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
September 11, 2017
We are in the midst of weather chaos; Hurricanes and Wildfires causing massive destruction. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by these tragedies. Disasters make us think about what is really important in life. If you lived in Houston would you have been prepared? I can definitely say that I am not fully prepared. Here is the short list: Do you have the proper insurance, do you have photos and other memorabilia saved in digital format, do you have vital records scanned and saved in a digital format, do you have a list of all of your insurance policies, credit cards, bank accounts, investment accounts and other important items saved digitally, is your hard drive backed up to the cloud, and do you have an inventory of your possessions; if you need to file an insurance claim? I can answer yes to some but not all of these questions. It's not just having them saved digitally but saving them in the cloud. If you have them saved on a Jump Drive and that is destroyed then it defeats the purpose.
I highly recommend saving photos and scanned copies of vital records to a cloud based account such as:
There are so many choices! How do you choose? Here is an article, The Best Cloud Storage and file-sharing services of 2017, by PC Digital Magazine that can help you decide. If you worry about your files being secure... well, there are no guarantees in life. Equifax was just hacked into; everything is a risk, doing nothing is a risk. Don't forget to back up your computer hard drive too. I use Carbonite and it backs up everything automatically.Here is an article about the best backup software to use. I may want to switch because Carbonite is not listed.
If you want to learn more about protecting your treasurers, Organize for Disaster, is available at Amazon. Disasters strike in many different forms. Don't keep telling yourself, "it won't happen to me," because it might.
Chief Executive Organizer
Simple Solution Organizing
It’s hot outside, 90 degrees in Athens today. If you are spending more time indoors then why not spend it organizing? When is the last time you organized your address book (paper or digital), business cards, files (digital and paper), junk drawer, sock drawer, kitchen, craft area, photos, wrapping paper, book shelves, basement, attic, garage and much more?
A few years ago I challenged my Newsletter readers to organize 1 particular area of their home or office each month and I want to bring that back. Are you up for the challenge?
I challenge you to organize your address book(s) this month. All of your address books: paper and digital. You may have multiple books for different areas of your life:
Contacts in your address books need to be organized in a way where you can find the information you are looking for. As you can see in the list above it can get complicated quickly. I certainly can’t remember the names of every person I associate with or have done business with. It is imperative that I organize my address book in a logical manner for me. I no longer use a paper address book and I’m sure many of you do not either.
How to Organize an Address Book (paper and digital):
If you decide to play along and actually organize your address book this month….or in the next few months I would love to hear from you.
Tidy Home, Tidy Mind. Your physical environment has a profound effect on you, physically and emotionally. Clutter in your surroundings can cause you to feel overwhelmed and tired, even depressed. If you’ve ever spent time you could have better used elsewhere searching for something in a pile of papers, a crammed closet, or a disheveled drawer, you know how frustrating it is to deal with clutter.
Here are several good reasons to be more tidy.
Benefits of Being Tidy
This is an article printed in the Spring 2017 MetLife Life Advice newsletter. Their source is Marie Kondo’s book: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
If you are struggling with de-cluttering your home or office we can help.
I want it to be perfect. I can’t….won’t get started until I have enough time to make it perfect! I have to wait for XY and Z to happen before I can get started on organizing my home. I hear these excuses regularly. I know people that never get started on a project (organizing an area or room(s) in their home) because they don’t feel that they have enough time to complete it perfectly. I can assure you that perfectionism has no place in organizing, especially if it is holding you captive from progress.
Perfectionism is a very different excuse than procrastination and both are stifling. The definition of perfectionism according to Dictionary.com is: A tendency to set rigid high standards of personal performance and the demand for the highest standard of excellence. Procrastination is the act of delaying. Both of these excuses keep people in a state of stagnation.
My advice is to just get started. Nothing is perfect! If you think you only have 15 minutes to devote to the project…just get started. How do you get started? Great question. It depends on what you want to accomplish. Set a Goal and don’t make it too ambitious. A good goal: I will organize my living room in 1 to 2 days and donate items I never or rarely use. I want to do this so I can invite friends and family over and not feel ashamed. An over ambitious goal: I will organize my entire house in a weekend. When you set a goal for yourself you can continue to go back to it to keep yourself accountable. Halfway into your project your negative thoughts may creep in and try to sabotage your efforts.
How to get started. This applies to any room in your home.
My daughter, Jessica Gross, graduates May 6th from Berry College in Rome, Georgia with a B.S. in Finance and Management. My family is very proud and excited for her. She has a job in Manhattan at BlackRock and will start working in July. She will share a small (very small) Upper Eastside apartment with a roommate, friend and colleague. What’s important to move when you have very little space? We have been pondering…questioning what is absolutely needed to survive in N.Y.C.? Probably some mace and a baseball bat, but seriously, what is necessary? Not much.
Do you ever ask yourself before you purchase something, “Is this really necessary”? Will it enhance my life or become a burden (clutter)? If you live in a small space you have to choose essential over superfluous. Why not apply the small living constraints concept to our larger roomier homes? We might be happier and wealthier if we adopt the less is more rationale.
When you have less furniture, less clothing, less stuff your home looks and feels inviting. When you have a place, a neat organized place, for everything you own; life is less stressful. I would much rather own less and live more. I want to surround myself with things that I use and things that are valuable to me. They don’t have to be valuable to anyone else. I also want things that hold value to be out on display not hidden somewhere in a box, in a closet, or a storage unit. If it is important enough to keep then it is important enough to use or have on display.
Milestones will come and go. They give us an opportunity to pause and reevaluate our lives. It is important to assess and make beneficial changes in our lives: changes that will enhance our quality of life. I encourage you to pause after reading this and decide on a project that you want to complete or a change you would like to implement in your life. Once you have decided on something write it down and apply a completion date to it. You are in charge of your life and you only get one life. Live it to the fullest.
Finding, tallying, and reporting tax deductible deductions are a worthwhile endeavor. Itemizing deductions, if you qualify, can make a substantial difference to the amount of taxes owed. So why do so many people wait until the last minute to figure them out or not bother to calculate them at all? We all know the process is NOT fun, unless you are getting a refund, however those days are long over for most of us.
Do you still do your own taxes? My husband and I switched to a CPA many years ago when we received a dreaded letter from the I.R.S. about an error on our return. My husband and I decided to hire a Professional. Our taxes were becoming more complicated each year.
A large portion of my business is prepping taxes for clients. I get their tax forms and deductions summarized and ready for their CPA’s. I work with these clients on a regular basis. They appreciate not having to compile everything themselves.
Here is a list of some common tax deductions:
Printing and keeping track of your own deductions is becoming more commonplace. There are many companies that don’t mail tax forms. Here are a few examples: Student loan interest, if you or your child paid interest on a student loan and you did not get a form in the mail go to your online account and print it. I contributed to my son’s Georgia 529 plan this year and last year but Path 2 College did not send me a tax form. This saves my family a lot of money on our state taxes. This is upsetting but it is just the way it is. You have to be your own tax advocate.
Did you pay a fee for your IRA, Brokerage or any other Investment Account? Make sure you claim it. You may need to “find” the fee on a yearend statement. Investment companies have not had to divulge all of their fees but that is changing in April 2017. Are you over the age of 70 1/2 and not taking your Required Minimum Distributions (RMD’s)? You will be penalized. RMD’s are only required on regular IRA’s not Roth IRA’s. This happened to one of my client’s. Do you have older parents? Find out if they are taking their distributions.
Did you donate items to a non-profit this year? Claim a realistic valuation. If you have no idea what your items are worth here are some options. Here is Goodwill’s Tax Deductible values and Salvation Army’s. According to the website Charity Deductions.com taxpayers are leaving $42 Billion unclaimed for non-cash donations. I was surprised when I looked at Salvation Army’s valuation guide; I was undervaluing everything I donated.
Tax deduction forms and some tax income forms are not sent out. My daughter had an internship last summer with a large corporation. They did not send her a W-2 (It is a significant amount of money). She had to call the company to find out how to get it. I thought companies had to send out W-2’s? I know they sent it to the Internal Revenue Service……
Anyway the moral of this blog post is to be your own Tax Saving Advocate. It is worth your time to go through all of your check registers, credit card statements and investment statements to look for your hard earned deductions.
Happy Tax Organizing,
Chief Executive Organizer
Why is stuff so important to all of us? I want more…give me more! More food, drink, bigger home, bigger car, more cars and trucks, boats, RV’s, vacation homes, furnishings, sports equipment, cosmetics, jewelry, clothing, stuff, stuff, stuff. Wow, that’s a lot of stuff. As I type this I’m in my bed sick with an awful cold and all I wish for is to be well. You can take my stuff away; I just want to feel better. What matters in this life? What matters to you? I think that family and health would be ranked at the top of most people’s lists; definitely at the top of my list.
My husband and I recently watched a documentary entitled Minimalism A Documentary About the Important Things. I recommend watching it. We viewed it on Netflix. I appreciate the philosophical views that are stated in this film and I think it is good to stop, think, and be reminded of what is really important in life, on a regular basis. I take a yoga class on Sunday afternoons; the Yoga Instructor, Helen, ends every class by telling us, “be thankful for everything we have in this world.”
It’s good to be thankful for what we have and feeling thankful is a very healthy emotion. I love this quote: "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." -- Oprah Winfrey. Here are more thankful quotes. The Minimalism movie focused on many important aspects of how and why to choose a life with less things. According to the movie, making a conscious choice to live with less equals more joy. They gave examples of how more stuff can lead to more stress in your life.
Overflowing closets filled with tons of clothing, accessories and shoes is not always a good thing. Waking up and walking into an overflowing overcrowded closet starts your day off chaotically. It can be very stressful deciding what to wear when you have so many choices. In addition, not being able to find items in a disorganized overcrowded closet is frustrating. So one of the systems brought up in the movie is a Capsule Wardrobe: a wardrobe consisting of 37 pieces per season. Less things, equals less choices, equals less stress.
Defining Minimalism is different for each person or family that practices it. For example, not everyone will want to buy or live in a “tiny house.” I certainly don’t want to. However, my current 3,400 square foot house is a lot to clean but we love the extra space for entertaining our friends and our children’s friends. So what does minimalism mean, how is it defined? According to Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, known as “The Minimalists.” “If we had to sum it up in a single sentence, we would say, Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”
I’m intrigued and interested in learning more because I agree with these values. I’m attending a teleseminar by Joshua Becker, Minimalist Expert, in a couple of weeks. I plan to share more with you.
Happy Valentine’s Day ---- I don’t need flowers but I do want dark chocolate.
Chief Executive Organizer
Simple Solution Organizing
The Life Organizers Top 5 Organizing Tips
2. Passcodes in 1 Place
Do you use the same password for every account? Do you struggle to create passwords and struggle more to find them when you need them? Stop the insanity and come up with a system. Experts advise not to use the same password for every account. When you use a password manager program you only have to remember 1 password and the program creates very strong passwords and stores all of your passwords in a secure online vault. Here is an article with additional tips on passwords by Connect Safely.org.
If you hate digital use a notebook or the back of an address book or Rolodex to keep track of them.
3.. Inventory Digital Files
Do you store file folders in multiple places? Most people do. If you are searching for a file folder in Google Drive but it is saved in Dropbox you won’t be able to find it. Work on a plan to organize your digital file folders. I need to do this too. What program is working best for you? Use as few places as possible for storing files. Take the time to inventory what files or where. An Excel worksheet works great for this. Digital Clutter is a huge problem. This is a good article on how to protect and organize digital files.
4. Plan Ahead & Set Goals
Spend your time wisely, creating personal and business goals. Spending time evaluating what is going well, what can be improved upon, and what you should do in the future is vital. Some people spend their entire lives allowing life to dictate and navigate their future instead of personal intention and goals.
5. Just Do It! – Daily, Weekly, Quarterly and Annual Maintenance
Maintenance is not fun but it is necessary. What do I mean by maintenance? Putting things away in a designated place and creating places for things when they don’t exist. This procedure applies to file folders and practically everything else you use including tools, clothing…stuff! Just imagine if your digital files went to a To Be Filed box every time you used them. That is a very scary thought. Paper files often end up in a To Be Filed box, or even worse, they end up somewhere else entirely….the black hole. They need to be filed as soon as possible to keep clutter at bay.
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December 29 2016