Laundry – A Simple System

laundry
My washing baskets. Yep, I really did label them.

We are a family of four, and we have a lot of washing.

My children are 4 and almost 3 at the time of writing, and there are still many days where they require a change of clothes half way through. They also need fresh pyjamas almost every day because they can’t yet keep breakfast confined to the table.

Add to that the hubby’s daily work shirts, towels, tea towels and uncountable pairs of pants and socks… well, you get the picture.

I use a really simple laundry system in our house.

This is how it works:

  1. We probably have less clothes than you would expect. This means keeping on top of the washing is a priority, so it never gets left.
  2. We have three labelled baskets for washing: dark colours, light colours and whites. I never have to pre-sort (I always hated sorting through piles of dirty clothes to make sure that a red sock didn’t go in the white wash – eugh – gone are those days!).
  3. I put a load on most days, first thing in the morning. I check the baskets and take one downstairs with me when I go for breakfast.
  4. Everyone in the house knows where dirty clothes go. Even my 2 year old.
  5. I wash everything at 40°, even the dry cleaning. Generally, I try not to buy clothes that have special instructions. If something doesn’t survive its first wash, it’s not tough enough for our house.
  6. I tumble dry everything on low, or hang it on the line if the weather allows.
  7. As soon as it is dry I fold everything carefully into a basket. Shirts get put on hangers slightly damp. I rarely iron.
  8. Clothes get put away the same day (Hmm. OK. Sometimes that doesn’t quite happen).

That’s it.

I never feel that the washing is a chore or bind. In fact, given the result (fresh clean clothes almost daily), for the effort (a few minutes each day), a part of me actually likes getting it done.

By eliminating all the things I hated (doing all the washing on one day, leaving clothes in bunched up piles to iron later, sorting through heaps of dirty clothes, checking washing instructions), it has turned drudgery into a happy job.

So there you go. Minimalist laundry 😉

 

Keeping Receipts – A Simple System

receipts

Keep your receipt.

How many times have you been told that?

Receipts are a pain – they come in all different shapes and sizes, they get screwed up at the bottom of carrier bags, and you can never find them when you need to take something back.

A good habit to get into is to save receipts for important items in one location.

There are three main reasons to keep receipts safe:

  1. Warranty and repairs. Almost everything comes with some form of warranty. Don’t be afraid to get things replaced or fixed when they break, rather than just accepting the loss – any electrical item falls into this category.
  2. Insurance. If the absolute worst happens, you’ll want an estimated value of all your large items, from furniture and carpets to TVs and bikes.
  3. Ordering spare parts. This is especially important for items that don’t have model or serial numbers printed on them. As a example, we managed to track down replacement toilet seat brackets for our 7 year old, no-longer-manufactured toilet because we had kept the receipt with the original model number on it.

Keep them all together, and don’t worry about filing them in any kind of order. You shouldn’t be storing a great big mountain of receipts – for our house of four people, our collection (pictured above!) easily slides into an A4 plastic folder. We keep the folder in a fireproof filing cabinet, along with all our other important papers.

Don’t add in instruction manuals or software CDs or anything else. Your receipt folder should just contain receipts. Manuals especially are best kept separately (as they tend to be bulky).

Have a mental cut off monetary value – we don’t keep anything much under £30.

As far as maintenance goes, all you need to do is scan through the contents once every few years and remove any items that you no longer own.

What to save:

  • Large expensive items (electronics, cutlery sets, furniture, carpets, curtains, bathroom furniture, etc)
  • All electrical items, from TVs to stick blenders – pretty much everything has at least a 1 year warranty.
  • Special items of clothing and jewellery
  • Bikes and high value exercise/leisure equipment

What not to save

  • DVDs, CDs and books (you are unlikely to ever refer to these again)
  • General clothing
  • Food (obviously)
  • Board games and non-electronic entertainment
  • Pretty much all low-value items

Personal fact

The oldest receipt in my folder is for my swiss army knife, dated 10 June 1994.

Action points

  • Get a folder and label it
  • Gather up and sort through all your important receipts, and then file them away
  • Chuck the rest!

Super Simple Minimal Money Management

money

Today I want to share a simple system with you that I’ve used for managing my financial accounts for a very long time (over a decade!).

What I love about this is that it tells you exactly how much disposable income you have each month – it makes it really easy to make spending decisions and you never have to worry about paying the bills.

This system works whether you are an individual, or part of a couple sharing your money.

So here it is, in a nutshell:

You have two current accounts, one of which runs on autopilot, and the other from which you make your general purchases (food, coffee, designer clothes, gifts, whatever you feel you need).

Before you start you need the following:

1) Two current accounts that support direct debit payments.
2) A list of all your direct debits – every single bill that you pay monthly.

And this is what you do:

1) Your salary presumably already gets paid into your main current account.
2) From this account you set up a standing order to pay a fixed chunk of your salary, a few days after payday, into your secondary current account.
3) The money left in your main current account is for you to do whatever you want with, and that’s how much you have until next payday.
4) Transfer ALL your direct debits to your secondary account, to come out a couple of weeks after the payment from your main account.

That’s it.

Direct debit everything you can and make sure you know what you are paying for everything. Setting it up takes a little time to arrange, but once it’s done you’ll barely have to look at your bills, saving you time and worry.

Caveat

Remember that you will have other non-monthly, large expenses to meet each year, e.g. car insurance, car tax, holidays etc. I suggest you siphon off additional money from your pay packet to a savings account to cover these.

FAQs

What if my direct debits vary in amount?
Good question. If you have historic data, you can do one of two things: either take the highest figure you’ve ever paid, and use that when working out the total to transfer for bills, OR if that isn’t practical, use a prudent figure and be sure to eyeball the amount of the bill each month to see if your estimate covers it.

What if my direct debit only runs for 9 months or 6 months of the year instead of 12?
We pay in the amount for every month of the year regardless, and let it accumulate. Every year we move any excess to savings.

Isn’t it excessive to have two current accounts? That’s not very minimalist!
Minimalism isn’t just about always having less, less, less. It’s also about finding ways to automate necessary jobs and to spend less time doing mundane things that (without sounding too hippy-ish) consume your creative energy. If two current accounts help you avoid loans, overdrafts, overspending and financial chaos, then it is a minimal and elegant solution.

What if I get paid weekly?
Divide your direct debit expenses by 4. At the end of each week transfer that figure from your salary. Set all the direct debits to come out at the end of the month. At the end of the year (52 weeks) you will have a surplus that you can move to savings.

What if I’m self employed and my income stream is erratic?
Presumably you already pay yourself a salary of some sort and you  know that you have a certain amount of expenditure each month, even if your income is high for two weeks and then low for two months. In this situation I would reverse the flow so that a) all income goes into one pot b) that pot pays for the bills FIRST and then you can take a salary from that pot as and when you can or need to.

How can you do this with a partner?
Set up a joint current account that pays bills only. Agree how much each of you will pay in to meet those bills. Then from each of your main accounts pay a chunk of your salary into the joint account at the same time each month to cover the direct debits.

Basically, no matter what the situation, you can find a way to make this system work – and once it’s in place, it is SO easy.

Super simple banking!

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