Tips & Ideas:


There May be Cash in Your Clutter!
You have heard the phrase “your trash is someone else’s treasure.” A garage sale is one way to put this theory into practice. Attentive marketing of your goods by doing an organized set up of your garage sale is the key to receiving the highest prices.

Closet-Space
We all intend to lose those last five pounds, but those too-small clothes are taking up the space that you need for clothes that fit you now. We're living in the now, not the future or the past. Besides, don't you want to treat yourself to some contemporary new clothes when those five pounds are shed?

Off-Season Items
Packing off-season clothes is an organizing task that yields great benefits. Taking the time to weed out unwanted clothes and packing clothes that are wrong for the weather generates space in your closet and drawers. Your clothes will look better longer because of the care in cleaning and storing them. And you will look like the sharp, organized person that you are.

Free Directory Listings
Have you ever wished you had a phone book with you in the car to look up a restaurant or find a store? Use Goog411 and you can leave the phone book at home. Call 1-800-goog411 and the menu system based on voice recognition will get you to the information you need – and it’s free! Check out www.google.com for more information.

Buying Containers
Before you buy any containers YOU MUST SORT! You cannot know what type of storage you need until you know what items you need to store! Sort first...give away what you can, trash what you should, then determine what type of storage containers you need.

To Keep or Not to Keep, That is the Question
When it comes time to ante up to Uncle Sam, how do you know what papers you should keep and what should you throw away? The following guidelines can help you organize your tax time files. For more information visit the IRS Web site, www.irs.gov, or speak with a financial expert.

Keep Permanently
• Annual tax returns
• Year-end summaries from financial service companies
• Stock and bond certificates
• Deeds of property and ownership, auto titles, insurance policies
• Home improvement records
• Health records, wills and powers of attorney
• Birth certificates, adoption and custody records, death certificates

Keep Temporarily
• Paycheck stubs until reconciled with W-2 or 1099 forms
• Phone and utility bills for one year (or seven years if business-related)
• Monthly bank and credit card statements for one year
• Monthly mortgage statements for one year
• Brokerage or mutual fund statements until they've been reconciled at year end
• Year end statements from credit card companies for seven years
• W-2 and 1099 forms for seven years
• Cancelled checks and receipts for all tax-deductible expenses for seven years

Discard or Shred
• ATM, bank-deposit slips and credit card receipts after cleared on a statement
• Non-tax deductible receipts for minor purchases
• Old magazines and articles not read within the past six months
• Receipts, instructions and warranties for items you no longer own (or warranties that have expired)

 

What ever happened to spring cleaning?

 

Years ago homes were heated with fuel that didn't burn as cleanly as systems do today. The result was that after being closed up all winter, homes were full of soot, dust, and in general just dirty. Spring cleaning was a necessity. While that isn't the case anymore, there are tasks that need to be done at least once a year, and spring is a good time to do them. The weather in the spring is ideal for opening up the windows, cleaning the decks, and many other tasks. We often make statements such as, "we need to clean the grill" or "we need to clean the garage." Sometimes we say these things for years, and still don't get the tasks done. Setting aside a specific time to do what you want is the first step toward accomplishing your goals. Spring cleaning can be an incentive to set aside a specific date to do the chores you want done.

Some things you might consider doing are:

• clean the grill

• get the pool ready for summer

• clean the children's summer outside toys

• pack a picnic basket and plan a picnic

• clean the refrigerator

• clean the windows

• thoroughly clean the floors (have the carpet cleaned, mop the wood floors, etc.)

• dust the high-up shelves and ceiling fans

In doing these tasks, take the opportunity to eliminate items you no longer want and decide the best home for your items. Having a designated place for your items will make your life easier when you need to use your things. For example, when you clean the grill, decide the best place to store grill implements or when you clean the children's summer toys, decide the best to store them.

Moving Tips                                                                                               

  • Start packing in an area of your home that is not often used – an attic, basement or garage is a great place to start. Set up a folding table to hold the box you are packing at a comfortable height.
  • Pack heavier items at the bottom of the box; more delicate items should be packed closer to the top.
  • Keep the weight of each box under 50 pounds. If you can't easily lift the box, it's too heavy!
  • Avoid mixing items from different rooms in the same box whenever possible.
  • Wrap fragile items separately before placing them in a box with other wrapped items.
  • Liberally use a cushioning material like bubble wraps, packing paper, old Wal-mart/store plastic bags or pellets to fill in open spaces between items to minimize breakage. You can recycle these items once you've unpacked.
  • Always line the bottom of the box with additional cushioning and add a layer to the top before sealing the box.
  • Secure all seams with 2" box tape. Masking tape or duct tape is not recommended. For heavier boxes, wrap tape around the box twice for added support.
  • Label all of your boxes with the contents and the room it belongs in. Mark the top and one side of the box so the contents are quickly identifiable. Clearly label which boxes should be unpacked first. Use a permanent marker in a dark color.
  • Boxes containing delicate and breakable items should also be labeled with fragile stickers – place one on top and two on the sides.
  • Apply labels to an inconspicuous area (the back or bottom) of furniture and accessories to avoid marring surfaces.
  • Color-coding the different areas of your home with a label system like our Tag-a-Room™ Labels will help save time when sorting boxes at your new home.

Moving Countdown                                                                                   

Two Months Before You Move

  • Sort through your possessions and decide what items you no longer need. It's best to donate or discard those items before the move.
  • Have your antiques, fine art and other valuables appraised for insurance purposes.
  • Request estimates from professional movers or truck rental companies.
  • Start a file of paperwork related to the move (contacts, receipts, estimates).
  • Make any necessary travel arrangements (hotels, airfare, etc.).
  • Notify the U.S. Postal Service, publications, creditors, banks and others of your change of address.

One Month Before You Move

  • Contact the utility companies at both your new home and your current home to set up/cancel service.
  • Designate an out-of-the-way area in your home as a holding area for packed items.
  • Begin packing nonessential items.
  • Consult with your insurance agent to determine how your property is insured while it is in transit.
  • Make your reservation with the moving company.

Two to Three Weeks Before You Move

  • Continue packing.
  • Have a moving sale.
  • Arrange for local charities to pick up unwanted items (be sure to get a receipt for tax purposes).
  • Return any borrowed items and retrieve anything you've loaned to friends or neighbors.
  • Make arrangements to have school, medical, dental and veterinary records transferred.

One Week Before You Move

  • Continue packing.
  • Confirm your reservation with the moving company.
  • Place items you plan to move yourself in a separate area to avoid confusion.
  • Pack a suitcase with clothing, toiletries, medications, first aid kit etc., for the first night in your new home.
  • Set aside a box for essential items like toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, etc., that will be needed immediately after you move in.
  • Disconnect, defrost and prepare any appliances that will be moved.
  • Drain lawn equipment and power tools of gas and oil and drain garden hoses of water.

Moving Day

  • Make sure that you or your representative is present at your old residence to answer the mover's questions.
  • Read the bill of lading prepared by your mover carefully before signing it.
  • Check your possessions as they are brought into your new home, noting any damage.
  • Expect to pay your mover with cash, a certified check or a traveler's check, unless you have previously negotiated another arrangement.

 

Organizing Christmas Decorations

Before you store your Christmas decorations, think about how you use them. When deciding upon what kind of containers to use, consider the places you have where you can store your decorations. Do you have under-the-stairs storage, an attic, a basement, under-the-eaves, a storage shed, or other location? Make certain your storage containers will fit your storage space, and that they will protect your decorations. Do not be tempted to purchase containers just because they are on sale (many are on sale after the holidays). Buy containers that fit your specific organization constraints. Corrugated boxes with lids and handle openings and clear plastic containers are good choices. Containers that are stackable are typically desired and make certain that you clearly label each one.
If decorating a little at a time instead of all at once, organizing your decorations into categories will make decorating more efficient and save time. For example, you can decorate the mantle one evening, the banister another, the front door and porch one day, and the tree later. If you decorate a mantle, then put everything you need for the mantle in one container. If you use angel hair on a mantle, store a pair of gloves in the box so that you can handle the angel hair safely and know that you will have them year after year without having to look for them.

Put everything you use for decorating a banister together in a separate container. If you use lights for the banister, put them in the banister box. Resist the urge to store all Christmas lights together. Store them the way you use them. A good way to store lights is to curl them into a circle and lay them in between sheets of newsprint paper. It is helpful to add directions to yourself. For example, write a note that says, wind the greenery through every third banister rung.

A similar logic can be used for decorations that go on the front porch. Additional containers can be used for tree decorations. Don't feel like you have to use a container that comes with inserts for balls if many of your ornaments are of various shapes and sizes. It might serve your needs better to put breakable ornaments in bubble wrap or individual boxes and then put them into the large ornament container.

Label containers so that they will be easy to retrieve. The time you spend in organizing this way will pay off when you decorate for the holidays next year.

 

Improve Your Home Environment
Ideas to consider:

  • Start with just one room. Clear the clutter -- get rid of unused and unloved items, including old Christmas decorations.
  • Find a place for new items received during the holidays. Choose storage systems that work for you and your items.
  • Take a fresh look at your room and think about what you might change.
  • Ask others to offer ideas for making your room more inviting.
  • Rearrange the furniture.
  • Paint the walls -- or just one wall.
  • Change the accessories or move them around.
  • Hang a new photo or piece of art -- maybe one you've had stored.
  • Have something you really love in the room (a photo, a blanket, a pillow, whatever).