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When You Get Stuff, You Get Papers

While Richard was attending Southern Baptist Theological Seminary I was able to take a few of the Seminary Wives Institute classes which are taught by professors and professor’s wives. The classes ranged from theology to practical homemaking and were such a tremendous blessing. One of the courses I took was taught by Albert Mohler’s wife, Mary. It focused on organization (something that has always been a difficult thing for me…) and I took away so many practical lessons from it!

Today I want to share one of the simple tips that Mary suggested to us. It specifically applies to all those manuals, important receipts, and warranties that come with all of the stuff you accumulate over the years. From furniture to electronics to baby gear there are so many products that it can be helpful to save information for. Previously I would have simply tossed those papers into the trash can immediately… or held on to it for a couple weeks to make myself feel better and then tossed them while no one was looking.

Well, when Mary Mohler suggests that you do something… you do it, so I quickly stole one of my hubby’s fabulously manly, boring binders (really I am ashamed to put a picture up of it) and filled it with page protectors.

Every time we got a new item (a digital camera, a car seat, a stroller, etc…) I immediately stuffed all of that product’s papers into one of the sleeves. No order, no fuss, just stuck it in there. I suppose if you really wanted to you could make different categories and such, but I didn’t. This is really a low stress organizational tool :).

On most days this big binder just hangs out in the very back of the desk drawer, but more often than you might think we pull it out to retrieve a manual for an item we are selling on Craigslist, or a warranty for an item that breaks, or a receipt for an item we decide to return. It has come in handy many times! Plus it makes you feel super smug when your husband says, “I wish we still had the manual for this…” and you pull it out of your handy binder with a smile!

So if you are ever thinking “Maybe I should keep this…” when you open a new product, keep it! But don’t put it somewhere you will never find it! Instead, just stick it in a binder and never think of it again…until you need it!

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  1. I love this idea! I have a really bad habit of keeping these things but never being able to locate them when we need it! This will totally eliminate that issue,thanks!

  2. Great idea! Mine usually go in a drawer, then to a box, then to another drawer, then lost to who knows where. :)

  3. This is a great idea. As it is,I just throw all of our manuals into an accordion folder, but this sounds much better!

    And how cool that SBTS offered courses like that for the wives!

    • desiringvirtue says:

      It is very cool! -a major plus to SBTS. A lot of the guys were jealous because Albert Mohler himself taught one of the classes and not all of them would get to take a class with him! It was also a great way to form relationships with other seminary wives.

      The plus side to putting them in the page protectors is that you can see them very easily just by flipping through the binder.

      • Sonyaweese says:

        I only was able to take a couple seminary wives classes while we were there, due to having 4 kids all 8 and under, but LOVED them! The one on organization I still use some of those ideas today! Best classes ever.

  4. That is a great idea! I do something similar that I learned from my mother-in-law. And we’ve got a desk with a compartment that fits (and hides!) that bulging binder perfectly.

  5. Great idea, thanks! I am sure my son, who is going to college this next fall, will be benefited by this simple idea.


  6. What a great idea! I keep every manual that comes with anything. We have a desk drawer that they all go into as soon as the box is opened. I think I may like having a binder a lot more. Thanks!

  7. This is a great post. We store our booklets in a file box in the cabinet over the fridge.

    • desiringvirtue says:

      I always wondered what to put in that cabinet! Although, if I had to put forth so much effort to put them away they would probably never get put away!!!!!! Sad, I know.

  8. This is a perfect example of the simplest of solutions being the most often ignored. I am so going to do this! Thanks for posting this!

  9. Great idea! I keep them in a large, but shallow drawer under my built-in oven, however I like this much better. By the way, my mother-in-law is named Jessalyn and in the 30 years that I’ve known her, you are the only other person I have seen with this name. Blessings

  10. You are absolutely right! When Mrs. Mary says to do something – you do it!! Did you have any sessions with Dr. Don and Caffy Whitney?

    • desiringvirtue says:

      No, though I have had the privilege of sitting under Don Whitney’s teaching in other circumstances. They are wonderful! In the Discipleship (which if I remember correctly uses Whitney’s book) my group leader was Mariah Moore. (Love her too of course!!!)

  11. Great idea!

    I can’t stand paper clutter (I say this while looking at a bookshelf full of paper stuff that has accumulated in the past month..), so for all manuals/product info, I will go to the product website and download the PDF and save it in a folder in my documents. I’ve yet to find a manual not online yet… I save them for the ‘what if I can’t access the internet’ piece of mind, but the clutter is gone. Everything else, I’ll scan in and save it in the same folder.

    I do need to figure out a better way to deal with schedules/meal planning/medical/financial info, though. Working on a home binder, but it’s all a jumbled mess at the moment.

    • desiringvirtue says:

      Oh, wow, online manuals…. yes, this is good news. Usually I keep the receipts with them too, as well as the warranties which I don’t think you can do on the computer. Do you scan those in too?

  12. I have a couple of binders, one is for kitchen appliances, one for small appliances and electronics, and one for outdoor things.

  13. I do the same thing (the binder) with all the pamphlets that come with kids toys, the instructions for putting things together, the little manuals that show how to put legos together, etc. It works out great! I still have my sons pamphlets from his toys organized like this and he is 33.

    • Marlene says:

      I use notebooks with plastic page protectors for all my quilt patterns to keep them organized. I like the idea of one for appliances and warranty information.

  14. I actually don’t keep manuals! The reason is because you can find them online if needed. An honestly I can count on one hand how many times I have referred to a manual in my life. And when I do it is my car or camera (both of which I keep)

    • desiringvirtue says:

      The thing I have found it to be most useful for is just to keep all the info together (especially receipts). I have been very thankful to have the receipts and warranties somewhere I can easily grab them on multiple occasions. Being able to find the manuals online is awesome!

    • Great idea..this may be a stupid question but what type of label do you put along the the spine of the binder to indicate what is in that notebook, and where do you keep this manual binder? My husband keeps manuels for everything and keeps them in the filing cabinet and put all together they add a lot of weight. I like your idea but I’ll have to keep it where he knows where it is at or he’ll go bonkers on me.

      • Jessalyn Hutto says:

        Hi Betty! I just got the kind of binder you can slide a piece of paper down the spine and printed my own label. Otherwise you could use a sticky label (like an address label) on a normal binder. We keep ours in the bottom drawer of our office desk. Hope that is helpful!

    • When we moved here in 2005, the sellers left us no manuel whatsoever and we had to order manuals and they were costly. So folks, if you plan to sell your home, please do the buyers a favor and leave those manuels and also the repair people’s names and numbers that you have dealt with and found to be reliable and good. It’s up to them what they want to do with it. Our buyers were so greatful and told us so.

  15. What a great idea! I can never find a manual when I need it. I have been able to locate some online, but I would much rather have everything (including receipts) stored neatly in a binder. I love binders!

    I would love it if you would share this at the Smart Solutions linky party. You can link up here:


    Have a great day!

    • Jessalyn Hutto says:

      Hi Caren! I do prefer to have the physical copy on hand. In fact, just today I needed the manuals to our car seats because we wanted to know the correct way to wash the covers. Sure enough, I had them on hand and in a matter of a minute we knew exactly what to do!

  16. I recommend doing this for insurance purposes too, I used to work as an adjuster and many people don’t know if you have a theft loss you may have to prove you own certain items/model #s, etc. This way you would have that proof without adding stress to an already stressful situation!:) Great idea

  17. Awesome idea! Coming over from Pinterest, and I will be doing this!

  18. I do this with all of my kitchen appliance manuals (magic bullet, pressure cooker, steamer, toaster oven, etc) and keep it with my recipe books at the top of my pantry. It is helpful when we are looking for how to cook a certain thing with on of the appliances.

  19. Betty819 says:

    How do you organize the manuels once they are in the 3 ring notebook? I didn’t see any labels to identify what each sleeve protector had in..Example: Coffee Maker, cell phone, paper shredder, Vacumn cleaner, etc. I should buy stock in sleeve protectors..love ‘em and use them for a lot of things, especially my genealogy research, garden journals. Do you have some type of divider between each sleeve protector that you attached your label or file name to?

    • Jessalyn Hutto says:

      If I were super organized I would totally use dividers and divide them up by type of manual. BUT, honestly since my whole purpose is to quickly and simply put them somewhere that I can easily access later, I just add a new page protector with each manual at the back. So, it a way they are chronologically organized… :)

      • Try adding new manuals at the front – I realise new appliances are less likely to break, but if they do they are more likely to still be in warranty. Also if you are like me, when an appliance breaks and can’t be repaired and needs to be replaced, I usually forget to tkae the manual out of the file….

    • I organize mine by letters of the alphabet. Each protector contains certain letters, like the first one is A-D and so on. :)

  20. Geri Ann Nash Perry says:

    Brilliant! So simple it’s complicated! lol : -

  21. Sweet Tidy says:

    I did the same and you will not believe that I have sewed the sheet protector in the middle to make double pockets that holds my manuals … because I like manuals to spread into my sheet protector and not to get very thick binder at the end I would like also to have your visit to my blog to see more ideas


  22. Margo @ joyfulhomemaking.com says:

    What a simply awesome idea!!!!


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  7. [...] that aren’t, consider keeping them all in one binder for easy reference.  Take a look at this post for more details on this [...]

  8. […] Notebook for Manuals - Desiring Virtue She put all of her manuals in a notebook in sleeves.  I LOVE it!  I have mine filed […]

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