Organising The Family Finances

Yesterday I posted some pictures of the Cash Envelope system I have used in the past, to help keep on top of the Family Finance Budget.  This is just one small part of what we do to manage our finances and stay on budget.  It’s actually one of the very last parts! For those new to the blog or need a refresher here is where and how we started……..


Doing your homework. Getting your head around the finances. The aim here is to work out

How much you spend
What you spend it on
When you spend it (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, Yearly)
STEP 1. Make a list of ALL of the household expenses. At this stage this could just be off the top of the head. Every family has different expenses but some possibilities are;

  • Mortgage/Rent
  • Rates
  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Home Telephone
  • Mobile phones
  • Pay Tv
  • Home Insurance
  • Car Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Car registration
  • Car Maintenance
  • Petrol
  • School/Childcare Fees
  • School Expenses (uniforms, books, excursions, levies)
  • Extra Curicular Activities (sporting teams, clubs, hobbies)
  • Other Loans/Regular Credit Card payments
  • Groceries
  • Entertainment/Going Out
  • Holidays

If possible write them directly into a budget spreadsheet. You can create your own using Excel or Even a table in Word. Or browse the web their are so many to choose from.

STEP 2. Gather or PRINT OFF YOUR BANK STATEMENTS. At least 6 Months worth.

STEP 3. HIGHLIGHT – You will need at least 4 different colour highlighters. Use a different colour to highlight each of the expenses on your bank statement accordingly, as per the list below.

I am going to use colour examples just to help make the example clearer.

GREEN – Set Payments Mortage/Rent/Phone/Rates/Insurances/Registration/School Fees – These are the amounts that do not regularly change or if they do it is by a few dollars. These items are classed as essential and are not negotiable. When you come accross these items write the AMOUNT and FREQUENCY of the bill onto your template.
ORANGE – Regular Payments – Electricity, Gas – These payments are due regularly, are essential. but can fluctuate in their amount. Write these AMOUNTS and FREQUENCY onto your budget template in pencil only as you will have a lot of amounts!
PINK – Unavoidable Expenses – Groceries, Petrol, Gifts – These payments can fluctuate in how often they occur and how much they cost. They are essential but negotiable and open to finding some big savings. DO NOT WRITE THESE IN YOUR BUDGET JUST YET.
YELLOW Avoidable Expenses – This is the other category – These are one off non essential items – like entertainment (hiring dvd’s,parties, clothes, hair cuts, eating out, holidays, days out, buying coffee etc) This is the category with the most chance of savings. DO NOT WRITE THESE IN YOUR BUDGET JUST YET
These 3 easy steps will now have your head around what is being spent!
For me this was the hardest part of all. It was hard to be honest about how much we were spending or should I say wasting! You are now off to a great financial start and ready to FINALISE A FAMILY BUDGET!


So here is our Family Finance System…

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1. Mail In. This can be either the paper variety or most often electronically. As soon as the bill comes in it is opened. NO MAIL REMAINS UNOPENED FOR MORE THAN 24 HOURS. Yes sometimes you dread opening bills. But delayed bill paying adds to paper clutter, increases the chance you will misplace it, pay it late and have to pay more in late payment fees. Collecting and opening the mail is a shared task and part of our everyday routine. As we enter the house, after the school pick up, Master O collects the mail. He loves this job! Whilst the kids are having afternoon tea, I go through the mail (and all the notes in the school bag!)

  • Junk mail straight to recycling bin
  • School notes to School File it Folder
  • Invitations and Notices onto The Family Noticeboard
  • Art Work into Art work folders
  • and of course THE BILLS!!!

What about the bills???

2. Bills Board. The bills go straight onto the Bills Board. This is simply a clipboard where we keep all bills until they are paid. By having them in one location, we both know what needs to be paid. I briefly check:

  • When is the bill due? This is recorded in iCal (a software calendar program for Macs) This allows me to get electronic reminders for when bills are due.
  • Is it how much I had budgeted for? We rarely get surprises! In general we have calculated how much each bill should be and put that money aside each fortnight. My HOT TIP IS. When creating a family budget slightly over calculate each bills. That way you are never left short! Even if the bill is less than you had expected, PAY WHAT YOU HAD BUDGETED FOR! It will mean you are always a little ahead and give you a cushion, should you find yourself struggling one month.
  • Is it accurate? I always check our bills for inaccuracies. Especially if it doesn’t seem to match previous bills or is more than I expected. This way I can judge wether it is time to change suppliers or switch to a better plan or deal.

3. Family Finance Folder. Once the bill is paid it is stored in the relevant section of the Family Finance Folder. I ALWAYS record the receipt number and the date paid, on the bill, before storing it away. At the end of the financial year all of these records will be used for tax purposes.


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As mentioned above I store all of our financial paper work in a “Family Finance Folder” I have chosen this style of filing system after the great success of our

School File It Folder

To create this “Family Finance Folder” you will need;

1. An A4 Ring Binder Folder with a clear insert on the front.

2. A packet of A4 Plastic pockets

3. A packet (or two!) of EXTRA WIDE tabbed folder dividers! They must be EXTRA WIDE if you want to be able to see the tabs when the folder is closed.

4. OPTIONAL – A clear plastic envelope made for ring binders.

5. OPTIONAL – Scrapbook Paper for the Front and labelmaker for the tabs.

To really make the system work you will also need a clipboard! I have two kinds a plain one that I decorated with scrapbook paper and a groovy one found in the office section of Big W!

This folder is customised for your families needs so sit down with your paper work, sort it into piles and figure out which categories you will need in your folder. Grab your supplies (all can be found at BIG W or Officeworks!) and get ready to conquer the paper clutter!

Why a system and a folder.  This ensures that important paper work, notices, bills are not discarded with the junk mail or lost under a pile of school work.  Having the bills on the one clipboard ensures that when they are due you know where they are and how much needs to be paid.


Later this week I will share how we budget bills and set up bills accounts.  This may seem like a lot of work but as you can see from some of the pictures I set up this system 4 years ago and have not had to touch it since!!!  It works that well!!!! When it comes to living stress free their is oohing more important then being on top of and managing your finances!!


The Family Launch Pad

We finally finished off our Launch Pad!  Just in time for school to go back! 

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As you can see we used what we had 

  • A 2 x 4 IKEA Expedit Unit
  • The Bird Fruit Bowl (on the top) – Reject Shop a few years ago
  • A Tin Container – Reject Shop a few years ago

and bought a few new bits

  • 8 x Medium Trofast Containers from Ikea
  • Vinyl Labels form Etsy.

The space consists of three main areas.

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  1. The Errands Box
  2. The Everyday Station
  3. Storage Baskets


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This our go to place for all kinds of lists, notes and items that we need to take with us when we go out.

Receipts of items that need to be returned, the latest sale item I want to check out, our shopping lists and to do lists.  We check this box before we leave the house.  I fill out our shopping list as we run out of items and as this area is right next to the kitchen it is super handy!


Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 5.52.32 AMWe have had this space happening for a few years now.  It is our household go to spot.  Runny Nose?  Wipe your face? About to go outside? Everything you need for going out or even staying in is here.  By having all of this in the one spot it makes getting ready to go out quicker and if I am busy in the house and the kids need something they know exactly where to find it. 


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This is probably the most important area of the whole “Launch Pad” 

We now have EVERYTHING organised, labelled and stored in the one place.

On the top Left to Right.

Hats, Drink Bottles, Lunch Boxes, Lunch Bags

On the bottom Left to right

Emergency, Bags, Organisation, Handbag

The top ones are pretty self explanatory.  On the bottom the Emergency box holds torches, power leads and a tool kit.  The bags container holds our recyclable bags.  Great to use for show and tell items, extra library books, returning tupperware! 

The Organisation box is my special little box of supplies!  I have a secret love for its contents! 

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 6.02.28 AMIn my handbag I keep a clear little bag of tricks.  I always have in it

  • Breath mints
  • Hand Sanitiser
  • Band Aids
  • Tissues
  • Baby Wipes
  • Paw Paw Ointment
  • Insect Repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Panadol
  • Deodorant

This little bag has been the best organisational tool EVER.  It means wherever we are I am prepared for anything! Birthday Parties, the beach, the park, shops, the school run. Of course the only way I can carry all this, without looking like Mary Poppins, is to have everything in travel or mini size.  Whenever sample/mini/travel sizes are on sale I buy a few and keep them handy in this storage container.  Before going out I check my bag to see if anything needs topping up. The best place for these items are the dollar stores.  Big W also has a huge range of miniatures! 

and the last box is for my handbag!  I desperately needed a home for my little mint beauty and this seemed like the most logical place! 

The only thing not in this spot is our swimming gear.  We just have too many towels, togs, swim shirts, goggles, flotation devices and bags for this area, so for now that lives in the laundry. 

But what about the school gear?  School bags and hats and library bags?

I assure you they have not been forgotten and are getting a little place all of their own!

I will share our plans for them tomorrow!


Organising My Wardrobe ~ Part One

I hope you are sitting down….my name is Larissa and this is my wardrobe. Don’t judge.

Ok so it could be worse.  It was.  This is an after before photo.  You know the kind where you are half way through the job and realise you didn’t take a before pic! This wardrobe is all kinds of messy.  But you get an idea of the layout.  It’s not perfect but pretty good.  We have long hanging space (in the middle) short hanging space and shelf (under the window on the left) and shelves (on the right).  To the left of this picture is almost the same layout but for “his” stuff.  My side is suffering.

It has been diagnosed with the following problems;

1. Overfull.  This wardrobe has a nasty habit of holding on to stuff. Ok so it might not be the wardrobes problem but no one is playing the blame game here.  It is FULL of clothes that are past their style used by date, don’t fit and need mending.

2. Mismatched hangers and baskets.  Basically the system is find a hanger or find a space and throw it in.

3. No labels. Baskets that aren’t labelled which results in a “rummage” for clothes.  I can never find anything I am looking for and over time undewear has ended up with socks and swimwear with the stockings.

4. Folding.  Is just not happening.  I am sorting but just into piles.

So I am honest.  I know what my problems are and now I am going to fix them!

Step 1.  Purge and Sort.

I gave away a LOT of clothes.  Most of it was things that no longer fitted (damn that baby weight) and things that quite frankly should have never been bought.  I am an ebay procrastinator so this wasn’t an option for me.  I gave a select few items away to friends but most is destined for our local charity store.  The best things about this part were the discoveries!  I actually had more clothes that are wearable for this winter than I thought!! 

Step 2. Hang.  

I bought packs of black plastic hangers 12 for $3 from Kmart.  I now have matching hangers!!!  Of course I would more gorgeous looking wooden hangers but that wasn’t in the budget.  Baby steps.  Step 1 and 2,  took me one day.  I don’t have an ace team of organisers surprising me with their expertise.  But I do have kids. I am realistic.  They are great distractions.  This was going to take time.   But I was prepared to do it!

Step 3. More purging and sorting!

So by this stage we are now onto Day 2.  Time to attack the other wall of my wardrobe.  The photo above is where I store socks, underwear, swimwear, stockings, the little things! This also had to be purged and sorted.  They were a mess!  Because these are on a high shelf and unlabelled I have not been able to see what is in them!  This has not helped my morning getting ready for work process!Step 4. Folding.

 I had some crudely folded piles of sort of sorted tops.  This was a great nap time actvity!  Just me, my clothes, my flipfold and a daytime movie!  Would it be wrong to say it was actually kind of enjoyable?

So that is the end of Day 2.  

I have clothes that are purged, sorted, hung, containerised and folded!  

Not bad progress I say…..but wait there’s more…a whole other day worth….stay tuned...


The Anatomy of a Playroom

Yes we have a playroom.  Yes we know we are lucky to have a designated space, for all things play.  Yes we use it A LOT.  The kids practically live in this room.  They play in it, do homework in it, read in it and destroy it daily.  Over the years it has “grown” with the needs and interests of “My Pigeon Pair”.  


Then two months ago I noticed something.  “My Pigeon Pair” were no longer “playing” in the playroom.  It was being used to “store” toys but they had lost interest in “using” the space.  We had a problem.  They had changed.  The playroom hadn’t.  They had outgrown its use.  We needed to change the rooms layout, contents and workspaces to suit there new abilities and interests.  After a lot of discussing and pondering we had this…..

When designing and creating a space for your children it pays to really look at what THEY do.  All the fancy pictures of playrooms are great inspiration but it has to be a space to suit the interests, abilities and ages of YOUR children!

In case you have been living under a rock Master O started school this year.  With this huge change has come an even bigger change in the way he “plays”.  He wants to read, write, draw, learn and build.  He needs a space designed for creating and displaying.  His lego collection has suddenly started to explode and he is no longer interested in his fisher price sets.

Little Miss A copies everything her brother does.  She loves to draw and read.  But she also loves to “play house”  anything involving baby dolls!  

 Over the coming weeks (hopefully it’s not months!) we will be rearranging, re purposing and reorganising this integral space in our home.  We are desperately trying to use what we have and not spend MORE money on creating a space we will use, play in and LOVE!




Top 5 Organising Projects of 2011

Somehow between my first year of blogging, working part time, kindy drop offs and being a part time stay at home mum I managed to complete a few organising projects in 2011.  Some were big, some small, but they all have had a HUGE impact on how we live our lives.


The Organised Panty

This was a HUGE job.  Our pantry had NEVER been organised.  It was full of expired lurkers at the back and general chaos at the front.  Nothing had a place and no systems existed.  After a little shopping for some container ideas and a few days  culling, sorting and ordering we had a “new” pantry!  This project was life changing and I am very happy to say that thanks to all the containers it has stayed organised!!!


The Organised Bathroom

This was another BIG project.  The bathroom was a dumping zone.  A hundred bottles of deoderant, messy make up and things that just don’t belong in a bathroom!  The drawers have needed reorganising a few times but the cupboards have stayed organised!


The "OiOi" Carry All ~ That really carries all!!!

I literally think about this life changer every day!  This bag never leaves my side and thanks to it’s brilliant design I am always organised and can find everything at my finger tips!


The Family Organisation Station

The Organisation Station took a few attempts to get it right!  We are still working on keeping this system going but it works.  Most of all having the one family calendar has been a life saver!  


The "INSTA- Shelf"

If there was a time to get emotional it was all about the wardrobe.  The culling of the oh so gorgeous baby clothes is enough to make anyone cry and I had whole containers of it!  But the end product of weeks of work was two sorted and organised wardrobe’s with some great systems in place to keep them that way!!!

  • The school zone – A place to keep under control the mountain of paper work associated with a little one at school, a place to do homework, to keep home readers and to get organised for learning.
  • A bag zone – For handbags, swimming bags, beach bags, grocery bags!
  • Outdoor Equipment – A way to store all of that outdoor craft and play equipment and some much needed play area makeovers!
  • The Linen Closet – A final solution for this space
  • The Entryway – A system for when we enter the house and to beautify the area!
  • Two picture boxes – Two picture boxes that are bland and one that is a dumping ground for keys!
  • Two photo galleries – Finally getting around to creating some family photo display areas!
  • A Display area – A seasonal area to display trinkets and pictures.

Oh I could go on for ever!!!!  But there you have it the projects of 2011 are inspiring me to continue on into 2012!!!  

What needs organising or beautifying at your place?




A Christmas Station

Every spare space in our home has been overflowing with Christmas paraphenalia! Christmas cards, labels, calendars, craft and lists.  Remember our organisation station

I still had a second one of these clever IKEA storage boxes, so it’s time to get this Christmas sorted and create a “Christmas” station.

So I am now keeping pens, sticky tape, Christmas Cards, stamps, address labels, craft books, stickers and lists all in one place!  On the clipboard folder I have two calendars, a gift list and christmas card list.  I ended up using two calendars.  One for gift buying, christmas events, functions, parties, holiday bookings etc.  The second one for our Advent Activities and Elf on the shelf.  At last one place for all things Christmas!  

I am hoping to make this little station a permanent fixture in our house.  A space to keep our seasonal bits and pieces under control.  Back to School, Easter, Birthdays.  I think it will be getting a lot of use!

Only two days to go! Please vote!


Certificates, Birthday Cards, Artwork our home is full of them without Master O even having started school!!!  Naturally my organising gene is already kicking in and I found this amazing product to keep all your children’s pieces of paper in order, in the one place and protected for life………..

The SmileFile.  This is more than just a box with folders in it.  This is an organisation system.  The sysytem involves 5 plastic storage folders.

1. Certificates/awards & sports ribbons/medals
2. Photos & digital materials
3. Paintings & drawings

These three are purpose designed folders that contain plastic pockets inside.

SmileFile ~ Certificates and Awards Folder

 Then there are 2 Document boxes for

1.Special events and memories
2. Report cards and special projects

These are larger than the other folders and designed to hold bulkier items such as cards and projects.The Starter Kit also comes with one each of 

  • A3 pockets for paintings & drawings
  • A4 pockets for certificates, photos & paintings
  • A5 pockets for certificates & photos
  • 6 x 4” pockets for photos
  • Purpose designed CD/DVD/USB pocket
  • Purpose designed sports ribbon pocket
The rest is up to you!  More pockets are available and the kit also comes with some great labels to help keep everything categorised!  
How we will use it……”The Smilefile” outer box is huge!  It has to be to hold ALL of your childs items.  For this reason we are storing our in our store room.  We already have the “School Folder” in our Organisation Station.  Once items come into the house they go into this folder.  Then at the end of each month I will transfer all these items into the “SmileFile” where they can stay until next time we need them!  
I have been asked if you could just make this yourself.  Yes if you had a lot of time, money and space.   But the simplicity of this system, the way it is all stored so beautifully categorised in the one place is what appeals to me.  You simply unpack it and use.  No printing of labels, creating folders and sourcing boxes to put everything in.  
This product is just not about organising.  It is storing those tresured memories in a way that we can enjoy them all!
“Smilefile” is available from Smilefile and the “Starter Kit” retails for $89.90

Packing my bags….


The list.  The Piles.  Packing my way!

This trip we packed light!  We have it down to a fine art now!

Are you a list maker?  A lay it all out and mix match?

Or a spontaneous throw it all in packer?

Playing along with

My Little Drummer Boys

The Organised Wardrobe ~ Some “Pinspiration”

 As the sorting, culling and crying comes to an end, I am ready to start organising the clothes that do fit the kids.   I am lucky enough to have both shelves and hanging space in their wardrobes.  But I could always do with some pinspiration as to how to keep the space ORGANISED!

This looks very similar to the ELFA storage system from Howards storage world. Such a clever personalised storage system.  Love those clear drawer and itsy bitsy hanging racks!

Those gorgeous baskets would be great for underwear, socks, singlets, hats, togs…you know those small items that always look messy?

This is an easy one to imitate as I have seen this exact unit at IKEA!  Its great because once again it makes use of the space under hanging clothes by using drawers and baskets.  It could also be used in a room that does not have a built in wardrobe!

This is very inxpensive and yet very effective way to organise a wardrobe, especially for a little one and if you don’t have drawers.

Two siblings in one room?  This would be perfect!  It even has a spot for shoes!

Why should the kids have all the fun, oops I mean organised wardrobe space.  Totally unrealistic but worth a dream and drool. 

What’s the purpose of all this “pinspiration”?  Most of these set ups are unrealistic ad expensive but they offer some great ideas.  Heres what I am taking form these pictures.

1.  Use the space under childrens hanging clothes.  Childrens clothes are short and this leaves a lot of space under clothes, a great spot for some drawers, baskets or even adding another clothes rail.

2.  Little items are best stored in baskets or containers.

3.  Some items are best stored on shelves, if you don’t have shelves the hanging organisers are perfect.

4.  Coathangers of the same colour make the wardrobe look less cluttered.  As does a huge cull of what your children wear!  None of these wardrobes are overflowing with clothes!

5.  Neatly folded clothes costs you nothing and looks amazingly neat and tidy.

So now I need baskets, coathangers, neatly folded clothes and a few hours of uninterrupted time.  Not quite sure how that last will happen with my Pigeon Pair around!  Stay tuned!

To see  my board of  “wardrobe” pins go to. 

Linking up with

Ooh, that's!

Nappy Bag, Hand Bag….Everything Bag…The “OiOi” Carry All

 I am more than a Mum and I need more than a diaper bag or as we call it a nappy bag.   If only I had of realised this four years ago, before Master O made his arrival, life would have been a whole lot easier. For years I toted around a bulky nappy bag, unattractive and unpractical.  Even worse was when it was time to go to work or enjoy some “me” time with friends, I would have to unload the contents of my bag  and swap them into a handbag.    Then I ditched the nappy bag and just tried using an “ordinary” bag.  With no compartments and hard to clean it didn’t survive being dragged to swimming lessons and my items were doomed to the depths of a bag that had no compartments and then

this little beauty arrived….

The OiOi Carry All - Red Faux Lizard - $159 RRP

Isn’t she gorgeous.  This “Oi Oi”  must be a “she” as she is as gorgeous, as she is practical, a multitasker, this hard worker helps keep my life organised!  This slim beauty, is decieving as she holds her multitude of treasures within!

This is my everyday paraphenalia.  Yes I know its alot.  I like to have my bases covered.  Nothing worse than being stuck on the side of a road waiting for road side assisatnce without nappies or a water bottle or even worse my iphone.  

From Left to Right.

My Inner B organiser and pen.

Small clear essentials bag.  Tissues, wipes, disposable bib, insect repellant, sunscreen, breath mints, deoderant, bandaids and a few small plastic bags.

Baby change mat.  This practical red roll up wipeable mat came with the bag!  We have used it for ore than changing nappies and it comes in handy when trying to find a spot to sit at the playground that is not going to leave a wet patch or grass stain on my bottom!

Baby Food pouch.  These are great as they don’t require a spoon or bowl and are longlife.

Drink Bottle.


Ipod and Iphone.  Ipod for Master O to play if we are waiting somewhere!

Large Clear Case. Nappies, Wipes (in a clear OiOi hard case, that also came with the bag!), Hand Sanitiser, Nappy bags.


Reusable bag.  This is great to use for wet or dirty clothes or shoes. 


Camera. (had to use it to take the pic!)

and my keys of course!!!

and to prove all of that fits in here….

This red faux lizard “Carry All” has compartments for everything!  The numerous front zippered pockets, mean that I do not have to open the whole bag to grab my purse or phone in a hurry.  The bag is easy to clean with red nylon lining and sturdy protective feet on the base.  She fits in the front of the trolley but also comes with a large detachable stroller strap to fit over the trolley or pram handle.  In case that isn’t enough the bag came with three free accessories.  An insulated bottle case (I used it for my coffee thermos!), wipeable roll up change mat and wipes case.  You know I am all about style and this bag in its transeasonal red is certainly gorgeous but what sells it for me is it practicality and multi functionality.  It took it to work, to kindy, to swimming lessons, to a meeting, out for coffee (she is great company) and of course to IKEA!

 OiOi have the modern Mum covered.    There range has current trends covered as well as the classics. “OiOi” even stock a bag made with the man in your life in mind.  I was complimented on this bag twice in one day.  Once by a young work colleague (who loved its colour!) and secondly by a pregnant mother in the mothers room who loved the way it was so organised!  I truly had the work-motherhood events covered with ONE bag. Oh and did I mention I can also fit an ipad in there!  

To keep my bag organised I;

Restock it every night and think about what I need for the next day.  This way there is no last minute rush in the morning.

Stock up on  “mini” sized bottles and wipes as they are perfect to keep in your bag.  

The clear cases are essential as it helps me to see at a glance what I have in there and what needs replacing.

At the end of every week I give my bag and purse a good empty out throwing out or filing away any receipts.

Is it silly to be so excited about a bag?  I have not been this excited about a bag since stocking up on fake Louis Vuittons in Thailand!  And they didn’t help keep me organised! So what’s in your bag?  Is it organised? Multifunctional? Or are you dragging around an aged nappy bag with a hole in the bottom?  Maybe it’s time to check out the “OiOi” range and start making a home for this little lady at your place.

To see the divine range of “OiOi”  bags and accessories visit

I was generously given this little lady to review by “OiOi”  All opinions expressed here are my own.