Wednesday, July 01 2015
What should you do with all the extra stuff in your house that you don’t have room for? A lot of people deal with this by renting a storage unit and just dumping everything there.
Did you know that the self storage industry has been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the United States commercial real estate industry over the period of the last 40 years? I find that incredible!
Depending on the size of the unit, you can spend anywhere from $100 to $250 per unit per month. I have known several people who rent more than one unit. Multiply that by 12 months and you are spending at least $1200 a year to store your "stuff".
Personally, in most instances, I find the decision to rent a storage unit is just a form of procrastination, not a solution. It is, generally, a way to put off dealing with the inevitable; going through the items and making decisions about keeping, tossing, donating or selling.
A woman contacted me last month to talk about utilizing my services to help her declutter and organize her apartment. She was going away on vacation so we scheduled a consultation and first session for this week. When I confirmed the appointment the day before, as I always do, she told me she decided not to follow through. When I asked why, she told me she decided to just put her stuff in a storage unit.
But is this really the best solution?
When you have to rent a separate space outside your home to store all the stuff that you can’t fit inside, this is a "red flag" that you just might have "too much stuff"!
It’s one thing if the need is temporary (for example, when your house is being renovated, or you are staging your home and moving to another home), or if you truly have no room in your home for seasonal items, but some people rent storage units for years and years in order to hang on to things that are worth less than what’s being spent to store them. Does that make sense?
Wouldn't it be better to sell them, donate them, or just throw them out!
Think about it! On the off-chance that someday you discover you actually need one of the items you previously discarded, it’ll probably be less expensive to buy a new one than to keep the old one (and all your other junk) in storage for years and years.
Also, if you have something in storage that really is valuable to you (sentimentally or otherwise), why not honor it in a special place in your home, where it can be appreciated? How can you enjoy that item if it is stored in an outside unit and never seen? If you determine that you don’t have room for it, chances are there’s something else in your home that you could get rid of and never miss.
Always remember - Use the things that you use and enjoy today. Don't save them for “someday”. I call that "someday syndrome". That's when you think you’ll need something that you don’t want or need now. That can be an expensive decision.
So, to store or not to store - that is the question. What is your answer?
If you are contemplating renting a storage unit or already have one that you would like to get rid of, contact me. I can help save you money and honor the items you treasure today!
Wednesday, October 02 2013
Are you struggling with debt? Are you fed up and ready to do something about it? Is your debt weighing you down? Perhaps its time to go on a debt diet.
If you are seriously ready to gain control of your finances, I have some ways to help.
1. Figure out your total debt. Do you have any idea how much you owe? Do you know what the current interest rate is on each of your credit cards? Are you able to figure out how long it is going to take you to pay off your debt? Collect all of your monthly statements and make a list. When you have a clear picture of your financial obligations, you will be able to make better decisions about how to manage it.
2. Stop spending. You need to start by figuring out where the money is coming in from and then where it is going. Most people discover that they are spending more than they are making. Figure out what things you could easily do without and stop spending money on them.
3. Prioritize your debt. There is a difference between secured and unsecured debt. Secured debt has an underlying asset, such as your home or car that can be repossessed if you don't make payments. Unsecured debt does not have assets backing them up. The worst that can happen is that your credit score drops. Make sure to pay on the secured debt first. Be sure to pay your taxes to keep Uncle Sam happy. Then, pay those credit cards with a focus on those with the highest interest rates. Try to pay more than the minimal balance.
4. Repay your debt. First you want to reduce your interest rates. Start by learning your credit score by getting a copy of your credit report. You are entitled to a free report once a year from the various reporting agencies. What is your FICO score? If it is not above 720 (a perfect score is 850), work to raise it by paying all of your bills on time and not applying for any new cards. Every time your apply for a new credit card, your FICO score goes down. Every time you make a late payment your FICO score goes down. Every time you cancel a credit card, your FICO score goes down. Take steps to avoid doing these. With a higher score you can contact a Customer Service supervisor and attempt to get a better rate. You could refinance a car loan for a lower rate. Consolidate student loans, refinance your mortgage. Then, put as much money as you can toward paying off those bills.
4. Create a monthly plan. Attempt to spend no more than 35% on housing expenses (including taxes, insurance, upkeep and your mortgage). Attempt to spend no more than 15% on transportation (including gas, insurance, car payments). Put 10% of your income away for savings. Put 15% towards repayment of debt including credit cards and 25% on other aspects of your life.
5. Earn more money and make hard choices. Ask for a raise. Sell some valuable items. If you are unable to do so, you might need to sell your car or look for a less expensive place to live.
Do you need to go on a debt diet? You might want to start with my U CAN DO IT BUDGETING SYSTEM. It is an easy 6-step process to figure out what is coming in, what is going out and where it is going. Simply visit my ABS Store right here on my website. You can download it immediately and begin your debt diet today!
In the meantime, happy organizing!
Friday, July 26 2013
Do you rent a self-storage unit (or two) to store your "stuff"? Some of my clients do.
I have a theory about off-site self-storage. Basically, I believe they are great if used short term. They are very useful when you need additional space to store items that you are transitioning from one place to another, for example, after the passing of a parent. There are other examples as well.
However, I do not believe they should be used over the long term as they can become expensive to maintain. Calculate the monthly fee by 12 and see what you are spending over the course of a year. It is worth it or can that money be put to better use?
If you are going to rent an off-site self-storage unit, you should at least know what to look for.
With literally hundreds of local self-storage facilities in any given area, how do you choose one of another? Do you choose one closest to home, one your Aunt Jane's friend rented last year, the one you keep seeing advertised on television? You need to find one that best suits your needs.
DON'T GET CAUGHT UP IN ALL THE HYPE - When it comes to making a choice, hindsight is 20/20. Don't get caught up in the bright and snazzy colors on the bulletin board ads, local newspaper ads or elsewhere. Don't take your eye off the ball. The bottom line is service.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK - Seek out a knowledgeable customer service associate to help you. Make several phone calls and visit several locations. Ask lots of questions so you can make an informed decision.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION - Where are the various facilities located? Is it located in a congested area? You want to be able to get to your unit when you need to without hassle.
SAFETY AND SECURITY - Is the facility located in a safe location in case you need to go there at night? Is there 24-hour surveillance? Are there separate alarms for each unit? What kind of fire protection or sprinkler system is available? Is there climate controls such as air conditioning or de-humidified units available? Is there heat for colder months when your items might freeze?
ACCESSIBILITY - You want to be able to get to your unit and access your items at times that work best for you. What are their hours of operation and are there any restrictions on the times of day or days of the week you can load or unload your unit. If 24-hour, seven day admittance is important to you, make sure you find a company that can accommodate you.
TRANSPORTATION - Are there dollies or carts available on the premises or do you need to supply your own. Is there sufficient space to bring a U-Haul or trailer on the back of your vehicle to load or unload items?
OTHER THINGS TO THINK ABOUT - What size units are available? What are the various prices? Are there any discounts available? (Some offer the first month for a $1). What is the cancellation/refund policy? Is the facility insured for break-ins, theft, fire damage, water damage or natural disasters? What insurance are you required to carry? How do they handle non-payment (just in case you forget to pay your bill) and how long do you have to retrieve your items?
Renting a storage unit at a storage facility requires that you take the time to get the facts. Be sure that you are "Self-Storage Savvy" when it comes time to renting a unit.
My hope is that you eliminate the clutter in order to avoid having to incur this additional expense, but just in case, I hope this helps.
Until next time, I wish you an organized day.
Wednesday, January 02 2013
Happy New Year Everyone! OMG - Where did the year go? I don't know about you but I had a crazy busy year and it just flew by. I was so busy in December that I did not post more than one blog (Sorry about that!), but I am back in 2013 to again blog on a regular basis to keep you on track for getting and staying organized.
I am working diligently on my health and well being. I am drinking lots of water, eating three meals a day and eating more fruits and vegetables, leaving less room for junk food and taking a walk every afternoon.
I think at the end of the year I fell off the cliff a bit and now getting myself back on track.
One goal that many set for the New Year is to be more aware of their finances. With the "fiscal cliff" not being resolved in time for the New Year, I think it is more important than ever for all of us to track our expenses.
Although we will be putting out more for taxes (and milk!) and perhaps losing some benefits, I truly believe we can make a budget that works for us.
Looking carefully at your expenses and seeing where you can make better choices is key. Taking a look at your priorities and the long term benefits of your financial decisions is vital. Investing in hiring a professional organizer is a good example.
Since becoming a professional organizer over 8 years ago, I have worked with clients time and time again to help them create a household budget based on their income and help them create a plan to get out of debt if need be. Talk about long term effects!
My personal circumstances have changed over the years, but one thing stayed the same - I use a budget to keep track of my income and expenses. For the past 15 years, I am proud to say that I have been completely debt free. I do have a mortgage and a car payment each month but if I put anything on a credit card, it is paid by the end of the month. No interest fees for me!
Although this Country has fallen off the "Fiscal Cliff", we can make strides to not do the same thing personally. Creating a budget and knowing what is coming in and what is going out will avoid our own "cliff".
Setting manageable goals and sticking with them, whether it is financial or otherwise is important.
If you need assistance in creating a budget, I recommend that you check out my "U Can Do It Budgeting System" at my ABS Store. This system can be downloaded immediately and you can begin to create your very own budget for the New Year!
Need assistance with budgeting or any other type of organization to get your New Year off to a great start? Contact me. I am here to help.
Saturday, June 25 2011
It seems impossible, but it can be done. Some time ago, on the final installment of The Early Show "Get Organized" series, professional organizer Peter Walsh shows how to pack for a week's vacation in just one carry-on bag. His secret? Streamline and focus.
It really all comes down to being practical but frugal, and thinking in miniatures, Walsh says. It's nice to have lots of options of things to wear each day, but you're sacrificing a light carry-on bag for a heavy suitcase in order to indulge yourself. Truthfully, a lot of people over pack and then end up only wearing the bare essentials, anyway, so you could have saved yourself from lugging a big bag in the long run.
Technically, in order to have enough clothes for a week, all you need is either 2 pairs of pants or 2 skirts (or one of each), and three tops. That's it. As long as all the tops can go with both of the bottoms, you have given yourself 6 combinations to wear. Then throw in a week's worth of underwear and socks. You can decide if your tops should be short or long-sleeved, depending on your destination. Then, pick two pairs of shoes that go with everything, and you can wear one pair plus your jacket while your travel. It's as easy as that!
As for your toiletries and cosmetics, the key is to have the small plastic bottles instead of regular sizes. Buy travel-size tubes of toothpaste, mouthwash, etc. You can buy small plastic jars and bottles for your favorite lotions and potions and then label them so you don't use body lotion as hair conditioner. Filling bottles with your own products can make you feel more comfortable while you're away, and you're able to save so much room by not bringing all of your full-size bottles.
A few things that are important to remember, too, are bags. You should bring along a light weight bag for your laundry, so you're not throwing any of your dirty clothes back in with your clean clothes. Also bring an assortment of Ziploc bags, because you never know when you may need them. They're great if you have a wet swimsuit or in case anything leaks. You can also use one for your jewelry or accessories to keep them together.
As for luggage, Walsh's tip is to have a very bright, neon luggage tag. Today, so many people have bags that look the same that an easy-to-identify luggage tag is a must.
I think these tips are great and can really help you save you money, especially when it comes to travelling via an airline that wants to charge you per bag!
Try them out and let me know what you think!
In the meantime, have a great week!
Thursday, October 28 2010
Who doesn't have pets? Most of us have or have had a dog, a cat or other types of pets at one time or another. If so, you know how expensive it can be when they get ill and need medical attention.
Commercial pet insurance can be expensive. Like traditional health insurance for people, it doesn’t cover all medical procedures and treatments. Also, keep in mind that if you never need the insurance (we certainly hope so), you wouldn’t be able to get the money back that you paid the pet insurance company, accrue interest or be able to apply the premiums to another pet.
A better option is to consider setting up a savings fund. Consider setting up a medical saving account for your current or future pets you might adopt.
How to create a specialized saving account:
Start by putting a large amount (such as $500) into a special savings designated just for this purpose and then continue to deposit $20 per month into the account. By simply creating a specialized saving account for your pet, you avoid being in the position where money has to be strongly considered along with treatment options.
Use this method whenever you acquire a new responsibility. Simply deposit an eighth or a quarter of your saving goal into a dedicated saving account as the account’s start-up fund (or a multi-use account that you keep records for what money in the account is for what purpose). Once the saving account is open and initially funded, you set up an automatic transfer through your bank to put $10 or $20 (or whatever amount you choose) into the new saving account from your checking account every month. This automatic deposit removes the temptation to spend the money on something else.
You could create a specialized saving account for your automobile — $20 a month can be put aside in an account to cover service needs for your aging car. You can create a fund to save for larger home improvement projects or home organization project.
These specialized saving accounts reduce your stress, allow you to cover large expenses when they arise, and help you to live with an uncluttered budget (a budget where you spend less than you earn).
Do you have specialized saving accounts? Would setting one up help you to prepare for an emergency expense? What reasons do you have to create a specialized saving account?
I would love to hear your ideas!
In the meantime, if you need some help creating a budget, why not consider my U Can Do It Budgeting System that I developed based upon the budget I have used for myself for over 20 years? You can find it at my ABS Store (look for the tab) right on this website.
Enjoy your week!