One of the ways that I stay sane at home is by using a home management binder. It is a new year and we have a lot of new readers here on the blog, so I wanted to touch base with all of you on how and why I use one.
So, what is a home management binder?
It is a binder (or set of binders) that you use to keep your home running smoothly. Since it is a binder system, it is completely customizable for you and your family. Different households will require having different systems in place. If you have small kids and are a stay-at-home-mom, your binder will look much different from a working mom with teenage kids or a single person just out of college. But, this binder system can work well for anyone to keep their home running smoothly.
It is both a filing system and a way to keep on top of all the tasks that are required for keeping up a home.
What should you include in your home management binder?
That is completely up to you! I will share how I have set mine up to give you some ideas, but really, you have to find what works for you.
I used to have a huge binder and it was a pain to flip through and pull out, so I decided to split my larger binder into two smaller binders. I now have one for home and one for family. A few of the categories overlap, but this is what works best for me.
In my home binder, I have 5 sections:
- Meal Planning
Recently, I removed everything from the ‘Events and Holidays‘ section I used to have and moved it to my new Holiday Binder. I had too many papers in this section and it was time to switch things up. Don’t be afraid to change things around or try something new when you see that something is no longer working for you.
At the very front of each binder, I keep an emergency contact sheet.
In this section, I include papers that need to be filed temporarily and are time sensitive, but do not need to go into long-term storage. Things like flyers from work and school, school calendars, invitations, library schedules, and more.
I have a punched copy of the free school calendar that comes home at the beginning of the year. This has many important school dates on it. I also have a perpetual calendar for remembering yearly dates like birthdays and anniversaries.
Lastly, I have monthly dividers to file those temporary papers mentioned above. Each week, when I am filling out my planner, I look in the current month to add any necessary dates to my planner.
This section includes everything needed to plan out our weekly menu, minus any recipes. It will probably come as no surprise I have a separate binder for that!
I include a grocery shopping list, weekly meal plan, family favorite recipes, and freezer and pantry inventory. I will go into more detail about how I meal plan in a future post, but for now, I will give you a quick run through.
I print out a grocery shopping list and add anything to it that we have written down on our dry-erase board on the fridge. I use the sale papers to plan what I can make based on what is on sale. If I am stumped for what to make I use ideas from the family favorites list. I fill out the weekly meal plan and then go shopping!
In the back of this section, I also save take out menus for those nights when I don’t have time to cook.
This section is for exactly what it sounds like – home project ideas or information. I have a separate sheet of lined paper for each room of the house. I write down any projects I want to do on these sheets. These include everything from small things like touching up paint, all the way up to big dream projects like re-doing our entire bathroom.
I also have a copy of our landscape suppliers prices, project worksheets from Home Depot and Lowes, pages with dimensions and measurements, and DIY project plans.
This is where I keep our current month’s budget and receipts. I have an envelope pouch in the binder to hold the receipts in case of any returns and until I have time to enter everything into Quicken. I also keep a copy of that month’s bill tracker to stay on top of bills coming in and whether or not they have been paid.
Having this type of binder makes it easy for everyone in the household to be on the same page about what is going on and what needs to be done. And if you ever have a house-sitter when you go out-of-town, you can show them what you normally do easily and quickly.
In my family binder I include:
This section includes the current year’s parent/student handbooks, a dosing chart for medicine based on weight, and activity papers I need to hang on to for the season.
At the front, I include a copy of the child information sheet that includes important information about my kid’s height, weight, etc. This can be crucial information to have in case of an emergency. I update mine about once every 6 months now that my kids are older, but when they were babies and toddlers I updated it every 3 months since the information changed so much.
I also include a copy of the babysitter checklist in this section. The information that doesn’t change is filled out and then I place it in a sheet protector. I fill out any specifics on the night we will be gone using a wet erase marker.
This is where I keep general family information – maps for hikes in our area, camping checklists, maps for campsites, and general information about things to do in our area. This section is basically for me to keep anything related to activities we do as a family.
In this section, I keep information about our health insurance policies, the kid’s health program at school, current prescription information sheets, and gym membership information.
This is a section that is really just for me. I could file it somewhere else, but this makes the most sense for me. At the beginning of every yea, I write out my goals for both my personal life and my business. I don’t refer to these papers all the time, but I do like to go over everything at least once a month to make sure I am on track. I also have my older goal sheets in here and it is fun to look back and see all that I have accomplished.
This is where I keep an up to date copy of our utility contacts page. This is a sheet to record your utility names, account numbers and phone numbers. The last thing you want to do when the power goes out or your water pipes burst is to be looking through a stack of papers to find the right phone number.
I also keep a printed copy of my contacts I keep on my computer. I usually print out a new one every year or so.
I store my binders on my bookshelf that is right next to my desk. This makes them easy to access and use.
I hope this has given you some ideas of how you can get organized. For anything that would usually end up in a pile of papers on the counter, I like to give it a home in my binder. I obviously still have a filing system for papers that need to be kept longer, but for all the papers that I refer to often, this works really well for me. I can also have anyone in my family or anyone that watches my children easily informed of what needs to be done.
Other items you may want to include in your binder:
I have created a series of printable checklists and forms to help you get your home management binder started. Click on any of the links below to download and print. You can also see a preview of all of these printables on my 31 days of homemaking printables page.
I am also including the printables in this series in my Etsy shop, but my readers get them absolutely free! (These downloads are for personal use only. Do not share the direct link to the .pdf/.jpg file. Please link back to the original post when sharing.)
Household Management Binder Cover and Spine
Emergency Contact Sheet
Utility Phone Numbers
Deep Cleaning Checklist
Room by Room Cleaning Checklist
Grocery Shopping List
Weekly Meal Plan
Family Favorite Recipes
Freezer and Pantry Inventory
Detailed Monthly Bill Tracker
Simple Monthly Bill Tracker
Debt Payment or Savings Tracker
Monthly Budget Worksheet
Party Planning Schedule
Holiday Gift Tracker
Home Management Binder Dividers
Tell me. Do you use a home management binder?
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