Desperate Housekeeping for busy mums and dads

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Archive for the tag “Saving”

Saving Strategies 101 – #2 Organizing

Lesson #2: To Organize


Hello all!
This post took me a lot more time than I though, as I was really willing to write something usefull as well as simplified, so then everyone could easily follow. And don’t give up! πŸ˜‰

So, the first lesson of these Saving Strategies focused ‘Decluttering’ as THE very first task to be accomplished if you are determined to simplify your life and skip wasting more money than you need.

Lesson number two will focus on the key details of your organization: the ‘Inbox’, the ‘Family & Household Handbook’ and the ‘Declutter Basket’ as well as other essential tools to organize your home.

The Household Inbox:

If you want to start to simplify your household management, you would definitely have to set up some sort of a household inbox.

This isn’t more than one box that serves as the primary holding spot for all kind of correspondence, papers, bills… Basically, all kind of papers waiting to be sorted out and organized into a filling system as well as papers waiting for some kind of action (bills to pay, letters to answer…)

I crafted my own using an empty cereal box. Yes, a cereal box! πŸ™‚ Very easy, cheap and environmental friendly! πŸ™‚

You should designate a convenient spot in your house, where you can actually find it easy to use whenever you arrive with new ‘papers’ to put somewhere. Personally, I find it easier to keep it by the entrance or in your home office, if you have one.

The Household Filling System:

Next step is to start organizing everything you throw into your Household Inbox. You should establish at least one day per week to do this task as it would be much more time-effective.

You should at least have the following categories which can be distributed into one or more file folders:

1. Personal Information (originals or copies from all important documents: passport, ID Card, health insurance card, social security card, immunization book,…)

2. Financial Records (Account statements, credit card, loans…)

3. Housing Records (all house-related records and statements, appliances warranties and manuals…)

4. Medical Records (insurance information, immunization books, eye exams, dental records…)

5. Employment records (contract, income statements, benefits…)

6. Income Tax (receipts gathered from current year)

7. Others (any other ‘homeless’ important papers to keep)

The Family & Household Handbook:

Please note that some of the information I’m going to recommend you to keep in this handbook is also referred in the Household Filling System. Why? Remember that the Household Filling System is the permanent record for all information. On the other hand, the Family & Household is something precious you keep with you all the times, or most of the times.

1. Personal Information: this would include copies from all the personal info you should have on hand all the time. In my opinion, this should include at least: copies from the ID Cards, Social Security and Health Insurance, copies of banking cards in wallets and bank emergency phone number, Emergency Info (primary contacts, doctors, allergies and blood types)…

2. Family Calendar: this should be The Family Agenda for all important meetings or things to remeber. Consider to have: family and friends birthday calendar, monthly calendar, weekly calendar with meal planning and todo-lists…

3. Home Management: this should include info from your house insurance, car insurance, paying bills, home inventory with serial numbers… This section should also include the cleaning checklists and stain removal guide.

4. Meals and Menus: this should include grocery list, grocery price book, grocery store aisle directory, home grocery inventory, weekly meal plan, recipes…

5. Contacts: This would include important e-mails, phone numbers and addresses from family, friends, doctors, bank, house insurance, car insurance, vet…

6. Others: I personally use this section to write ideas, from blog posting, to recipes, or even kids activities. There’ll be always something to write down!

One of the most important organization items you should use is a set of very usefull printables:
– ‘Monthly Calendar’ to hang in some place visible for everyone;
– ‘Do Not Forget List’ to hang in the back of your front door. This way you wont forget anything before leaving home;
– ‘Cleaning Checklists’ from Keep-It-Simple Method

So, the next lesson will focus on the How-To’s for each of the organization items. From the DIY of the Household Inbox to the printable checklists.

Hope you enjoy! πŸ™‚


Saving Strategies 101 – #1 Decluttering

Declutter should be THE Word at your home from now on, if you want to simplify your life and spend less.

Declutter means to get to know everything you have inside home all the time, and more important, being able to actually find it! πŸ™‚

You can easily find on the web several methods and recommendations on this theme. In this post I’m sumarizing the tips that worked best for me.

The first step to start the decluttering task is to keep in mind this will take some time. So, if you don’t want to find yourself giving up at the begining, I do recommend you to define for example 15 to 30 minutes a day for declutering. It doesn’t seem much, but believe me, it will definitely work best rather than trying to do everything in the first day.

Then, you should find 3 empty boxes and label them with ‘Trash’, ‘Give Away’, ‘Organize’.

Now, you should choose the room or a cabinet you want to start decluttering. Once more, I suggest you start with the smallest one for the same reasons as mentioned before…

THE Rule is to keep asking yourself the same questions: Did I use this object during the lat year? Am I planning to use it in the next few months? Is it needed for legal purposes? If your answer to these questions is NO, then you should consider to throw it away or give it to someone in need. It’s up to you to choose the right box! πŸ™‚

One common mistake is to go shopping for boxes and cabinets before the decluttering with the excuse of having somewhere to keep your things when decluttering. Please DO NOT do that. You can’t possibly know what you’d really need before knowing what you already have inside your home. At this moment, you should stick to the three boxes you already have. Keep it simple!

And what about you? Any advices to share with us? It would be great to hearing from you! πŸ™‚

Lesson number two will focus on the key details of your organization: the ‘Inbox’, the ‘Household Handbook’, the ‘Family Daily Planner’ and the ‘Declutter Basket’ as well as other essential tools to organize your home.

Saving Strategies 101 – Getting Started

Today I’m starting a new series of posts regarding Saving Strategies at Home. Personally, I believe that even when you think you’re saving in everything, you can always find something more with a little imagination! So, let’s use our imagination! πŸ˜‰

I’ll divide these series of posts into simple lessons we could easily introduce gradually into our day-to-day life. So, grab your pencil and start taking your notes. At the end, I’m gonna ask for your contribution as well! πŸ˜‰


The first lesson will be on ‘Decluttering‘. Keep tuned!! πŸ˜‰

Strawberries – Make the most of it!


As you know, strawberries are a very delicate fruit that should be eaten in a very short period of time. As I love to eat strawberries, everytime I see a good deal I buy more at once. To guarantee its quality for up to 4 days, I usually use the following tip:

– Prepare the strawberries by washing them and taking out their leaves;
– Cut in halfs;
– Put them in a bowl;
– Add 2 tbsp of sugar, half a cinamon stick and a little water;
– Mix just a little and place the bowl in the fridge.

This way you preserve the quality of the strawberries and even get a lovely and light syrup.

Note: If you’d like a special touch, simply add one tbsp of Port Wine! πŸ˜‰

Homemade Glue for Babies and Toddlers

Following the line of Homemade Paint for Babies and Toddles, today I’m sharing other quite interesting recipe for you to make with your little ones: Homemade Glue!20121113-024346.jpg

One very funny activity is to pick one theme, like Disney characters for example, then cut several character photos from old magazines and allow toddlers to paste it into a cardboard. You can also suggest them to paint the cardboard.

– 1 cup of flour
– 1/3 cup of sugar
– 1 tbsp vinegar
– water

Put the flour and the sugar in a saucepan. Add 3/4 cup of water and stir together until there are no more lumps. Add another 3/4 cup of water and stir until smooth. Add the vinegar. Cook on medium heat and stir it constantly. Allow it to thicken. Let it cool.
Keep it in an empty jam jar, for example and store it in the regrigerator.

Have a nice cut & paste activity!

Sewing Machine – Bring it to your home!


Is it sewing machine an old fashion item? I’m here today to prove to you that you should bring it to your home if you think so.

When it comes to creative new ideas to save money around the household theme, I’ve found one particular item where we use to spend a lot, several times a year: small sewings.

It could be just a sheath or a minor rip in your favourite cloth, but it isn’t cheap to fix. Additionaly, if you have kids, this spend would be significantly higher, should you decide to fix it or to substitute with a new pice of cloth.

So, I found that buying a basic sewing machine (I have a ‘Singer Serenade’) and reading some books and DIY articles on the web is basically all you need to mastering small [arranjos de costura] and save money on something rather simple.

What about you? Sharing the same idea?

Household Saving Tips – Kitchen – Part I

Today, I’m going to talk a bit about some of the saving tips I try to apply in my daily routine. Not only by sustainability thoughts, or the overall financial crisis. I do really think: if we can do things in a way we save, why not??


Make your own garlic butter. Instead of buying ready-to-use garlic butter, you can easily make your own at home. You will need: 2 tbsp butter (room temperature), 4 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin, if possible), 1/2 garlic clove (chopped) and a pinch of salt. Mix it all together and put it into a small container of your choice. Allow it to get harden in the freezer (at least 10 minutes) then keep it in the fridge until you need it.

Reuse bread leftovers. If you have some pieces of bread you won’t use anymore, or it is simply dried, you can use it to make some breadcrumbs.

Reuse cheese. If you have small pieces of cheese which somehow end up in your fridge, you can chill it a bit, then grate it to use later.

Reuse fresh meat bonnes and/or fresh veggies leftovers. You can use the bonnes of fresh meat to make some tasty homemade cubes to use in your dishes. The same applies to fresh veggies leftovers. Just fill a pan with hot water, the bonnes/veggies leftovers, some aromatics, onions and garlic. Then let it cook for at least 1 hour. Then, you just need to strain it, and it’s ready to use.

Reuse water from washing vegetables/fruits. Everytime you wash your veggies/fruits you end up throwing out a lot of water through the sink. Instead of doing it, you can simply wash it using a large bowl full of water and use this water later for other purposes, like watering your plants or cleaning the floor. In this case, you just have to check if the water is free from little waste particles.

Avoid smell from your garbage bags. Once you through away leftovers, your garbage will end up stink quickly, even if it is almost empty. If you cannot simply throught it right away, you can simply use some smaller plastic bags to keep those smelly leftovers, close it tightly and then put it into your trash bin.

Extend your dishwasher product lifetime. You can add some vinegar and water to your dishwasher bottle and even then have incredible good results as vinegar is great taking grease out of dishes. Please check this post to apply the right measures.

Extend the durability of your laundry machine. The rubber entrance of your laundry machine is very sensitive. More, if you don’t take some prevent measures, it can be responsible for water leakages and ultimately other damages inside you home. Everytime you use it, you should dry the rubber with an old piece of cloth and let the door open for at least one or two hours to allow it to dry completely. If the rubber have some dirty, you can use vinegar directly on it and then wash it with hot water.

What about you? Please share your saving tips too!

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