Articles & Advice

Downsizing to a Smaller Home

Downsizing to a Smaller Home

Dear Kathi,

My husband and I have recently downsized to a smaller house. We are finding it very difficult to let go of things we have always thought to be important. What are your suggestions? Kerry T of Del Mar

Kerry,

Congratulations on realizing that you need to release a few possessions from your life. As people move into new homes they discover that items that were once an integral part of their life no longer serve them. Even though they no longer need or use these items, they still feel sentimentally attached and find it difficult to let go. My suggestion is to think about how each item in question is now serving you. For starters, is it serving you at all or is it simply collecting dust in the corner? If it is only collecting dust, donate it and send it to new owners who will use it regularly. You will find this liberating and energizing. If you decide to keep it, move it into an area where it can be viewed or used regularly. If you can’t do this, it needs to leave your possession for good. Release and let go.

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Zen and the Art of Bookkeeping – Simple Ways for WAHM’s to Master this Dreaded Task

Spend a day with the average Work At Home Mom, a.k.a. WAHM, and you will come away wondering how the heck she manages to get through the day without yanking all of her hair out. WAHMs are like superheroes. They can cook pasta, wipe Johnny’s runny nose, change Susie’s diaper, and do a sink full of dishes—all while fulfilling an order for their home-based business. But no one, not even Super Mom, can do it all. And the duty that is usually swept under the proverbial rug is bookkeeping—the dreaded “B” word.

“I used to have long, lustrous locks. Then I tried bookkeeping and ripped all my hair out.”

Image courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu/photo/523442

       Unfortunately, your bookkeeping duties can’t remain buried beneath your Berber forever. Someone might trip on them. They must be tackled. But don’t start sifting through the yellow pages for a wig supplier just yet. Here are a few easy tips to help you get that nasty bookkeeping done, keep your signature tresses in place, and avoid nasty letters from the I.R.S.

  • Invest in software.

It is important to purchase software that is designed specifically for small business bookkeeping and not a program meant for personal finance needs. Bookkeeping software will make your life so much easier and actually make a loathed task fun—almost.

All you do is input the information and the software adds up the numbers, generates invoices, keeps track of what is owed to you, and makes your tax preparation a breeze. Some programs that you might want to check out include Quickbooks, Peachtree, Sage 50, and Bookkeeper.

  • Make bookkeeping a habit.

Unlike New Year’s Resolutions, you cannot abandon your bookkeeping routine. Ignoring these duties will result in an intimidating mountain of receipts and invoices that, once again, will have you mangling your auburn mane.

Maintaining a regular routine, however, will allow you to keep on top of things and no longer dread this necessary task.

“Since I’ve gone paperless, I have saved a fortune on bandages.”

Image courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu/photo/729161.

  • Opt for paperless.

Nothing is more frustrating and time-consuming than sifting through heaps of paper—and that’s assuming that what you’re looking for hasn’t been lost. Creating a “paper trail” made of actual paper is no longer the best route to take.

While it is impossible to eliminate all paper, you can significantly decrease the amount that crosses your desk. You can use on-line banking to manage your accounts, set up automatic debits to pay bills, and use a business credit card that will track your business purchases. This way, all of your statements are readily available to you with the click of a button.

  • Develop a Filing System.

Sometimes paper cannot be avoided. Stores still issue paper receipts for purchases. And some businesses still deal in paper invoices. In order to maintain these often tiny pieces of paper, you need to develop and stick with a filing system.

Whether you choose to use actual filing cabinets, accordion files, or some other clever storage device, you need to find the one that works best for you. This means it will come naturally to you, allow you to retrieve information easily, and that you will be able to keep it up.

  • Know when you need help.

There may come a time when your business warrants an outside bookkeeper and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you’re too busy making sales to engage in your bookkeeping duties or if you have hired employees and are considering payrolloutsourcing, go for it. Trying to juggle too many balls at once will only stress you out and make your business suffer.

  • Give yourself a pat on the back.

Whenever we commit ourselves to a new course of action and stick with it—particularly when it involves doing something we despise—we need to be rewarded. Some may say that avoiding an I.R.S. audit should be reward enough, but it isn’t.

Find an extrinsic reward that motivates you—a dinner out, a new sweater, a manicure or something completely different—and give it to yourself for a job well done. This will encourage you to keep up the good work.

“I’m so happy that my hair has grown back in.”

Image courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Beauty_g419-Hairdresser_Combing_Costumers_Hair_p114317.html.

 

Once you have the tools and the know-how, bookkeeping is really a doable chore. Super Mom can now officially do it all—and you can finally get rid of that unsightly lump under the carpet.

What bookkeeping tips can you offer your fellow WAHMs? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

Contributor Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer, avid blogger, and illustrator who also harbors a fear of bookkeeping and all things related to numbers. And, yes, she has followed her own advice.  

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A Clever Jewelry Organizer

Here’s an easy way to organize your jewelry. Simply buy a fishing tackle box with dividers, and add plain white rice (not quick cook rice because of extra dust). Move the dividers based on the size of your jewelry. Once it is set up you can open the lid and see exactly what you have at a quick glance. If you have lots of jewelry, you can buy multiple boxes and store them on top of each other with labels on the side. This is what my friend Brianna does with her jewelry. Isn’t she smart?

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Eliminating mail clutter

A Word About Your New Years Resolution – Don’t give up!
Do you have a master plan to accomplish your New Year’s resolution this year? Many of our resolutions begin to falter in late January because of poor planning.

Have you spelled out exactly what accomplishing your goal means to you? Specifically, if your goal is to get into better shape, does this mean the ability to run three miles, drop 10 pounds or to fit into a size 32 slack?

Be very literal with what steps you need to perform to accomplish your goal. For instance, if your goal is to run six miles in the Labor Day Race, you can chart where you are now and know that if you increase your distance 1/4 mile every week, you will succeed.

Breaking your goal into smaller steps will help you track each success along the way, which in turn, reinforces your goal. Try it if you haven’t already. With a little planning and a lot of clarity, I guarantee you will be closer to manifesting your dreams!

Dear Kathi,

I am trying to take your advice about de-cluttering my house this month. I’ve been doing ok but my mail is a constant nuisance that clutters my kitchen. I have a home based business so I tend to get more mail than the average household. What can I do with my piles of mail?

Kirsten, Cardiff

Kirsten,

To get mail under control: Do not pass go, in other words, don’t bring it into the house until you’ve done a first toss. This means sorting mail over a trashcan before you enter your home and tossing the junk immediately. A trashcan in the garage or by the back door is convenient for this. Do your tossing when you’re not distracted, after briefcase, groceries, or kids are safely inside the house.

Sort your remaining mail into business/ personal stacks and save it for review later. Give your remaining mail a “home.” Put each stack in a designated place keeping business separate from personal.
For business matters, use a vertical desk top file system. You could use these sample categories; To File, To Pay, To Read, Waiting for a Response, Data Entry, or what ever works best for your thought process.
For personal correspondence, you might use a basket. A basket will contain your mail and keep it separate from your business materials. It also provides portability, leaving you the option of paying bills in the kitchen, den or terrace. You can also keep stamps, return labels and envelopes tucked into this basket.

You now need a routine to deal with your mail. Set a consistent time every week to handle bills, credit card statements, etc. You should have two appointments set; one for business mail during the workweek and one for personal mail sometime in the evening or weekend. Try to separate these task times or you could get distracted with personal issues during productive business hours. Setting a scheduled time every week will help you remain in control of your paperwork and better able to see the bank overdraft, important appointment notices or the erroneous charge on your credit card.
Hopefully you have a file system that works well for you. If you need any information on file systems, I’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

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Daily tips to start the new year strong!

Happy 2015!

This is the perfect year to create new opportunities and positive shifts in your life. I am committed to helping you see for yourself how and why you might be having a difficult time creating the life of your dreams. I will also provide tips to help you create the dramatic and positive changes you are waiting for. So here is tip #1:

If you truly want to begin a new chapter in your life this year, it will help if you begin to let go of as many possessions as you can tolerate. Too many possessions will keep you from moving forward and chasing your dreams. On the wall of a restaurant that I went to just last night was a painting that read, “A simple life promotes a long life.” They were referring to eating close to the source, but this also applies to possessions. When you add space to your life and your surroundings, you create a vacuum for new things to enter into your life, giving you renewed energy and more vitality.

Make sure to check back often because during this series of blogs, I am going to highlight the many ways that I have seen clutter stop people from reaching their full potential. I will also provide strategies that will help you jetapult toward your dreams!

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Recycle Your Used or Old Holiday Cards to Charity

As you clean up after the holidays, you might have a pile of holiday cards lying around that you received last year. Here is a win-win solution and a challenge for you and one of the easiest ways for you to donate to a good cause! St. Judes Ranch gladly accepts used greeting cards and recycles them to raise money. You will only need an envelope and postage to complete this task.

So go ahead and sort through that stack of cards. As you examine your pile of cards, be honest with yourself and keep only the cards that have significant meaning. Remember this – you are not obligated to keep the cards with your friends and family photos on them! Only save them if you absolutely love them. Remember it is the thought behind the card that counts! You can look at each photo card and say ‘my, how they have grown’ and then recycle it.

Please keep only the cards that have significant meaning to your life.

Over the course of a lifetime, if you dont use discretion and hold onto every greeting card you receive, you will end up storing and taking care of literally thousands of cards. Trust me, I witness these massive collections and get paid to get rid of thousands of cards every year!

So, go ahead, get rid of your clutter and purge the cards that you dont need. Sort through your cards, put the photo cards into your recycle bin and send the rest off to St Judes to repurpose and multiply their value again!

Here are the details about the program:

To Donate Your Cards:

Year round, St. Judes happily accepts used all-occasion greeting cards. Please review the following tips before sending in your donation.

Card Donating Tips:

  • All types of greeting cards, including Christmas are accepted.
  • Only the card front can be used (please check to be sure the backside of the front of the card is clear of any writing, etc.)
  • We can not accept Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting cards
  • 5″ x 7″ size or smaller is preferred
  • To mail large quantities in the least expensive way, use the United States Post Office in a Flat Rate Box (available at the Post Office), which holds up to 70 pounds
  • Mail donations to :
  • St. Jude’s Ranch for Children
  • Recycled Card Program
  • 100 St. Jude’s Street
  • Boulder City, NV 89005
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How to Get Organized, Recycle and Move Your Excess Forward

How to Get Organized, Recycle and Move Your Excess Forward

This is the perfect time to move your bounty forward – Here are a few tips to help you clear your clutter, donate to your favorite charity and dispose of hazardous eWaste responsibly.

Appliances 

When you get a new appliance to replace the old, make sure to let go of your old one!

Old Electronics

Recycle at your local Goodwill. This helps the environment and your community

The Dell Reconnect Program - Dell is the first major computer manufacturer to ban the export of non-working electronics to developing countries as part of its global policy on responsible electronics disposal.

Reconnect has recycled nearly 96 million pounds of computer equipment to date.

What they recycle:

Monitors

Computers (Desktop & Laptop)

Printers

Scanners

Hard Drives

Keyboards

Speakers

Cords & Cables

Ink & Toner Cartridges

Software

Xbox®

Microsoft Zune®

Televisions

Cell Phones

Appliances

Electrical Cords 

If you end up in that box of electrical cords do a quick assessment. Are all of the electric and electronic gadgets you own hooked up and working? If so, you can let go and donate your jumble of old cords.

Dead Batteries 

The SD County Library system recycles old batteries. Collect them in a bin and take them to your local library. If you live outside of this area, check this website to find out where you can recycle.

Prior to dropping off the batteries, residents should cover the positive ends of the batteries with tape and place them in a sealed plastic bag.

Lightbulbs

Bring in a sealed bag with your old lightbulbs to your local IKEA for recycling. They can even be donated once broken.

Your old bulbs go through a separation process into glass, powder and mercury. Separated mercury goes through a process of triple distillation which takes away all contamination (mercury has a tendency to attract other materials).

After the triple distillation is finished the mercury is reused.

Boxes and Old Gift Wrap

Don’t just throw in your regular trash bin, Recycle them!

Peanuts, foam packing nuts

Take these to your local pack and ship store. This helps support local business and recycles at the same time.

Hangers 

Metal - Take to your local dry cleaner. Supports local business and keeps them out of landfills.

Plastic - donate to your favorite charity

Old Cell Phones 

Domestic violence programs accept old cell phones. The Hopelines program through Verizon also brings old cell phones to those in need.

Treecycling

Artificial Christmas trees have a negative effect to our environment. They are manufactured with PVC which is a non-biodegradable, petroleum-derived plastic. In addition, many older tree varieties may contain lead.

The Christmas tree industry employs more than 100,000 Americans and now almost every community in the US recycles live trees after the holidays into mulch.

Old Holiday Cards – My personal favorite!

St. Jude’s Ranch Recycled Card Program, which benefits the St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. Launched more than 30 years ago as a thank-you to donors by using the previous year’s Christmas cards to turn them into “new” cards, the special cards are sold to raise money for the ranch’s programs. People from all over the world send their used greeting cards for all occasions.

Children at St. Jude’s Ranch learn entrepreneurship skills and participate in making the new cards by removing the front and attaching a new back so that customers receive “green” holiday cards for their use.

The address is St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, Recycled Card Program, 100 St. Jude’s St., Boulder City, NV 89005, and the phone number (877) 977-7572.

Other Recycling Tips

If you dont see the recycling location you need, check out www.earth911.com

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New Years Resolutions

Dear Kathi,

I would like to keep my New Years resolutions next year. I know that my goals will be tough to keep, but I also feel that there has to be a way to stay on track for more than a week next year.
Leslie, Cardiff by the Sea

Dear Leslie,

Your determination to keep your New Year’s Resolutions this year is admirable. Here are a few goal-setting tips to help you get started.

Don’t try everything at once. Don’t make lists and lists of resolutions. The more you make, the less you will keep. Try to make no more than five honest, sincere and realistically attainable resolutions.
When considering what goals and objectives you want to set for yourself for the coming year, remember to establish attainable goals. A resolution should be made to improve yourself either physically, emotionally or mentally. Resolutions should never be made that are based on matters out of your control.

For instance, making a New Year’s resolution that you will get married this year may not only be unattainable, but also entirely out of your control. Although you may want to get married it doesn’t necessarily mean you will meet someone to marry. The same can be said for resolutions such as having a baby or winning the lottery – these are not resolutions, they are hopes and dreams.

Word your goals carefully and make a plan. Once you know what your resolutions are, try to break it down. Nobody accomplishes anything of significance by trying to do it all at once. This doesn’t have to be a complicated agenda; just plan enough to give yourself a place to start.
Write them down. Write down your resolutions and your plan of action. Stick them up on the fridge or wherever you know you’ll see them. That way you’ll have a constant reminder of the resolutions. You may want to change the wording as time passes. It is perfectly ok to rephrase and redefine your goals as next year progresses.
At the end of next December when you reflect on the resolutions you made on January 1st, and realize that at last, you have kept all of your resolutions, you will be surprised at the sense of accomplishment, fulfilment and self-worth you will carry with you at all times.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Planning and Organizing a New Years Party


Dear Kathi,

I am planning a party this New Year and would like to hear some suggestions on how to prepare ahead. I hate being bogged down at the last minute. Thanks for your help.

Glenn, San Marcos

Glenn,

You can make your last day of the year fantastic by preparing for your party days in advance.

Stock up on all your party snacks and drinks several days ahead of time. You don’t have to worry about cooking; most items can be store bought.
Light snacks, cocktails, or finger foods are the way to go on New Year’s Eve, as opposed to a sit-down dinner. This will give people the opportunity to mingle with others, without restricting them the dinner table.
Arrange all your food onto platters the day before and then cover them with aluminum foil and place them in the fridge until party time.

Make sure you have a nice selection of both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. Have hot coffee on hand for those guests who are the designated drivers. Explore the transportation options ahead of time and compile a list of transportation phone numbers. Hang this list by your front door.

Include plenty of ice (at least a pound per person), glasses (at least two per person or you’ll be washing glasses all night), cocktail napkins, and backups of everything (hidden in the kitchen or under the bar)
Because this is typically considered the biggest party of the year, it wouldn’t hurt to have ibuprofen and aspirin on the food table to take care of all those “Oh, my aching head” complaints. Tums wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.

If there’s ever a night for champagne, this is it. Make sure you have some bubbly to cork open when the clock strikes twelve. Also, make sure to have champagne flutes, or at least wine glasses handy.
Arrange to rent a large screen television at least one week in advance.
(if you don’t have one) to show the Times Square New Years Ball drop.

Decorate your home with streamers in black, white and silver the day before the party. Order balloons in advance from the local party supply store and pick them up the morning of your party along with the extra ice you will need. Other party favors to consider are; party hats, confetti, horns, noisemakers, and tiaras.

Organize a buffet table the night before, and arrange cutlery, plates, and cups on the table leaving space for the food platters. Use paper cups, plates, and plastic cutlery to avoid things from breaking and to avoid having to do the dishes the morning-after.
Select the music you will play a few days in advance of your party and program it into your system or burn a few CD’s. Your play list should include dance, dance, and more dance, and some slow music for when things get mellow.

A really cool thing to do during your party is to ask each friend to write a letter that describes his or her personal wish for the coming year and seal it in a self-addressed envelope. Write this task into your schedule now and store these cards with your holiday decorations. Next year they will magically appear at the right time and ready to mail! Then surprise your friends by mailing the letters the next Christmas or New Year’s.
This special treat only requires a few envelopes, paper and pens gathered in advance and grouped into a basket. Many of your friends will meet or exceed their goals next year and you will be amazed at the many thank-you calls and stories that come back to you from the letters!
You want to be jolly and jubilant when guests arrive, so plan your prep time and menu around your available time and budget. Relax and realize that even if you serve Mexican take-out, your guests will know they’re part of something memorable.

Have a great New Year’s, party like it’s 1999, and remember, don’t let others drive home drunk.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
.

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Organizing for the New Year

New Years Resolutions

Dear Kathi,

I would like to keep my New Years resolutions. I know that my goals will be tough to keep, but I also feel that there has to be a way to stay on track for more than a week next year.

Leslie, Cardiff by the Sea

Leslie,

Your determination to keep your New Year’s Resolutions this year is admirable. Here are a few goal-setting tips to help you get started. Don’t try everything at once. Don’t make lists and lists of resolutions. The more you make, the less you will keep. Try to make no more than five honest, sincere and realistically attainable resolutions. When considering what goals and objectives you want to set for yourself for the coming year, remember to establish attainable goals. A resolution should be made to improve yourself either physically, emotionally or mentally. Resolutions should never be made that are based on matters out of your control.

For instance, making a New Year’s resolution that you will get married this year may not only be unattainable, but also entirely out of your control. Although you may want to get married it doesn’t necessarily mean you will meet someone to marry. The same can be said for resolutions such as having a baby or winning the lottery – these are not resolutions, they are hopes and dreams.

Word your goals carefully and make a plan. Once you know what your resolutions are, try to break it down. Nobody accomplishes anything of significance by trying to do it all at once. This doesn’t have to be a complicated agenda; just plan enough to give yourself a place to start. Write them down. Write down your resolutions and your plan of action. Stick them up on the fridge or wherever you know you’ll see them. That way you’ll have a constant reminder of the resolutions. You may want to change the wording as time passes. It is perfectly ok to rephrase and redefine your goals as next year progresses. At the end of next December when you reflect on the resolutions you made on January 1st, and realize that at last, you have kept all of your resolutions, you will be surprised at the sense of accomplishment, fulfillment and self-worth you will carry with you at all times.

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