The simple essentials for an organized car

Simple Essentials for an Organized Car.jpg

Note: This is an updated post, I wanted to migrate it from the Bos Organization Tumblr, because there’s a ton of great stuff here but also wanted to let you know that our family has parted ways with the 03 CRV that I mention in the first paragraph. Shed no tears for that car (we certainly didn’t) and the best part of that relationship was the organization which has (mostly) followed us to our new car.

What’s all this chatter about car organization going on in my head?

Last week I was driving around in my 2003 Honda CRV and I was thinking about how it really was becoming this sad state of affairs on wheels: the driver’s door is smashed in due to a particularly bad garage back-up job by a guy who looks a lot like me, on the same side it also sports some smaller dents from when my mother-in-law backed into it a few years ago, the air conditioner was fixed poorly last summer and it has mounting dirt and grime from almost six years of raising two small boys.

I went around and collected estimates from body shops about how much it would be to fix the dents. (Spoiler: a lot, for a car that has already been a lemon.)

Still I fantasized about how great it would be to have it all fixed and once and how maybe then I would also spring to have a professional car detailer spruce it up to almost new perfection and it would be this whole new thing, and I could get magnetic car signs that read “Bos Organization” and really ride on its remaining years with pride and style.

Well, we’ll see what the budget will allow. But what I can right now is make sure that I have the things I need in there and not the things I don’t. That’s car organization and for me it looks something like this.


Let’s keep the glovebox simple.

You need:

  1. Proof of insurance.
  2. Registation.

Those are the two things that the cops are going to ask you for. And yes, let’s put it in a plastic folder like this coupon situation. I am also going to put in that folder:

  1. Current coupons from car related places like Jiffy Lube.
  2. Frequent shopper cards from the carwash or the kid’s indoor playground.

And then there’s the owner’s manual which if it it’s not just one piece or already in a fancy cloth folder should be enclosed in something to keep it nice.

I’d also recommend putting a single $20 bill on page 20 in there on the chance that you need a little cash one day. (“Didn’t know there was a toll on this road”, “This local organic drive-through place only takes cash, etc!)

That’s it for my glove box though. I’m more in favor of keeping car maintenance receipts in the house in a dedicated folder for each car or if you have a scanner in a notebook in Evernote. The potential for clutter build-up is too big especially with Jiffy Lube’s multiple dot matrix printer (Really, Jiffy Lube, Really?) Kid’s car-seat manuals in the house too or on Evernote on your phone. I would write the name of your Roadside Service (you should have one) in the inside of your owner’s manual and have that information on your phone as well along with policy numbers. Emergency numbers and medical information could be written neatly in there too. In this age where hardly anyone remembers phone numbers it’s a good idea to have written records of numbers in case your phone dies, but someone else in the car has a working phone.

The other things I’d recommend:

  • $5 in change in a change purse or old Advil bottle for old school parking meters.
  • Phone mount for navigation.
  • Pens (Just 2, please.)
  • Small spiral notebook.
  • Dry cleaning sponge.
  • Extra pair of sunglasses with case.
  • Baby-wipes. (Baby or no, wipes are useful in the car.)
  • Plastic bags (Trash can liner, wet clothes, pet waste, so many uses.)
  • Small trash can.
  • Maglite flashlight
  • Forget jumper cables, pay an extra thirty bucks and get a Jump Starter. No need to rely on anybody else when you leave the lights on for the 30th time.
  • Reusable bags for grocery shopping. Bags that stay in the car will be used, bags that stay in the house will be forgotten.

Yes, you could add a first aid kit. Yes, you could put a few bottles of water and some blankets. And then let’s call it a day there…keep it simple, friends.

Anything I missed in my missionary zeal for simplicity? What do you make sure to have in your car at all time? Please let me know in the comments below.

P.S. If you’re looking for more ideas check out the pins I’ve collected on my Pinterest board, Bos Organized Car. One of the most popular pins I’ve collected on there gives the sound advice that, “If you are trying to figure out what items you should store in your car, keep a list in the car for a month and write down everything that you wished you had that you didn’t.”

Posted in: home organizing
  • I love the tips. Especially the £20 on page 20! Just remember that it’s there before you sell the car!

    We keep mechanical pencils in the car instead of pens because during Canadian winters, the ink freezes. Also, baby-wipes freeze as do flashlight batteries. We keep an extra set of phone charger cables in the car. (Phones can be flashlights). I keep baby-wipes in my purse in the winter.

    I like the coupon holder idea but in the UK (and maybe other countries too) the proof of insurance and ownership are printed on A4 paper so we use a zip bag instead ( Also we have to cart around a copy of my husbands posting message, a letter from the NATO unit confirming our UK address as well as a document to prove that we are are allowed to drive with a Canadian drivers licence in the UK. These are all on A4 paper and it all fits into the zip bag.

    • So glad to hear that and you know what thinking about it: I may just have left the last $20 when we traded the CRV in for our new car! Ha, it was still worth it…that LEMON!

      And thanks for adding the cold weather, international and military tips. So many factors to consider and great for me to get outside of my sunny Southern California mindset.

      Thanks much!

  • I keep earthquake supplies in the trunk, because I could be caught away from home – and it could be hard to GET home. So I have an earthquake kit I bought (with water, emergency food bars, an emergency thermal blanket, etc.) plus another bag with good walking shoes, a warm jacket, and such.

    • Great addition, Jeri, thanks! Especially important for us Californians.

  • Meg

    I don’t think your mother in law dented your old car. I think it was “that guy”. Great car advise.

    • Thanks, Meg! Let’s say “that guy” was responsible for you typing “advise” instead of “advice” too. That guys is T-R-O-U-B-L-E!