We have week one of the home challenge in the books! Establishing a Command Center will help you keep your family organized. Building off the command center, we are going to move into week 2 of the home challenge which is establishing your Home Binder.
Creating a binder will serve as a resourceful resource. The binder will become your go-to guide. It will be your Home Bible. It will keep you organized and allow you to become more productive because all of your important resources will be in one place.
Most home computers save login information, however, there are certain times when the information is needed. Write down the login information the first time and you’ll be good, no one likes selecting ‘Forgot Password’ it makes you feel unorganized and just becomes an annoying task.
You’ll want to place it where it can be easily accessed every day, like the inside of a kitchen cabinet, on an office desk, or in your family command center. Keep it in the same spot so you always know where it’s located.
Just as you update your resume frequently, updating your household binder is important too because things change.
Our Home Binder
We established our Home Binder about 6 years ago and haven’t looked back since. How we stayed organized without it is a question that still goes unanswered. It has certainly evolved throughout the years from category tabs to the size of the binder, those change as our family needs change.
My husband and I are opposites when it comes to quite a bit of things, one of those things is organizing. I’m clearly the organizer. He isn’t completely unorganized, I just prefer it more than he does. One thing I’ve learned is that the system that I’ve established isn’t always the way that he likes it.
When I start an organizing project now, I always consult him to get his input because I don’t want it to fail. I’ve learned the simpler the better. It doesn’t get used when there are too many steps involved.
Truth be told, when our binder was first created, I can’t remember if I consulted him before establishing it because it was so long ago (I’m going to go with no;))
My husband loves our home binder because he always knows where to find it and it’s easy to use. We keep it in the same kitchen cabinet with pocket folders that have tabs to easily identify each category.
Our home binder hasn’t always been this simple. In the past, we’ve used binder tabs without pocket folders which meant every single piece of paper had to be three-holed punched before it went into the binder. It became a tedious task and before we knew it, there was a stack of papers that needed to be punched to go into the binder.
We would find ourselves sorting through the binder first and then through the stack of papers. It was a system that was cumbersome and didn’t last very long.
Once we added the pocket folders, we were able to eliminate the three-ring hole punch which was really nice because all that was doing was taking up space.
These are the exact categories that are currently in our home binder:
We are currently renting and this is where we keep a copy of our lease. When we lived in California, this category said mortgage. We don’t access this category frequently but know where to find it immediately if needed. We have it as the first category because it’s the most important for us.
Our daughter started Kindergarten this year. This is where we keep all the important papers for the school district and her school. For example, we received an assignment letter for her school next year. All PTO information is kept here too. We will have our second child start pre-school soon, I’ve started a list of schools that we want to visit and keep this list here too.
This is where we keep our kids’ immunization records and wellness visits. I tend to forget to bring our immunization card to our kids’ wellness visits so I started keeping them here for quick and easy reference. They were previously stored in their medical file in the medicine cabinet which was out of sight and out of mind.
Our account numbers and login information are stored here. We also keep any bills will notes on it here. For example, recently we changed internet providers and closed our old account. We received the final bill that was unusually high. I called in and they had said the final bill printed before they received our equipment which is why the chargers were so high. He took off those charges and said what we actually owed. He said I could pay the bill over the phone with no additional charge so I did it. I wrote on the bill the date and what we discussed and put it in this folder for now. After a few months pass, then I’ll throw it out.
We keep our insurance information here. It’s an easy and quick reminder to see our coverage. We don’t reference this category frequently but it comes in handy when we need it.
In the past, we would print out our election coverage from enrollment benefits and keep it here. Once annual enrollment came around, we would reference this to see if we needed to make any changes.
We keep our pets medical information here, all of their vaccinations and last vet visits. This is another category that isn’t frequently used but very handy when we need it, especially when finding a new pet boarding service. We also keep our pet sitting information here too.
We have file organizers and a receipt organizer that came with labels. I keep the extra labels stored here. Labels are a hard thing to organize because of their shape and size. Using a pocket folder is the easiest way to keep them organized.
This last folder is currently empty but we put random papers in here that we might need or don’t have a specific category.
The categories listed above are the exact labels that are used on each tab which is why there are a few labels that are shortened. I used our label maker to create each label. Then I put the label on the tab of the folder and put the white tab that comes with the folder in the tab.
I do NOT put the label on the white tabs that come with the folder tabs because we change out the categories. It’s more time consuming to get out the label tabs, create a new label and put it on there. It’s much easier to just change the tab on the folder.
The inside of the binder has a pocket folder where we keep papers we need to use soon. For example, we have a church event coming up in the New Year where we need to have tickets to get into the event. We have them printed out and kept here so we know where to get them when we need them. Plus, every time we open the binder we see them there. It’s a nice reminder of where they are.
Here’s How You Can Establish Your Home Binder:
Step 1: Get a binder
Start with a 1″ binder, anything less than that is too small and anything bigger is too big. You can always reevaluate the size after you’ve been using it for a few months. Get a binder that you will love. We’ve used plain white and colored binders that I didn’t love. I found a cute light pink binder from Target with gold pineapples on it and absolutely love it. Plain binders will work fine if you love them
Step 2: Get tab dividers with pocket folders
Pocket folders are the easiest way to maintain your home binder. There isn’t any three-ring hole puncher that needs to be used. You’ll be able to easily put away and take out the papers you’ll need instead of opening and closing a binder. Plus, you won’t have to listen to the sound of the opening and closing the binder 🙂
Step 3: Print Printables
Using printables keeps all of your information neatly organized and easy to find. Decide which printables you want in your binder and print them out. Once you have them all printed out, then write in the information.
Gathering all of the printables first will help you organize your categories and what you want and don’t want in your binder. The most common and important ones for a Household Binder are as follows:
Keep all of your login information in one place. You’ll be able to access the information quicker rather than doing an endless search.Download
Planning out meals for the week not only saves you money but you also end of eating healthy because you’re sticking to a plan. If you don’t like to cook, meal planning can be tedious. As much as I love to organize and plan, meal planning isn’t one of my favorite things to do but saving money is. Using that as motivation helps make meal planning a little easier.Download
If you have kids, keeping your pediatrician information handy makes life easier. Keep your insurance information in the same area as your medical contacts. It will be easy to reference if you need to call insurance or if the doctor’s office needs the information again.Download
Tell your money where to go each month rather than wonder where it went. While I’m no financial expert, a monthly budget keeps you in check and gives you less stress. If you are looking for some great budgeting tips and ideas, Dave Ramsey is an excellent place to start.Download
It seems most people just have address books on their phones but having a physical address book comes in handy more times than not. There’s something satisfying looking at a physical list.
Keep the school calendar or any event information here. As a new parent of a child in school, it’s overwhelming all the information they come home with, sort through what you need and don’t need.
It’s really easy to forget when your pet had their last checkup especially if you have kids, the pets usually take a backseat. Keeping their last checkup information handy will be a reminder to schedule the next appointment.
Having your goals in a place you always reference will help you stay on track with them. Keeping them on the inside pocket or the cover is a great place to put them because you will constantly see them. It’s one thing to write down goals but they serve you no purpose if you don’t look at them often.
Step 4: Gather Account Documents
Get all the information for each category that has been mailed or given to you. If you have important documents from the bank or account information from another company they mailed, keep it here for an easy reference point.
Step 5: Maintain and Change As Needed
Once your home binder is established. Keep it in the exact same place, somewhere that is convenient for you and your family. It could be a kitchen cabinet like ours or it could be on the desk in the office.
Update the binder as necessary, it will evolve as you evolve. For example, your kids won’t be in school forever, eventually, that category will be eliminated. Start out evaluating it once a quarter and then move to bi-annually.
1″ binder (this pineapple binder is the exact one we use).
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Using a home binder will help keep you organized with all of your important documents/information in one place. Keep frequently used documents/categories stored there for quick and easy reference.
It will help keep paper organized. You’ll feel less stressed and overwhelmed because you’ll be able to find what you need.
If you have a home binder, what categories do you use? If you haven’t established a home binder yet, what categories would you use?