Wednesday, January 16 2019
Another year is underway. Have you made any resolutions? (Honestly, I hate that question.) I don't make resolutions anymore because I have a tendency to fail. I stop exercising after about a month, I start eating more desserts than I should after a few months of eating healthy. It's just too much pressure!
Instead, I set a goal or an intention. I find I am much more successful that way and it makes me feel much less pressured.
Last year, my goal was to declutter and upgrade my entire home, from top to bottom. Yes, one whole year to do so. I focused on one room a month, for twelve months. I planned it out in great detail at the beginning of the year. I decluttered what needed to be, did some cosmetic upgrades and tweaked some organization in my home. By year's end, I was thrilled with the results.
Although I did not get to the basement like I had planned, (mainly because some things took longer than expected), I am setting a goal for the next two months to finish decluttering and organizing the entire basement. With being as busy as I am, this goal is reasonable and achievable.
This year, I decided to have a theme. I decided to name my theme for 2019 "Use What You Have". I am fortunate to live in a nice home and have what I need. Last year's project re-aquainted me with all that I have. I realized, I have enough. As the saying goes "Enough is enough". I am going on a buying diet. I am going to focus on using what I already have, instead of purchasing more. This is especially true for me when it comes to clothing and shoes. I am resisting the urge to purchase more and simply use what I have.
I plan on making more use of my serving dishes and trays, which have been stored away since my wedding in 2002 and infrequently used.
I plan on burning the candles I have been storing. I love candles and love to use them but I have aquired a lot and have not made it a habit of burning them. Now I will!
I plan on reading the books I have aquired without getting more. This is particularly true for my fiction books. I love books! People give me books! I can't resist accepting their offers to take their books they no longer want. I have enough!
Honestly, now that I am in my late 50's, I recognize that I have to be honest with myself and need to make sure I will have enough time to get to make use all of my possessions. Trust me, storage is not an issue. I have plenty of room, but, I don't want to run out of time before I have used what I have.
Hopefully, this is food for thought. Is it possible for you to go on a purchasing diet, like me, this year, and "Use What You Have"?
I am curious as to what you believe you have enough of and what you can avoid purchasing more of this year. Post a response to this blog below and share your thoughts. Let's all inspire each other to Use What You Have.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with too much stuff in your home and want to simplify, don't hesitate to contact me.
I am here for you!
Monday, April 17 2017
With the Summer season just around the corner, many of us get on the "decluttering bandwagon" to freshen up our wardrobe and various areas in our home. Did you know that you can actually make money from your clutter? It's true!
Do you have CD's, DVD's, blue rays and video games you are no longer using or want? Why do they need to take up precious real estate in your home, then? Decluttr.com is an online site where you can sell these items. Simply scan the bar code on your item to learn the value, ship them and the money will be direct deposited into your account or even sent to you via check the next day. How easy is that?!?! And...better yet, the site even pays your shipping! You have no excuses!
Nextworth.com is a site where you can sell get a quote, ship for free and get paid for your smartphones, tablets, video games, laptops, ipods, video cameras, portable audio and wearables such as FitBit.
Do you have designer clothing you would prefer to sell instead of donate or throw away? Then, Tradesy.com is for you! All you need to do is list the items in your closet or dresser that you want to sell. (Good photos will help you sell your items faster.) Once they sell, the site sends you a pre-paid, pre-addressed shipping kit so you can send your merchandise. They take 9% commission on each sale. Certainly, making 91% is better than having the item take up space in your closet!
If you take a closer look around your home, I am sure you will locate items that you are ready to part with and have just become clutter. Why not sell them and make some money?
Hint, hint - You can then use the money you've made to hire a professional organize like myself to declutter and organize the various areas of your home that are just too overwhelming for you to deal with. It's a win-win situation!
If you are in need of A Better Space, don't hesitate to contact me. I am more than happy to help!
Thursday, May 05 2016
Mother's Day is only a few days away.
Due to the fact that I work with so many moms, I am aware of how little so many of them value themselves. Yes, they recognize that they wear many hats, such as caregiver, chauffeur, chef, cleaning service, bookkeeper and do so many things to keep the household running.
As Mother's Day approaches, I am wondering whether you and your family know how valuable you are.
As you may know, one of the most common issues I deal with in my clients' homes is paper management. Having a background as a paralegal working for an estate attorney, I am aware of the legal documents everyone should have, as well as having a life insurance policy.
So many times, I hear that my clients - the busy moms who are trying to balance all of their responsibilities and are just too overwhelmed to get and stay organized - do not have a Will, Living Will, Power of Attorney or a life insurance policy for themselves.
So many "stay-at-home" moms do not recognize their own value and don't think it's necessary.
Let me ask you a question? What would it take to replace you if something should happen to you, leaving your family without a Mom?
The misconception that you need to work full-time outside the home and can simply rely on your spouse to provide the only life insurance for the family is a dangerous one.
As a woman who advocates for busy moms, I urge you to take some time to consider getting a Will, Living Will, Power of Attorney and life insurance policy to insure that your family is protected in case something should happen to you. Have a discussion with your spouse or significant other and take the steps necessary to put these pieces into place as soon as possible.
When I work with my clients, we have a discussion about the documents that might be missing. For me, it's not just about making the papers in their filing system look pretty. It's about the function and the whole picture, including critical documents they need to have.
Do you have them? Don't you think this is something you should think about and discuss with your significant other and family?
Consider this my Mother's Day present to you. I would love nothing more than to know that all moms are fully taking care of their families.
Have a great Mother's Day.
Monday, October 14 2013
The holidays will be here before you know it and you will be shopping in the malls and in the local stores. Now is a great time to organize your wallet so that using it will be easier.
You probably use your wallet on a regular basis. (I know I do!) When was the last time you cleaned it out? Are you able to find what you need when you need it? How long does it take you to find that credit card you want to use or a store reward/loyalty card? Is your wallet bursting at the seams with receipts and information? Do you need to hold it together with a rubber band? (Yes, I've seen this!)
Here are five simple steps to organize your wallet:
1. Purge your receipts. I recommend that you do this daily to keep it all under control. Log the debit expenses into your checking account ledger and put your credit card receipts in an envelope until the bill arrives. Hold cash receipts for no more than 30 days following a purchase in case you need to return something.
2. Use digital coupons. If you carry store loyalty cards or paper coupons in your wallet, they could be taking up too much space in your wallet. Try using digital coupons or a smart phone app instead. Try Passbook for iPhone. They attach your phone and loyalty number so you don't need those cards anymore. (This might free up your keychain as well!)
3. Determine your "Must Haves". Everyone has difference needs and routines. There is not one way to organize your wallet. Whatever works best for you is the right way. However, that does not mean it should be stuffed or stretched beyond its limit. Take a few moments to figure out what you really need to have in your wallet on a regular basis. Consider how many credit cards you need to carry with you at all times. Do not carry your social security card in your wallet! For me, I keep it simple: debit card, major credit card, wholesale store membership card, drivers license, health insurance card, AAA membership card, some business cards, and a small amount of cash. The rest of my credit cards are kept in a separate wallet that I use when I am going shopping at a particular store. (I plan ahead for any excursions to the store.)
4. Decide whether your current wallet fits your needs. There are many types of wallets to choose from. Find one that comfortably fits what you need. Sometimes a wallet can be too big for your needs and you can downsize. Sometimes you need a longer one to fit your contents. (Remember to make a copy of your credit cards and keep them in a safe place in case your wallet gets stolen.)
5. Have a spot for emergency money. Keep a small sum of money in case of emergency in your wallet. Sometimes you find that a store only takes cash (my local produce store is a good example) or you find that your credit card is not working. Fold up some cash and keep it separate for use in an emergency only.
What do you have in your wallet that can be removed?
If you find that you are overwhelmed with your clutter and need help getting and staying organized, contact me. I am here to help!
In the meantime, Happy Organizing!
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!
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.
Monday, January 02 2012
Happy New Year! I hope you had a great holiday season, but now it's time to get down to business.
As a women entrepreneur who began my Professional Organizing business over 7 years ago, I work with many other women entrepreneurs who struggle with time management and paper management in their home offices. As a result, I pay lots of attention to the struggles with growth and prosperity that entrepreneurs alike contend with.
There are many habits that can hold us back so I thought I would list some:
- Not returning phone calls.
- Being late for appointments.
- Not returning emails.
- Not having a schedule.
- Not filing important documents.
- Not saving money or paying yourself first.
- Failure to understand the law of reciprocity.
- Handling mail or email more than once.
- Forwarding nonsense emails.
- Not scheduling events.
- Not exercising.
- Lack of systems.
- Not choosing healthy foods.
- Not drinking enough water.
- Not taking time to rejuvenate.
- Watching meaningless television.
- Failure to invest in personal development.
- Failure to listen.
- Trying to be perfect.
- Waiting for the right moment.
- Failure to budget.
- Lacking or not providing sufficient or efficient communication.
- Having a messy or disorganized workspace or home.
- Unprofessional voice mail.
- Not having a dedicated workspace.
- Not having a business card.
Which of these apply to you? Choose two or three habits at a time and replace them with good ones.
If you need help with time management, paper management, or organizing your messy and disorganized workspace or home, contact me. I can help.
In the meantime, have a wonderful week!
Thursday, August 11 2011
Since I am such an advocate of organization and know first hand what a positive effect it can have on you, your home and your life, I hate to admit there might be a downside to being organized.
In an effort to free up my time, which is so precious to me, I made arrangements recently for my new health insurance carrier to automatically withdraw my monthly premium from my checking account. I thought this would be the most efficient way to make sure that my payments were received on time with minimal effort on my part. Great idea, right? Wrong.
Unbeknownst to me, my efficiency backfired. As a result of what I thought was the best option, I was basically giving full rein to my insurance company to tap into my checking account and take what they wanted. And, they did.
Not only did they deduct one month's premium from my account, they removed two! This was done without my knowledge and without my consent.
Of course, when it came time for them to reimburse me for the extra month (as soon as I discovered what they had done and confronted them about it), that was another story. Suddenly, they were unable to deposit a refund back into my checking account electronically. (I did not know it was a one way street.) They advised that they will be sending a check in the mail to me in the next few days. That is not the resolution I was looking for and, needless to say, I was extremely upset that this occurred to begin with. What gives them the right to do what they did?
The end result is that I have now elected cancel the "automatic withdraw" option which would have saved me time and effort and I will now have to send the payments to the insurance company manually on a monthly basis. (All because of their incompetency.) I will now be setting up electronic payments with my bank instead since they are the entity I can trust to do the job right.
Lesson learned - as much as we attempt to be organized and efficient, it does not always turn out that way. Sometimes, without the cooperation of other entities, the best laid plans do not pan out.
This will not stop me, however, in my quest to get and stay organized in not only my life, but those of my family, friends and clients. Why? Because it's the right thing to do!
Have you had any experiences where your attempts to be organized have backfired? I would love to hear from you.
In the meantime, I am taking off for five days to enjoy the Jersey shore and wishing you an organized week.
Saturday, April 09 2011
I don't know about you, but the dishwasher is one of the most used appliances in my kitchen. The door must open dozens of times a day and it is filled with plates, bowls, glassware and silverware, among other items.
In order to maximize the potential of your dishwasher, consider the following tips:
- Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer’s recommendations on water temperature. Many dishwashers have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater to a lower temperature. This will save on your energy bill.
- Scrape off, don’t rinse off, large food pieces and bones. Put the bones in the trash, not down the garbage disposer. Soaking or prewashing is generally only recommended in cases of burned-on or dried-on food. This will save on your water bill.
- Be sure that when you run your dishwasher, it is full, but not overloaded. You want to only run it when you have enough for a full load, but you don't want to over stuff it with items. This will cause the dishwasher to wash less effectively and you might end up with some dirty dishes at the end. That is a waste of time, water and energy!
- Don’t use the "rinse hold" function on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each time you use it. If possible, utilize the "normal" setting and save the "pots and pans" setting for when you really need it. This will save water and energy as well.
- Let your dishes air dry. If you don’t have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open a little so the dishes will dry faster.
Utilizing these tips will enable you to make the best use of your dishwasher and save you money at the same time.
Do you have any other money saving tips when it comes to your dishwasher? Share your thoughts.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Friday, March 18 2011
Lately I have been presenting a lot of seminars on various topics concerning organization. Last week I did a seminar with a certified public accountant and we talked about the tax benefits if you have a home-based business. I spoke on how to best organize your home office space so that you can locate your paperwork and keep accurate records for your business.
The major theme of that seminar was "Document, Document, Document". It cannot be stressed enough as to how important it is to do; whether you have a business or not.
A perfect example came to light for me personally this week when I received documentation in the mail from Wachovia Bank which is soon to be changing over to Well-Fargo Bank officially in my area in mid-April.
The packet of information that was sent included the changes to the various types of accounts. In reviewing the information, I came to the conclusion that, after decades of being with Wachovia, formerly CoreStates, formerly First Union, formerly PSFS, I did not like what they had to offer and decided I would be closing out my accounts and moving them to another bank.
In the old days, this was no big deal. You went to the bank, spoke with the bank officer, closed out your account(s) and took your money with you.
Today, because of on-line banking - which I love because it saves me so much time - the transition will be a bit more complicated. I have not spoken with any representative of the bank as yet but plan to do so within the next week or so prior to the switch over.
I am not sure what their policy is as far as record keeping for accounts that are closed out. I have been doing online bill paying with Wachovia for the past 3 years and want to preserve that information.
This will be much easier for me to transition because I have kept good documentation of all of my bill paying activities.
I always urge my clients to print out the confirmation after they have directed the bank to make the payments for a certain amount on a certain day because they provide a Confirmation Number.
I am comforted by the fact that I have always kept good records of my transactions with the bank, not only on line, but by printing out a paper confirmation to attach to the back of each bill that I pay. I have taken the steps to create a list of the entities involved, their address where the payment is electronically sent and their account numbers so that my transition will be so much easier. I do not feel I am leaving anything behind but just moving forward towards a better fit for my financial needs.
The moral of the story is to document, document, document. You never know when you will need to put your hands on important information that might not be accessible at some point in the future.
Just some food for thought...
If you should find that you need assistance with this or any other type of organization, contact me. I will be glad to help.
In the meantime, have a great and organized 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!
Friday, October 08 2010
Ever since I can remember, I have always advised my clients that an important aspect of paper management and budgeting involves keeping an eye on your provider billing statements, your credit card statements and bank statements.
So many people do not take the time to look at the itemized bill or statement and that is a problem. The tendency is to look at the total and just pay the bill or not even look at a bank statement at all and just file it away. It’s important to understand that mistakes are made and if you do not keep track of your statements, the mistakes go un-noticed. As a result, you could be getting charged for items you should not be getting charged for or you could possibly not get credit for payments made.
A perfect example of this was mentioned in the news this week. It involves Verizon Wireless and how they charged millions of customers for services they were not receiving. Verizon Wireless is now required to reimburse those customers a total of more than $1,000,000.
Verizon Wireless was banking on the fact that so many of their customers do not check their statements and just pay their bills based on the total. It is your responsibility as a consumer to make sure you check your bills, credit card statements and bank statements each and every time you receive them to make sure they are accurate. If you don’t, no one else will.
So, do you check your statements? If not, start now. The next time a bill or statement comes in the mail or is sent to you on line, take the few minutes necessary to make sure your statements are accurate.
Until next time, have a great week.
Thursday, March 25 2010
You've put it off and put it off and now, you are ready to get organized once and for all. What is it worth to you?
This past week, I have been contacted by several people who thought they were ready to get organized. However, when it came right down to it, they weren't really committed to the task. They wanted a quick, cheap fix. That is not the way to approach it. You can always find cheap; but you need to find "qualified".
Would you hire someone who can add and subtract numbers to do your taxes or would you hire a certified public accountant?
So when it comes to getting organized, can you put a price on the benefits of eliminating the clutter from your home and your head?
What is it worth to you to get your home office and your paperwork organized so you can put your hands on anything in moments?
What is it worth to you to be able to enter a room and not trip over everything laying in the middle of the floor with no place to put it? (Imagine finding a home for everything in your home!)
What is it worth to you to find more time in your day and be more productive? (Imagine no longer running from one activity to another and being able to get everything done you set out to do that day!)
When you are looking to solve your clutter and organizational issues, can you really put a price on organization? Not really.
What's important when deciding to take on this goal is to find a qualified, experienced professional organizer who will listen and create a system just for you.
Whomever you choose, do yourself a favor and make sure that person fits your needs and you can work with them. If not, you will not get what it is you were looking to achieve. You will end up in the same state of disorganization once again.
When choosing a professional organizer, you should feel confident in the fact that they know what they are doing because you are paying them more for their expertise than anything else.
Anyone can spend four or five hours with you and clean up the mess, but will it stay that way or revert back after a short period of time? A qualified professional organizer will provide the tools you need to keep it organized well after they are gone.
So, if you are looking for "cheap", that is what you will get. When you are looking for "expertise", that is what you will find.
Keep this in mind when taking that step forward. It's better to put on two coats of paint than one. It's better to paint all four walls, instead of just one. Get the job done and get it done right.
I guarantee that those people who contacted me this past week and decided to go with "cheap" will not get what they were looking for.
Contact A BETTER SPACE if you are feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of getting organized. I am more than happy to help.
In the meantime, have a great week!