Everyone has photos. According to Saveyourphotos.org we took 1.2 Trillion photos in 2017. How to store photos is a big organizing challenge for a lot of people. Christmas and Holiday photo cards add to this dilemma; if you send them and/or keep the ones sent to you. I consider my annual Christmas photo card and letter a tradition.
Photos are keepsakes worth saving. If you have sent Holiday photo cards for years, or if you plan to start this year, you can create a scrapbook of all your photo cards and letters. Depending on how ambitious you are you can add a few of your favorite Holiday photos for each year. I love this idea and plan to do it. Do you have a photo project you have been dreaming of doing? Why not now?
Jiffy Page, owner of Pixorium, a storytelling company, based out of Atlanta shares these 5 Organizing Tips for anyone with photo memorabilia.
I think the most important thing you can do with your photos is to view them with friends and family. If you are more likely to do that online, in a scrapbook, or in a photo box….great! Get started, dig some out and begin enjoying all the photos you have taken through the years. Need help? We organize photos (paper and digital). We can help you get started, create a plan, and/or organize your collections to completion.
Happy Photo Organizing,
Simple Solution Organizing LLC
All About Bills – 3 Things you can do now to Lower Your Bills
Regardless of your income or net worth of your Estate; do you really want to pay AT&T more than you need to? When is the last time you reviewed your bills? It’s really important. I have helped many of my clients save hundreds of dollars on their bills.
Many of them were paying too much for a service. Here is one example that I found with multiple clients. They were not on a fixed rate plan for Gas. They were on a variable rate plan, which can be up to 100% higher than a fixed rate plan. A fixed rate consists of a contract for a year. If you break the contract there is a fee. Companies offer this so you won’t switch to a competitor during a 12 month cycle.
Some of our clients were paying for the same service with multiple companies. You might be asking yourself, “how is that possible?” Well, if you use different companies for phone and internet service; it’s not as hard as you think. One client was paying for long distance with 2 different providers and another client had paid for internet service with 2 providers. These types of bills are difficult to decipher, especially for the Elderly. Here is an article from “U.S. News and World Report” that addresses this.
Review your Credit Card Statements with a fine tooth comb. You may have signed up for a service that Automatically Renews Itself, year after year. This is a trend that is here to stay. Here are a few companies that regularly do this: Subscription type companies like Angie’s List, Magazines and Newsletters, Online companies such as Netflix and Amazon Prime will bill you monthly until you cancel the service. Travel discount programs and many more.
Start reviewing your bills (if you don’t already) you may be very surprised at what you find.
Simple Solution Organizing LLC offers this service. We call it our “Bills Reviewed” service.
Simple Solution Organizing
Copyright Simple Solution Organizing © 2018
We are all getting older. Some of us will have memory and cognitive decline earlier than others. We all need to plan for it….be prepared for it. I think everyone in their 50’s and beyond should have a Power of Attorney assigned to someone they trust, in case they need it. Once the person dies the P.O.A. is null and void. It is only good while the person is alive. If you have parents that do not have a P.O.A. assigned please have this important discussion with them.
You may have very difficult parents. My father definitely fell into this category. I had a discussion with him in his early 70’s about P.O.A.’s and his Will and his end-of-life wishes. He refused to do a P.O.A. and a Will. His decision to do nothing cost his children about $80,000 in probate fees to the state of Louisiana. I know my dad would have preferred that his children get his money, not the Government but he was extremely stubborn and made a costly mistake. I will not repeat the same mistake. My husband and I have had Will’s since we were in our 30’s and we both have P.O.A.’s and Advance Directive’s set up.
However, I am still very grateful that I had this conversation with him because he told me he wanted to be cremated. He also told me about his insurance policies and where the policies were located in his office. The conversation may be difficult to initiate and awkward to have but it is necessary. Prepare for this conversation ahead of time with written notes and questions.
One of the services I offer is an Emergency Planning worksheet. This was developed to help people know what they have and where to find it. This digital worksheet helps couples, families and loved ones plan ahead for an emergency. It includes important contacts, Insurance policies and account numbers, bills, Investment accounts, and other important information – all in one place. Once it is finished we send copes to the clients Executor, Attorney, and Financial Advisor. This document will need to be updated when Insurance Policies or Bank Accounts change. I advise reviewing it annually.
Another vital reason for having a discussion and a plan about finances is the potential for fraud and scams. 22 Senior Scams You Must Know and Avoid This happens far too often and many times it is family members scamming their own family. It makes me sick. I just heard on NPR about the potential for a scammer to get someone’s entire 401 K. When people retire they can take their retirement in a lump sum so it would be possible for someone to steal your entire retirement program. Wow!!! I’m not trying to scare anyone but we all need a reality check sometimes from the proverbial phrase: this will never happen to me or my family because it could.
Not everyone is going to need assistance with paying bills and managing their financial lives but many older adults will. I offer Financial Organizing as one of my services. There is no harm in planning ahead and preparing for the worst but there is a lot of harm when you to choose to do nothing.
Simple Solution Organizing LLC
Guidepost Image Above
I worked with Melinda Walker, owner of Athens Pet Sitter to make her office more inviting and to designate a place for every item ( brochures, promotional gifts, forms, office supplies and we selected a cute bucket for stuff that needs to be removed from her office. Melinda and I are members of ASRN, Athens Senior Resource Network. Melinda is on the board.
We did a trade in services. Her staff took care of my 3 cats while my family and I vacationed in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Here is a photo from my trip. Her employee sent me notes and photos everyday. I plan to use them for now on. Not only did they take care of my pets they brought in the mail, took out the trash, and watered the plants.
Let Go and Move Forward
Downsizing and selling your stuff
We had the CEO of MaxSold, Barry Gordon, fly in from Canada to speak at our NAPO GA meeting in May. MaxSold is an online Auction Business. He shared some very insightful facts with us. He told us, “What stops people the most from moving forward in their lives is their stuff.” I see this a lot in my business. Here are a few examples of what people have told me about their relationship with their things.
Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right? I love that quote from Dr. Phil. Don’t let your things control your life.This includes having a storage unit that you pay $300 + a month for….why??? Here is a great article by Becoming Minimalist entitled, When the Stuff You Own Keeps you from Your Dreams.”
Chief Executive Organizer
Clients ask me all the time: what receipts do I need to keep? Why do I need to keep them and where should I keep them? Here is a guideline.
Home Receipts: I subscribe to an email newsletter from Laura Leiden, Realtor with Keller Williams. Her most recent newsletter explains why every homeowner should hold onto repair and improvement receipts. Here is a copy of the newsletter.
Homeowners are familiar that they can deduct the interest and property taxes from their income tax returns. They also understand that there is a substantial capital gains exclusion for qualified sales of up to $250,000 if single and $500,000 for married filing jointly. However, ongoing recordkeeping tends to be overlooked.
New homeowners should get in the habit of keeping all receipts and paperwork for any improvements or repairs to the home. Existing homeowners need to be reminded as well, in case they have become lax in doing so.
These expenditures won't necessarily benefit in the annual tax filing but may become valuable when it is time to sell the home because it raises the basis or cost of the home.
For instance, let's say a single person buys a $350,000 home that appreciates at 6% a year. Twelve years from now, the home will be worth $700,000. $250,000 of the gain will be exempt with no taxes due but the other $100,000 will be taxed at long-term capital gains rate. At 15%, that would be $15,000 in taxes due.
Assume during the time the home was owned that a variety of improvements totaling $100,000 had been made. The adjusted basis in the home would be $450,000 and the gain would only be $250,000. No capital gains tax would be due.
Some repairs may not qualify as improvements but if the homeowner has receipts for all the money spent on the home, the tax preparer can decide at the time of sale. Small dollar items can really add up to substantial amounts over many years of homeownership.
The important thing is to establish a habit of putting receipts for home expenditures in an envelope, so you'll have it when you are ready to sell.
This article recommends keeping the receipts in an envelope. An envelope is fine if you have a very small amount of receipts. I recommend a file jacket: An enclosed file so receipts do not fall out.
Depending on how many different types of improvements were made will determine how many file jackets or envelopes to use. For example: Bathrooms, Kitchen, Garage, etc. Another storage idea is a binder with sheet protectors to sort home receipts by project. However, if you want/need super easy one file jacket, drawer or envelope will do the job. The important thing is to keep the receipts.
You do not need to keep service repair receipts on appliances for taxes but you do want to keep them for the warranty period.
Tax Receipts: Note there are huge changes to the tax code and it may not benefit you to keep some of these. Check with your own Tax Advisor for what to keep and how long. Keep in a folder labeled Taxes and the corresponding year.
Electronics, Appliances, Furniture and other Big Ticket Item Receipts:
If you want super simple have 1 folder titled Big Ticket Items or whatever you would think of to find these receipts but I would recommend 5 folders for this category: Electronics, Large Appliances, Small Appliances, Furniture and Big Ticket Items.
Inventory these items. If your house burns down you will need to claim and prove that you owned these items and provide a valuation to your Insurance Company.
One of my friends and ex-colleagues, Julia Marlowe, has her own Inventory Business: Athens Home Inventories I highly recommend Julia if you want to hire someone to do this for you.
Auto Repair Receipts:
Keep these for proof of maintenance. Some Auto warranty programs require it. It’s also good to have a record of all repairs and service.
Clothing & General Shopping Receipts:
I hope this article is insightful and helpful. If you find it helpful please share it. Anyone can sign up to receive my e-newsletter by clicking this link or visiting my website and scrolling down to the sign up link.
Chief Executive Organizer
Simple Solution Organizing LLC
I'm in the spring edition 2018 Connections magazine: an Athens Georgia magazine.
The above article is about Rightsizing. Downsizing is all the rage but what everyone should think about is: what is right for your particular situation. This article is thought provoking; it really made me think about my own situation. My husband, Karl, and I have 2 children: our daughter is 22 living in New York City and our son is 15 in 9th grade and has 3 more years of High School. Karl and I are already looking at smaller homes online and talking about our future living situation. After reading this article I am going to rethink everything.
I want to have room for my children to visit and be comfortable when they visit. I love my children and want to spend as much time with them as possible. Our families do not live near us and we enjoy hosting them when they visit from California and Iowa. If we downsize they would have to stay in a hotel. Many of you may prefer family to stay in a hotel….
Things to consider: Grandchildren, extended family, Property Taxes, size of home, upkeep of home, stairs, proximity to grocery stores, location location location, proximity to friends and activities you enjoy, your age and health. You don’t have to downsize unless you want to. However, getting rid of clutter and items that you never use is always a good idea. Rightsizing is what’s right for you.
Our best friends recently sold their beautiful home off of Timothy and moved into a much smaller home in 5 Points. They always wanted to live in 5 Points. They have 3 children in school so the thought of downsizing was a difficult decision. They moved and they are so happy. They can walk everywhere; best of all UGA Football games.
The more I ponder about downsizing the more I think the size of my home is right for us and probably will be for many years. Our home is 3,400 square feet including a 1,000 square foot finished basement with private access that we rent out on Airbnb. It’s not a huge source of revenue nor is Watkinsville a huge tourist attraction but we do rent out for all the UGA Football home games. Having a private space with a bedroom, bathroom, and living room is great for out-of-town family and friends. So, maybe we won’t want to sell in 3 years when our son graduates High School...but we still might want to. Don’t hold me to it.
Chief Executive Organizer
Organizing products and containers can be useful just like exercise equipment and cleaning products. However, it is easy to fall into the allure of the marketing that if we purchase one of these items it will somehow do the work for us. We know it won’t do the work for us but we really want to believe that it will make the task so much easier and we won’t mind doing the work, if we own a pretty thing-a-ma-jig. Sorry… bad news, reality check, it takes work to get organized, to get in shape and to clean your home. Products, containers, and equipment can help but if we don’t put in the effort nothing will change.
I often see organizing products siting in a corner of a client’s home collecting dust. In addition to products and containers there are several books on how to get organized at most of my client’s homes. Wishful thinking is just that thinking; organizing takes action, it takes maintenance, it takes effort. Let’s talk about what you can do to get better organized at home.
The first step is determining what areas you want to work on. Let’s use the example of a kitchen pantry. Common problems include locating items, buying duplicates and overcrowding overstuffed shelves.
When you are ready to tackle the project it works best to take everything out of the pantry.
If you are ready to tackle an Organizing or Downsizing Project and want a little assistance give me a call. I would love to help.
Do you subscribe to magazines and newsletters? You keep getting bills and offers but you seem to remember paying the subscription. Look for the expiration date on the address label. Sometimes it is listed, if not, inquire with the customer service department and find out when it expires before sending in another payment. Several of my clients have paid up 5 to 7 years in advance.
Many magazines like TV Guide also use 3rd party companies to market for them. So you may be paying multiple companies for the same subscription. Yes, they will add time to your subscription but do you really want to be pay 7 years in advance?
Do you have elderly parents or parents with Dementia? If they will let you, check on their subscriptions. I recommend calling the company and ask them to stop sending out offers and renewals. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that they will stop or that you can find their contact information. I have searched for phone numbers and even sent letters and some get sent back because the company has moved. It is very frustrating.
I recommend creating a file titled Subscriptions or a Note on your phone and list all of your subscriptions, account numbers, and expiration dates. Remember to update them every time you renew or purchase a new subscription.
Simple Solution Organizing LLC
Do you know what type of rewards your credit card offers? If not…find out. Are you getting the rewards you want and deserve? I only recommend credit cards if you can pay the balance off every month and pay it on time. If you pay a credit card late you will owe $35 or more in late fees and you may lose all of your reward points. Credit cards are not always the best choice depending on your financial situation and your propensity to pay bills late.
However, credit cards can be a great financial asset. My credit cards offer cash back for my rewards program. These cash rewards add up to a lot of money and pay for most, if not all, of my family’s Christmas gifts. If you travel a lot then you may want a travel rewards credit card. There are so many different types of rewards. Credit cards offer great benefits too. They often provide buyers protection for items that you purchase and Rent-a-Car insurance. Read the information that comes with your card or call to find out all the benefits that are part of your credit card.
Research the best card for you by how the card accumulates points. You want to be able to accrue as many points as possible. My card, American Express, rewards the most points 6% for groceries 3% on gasoline and 1% on everything else. It would not behoove me to have a card that gave me the most points for flights because I don’t fly very often. My card has a $95 annual fee. American Express offers a card with no annual fee but the point structure is lowered. So find the best card for you. It is well worth the time and effort.
Chief Executive Organizer
The Harsh Reality of Getting Rid of Stuff is that it is increasingly getting harder and harder to find someone to sell, give, or donate to. You may have to pay someone to take your stuff away. Yes, you read that correctly and it is difficult to digest. All of my clients struggle with letting go of items. Now the task is even more arduous because some non-profits have stopped accepting donations; they are completely full. Most people believe their possessions are very valuable. They may have been at one time but our items are only worth what the current market is willing to pay.
The October meeting of NAPO GA, National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals, discussed the topic of how to get rid of stuff for our clients. I was really surprised to hear that many donation centers are completely full and not accepting donations in Atlanta. WOW, you can’t even give your stuff away! Luckily, I have not experienced this problem in Athens, Georgia. There are many more options available which can make this process confusing; I’ll share some with you.
Baby Boomers are donating items in droves. According to an article in the October AARP Bulletin entitled, I’ve Got The Old Piano Blues, “Pianos often have a substantial amount of emotional value to their owners, so it can be difficult to accept that many pianos do not have meaningful value on the open market.” “Used pianos have flooded the market.” This is true for most items not just pianos. It’s not just the amount of pianos in the secondhand market. People are purchasing less expensive digital pianos. The article describes what so many people go through when they attempt to find a good home to donate their items. They called churches, schools, friends, and charities with no luck. They eventually did find a friend to take the piano. Otherwise, they were going to have to pay $300 to have it disposed of. Everyone I work with wants their items to be used again; someone has to want it, right?
There are collections of items that are very valuable. Here are a few popular resale items according to “Got Stuff, See Resale Value of Used Items from Your Apt”: Comic Books, Toys, Vinyl, Vintage Books and Magazines and some Collections. Not sure if your items are valuable or not, do some research on sites like bonanza and/or ebay to find out. You can also hire a Professional Appraiser.
While listening to NPR, National Public Radio, Marketplace Show on October 17, 2017 there was a story entitled China’s Done Doing Our Recycling. Guess what? It’s likely to end up in storage until the United States can find something else to do with it. Imagine that our recycling going to storage….
Storage units are a growing business and I wish I had invested years ago. So many people have storage units. I always ask my clients, WHY are you considering a storage unit? If they answer with, “these items belonged to my Great Grandmother, I have to keep them,” I tell them “No, you do not have to keep them.” Do you really want to pay $150 a month for the rest of your life? If you do not have a solid plan to use the items going into storage within 6 months to a year then try to sell or giveaway the items.
Are you Downsizing anytime soon? Simple Solution Organizing LLC can help. Give us a call.
Chief Executive Organizer