Whether you call it a control journal, household management notebook, home organization binder, or your “brain,” it is helpful to have all the information you need to run your home in one handy location. This is my experiment taking the project digital with my computer, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Series to Date
A spreadsheet to do the math for you makes budgeting electronically a no-brainer. Of course you can set up your own spreadsheet on Excel or Google Docs (we did that for awhile), or you could go real-accountant-style and use Quicken.
What Matt and I have decided to do is use Mint.com. Expenditures made with the debit cards go straight into the system and automatically assigned to default categories. If you need to, you can go in and manually change or even split the transactions, but not having to manually enter every receipt means this set-up might actually work for us. Matt gets an email if a category of our budget goes over, and the budget amounts get automatically replenished at the beginning of the month.
Some people do use Mint and an envelope-cash system, but I am personally sick of fiddling with cash and envelopes and coins and wondering how to work it when Matt stops to pick something up on his way home from work. We now are using only our debit cards and Mint, and so far I like it.
Food Journal: My Fitness Pal
MyFitnessPal.com is where I keep track of what I eat, when I do keep track of what I eat. I am not really into calorie counting, and I’m dubious about the accuracy of their calorie counts on homemade foods (which almost everything I eat is), so I use it primarily for tracking and planning.
I haven’t been doing it lately, but when I do, the night before or the morning of I fill in all that I plan on eating the whole day. I can plan a better meal than I can come up with staring into the fridge at lunchtime. Just having thought it through and put it down and seen it listed out does help me stick to my eating plan. Plus, having to admit to a snack or treat by adding it in is often enough deterrent in the moment for me to refrain from silly snacking.
Then, at the end of the day, I edit the plan so that it’s accurate, then start the next day’s list. It’s helpful to be able to see in this way if I’m getting in veggies and fruit and if I’m heavier on protein than carbs (I look at the protein count more than the calorie count).
Other Goal Tracking: Joe’s Goals
If you have a goal to reach or a habit to instill or a habit to break, Joe’s Goals is a simple, free tracker. Of course, the drawback is that you actually have to use it for it to work, which is always my downfall in all tracking efforts of any kind.
Reading & Books
- Kindle App: I have the free Kindle App on my iPod Touch and iPad so I can take advantage of free Kindle books. Amazon delivers to the apps in the same way as the Kindles, and it’s nice to have a little stash of reading material on the go.
- Instapaper: Instapaper is a great little plug-in and app that lets me save online articles or blog posts to read later. It loads them onto the mobile app and formats them like magazine articles. It’s another nice way to stash reading material.
- Google Reader: I use Google Reader for blog reading, so I can check only one page and have a list of any new posts show up and be read right there in the feed.
- Overdrive: My library uses the program called Overdrive, which will install as either an application for a computer or an app on a mobile device. It allows me to download library books in the Kindle app or as audio books without even having to go to the library. Very handy!
- LibraryThing: I use LibraryThing to catalog my own personal library. Especially now that I have a stash of homeschool material, it’s handy to be able to keep a tab open on the browser with a list of what we already own as I sort through book lists and start placing orders for school.
- GoodReads: GoodReads is a fun social reading list site where I keep track of what I’ve read, books I’d like to read, and where I can see what my friends and relations are reading, also. Hans and Jaeger each have their own account, too, so even though my homeschool tracking isn’t kept up, I do at least have a list of all the books they’ve read, both assigned and freely. They love adding their books to their list, and sometimes their uncle or grandpa will send them messages, comments, or challenges. My dad likes to see if he can keep up with Jaeger in number of books read per year.
Yet to Come
Three more posts to go in this series:
- The Daily Docket
- Special Case: Garden Notebook
- Special Case: Homeschool Notebook
After that, I have a special, interactive series planned for the month of April called “Keep the Plan.” I hope we can help motivate and encourage one another to not only set up a good system, but actually follow through and do it. Stay tuned! If you don’t want to miss anything, please sign up to receive email updates; the box is at the top of my sidebar. The orange feed link by my picture will also help you subscribe in any reader you may use.
Oh, and remember to comment on my Simplified Dinners Giveaway post. The contest closes tonight and the winners will be announced tomorrow morning!