Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guest Blog Post: Six Tips for End of Year Financial Organization

Sometimes, you have to know when to call in the experts. And when it comes to financial organization, Judith Heft, owner of Judith Heft and Associates, is the woman to see. Her company specializes in bookkeeping and daily financial management for busy people.
So this week, I have a guest blog post from Judy with six steps she personally takes to get her financial files prepared for the end of the year. Follow her example, and you’re sure to be prepared for that dreaded visit to the accountant in 2012.

Six Tips for End of Year Financial Organization
By Judith Heft
It’s the end of November, and this year is coming to a close. I have mixed emotions about this. I don’t like the cold, so I’m not excited about winter. But, I am excited about new, clean, and orderly files. I think of it as a new beginning!

1. Out with the old and in with the new. By the end of the year, my files are jammed. I subscribe to the concept that objects that no longer serve you prevent fortune from coming into your life. At the end of the year I go through them and toss or shred what I don’t need. I love shredding and throwing old paperwork out. It’s cathartic for me. And remember that insurance policies can be shredded when the new policy effective date starts.

2. Develop a filing system that you are comfortable using. It doesn’t really matter what filing system you use, as long as it works for you. I like to use a monthly accordion file with elastic to keep it closed. That way I keep paid household bills in a neat and orderly fashion.

3. Make a separate file with anything that is tax deductible, labeled “Tax Prep (Year).” When my tax documents start coming in from my financial institutions in January, I have a place to put them so I am ready for my CPA. And, of course, I have everything categorized in Quicken so I can run an organized report. That also saves me time filling out a tax organizer.

4. Keep a permanent file with home capital improvements. That way if and when I decide to sell I will have my house tax deductions all in one place.

5. Keep deductible medical expenses in a separate file. I was in an accident a few months ago and everything was filed together so I had it all at my fingertips when I needed to look something up.

6. Update your warranty files. The end of the year is a good time to go through your warranties file (You do have one, don’t you?) and get rid of the warranties and operating instructions for the items that broke or you sold or donated.

If your life is a busy as mine, get financially organized. It will not only give you peace of mind, it will save you time and money.

To learn more about Judy and her company, check out her website here. She also offers great tips on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks to Five Organizational Tools

This time of year is all about gratitude, which got me to thinking how lucky and grateful I am to be able to do what I love – organizing – to help other people live better lives.

It also got me to thinking about the simple tools I use on a daily basis that make my life, and my client’s lives, easier. So, here are five organizing tools that I’m most thankful for.

1. Linus Drawer Organizers – From wrangling the odds and ends in junk drawers to kitchen utensils to office supplies, these bins are the best. They’re sturdy and come in shallow and deep versions.

2. Pinterest – This site inspires me and gives me unending creative ideas to solve my client’s organizational challenges. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you absolutely should, and please follow my boards here.
3. Tape Measure – I never make recommendations to a client on storage solutions without taking measurements of their space. My trusty tape measure is always at my side.
4. Label Maker – My gratitude for the P-Touch started many years before my official organizing career. And the love affair continues.

5. Amazing Key Hook – How many moments of insanity has this little tool spared me? Too many to count. I never lose my keys in the bottom of my bag, because they are always hooked on the edge of my purse. Simple. Genius.

And a Happy Thanksgiving to you! Take time to relax, eat well, and enjoy it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Face for Radio

That’s totally me. You have to check out my segment today on BreakThru Radio, an online station based in NYC that’s dedicated to uncovering the independent, innovative, up-and-coming entrepreneurs in music, fashion, literature, and culture. Yep, that’s also me.

DJ Marie, the station’s resident fashion guru, interviewed me for her weekly fashion-focused talk / music show called Sew & Tell. The station is hosting "Housing Week," examining the various cultural, social, and economical implications of housing and moving. Sounds fancy, huh?

We chatted about lots of stuff, but I’m not giving it away. You have to listen here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Off the Hook Weekend, Continued

As promised, the juicy details of my weekend continue. After all the drilling in the kitchen last weekend, I moved into the bedroom.

Confession: I use my hairdryer daily, and I always leave it out on my vanity. Not so neat and organized.

So, I installed a hook on the underside of my vanity to hang my hairdryer. I made a hole with a nail to get the hook in more easily. Then it just required a bit of elbow grease to screw the hook in tightly.

With two mini-projects under my belt, I got to thinking about all the ways to use hooks to organize items around the home. First, the key is to put items you need easy access to on hooks so they will always be at your fingertips. Another tip is to consider creative ways to add hooks to the back of cabinet and closet doors. This will keep overstuffed areas neatly organized and items out of view.

Here are some of my favorite uses for hooks:
  • In the entryway to your home, for coats and backpacks. Bonus points if the hooks are in individual cubbies for each family member.
  • By the door, for your keys.
  • Over the bathroom door, for towels and robes.
  • In your craft or gift wrapping area, for small, regularly used items.

  • Under your kitchen cabinet, for dishtowels and sponges for dishwashing.
  • In the kitchen for large utensils, measuring cups, even pots and pans.
  • In your closet for purses, scarves, and belts. Or for those pants that never quite make it back on the hanger.
  • In your bedroom or dressing area, as an interesting way to display necklaces.
  • In your garage for tools and exercise equipment, like jump ropes and tension ropes.
As you can imagine, the options are limitless.

What are some creative ways you use hooks in your home or office? I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Off the Hook Weekend

Last weekend, instead of hitting some hot Halloween party in a ridiculous costume, I decided to have a professional organizer’s version of an "off the hook" weekend.

One kitchen cabinet in particular has been foiling me for a while. Every time I go to grab my measuring cups and spoons, I fumble around to find what I need. I came across this photo on Pinterest and knew it would be the perfect solution.

I did some quick measurements of the cabinet door before hitting Beacon Paint and Hardware. It’s my go to place, because the guys don’t laugh at my ridiculous questions. For $18.45, I picked up all the supplies I needed: eight small screw-in hooks, four wood planks, eight screws, paint, and a foam paintbrush. 

First, I painted the wood planks a cheery yellow color.

After the paint dried, the real work began. I screwed the hooks into the wood planks. To get the hooks in, I made a small hole in the planks with a nail.

Next, I drilled the wood planks into the cabinet door. I’m not exactly Handy Manny around the house. Any sort of project that involves my drill makes me a bit nervous. All told, it went well, aside from one mishap.

If you drill too close to the end of the wood plank, it will crack. Oops.

The final step is to hang the measuring cups on the hooks and admire your handy work. 

Stay tuned for more highlights from my off the hook weekend in next week’s blog post. Get excited!