Even though Ben and I moved in together almost 2 years ago, our joint financial life is very fly-by-the-seats-of-our-pants. I mean, we have a joint account for joint expenses like rent and utilities and eating out, but we do a really bad job of tracking income versus spending, and whenever a big purchase comes up (hi, we still don’t have a couch), we often don’t have enough, or worry that we won’t have enough come month end. Also, bills have a tendency to become lost in piles of miscellaneous paper on the dining room table, on the desk, in the entryway…you get the picture.
I’ve been visiting lots of WONDERFUL organization blogs (see my blogroll to the right), and I was really struck by the idea of having a “command center.” A place for all the important paperwork/items/schedules/bills to live, so that I’ll never be scrambling to find the electric bill again. I’m a closet neat freak (in the sense that I’m WAY to busy to actually keep things clean and orderly all the time), and I get a deep sense of satisfaction from seeing like with like and everything in its place.
To that effect, I emptied out one of our kitchen cabinets to become the home of “Command Central.”
I put a piece of corkboard on the back of the cabinet door to hold notes, memos and reminders. I also created a bill pay checklist to help track the bills that come in, how much they’re for, when they’re due, and how and when they’re paid. This way, we (hopefully) won’t forget to pay any, and have a quick reference sheet of how much we’re spending to help with future budgeting. I printed it out, put it in a plastic sheet protector and pinned it up.
I also made this:
A mail organizer. One slot for paid bills, one slot for bills to be paid, and one slot for items that need to be shredded. This way, when a pile of mail comes in, instead of being dumped unceremoniously on the dining room table and forgotten, I can quickly sort through it and identify important things, and get rid of stuff I don’t need.
I also purchased these handy little skinny baskets for our chargers and various pens/pencils/markers (3 for $1 at Family Dollar).
How often are you running through your house, pulling your hair out and thinking, “I know my iPod charger is around here SOMEWHERE!” And in our place, there are chargers for my phone, his phone, my iPod, his iPod, my iPad, my camera battery, his camera battery…It’s a little crazy sometimes.
Also to be put in here: calendar, pen and pencil basket, sticky notes, notebooks, change jar, envelopes, stamps, paper clips…All that officey stuff. Because I kind of took over the desk for my craft workspace (sorry, honey!), we need a makeshift office for all that junk.
I also want to put down some pretty contact paper, but I’ve got to get the basics taken care of first, and then add the frill. Please ignore the ugly, ripped paper left behind by previous tenants!
Slowly but surely, I intend to find homes for all the other crap laying around my place too. If you’re interested in home organization, I definitely recommend checking out http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/. Jen is kind of amazing.