Friday, February 3, 2012

Fixing the Broke

We've all been told, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" but my friend D pointed out in her post here that occasionally things do need to be modified or updated.  So it was with my scheduling and couponing systems:  what had once worked was no longer effective.

A couple of years ago, I started with a coupon binder that I got with gift cards I'd earned on some money-maker deals.  It worked for a little while, but I quickly tired of the time it took to get the coupons in and out of the sheet protectors.

After reading through several coupon-compiling methods in The Money Saving Mom's Budget, I settled on the coupon box.  I was eager to put this together, and since we were studying finances and stewardship in school, I had the kids help.  Educational fun - what a great combo!

All three spark plugs had a great time helping me sort and prepare the envelopes.

We followed the example pretty closely, not because it's a perfect model, but because it was a place to start.  I'm learning that if I wait until I've worked out everything perfectly in my mind, I'll never start anything!

A few things we did change:  I used legal-sized envelopes instead of the smaller size; I put the empty envelope box in the back for holding unsorted coupons; and we added our cash envelopes that I made last year based on the "prettified" version, explained here.

Yep, I made those!  It was fun to work with all of those lovely patterns and flowers.  I had decided a while ago that if I had a hope of sticking to the envelope system (and honestly, I mostly use these to file receipts), it should be attractive enough to warrant the constant viewing.  :)

Lastly, I made some space for a pen, scissors, and a grocery list so that I have everything in one spot.  I won't take all of those cash envelopes with me, but it's nice to have a place to store them.  And to solve the issue of 152-coupon-pickup when the box gets dropped (the biggest drawback to using a coupon box), we picked a box with lid locks. 

So far, this method is working well.  I find it quick and easy to toss the coupons right into the envelopes instead of letting them stack up, unfiled, on the top of my microwave (I can't believe I'm admitting that I actually do that).  Less clutter makes a happier me, so this is a complete win-win situation in my book!

In addition to updating my coupon storage, I was struggling with home organization.  I love lists, but making impractically-long "to-dos" on random pieces of paper did nothing but frustrate me and clutter my house further.  I have a homemaking binder, but I kept forgetting to reference it.  I also tried using digital lists to minimize the scraps of lists that followed in my wake, but I do much better with a physical, tangible list.

I recently found the answer to my need for a sensible, paper list:  the Motivated Moms Chore Planner.  I'd seen it advertised on Money Saving Mom, but it wasn't until my friend A purchased it and gave it a more in-depth review that I felt confident in spending the money on it (I don't like to spend money on things that I could make on my own, especially when purchasing the item still requires me to print it out and thus increase expenses with more paper and ink).

The result?  I LOVE it.  It's simple; it's sensible and realistic; and it even reminds me to do things like feed the cat and trim the kids' nails.  It was definitely worth the $7.  It also suggested something I'd never thought of:  cleaning the bathroom over a few days instead of the whole thing in one fell swoop.  Since cleaning the bathroom is one of my most hated chores, I tend to put it off.  But if I look at it from the standpoint of cleaning the mirrors on Monday and wiping down the sink on Tuesday, somehow that is more manageable for me (and oddly enough, I often get the whole thing cleaned on Monday and free up time later in the week).

Coupon binders and scribbled lists were a great start for me.  As my needs have changed, though, it's been nice to find better solutions that fit my current situation.  Not every change in life will be as easy as these were, nor will each change transition as smoothly as I hope these will.  My hope, however, is that by implementing small bits of positive change, the larger upheavals won't be as earth-shattering as they could have been.

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