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I’m so clever


Three-ring binders are best for organizing home purchases

I'm So Clever
What a smart stocking stuffer! More than 450 thrifty tips from readers are compiled in our 'I'm So Clever' book that is on sale now.

I'm So Clever
I'm So Clever is compiled by Observer assistant features editor Roland Wilkerson. Send your tip, name, address and phone by email or mail to Home Section, Charlotte Observer, P.O Box 30308, Charlotte, N.C. 28230.

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  • Enter our Clever gardening contest

    For an upcoming special section on gardening, we need your cleverest tips on working in the yard, organizing tools and dressing up your deck or porch. Email clever@charlotteobserver, and put “Garden” in the subject line. Include your name and town. The winner gets a copy of “I’m So Clever” and “Native Plants of the Southeast,” by Larry Mellichamp, director of UNC Charlotte botanical gardens. The book includes more than 500 color photos to guide gardeners in choosing plants for a Southern garden. The book retails for $39.95.


The winner: Last week we held a contest for readers to share their system for organizing home purchases, repairs and projects. The overwhelming favorite, suggested by many readers, was a three-ring binder with sleeves and dividers. We picked one of those suggestions, at random, as the winner. Read on.

We use a 3-inch, 3-ring binder filled with plastic sleeves. All receipts, warranty info and manuals for a particular appliance, say a washing machine, will all fit in this sleeve. The manual usually goes in the front because it shows a picture of the appliance, making it easy to locate quickly. We use this for large and small appliances, additions to the home such as the sprinkler system, services such as gutter cleaning and home maintenance. It’s a great way to keep a paint color strip and notes on projects.

DeAnna Shelley, Matthews

Tip for maintaining the binder

When it comes to home appliances, keep the manual, with receipt, purchase date, model and serial number written on it, and keep a dated list with any issues. When a problem comes up, you have the model and serial numbers right there with a list of previous issues.

Becky MacLeod, Catawba, NC

Try index cards for organizing

Years ago I bought a spiral-bound book of index cards and began keeping track of the dates for home purchases, repairs, paint colors, window sizes and improvements. It’s large enough not to lose and small enough to stick in my purse for easy reference when shopping for those new window dressings! Marcy Phipps, Lancaster

New Prize: ‘I’m So Clever’ book

Send your clever tip, address and phone to or Home Section, Charlotte Observer, P.O Box 30308, Charlotte, NC 28230-0308. Each week the best idea wins an “I’m So Clever” book. You can order a copy at for just $5.99, plus shipping. Also available at Park Road Books, Blackhawk Hardware, the General Store in Belmont.

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