Goals and My Word for 2015


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I’m not one to make New Year resolutions, as I find that they just end up being dropped about midway into January.  Instead I like to think about the past year, what worked, what didn’t, what did we struggle with, and what do we need improve.  I do this for many areas of our life including our budget, travel, faith, homeschool, kids activities, goals, work schedules, home maintenance, long term goals and more. This is a great way to get started planning for the new year and figuring out what worked, what you would like to work on and what just didn’t work at all.  It’s also a great way to remind yourself of your long term goals.  Where you would like to see yourself, your family in the next few years.

As always I get out my handy little notebook and jot down some notes as I think about those areas of our life.  I also jot down the trips I know we have for the year, the extra expenses that may be coming up, and anything else that I can think of that needs my time and thought.

I like to then go through each of these areas and make a short list (2-3) of the most important things that need to change, be improved upon or maybe just remembered. These are my goals for the new year.  I limit these to a short list so that they will not become overwhelming.  If I have a few items I want to work on, I do my best to narrow it down to just 2 or 3.  Some of these things are a quick fix, but others will need to happen over time, and having them in my little notebook reminds me throughout the year.

You see, I am a planner by nature.  In order for things to happen, I need to plan for them.  I do not do well flying by the seat of my pants, but really does anyone?  Flying by the seat of my pants with a budget makes me incredibly nervous.  I think we would be lucky to have food on the table and a roof over our head.  Is this you?  Do you often find your life is frazzled and out of order?

The most successful people and businesses have plans.  That is how they got where they are.  They decide what works for them and what doesn’t.  They meet, they discuss and they make a list of things to change.  I feel like this is a great plan for everyone.  It will surely take some stress out of your life!

If you are one that always finds things popping up, has bills overdue, finds yourself without money right before a big trip, I encourage you to take some time to do a little planning.  Get yourself a notebook and think about the things that are always out of order and leave you feeling frazzled and distraught.

While your at it, pick a word to make as your focus for the year.  Choose one word to focus on for the year.  Something you want to remember, something that you want of focus on for the year.  For me this year it’s TIME.  I want to focus on giving more of my time to my girls, more of my time to my family.  I want to use my time more wisely, instead of wasting it on trivial things like the couch and tv.  I want to spend more time outdoors, because I love being outside.  Our time here is limited, so I want to make the most of it I can.  Make memories.

What would your word be for the year?

making a habit out of living frugal…..

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How a Notebook Could Help You

If you have been following practicing frugal for a while, then you may have read about my notebook that goes with everywhere with me.  I can’t really remember when I started using this notebook, but it has been a lifesaver.  The minute I think of something I need to do or buy, I can just jot it down in my notebook.  It keeps me from laying in bed at night wishing I could remember what I needed to do tomorrow.

This notebook currently holds the following items:

  • Master List of Things To Be Done
  • A list of books I want to read
  • My goals for the week (may include things from the master list, appointments etc.)
  • Grocery List (meal plan on the backside of the page)
  • A list of house projects to be done (room by room)
  • 2013 Goals
  • Savings Plans – I have a page for each different savings with a goal listed for each payday and then a column for the actual amount contributed.  I also like to include a list of where the amounts may come from if it’s somewhere other than a weekly check (ex. fifth friday check, refund etc.)
  • A list of possible homeschool curriculum for next year

How can a notebook help you?

  • It can help keep things organized and in one place
  • It can help motivate you (have goals with you all the time)
  • You can relax a bit more.  If you know you wrote something down, maybe you won’t lay awake at night trying to remember what it was.  I used to do this all the time before my notebook.
  • It can help prevent time waste if you plan out the things you need to do for the week. I’m not saying plan out every hour or anything, just make a list of things that must happen this week.


I recently read The One Minute Entrepreneur, which gave me the idea to keep another notebook or journal that will hold things I want to remember.  Have you ever read a book, bible verse or inspirational quote and wished you could remember it?

This happens to me all the time.  I read a book, but can’t remember some of the most important and helpful things I read after a few days.  I now jot that down right away in this other notebook.  It can be anything from a quote to bible verse or just a cute poem.  It’s just a collection of things that were important enough for me to want to remember.

Maybe someday I will want to pass that information on to someone.  I now can just find it in my little notebook.

Maybe one day I will need a little inspiration.  I can just read through my journal at the things that inspired me.  The things I wanted to keep might hold just what I need to pick me up.

Maybe you are reading a financial help or other self help book and there are many things you would like to remember, or inspirational quotes or passages that may help you along the way.  Why not write these things down to help you, to encourage you or to motivate you?

Earlier this year Kimberlee at The Peaceful Mom wrote about her experience with a notebook in 2012.  I was actually quite surprised when I read her post, because I thought I was the only one who did this.  It turns out that great minds think alike, or maybe it’s just busy minds need a rest!

As parents, employees, employers, friends and family we all get busy.  We all tend to have crazy schedules and are lucky to just make it though the day.  Why not help yourself out and start using a notebook or two to help you through it.  I think you will find the results relaxing.

Do you use a notebook or something similar?  How has it helped you or how do you think it might help you?  

making a habit out of living frugal…..

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Taming the Trash with Organization: Part 4 – Organizing the Bills

Organizing the bills could very well be the most important part of starting or maintaining a budget.  Without a simple organized system you may lose a bill, forget to pay bill or even suffer a late fee for paying a bill late.  Organizing your bills does not have to be complicated, a simple easy to use system will give you great benefits.

I use a binder to organize my bills.  Can you tell I like binders?  They are great at holding the things I need in an organized fashion.  I use binders for my household notebook, recipes, blog and bills.

My bills binder holds the bills to be paid in the front pocket.  I then use clear page protectors for the rest of the binder.  You could also use tabbed dividers with pockets too.  I did not have any at the time and keep forgetting to get a couple to hold some important papers.

The first page of my binder is what bills will be paid each week.  If you are just starting a budget, you may not have this done yet.  We will go over setting up a budget in a new series to start soon on budgeting.  Right now the purpose is to get all your bills together, and in one place.

I use a standard sheet that lists my bills that happen every month and divide them up by what week they get paid.  I do the same thing every month, so I just make multiple copies and use one each month to mark off etc.  I add any one time bills, or non-monthly bills in where there is room in the budget.  Some people find that using calendar pages and filling in which bills will be paid on what days works for them too.  Find something that will work for you.  If color will get you a bit more excited about the process of bill paying, use some pretty fonts and colors.

The second page of my binder is my financial goals.  This is where I keep the list of our financial goals.  Keeping it close helps to remind me what is next after accomplishing goals on the list.  I update the list as needed.

The next pages include things like my insurance policies for quick reference, my spending worksheets (more to come on that soon), and any other papers I might need to refer to during bill paying.

As you use your binder you will be able to figure out what works for you and make it more personal to you.  Not everyone uses the same methods, the point is to get things organized and save time when it comes to bill paying.

Be sure to join me next week as I start a series about Creating a Budget.  I will go over ideas for starting and maintaining a budget, and how to make it work.

How do you organize your bills?  What has worked for you and what hasn’t?

***Please remember I am not a financial expert or professional.  I post about what has worked for me and what I have learned from research and helping others.  I cannot be held responsible for any ideas expressed here.  You are to plan, read, follow at your own risk. For more read my disclosure/privacy policy.

Making a habit out of living frugal …..

Taming the Trash with Organization: Part 3 – The Binder

Last week we talked about making the to do lists.  One of the most important things about a to do list is making sure you don’t put too much stuff on the list.  You will only feel down if you cannot possibly get it all done.  Make sure to include activities with your children on the list too.  I have found that double spacing on the index card works best for me.  The size limits me to just a few things.

This week we are going to talk about putting the binder together and putting it in use.  There are many ways you can label your binder, and what works for one person will not always work for you.  The important thing is to make it work for you.

The front pocket of my binder holds items that I may be thinking about ordering or items that I want to research more, as well as some scratch paper.

The next thing in my binder is my calendar.  When I make appointments I try to make sure I write them in on both calendars.  On Sunday, when I am planning our next week of school, I also compare calendars to make sure I have everything on them both.

After my calendar, I have my to do list.  I keep this list up front so I can easily pick out some things to work into my week.  The list reminds me of the important things that need to be done.  It helps keep me on track.

The sections labeled with tabs are next.  I like to use tab dividers with pockets to hold blank grocery lists, chore charts, menu planners, lesson planners and price book pages.

My binder is currently divided into the following sections:

  • Household
  • Grocery/Menu Planning
  • Goals
  • Homeschool
  • College
  • Blog

In each of these sections I use the folders on the dividers and blank page protectors to hold items for that topic.  To give you an idea I am going to tell you what items I have in each section.  Remember that you may need to label your tabs differently to make your binder work for you.  Also notice, I did not mention bills.  Bills have their own binder/folder and will be talked about in a future post.

  • Household – blank chore charts, one year planner.
  • Grocery/Menu Planning – blank menu planner/shopping list pages, list of meals we like with ingredients each meal takes, price book pages, and my own stock up price list.
  • Goals – In this section I have a sheet filled in with our goals for the year.  You can have one for personal, finance and family.  You can have separate ones for each or combine them.
  • Homeschool – lesson plans for past weeks, current lesson plan in a sheet protector, blank lesson plans for future weeks, a resource list, craft ideas, reading lists, a reading wish list, some of our curriculum scope and sequence, reference sheets and my copies of papers we turn in to our school district.
  • College – I have a senior in high school this year so I keep her scholarship award letters, acceptance letters etc in this section as well as financial aid information.  She has her own folder and notebook where she keeps the scholarship applications she is working on, ACT information and any other college related stuff she has to fill out.
  • Blog – I recently added a section for my blog related information.

If your children attend public school you may have a “school” section for important school papers.  The point is use the binder to organize the papers and lists you have laying around.  Keeping it in one or two (bills) locations will help streamline your life.

I use many printable charts and sheets from many different sources.  I have found a combination that works for me.  You will also need to find the ones that work for you.  Below I have included links to the places I get my printables:

Here are some links to binders that other bloggers have posted about:

Coming up next week:  Organizing the Bills

Do you have your own binder?  What kind of system do you use?  Need help?  Leave a comment letting us know.  

Taming the Trash with Organization: Part 2

The Ongoing To Do List

Last week I showed you my organization system for keeping up with dates, school stuff, menu planning, to do lists and much more.  This week I want to talk to you about making a to do list.

Many of us make lists only to realize that they just keep getting longer and longer.  Whether it’s a daily to do list or a on going to do list around the house, we never seem to get done.  I know I have been experiencing this for some time.  A couple months ago I decided to approach my to do list differently.

First I made a list of all the things that we think needs to be done.  This includes mending, gardening, painting, scrapbooks, yard sale, DIY projects, carpet cleaning, ebay sales, shoppiing for new life insurance, making a password list, clutter cleanout and anything else that needs to be done that is not a daily task.  I wrote it all down.

Next I typed this list as a list on word with 2 columns.  Nothing fancy.  I tried to prioritize the list according to what needs to be done first.  Not necessarily what I/we want done first.

I then printed the list out (2 pages).  I gave it a couple days in case I needed to add any new things onto the list and made notes of what items needed to be moved up in priority.

I then edited the list to add and new items and move anything around in order.  I then printed the list again.  This time I got my pen and drew a line through anything that would not cause a consequence if it did not get done.  Planting flowers is great but nobody will care if it does not get done.  You don’t want to run out of time/money and have beds full of flowers planted but not the garden you depend on.  You cannot can or freeze the flowers.  I am not saying flowers are a waste of time at all.  This is just an example.  I generally have to scratch many craft projects off my list.  I always see some things I would love to do, but I just don’t have the time for all of them.  If you get the time and they mean that much to you, you will remember them and won’t need a list to remind you.  Now organizing the closet ….. you need a list!

Next I deleted the items I scratched off the list and printed a new 1 page list ( yep I got her down to 1 page) in order of priority.  I saved my list so I can delete/add new items from time to time.  I have found that by looking at this list at the beginning of the week and just before the weekend, I can get some of these items accomplished.

I then placed this list in a plastic page protector in the front of my binder right behind my calendar.

The Daily To Do List

I have used daily planner sheets before, but they just didn’t work for me.  I filled in every line on those things and could never get it done.  Not only that, but it takes time to fill those things in.

I currently find that the index card works great for me.  I keep a few index cards together with a clip and keep them in a handy place.  Basically, there is a card for each of the next few days.  I write on them the things I want/need to get done that day, doublespaced.  Yes, that’s right.  I leave a blank line in between each item.  I do make 2 columns.  I find it much easier to glance at the list double spaced.  Not only that, but it will keep you from overbooking yourself.  Things I have on my list today:

Blog Posts
Finish Taxes (enter interest earned & file)
Laundry x 2
Email Tammi
Check on CVS order
Call Newspaper about Thank You add
Thank You’s made out
Make DVD’s off video camera

Notice I put how many loads of laundry I will do on the list.  I feel like it works best if you say “I need to do X loads”.  That way you can mark I it off.  Laundry is never done and it would always remain on your list haunting you.  I feel a sense of accomplishment if I put a realistic number on there and get it done.

I hope this system gives you an idea on getting started.  Not every system works for everyone, but you can try some out and see what works best for you and then tweak them. Everyone just needs a starting place and a little push to get started …..

Here are some links to a couple websites that I have found some great organization/planning printable’s on:

Money Saving Mom – Free Downloads

Life As Mom – Printables

The Peaceful Mom – Organize

While you are visiting be sure to visit their other pages and articles.  You can also subscribe to get email updates on each of the sites.

Coming next week:  Using The Binder

What kind of organization system do you use?  Do you have any sites you recommend for good planning/organizing printables?  I would love to hear from you.

Taming the Trash with Organization: Part 1

Not all of our clutter is trash but it may seem like it until we get some sort of organization system in place.  Each Thursday for the next several weeks I will share organization ideas and topics, pointers and tips, and  my personal attempt to bring more organization into my life.

The first step in getting things organized is to get our plans, goals, calendar, important papers in one or two easy to find locations.  I know it can be hard to just dig in and do it, but you will feel so much better when it is done.

This week I want to talk about organizing our schedules, lists, school notes and papers, menu plans and more.  Having this information in one or two places makes it much easier to coordinate schedules, plan a menu, keep track of permission slips or other school papers, keep a to do list and many other items you may need to keep up with.

Getting organized does not have to cost money.  A fancy notebook, binder or box does not guarantee that you will ever use it.  Look through your home and find things you can use. Maybe your kids have binders and/or notebooks they are not using.  You can also find these items at garage sales and thrift stores.

The key to success in getting organized is finding something that works for you.  It will need to be user friendly for you.  One person’s organization system will not necessarily work for everyone.  Find something you like and tweak it to fit your needs or design your own system.  Right now I am going to show you a system that I currently use.

The first item I have is a 2 year planner purse calendar that I keep in my purse.

This calendar has birthdays, school dates to remember, vacation dates, deadlines, practice days, appointments, and work schedules written in.  I use the side or bottom open comment areas to record things to remember to do like purchase contacts, make a doctor or eye appointment, or just anything important to remember for a month.

The second item I have is a small spiral notebook (approx. 7 x 9) that fits in my purse.  I prefer to use one with a pocket, but have been known to add my own pocket with a plastic sleeve or file folder and tape.

This notebook goes everywhere with me.  At the back of the notebook I have a page dedicated to items I need/want for my house.  I can refer back to it when I am out at thrift shops, yard sales or just find a good sale.  It serves as a reminder of the things I would like to find.  I try to list items in order of importance.  I also have a list of things I want to sell at my next yard sale that are not with the rest of the yard sale stuff.  I note the item and where it is located.

I keep non-grocery store and email coupons in my pockets.

The front of the notebook is used for things I need to remember, things I need to buy, or just things I think of when I am out of the house.  I find that I think of many things while I am out and can jot them down in my notebook.

The third item I use is my home binder.  This binder has tab dividers with pockets on them. The pockets help store papers as well as the page protectors I use for certain items.

My tabs are labeled; household, grocery/menu planning, goals, homeschool, and college.

I keep another larger calendar in the front of my binder.  I purchased it for $1 at a dollar store.  You may have some calendars around the house given to you for free by businesses or organizations.

I used a whole punch to put holes in it so I could keep it right in the front of the binder.  I check it on Sunday’s to make sure I have transferred all new appointments.  If I make an appointment while I am at home I be sure to record it on both calendars.

Next week we will work on the first part of the binder; the to do list.  If you think this system could benefit you, gather some supplies and fill those calendars.

Do you have a home organization system?  What is your’s like?  Do you have any questions or comments about getting started?  Leave a comment below letting us know.

Hope to see you next week!