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Declutter your Paper Filled World

Have you or a parent been keeping paperwork from years past and now you’re buried in it?  Do you keep it?  Do you throw it away?  Should I be shredding?  Paper or electronic files?…..

In the past it was thought that we needed to keep every document we came across, every receipt, bill copy with the check number or confirmation number written on it, pay stubs, and canceled checks/duplicate copies.  Do I really need all of my old tax returns?

There are many things to consider when decluttering and sorting through all of your paperwork:

Think practical.  Unless you are the CEO of a major corporation you will most likely not require a large filing system.  A two-drawer filing cabinet or smaller should be sufficient.  Sometimes bigger is not always better.  Going with a bigger filing system can only encourage you to store “stuff” that you don’t need for your paperwork!

Be Safe.  Get a small fireproof safe to store your most important documents (i.e. social security card, passport, estate planning documents, life insurance documents, safe deposit box info AND the key, birth/death certificates, marriage certificates, and divorce decrees).  You never hope disaster could strike, but be prepared to save yourself from further distress.

Keeping it Together.  Try to keep your paperwork in one central location.  Don’t have stacks and folders throughout different parts of your home.  Save yourself the trouble to searching all of your designated areas and keep in one room, one cabinet.

Paper is Preferred?  If you prefer having hard copies of all of your paperwork, that’s okay!  Take all of your paperwork and organize it.  Use that large kitchen table to make your piles by sorting everything.  Each pile should have its own designation (i.e. bank statements, receipts, retirement statements, medical reports, explanation of benefits statements, house financial, insurance).  You can then tackle each stack – According to Consumerreports.org, you should keep these sort of items for one year or more.  You can organize each stack by year if you really want to get super organized, keep each year in a file folder labeled with the year or just organized in the stack.  You separate out your insurance documents (one file for homeowners, one file for auto, and one file for health).

Living in a Paperless World.  A lot of people today are looking at scanning documents to save space and keep as much of their paperwork to a minimum.  You can use a flatbed scanner or a small portable scanner.  You can scan in your documents, but don’t forget to back them up!  Sure you can always store your documents or back them up on an external hard drive, but keep in mind those items can crash too!  So whether you choose to store on your computer’s hard drive, external hard drive, or a cloud based document storage service, do your homework and make sure you have the proper security measures in place to protect your identity.

Don’t Become a Statistic.  Identity theft is no joke.  It can happen to anyone.  Always be cautious when sorting through documents that you no longer need to keep that you are not tossing away paperwork with any personal identifiers on them such as a social security number.  This can lead to much heartache if your personal information gets into the wrong hands, so always be sure to look carefully at each document.  It’s always good to be proactive in protecting your identity by purchasing identity theft protection such as LegalShield who will monitor any changes in your credit and help keep your identity from being stolen.

Hit the Shredder.  Have you stumbled across a lot of documents that you no longer need, but you know they need destroyed?  You can invest in a small paper shredder and there are few types to choose from so, do your homework when selecting one.  If you don’t want to purchase a shredder, office supply stores will offer a service and charge based per pound to shred your documents for you.

Use your Best Judgment.  Use your best judgment when determining how long you should keep documents.  Remember everything today is electronic!  Tax returns are probably the most important documents to have a good filing system on.  The following information is from the IRS (www.irs.gov):

“Periods of Limitations that apply to income tax returns:

  1. Keep records for 3 years if situations (4), (5), and (6) below do not apply to you.
  2. Keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, if you file a claim for credit or refund after you file your return.
  3. Keep records for 7 years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction.
  4. Keep records for 6 years if you do not report income that you should report, and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return.
  5. Keep records indefinitely if you do not file a return.
  6. Keep records indefinitely if you file a fraudulent return.
  7. Keep employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.

The following questions should be applied to each record as you decide whether to keep a document or throw it away.”

(Source: www.irs.gov)

You can always consult your local income tax preparer for more information and guidance or call your local IRS office.

 

So at the end of the day, don’t drown yourself in a pool of papers! Declutter your paper mess, organize what you are keeping, and give yourself peace of mind that when you or a loved one needs to find something it should be easier to locate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Struggles of Letting Go & How to Work Through It

Do you have a loved one who truly needs to downsize and struggles to let go?  There are so many emotions people go through when they have to face downsizing household goods – sadness, anxiety, anger, frustration, and disgust.

Many people just don’t know how to decide whether to part with something.  Here are some of the struggles of decluttering:

  • We bargain….reason with ourselves….make excuses and convince ourselves why we need it…
  • We feel a sense of comfort surrounded by our things, so the thought of getting rid of these things can make us feel a bit lonely or empty.
  • I “might” need that
  • I “want” to do ___________________ with that
  • Just not receptive to change

Here are some things to consider for people who go through those struggles:

  • Consider asking yourself “why” do I want to keep this item?  Is because you “need” it or you “want” it?  How long have you had it?  When was the last time you used it?  Oh…you haven’t used it (perhaps it’s still in the packaging) – so if you are still on the fence, consider giving yourself a deadline.  I recommend the 1 year rule.  If you keep it and haven’t used it within 1 year, then let it go!
  • So you think you “might” need it?  Really dig deep into the why…WHY haven’t you used it?  WHY is it still in the packaging?  If you then find yourself wondering, HOW did this get lost?  HOW could I have forgotten I had this?  Bottom line – you probably haven’t used it because you haven’t needed it, otherwise you would’ve used it!
  • Do you have plans for your stuff?  Reusing or repurposing?  Give yourself a deadline.  I recommend a 1 year rule.  For example, I had a great idea to buy old crappy furniture and refinish it!  Great idea – sure.  However, I have all of that cool furniture sitting in a storage unit!  I gave myself 1 year…my year is up in June – if I haven’t started any of it, I never will so I will be getting rid of it!  This is part of what I call rainy day ways of thinking AND bird brained ideas!  It’s okay to have a rainy day way of thinking and bird brained ideas, just give yourself a deadline!
  • Some people are simply just not receptive to change and here is my only bit of advice on that:

Change can be difficult….

Life is one big learning lesson…we can’t grow as human beings if we are not receptive to change. It’s okay to be comfortable in your surroundings  – it’s your home, it’s your stuff, but most of all it’s YOUR decision.

YOU hold the power to make the decision to downsize – my only piece of advice to you is think about letting go of things that you no longer use, give yourself more room to live, give yourself piece of mind knowing that your children won’t be inundated going through your home, and take advantage of making these decisions while you can.

The key word is……………………….YOU!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a New Year for your Home

2019 is here and with a new year comes NEW thoughts, plans, and ideas not just for you, but for your home!

You’ve been saying for a while now that you need to get cracking in your home and really declutter and organize.  Last summer was too busy, fall flew right by, and next before you know the holidays were here.

Now is a vital time for you to put together a plan!

Set a goal for each month.  Is your entire home just a catastrophe of clutter?  Don’t look at your home as a whole.  Take it one room at a time.  If you are looking at one room that is wall to wall stuff and even the closet is busting at the seams, then focus on ONE wall or ONE corner and if you’re in the closet focus on ONE shelf (start with the highest).  By decluttering your home as quickly as possible will only cause burn out!  Slow and steady wins the race!  Set small goals for yourself and when you start achieving those small goals, those small results will add up and you will feel much better about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.

I am a strong believer in making a list!  Putting your thoughts and ideas down on paper helps you to visualize what’s in your mind.  The power lies within YOU to put each item on your list into action!  It’s not going to get finished without you to do the work – so ask yourself, am I going to talk about what I need to do to declutter and get organized or am I going to do them?

Put together your plan, write it down, remember to set small goals, make time, and enjoy your accomplishments!

~Happy New Year!

Painting your home & how to save on cost…

 

Are you looking to put your home on the market and debating whether to paint?  Or are you looking at just giving your walls a refreshing new look?  According to Consumerreports.org, painting your home in preparation to sell can potentially bump the value of your home by 1-2%.  Not only is painting used to cover up imperfections, but it just gives the home an overall fresh look and is more appealing to potential buyers.

 

You should do an assessment of each room and check the following:

  • What color are the rooms currently painted?
  • What condition are the walls in? (i.e. scuffs, scratches, dents)
  • What is currently on the wall? (i.e. artwork, stenciling, wallpaper/border, personal photos or effects – any of these things you would removing & packing away that would leave holes or screws?)

You have to keep in mind that not everyone has the same taste as  you do and some people can experience color sensitivity.  For example, I love THE Ohio State Buckeyes and I had painted my home office a beautiful scarlet red, but I knew when I was putting my home on the market several years ago that the red might not appeal to potential buyers so I painted the room a nice neutral cream.

So you’ve decided what room you need to paint, now what?  You first need to determine your budget.  Are you painting the room yourself or will you hire a painting contractor?  When you choose to hire a painting contractor, they can bundle your paint into their costs since they will be able to purchase it using a contractor’s discount.  When you choose to do the painting yourself, you are paying for all of the paint and supplies out of your own pocket.

You don’t have to break the bank to paint your home!  Even if you are not going to be looking at putting your home on the market, but you want to freshen the look of your walls, then check out this money saving tip!  You already probably have a multitude of things you need to do your home that are costing you money.  So once you determine which rooms need painted, then you’re ready to select your color(s).  The biggest go-to in paint is Sherwin-Williams.  Sure, it’s great paint, but it can run from $50-85 “per gallon”!  Remember, you need to detach yourself from your home – you’re selling it!  So why spend phenomenal amounts of your hard earned money on top of the line paint for a home that you will no longer call your home?

You need to think about what colors you are covering up and account for how many coats it will take.  Did you know that Sherwin-Williams paint colors can be color matched at Home Depot and Lowe’s?  You can save between 50-75% “per gallon” by doing this!!!  That’s a huge savings!  Simply take your favorite SW color in and give it to the paint department specialist and give the the color name and code.  It’s as simple as that.

At the end of the day, painting your home can bring your home value, give it a fresh new look, and be more appealing to a potential buyer, but you don’t have to sacrifice your other projects for good paint.

Happy Painting…..

Breaking Out of the Clutter

We are surrounded by things.  These things range from necessities, to gifts of all kinds (holiday, birthday, wedding, etc), things handed down to you from someone else, and things from your “want” list that were on sale or you just had to have.  Accumulating things is a lot like gaining weight.  You keep accumulating things and then one day your home is overloaded just like your favorite pair of jeans!

It can leave you wondering where the heck did all this stuff come from which is the common question when de-cluttering your home.

For homeowners who have lived in their homes for longer than 5 years, the struggle is very real.  It can be incredibly overwhelming to have to go through everything especially if you are packing all of your things yourself.  Here are some things to consider when tackling decluttering your home:

  • Start with ONE room at a time.  If you think about your home as a whole, it can be incredible overwhelming.  So it’s important to only focus on one room at a time.
  • Turn OFF the TV and turn ON some music!
  • Organize your space so you can be as efficient as possible with your time.  Prepare several boxes/totes and have them lined up so you can be organized as you go.
  • Set aside 2 boxes.  One box should be designated as your “Decision Box”.  These would be items that you are not sure of and would like to think about.  You can come back to them later after thinking on it.  Designate another box for “Donations”.  You can research local charity organizations for donations.
  • Grab a trash bag and have it ready to trash any items that you feel are trash.
  • When packing items and deciding what to do with it, hold the item and ask yourself the following questions:

        1)  How long have I had this item?

        2)  What does this item mean to me?

        3)  When was the last time I used this item?

        4)  What are my intentions for this item if I decide

             to keep it?

        5)  Why haven’t I used this item?

If you still haven’t answered your question to keep it or sell/donate it – put it in your decision box & sleep on it.  I recommend the 24 hour rule – come back to the items in your decision box 24 hours later and ask those questions above over again and you should be better at making the decision.

If you know in the Fall you’re going to be selling your home in the Spring, don’t wait!  Even if you’re not looking to be selling in the near future, but need to clean out & organize still follow the same plan.  Set a goal for yourself and make a plan to achieve it!  Even if you are going to be selling your home quicker than expected, you can still set a good goal to get things done you will just need to do a little more, but still focus on one room at a time.

So just remember:  create a plan and take one room at a time.  My motto is “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.  You will see things start to take shape quicker if you are organized, you manage your time, and can make decisions about what to do with your things.  What’s the old phrase “if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything”?

YOU CAN and YOU WILL!