don’t have to worry about germs gathering on your wood board.
  • Consider placing all of your cooking utensils in a crock next to the stove. No more digging around in a drawer to find that spatula you are looking for. Everything is visible and within easy reach when you are cooking.
  • Reserve the cabinets around the stove for cooking-related items like measuring cups, spices, oils and seasonings. This way, if you need something while you are cooking you never have to walk away from the stove.
  • If you bake a lot, create a baking center in your kitchen. Keep all of your baking necessities together and place them as close to your preparation surface as possible.

How to Organize Your Kitchen
Simple Maintenance

As you go through the steps above to get your kitchen into tip top shape, take a few extra minutes to wipe out the insides of your cabinets and drawers while they are empty. Give the sink and the counters a good scrubbing and thoroughly wash the floor.

Now that you have completed a clean sweep and figured out how to organize your kitchen let’s talk about how you can keep it looking that way.

  • Keep your sink and counters clean daily. Place dirty dishes into the dishwasher or wash them immediately to keep them out of the sink.
  • Keep your counters cleared by returning items to their rightful homes and not letting them pile up in your kitchen.
  • While cleaning up after dinner, wipe your sink and counters with a disinfecting cleanser every night.
  • Keep your stove top clean by wiping it after each use. At least once per week remove the burners and burner covers and give them a thorough cleaning. A good way to clean your burners is to spray them thoroughly with oven cleaner, place them in a plastic bag and tie it tightly. Leave them over night and rinse them off in the morning.
  • At least once per month clean your oven, or run the self-cleaning cycle
  • At least once per week, wipe down the outsides of all cabinets and drawers.
  • At least once per month wipe down the tops of your cabinets.
  • Keep the floor swept as often as necessary to keep it free from debris. Wash the floor at least once per week.

Now that you have learned how to organize your kitchen, I hope that you find enjoyment in the heart of your home.