Time management Monday: Household binder

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2015-08-06 2015-08-06 003 001I’ve known for awhile now, but events last month really confirmed for me: I need to set up a household binder.

Last month while we were staying at my in-laws’ house, I saw my mother-in-law in action as a full time carer for her in-laws and her parents. It made me think of what my husband or I would need in order to to run our household alone.

My husband and I have a good division of duties. I pay the bills, take our kids to their after-school activities, put out the trash or recycling bins on the appropriate days, etc. I enjoy doing these things, and as a planning person these types of planned activities suit me. My husband is a big-picture, big-thinking guy, so he’s happy to let me take over these types of daily details. He thinks more about our investments, our house and property. But what if I had to get on a plane and was away for a month (or more) to help family back in the US? What information would he need to pay the bills on time and get everyone where they need go?

Then there’s the worst-case scenario possibility too. I need a grab-and-go binder with insurance information, a list of our investments, etc. If something were to happen to either of us, I don’t want to make an already-difficult time even harder by making the one left have to dig through paperwork to find where our money is, and figure out how to run everyone’s daily life alone.

I’ve seen examples online of people’s household binders but some get too complicated for me. I don’t need house-cleaning schedules, but home maintenance would be good. I need bank account, investment and insurance information, but I don’t need to store appliances information and warranties. I need contacts for family and friends, my children’s friends and their parents, school, activities, doctor etc. I want a binder that one of us can pick up and have everything we need to run our daily lives, indefinitely. (And yes I know how dangerous this is; I’ll keep it in the safe.)

Do you have a household binder? Can you give me some advice on how to organize the information in it? Tabbed sections are a must, but I don’t want it to get too complicated. Any advice appreciated! Please post a comment.

7 thoughts on “Time management Monday: Household binder

  1. I NEED to do this home and work. I keep saying I’m going to do it when things slow down a bit, which always gives me a good chuckle. I do have a running list of things I want to include in both binders and I used to have a home management binder that worked well. Agree that you should check out FlyLady control journals just as a start. She also has vacation, holiday, student, and office journals.

  2. Thank you for the suggestions everyone. I appreciate the ideas for making the file easy to find. In my mind I thought as long as my husband knows where to find it, that’s all I need. But you are right, there could be circumstances where someone else would need to find it. I’ll give it some more thought. Thanks!

    Files need to be portable and accessible.

    Dont have them but should.

    Use the Conversation Project forcthe heavy duty stuff…

    I do have an Advanced Directive file…Family knows where that is. Also a MOLST, like a POLST.


    PS: My spouse hates organizing..He would have trouble finding the file.

  4. Laurie, in 2012 a dear family friend of ours, who lived alone and had a large estate, passed away. I was in charge of cleaning out her house and passing her information on to the executor, who lived far away and could not be there due to family exigencies. Our friend was a very organized woman, but despite that I missed finding the update to her trust, and her prepaid funeral file, which caused a lot of trouble. Also we spent days trying to guess her computer password not realizing she had never set one. So now I have a step file on my desk and the top (orange) file is labelled “Death.” This is to make it totally eye-catching. In it is a list of every account number we have, Autos to Utilities, with phone numbers but no passwords, plus a recurring maintenance schedule, service providers, pet information and contact lists. There are also two mini-binders on a nearby shelf with spine labels: Addresses/Data (a big A-Z reference), and Medical (which has histories and details). In the fie folder I also list what is on autopay and to which account. The passwords are in a small book that could be found easily if anyone cared to search. I am half ready to haul it out and put it in the file too. Bottom line: We live in a very small town (pop. less than 500) which is low crime because everybody knows everybody, and the odds are greater that we will die than that we will be victims of theft. You have to look at what is likely for you and your family, and what would be needed by survivors or those left behind while you are gone. You have to make it easy for them, because they WILL be stressed. Easy v. Security – I’ve chosen easy. Maybe I’ll regret it, but look at the odds carefully before you choose.

    • Hi jolene, that is a good idea. I have used Fly Lady in the past and did up a control journal, but it has a lot of aspects I don’t need or want to include in my household binder. It is a good place to start though. Thanks!

  5. Laurie, I never thought of it as a binder and maybe I should. My more morbid approach is two large WORD documents. “If I Die” and “If I get hurt”. Both list where the money is, how to pay the bills and some of the things you mention. I also put in what to do with my closet full of Rhodia pads when I move on to the big letter writing camp in the sky LOL… I hesitate with a binder only because of the sensitivity of some of the information if it falls in the wrong hands all nicely printed out. I keep my word docs password protected on a password protected flash drive in a safe. The passwords I made something that I could ask my significant other and only she would know the answer to and that is the password.

    I like the idea of a binder and may work on one to include generic references to the money, who do we call if the well pump goes out, what is our Neighbor Chris’ cell phone number and that kind of stuff. Good thoughts and just what I need another project. Ha

    Good luck with yours

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