Week of me – Tuesday

me time

It’s time to take some time for you. Trust me, you deserve it! I know what you’re thinking – what does a week of me have to do with organizing my house? Everything! As I’ve mentioned a couple of times on Instagram, you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of others or your home. I’ve included the entire week on each day so you know what’s coming up ahead! If you have the time, try to keep doing the ones from previous days to make them a habit in your life!


Monday – Purge: unsubscribe from unwanted emails. Take a look at the last week of emails and see if there are any you can unsubscribe from using the link at the bottom of the email.

TODAY – Clean: tackle one project you’ve put off. For me, it’s a quick sweep of bathroom baseboards! Make it a small project like wiping out just the door of the frig or putting some baking soda and vinegar down the garbage disposal.

Wednesday – Donate: find 3 things in your closet to donate and add it to your donation box. Bonus points if you donate it today!

Thursday – Energize: take a 20 minute walk, get some fresh air.

Friday – Self-care: take care of yourself by drawing a bath, doing a face mask, getting a pedicure (or all of the above!)

Saturday– Digital detox: take a night off from all screens. Maybe try to include the entire family!

Sunday – Health: make a healthy meal.

Week of me – Monday

me time

It’s time to take some time for you. Trust me, you deserve it! I know what you’re thinking – what does a week of me have to do with organizing my house? Everything! As I’ve mentioned a couple of times on Instagram, you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of others or your home. I’ve included the entire week on each day so you know what’s coming up ahead!

TODAY- Purge: unsubscribe from unwanted emails. Take a look at the last week of emails and see if there are any you can unsubscribe from using the link at the bottom of the email.

Tuesday – Clean: tackle one project you’ve put off. For me, it’s a quick sweep of bathroom baseboards! Make it a small project like wiping out just the door of the frig or putting some baking soda and vinegar down the garbage disposal.

Wednesday – Donate: find 3 things in your closet to donate and add it to your donation box. Bonus points if you donate it today!

Thursday – Energize: take a 20 minute walk, get some fresh air.

Friday – Self-care: take care of yourself by drawing a bath, doing a face mask, getting a pedicure (or all of the above!)

Saturday– Digital detox: take a night off from all screens. Maybe try to include the entire family!

Sunday – Health: make a healthy meal.

July 26, 2018

Linen closets can become such a mess if you don’t regularly declutter and organize them.

I recently (pre-blog, so no before pictures!) cleaned it all out and moved all junk to the trash or to the appropriate home elsewhere. The top shelf holds spare batteries and light bulbs. I keep some extra towels in this linen closet for visitors because the rest of them are kept in our master bathroom. On the floor are some rags in various sizes, depending on the mess I’m cleaning up.

I love having some extra room to grow into! There is something so satisfying about empty shelves and cabinets that make you feel a sense of accomplishment!

One Step Closer

Quote by Robert Collier: Success is the sum of small efforts. Repeated day in and day out.

Transformation doesn’t come in one big step. It comes as a result of a thousand small ones. Every single step is one step closer to your goal. Many of my clients want to jump in and get everything organized in the entire house and garage in one day. It’s a great way to feel completely overwhelmed. Your house didn’t become disorganized in a day (though it sometimes feels like it!), so don’t count on it becoming organized in a day. My technique is to work as hard as we can for a few hours and then give manageable little projects to do during the time between visits. It will help teach some good habits and hold you accountable!

I know it’s sometimes tough to see that the little things add up, such as making your bed in the morning. Or that donating one shirt a week will make a dent in your closet. But it does. Just like losing weight, it comes off a little bit at a time. At first, it’s hard to see any real change. It will be the same with your clutter. Slowly, it will start to disappear, little by little.

Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.

July 19, 2018

6-cube shelf with 3 on the bottom, 2 in the middle, 1 on the top, 3 on the left, 2 in the middle, 1 on the righ

This is one of the walls in the playroom. The shelves got moved in here when we converted it to a playroom. I like to keep all the smaller toys in bins on the bottom as it makes an easy clean up for all of us! I have one for cars, the middle one has all the miscellaneous toys, and the last one has her blocks. The middle cube and the top of the piano has all of her favorite books, so we avoid having her pull out EVERY. SINGLE. BOOK. when she’s looking for the same 10 books again and again. As of now, she basically ignores the other two shelves with books.

I love this 3x2x1 cube shelf from Target because it gives us a lot of space to store stuff in bins, which is key for my kid, while still allowing access to some of those bigger toys that we would not want her pulling down from a high shelf by herself. And I adore any storage unit that will grow with your family over time!

 

Toy clutter

Living room with toys strew all over the floor and fireplace

You are probably living with toys all over your house: in the family room, on the kitchen floor, in every bedroom. When you’re on top of it and you get the entire house picked up, BOOM! Everything manages to come back out before you can make yourself a cup of tea (or pour a glass of wine) to celebrate your awesomeness. Every birthday and holiday brings even more into your house with no hope of ever keeping up.

Come join me in my fantasy land: the kids are in their playroom, taking out blocks from their designated container, building towers together for 20 minutes by themselves before cleaning them up and putting everything back on the shelf.

Short of getting rid of most of the toys when the kids aren’t looking, you’ve got to come up with a plan to deal with all of this stuff. Toy rotations and organizing toys by type are the best ways to keep everything corralled. Toys are easier to locate when kids want to play and easier to pick up when they’re done. When they have less choice and less stress, everyone is happier.

For younger kids, especially the immobile ones, I like to put one type of toy in each box (one touch and feel book, one board book, one car, one rattle, one teether, one stuffed animal). You rotate through 4-5 boxes, changing them out every day, week, or whenever you remember. As our kid has gotten to toddling around the house on her own, our main play areas are the family room and playroom so the main bin is in the former with the extra bins in the latter. Every so often, I switch what’s in the bins so that we can make new combinations of toys: balls in the stacking cups, then next week, we can do stuffed animals on top of the stacking cups.

You can try the toy rotation if you have older kids, but they tend to notice (and comment!) if something specific is gone. Your daughter may always want the Legos available and cars may be your son’s favorite toys. If that’s the case, then keep them available, even if you rotate all of the other toys.

Another idea is to separate them into containers by type of toy: all the cars in one bin, all Legos, all markers. The kids can pick and choose which specific bin they want to play with at the moment. The key to both toy rotation and toy compartmentalization is that they must pick up each bin before getting out a new one!  If your kids are struggling with the idea, read about toy time-outs and how you can make kids more accountable.

You may find that a combination of the two works for your family: rotating the crayons for markers, the stuffed animals for the cars, and the blocks for the balls, while keeping their go-to toys always available.

In your perfect world, there would be fewer toys. But that’s another dream for another day.

Finances: ICE binder

White binder labeled "Emergency binder" with a red cross on it

I’ve found that most families have one person who takes the lead on all the financial stuff. I tend to enjoy it more because, duh, organizing! When I was pregnant, we met with a financial adviser to think about some additional life insurance. Both of our jobs offer some, but it would not be enough if the worst happened. And we wanted to ensure we’re setting ourselves up correctly for retirement and for college.

I tried to make a list of our retirement accounts, insurances, etc, before meeting with him, thinking that I have it pretty together and WOW! I did not have it together. We got married in our 30s, so we were pretty established before then. We both have separate bank accounts from different banks and home/car insurances through different companies. I had to ask my husband a ton of questions about what account is this and which one is rolled over and which ones are we contributing to currently. It took a few hours to sort it all out.

I did eventually get things a lot more organized and everything is complied in one drawer in our filing cabinet. Pretty good, right? But then, I found one more thing to do: an in case of emergency (ICE) binder. I first saw this on Pinterest here and loved the idea! Tshanina includes a lot more detail in her binder, but I’ve modified mine because I like having my hanging file folders for each account. I keep the binder in my filing cabinet and told my husband and mom where it is, just in case.

My tiny binder, which is actually just a small black binder with a sticker on the spine, consists of just a few pages. I put some clear sheet protectors in there for an extra layer of protection, in case a small child decides to find it and rip out some pages.

List of docs in binder: copies of wills, property POAs, marriage licence, birth certificate, list of stuff in safety deposit box, income and expenses list, financial accounts list

The list of items in safety deposit box also includes the key, location, and box number. The income and expenses was pretty easy because I pulled it from our recent budget. In addition to the budget items like how much each item is and how often it’s paid, I made separate columns for if it’s automatic or a check, and which account it goes to/comes from.

The list of all financial accounts included a TON of stuff: checking, savings, credit cards, retirement accounts, pension info, life insurance, disability, college fund, reimbursement accounts, car info (VIN, policy numbers, insurance, title location) and home info (policies, mortgages, insurance). I had a good jump on a lot of this stuff when we met with the adviser, but it was nice to get it all in one spreadsheet. It was 2 pages long!

One of my favorite parts is how easy the upkeep will be. Most of the sections will rarely change, if ever. The other sections will require just a yearly check to ensure everything is still up to date.

The peace of mind knowing that I’ve done everything I can to ensure everything is in order is somehow even better.

 

 

 

 

Finances: Insurance and Preparedness

This is part 3 of a three part series that falls more into the organizing your life for the future, not really the usual organizing the physical. But it’s something that I’m very passionate about and want to make all of you guys aware of the importance of being prepared.


Insurance chart: health, life, home, injury, property

It’s weird and it sucks to think about death. But being prepared is much preferred to being surprised by any tragedy. As you guys know, I work in the legal field, so I am obligated to mention that you have to have a will and powers of attorney, both for property and healthcare. HAVE TO, HAVE TO, HAVE TO. Rant over. Let’s just talk about the big picture, long term insurances: house insurance, life insurance, and disability insurance.

I had been getting two policies on my condo that I rent out: a homeowner’s insurance bill in January and a renter’s insurance bill in late June. When I got this most recent one, I sent an email to my insurance guy and asked him to clarify why I have homeowner’s insurance and renter’s insurance. Within 5 minutes of the initial email, he said that the homeowner’s policy should have been closed out and I’ve been paying for two years unnecessarily. Luckily, he spoke with underwriters and they sent me a full refund for all of the money I paid on that account. That is hundreds of dollars saved with a quick email to my company (and who knows how much more I would have paid in the future!).

Your job or spouse’s job may offer life insurance or disability insurance. Talk to HR and take a look at the deductions on your pay stubs. My job offers standard life insurance with an election for more and disability, sometimes not until you’ve been working for X amount of time. After getting pregnant, we knew that we needed more life insurance. So we met with a financial adviser (more on that in another post), who encouraged us to get additional disability insurance on the husband since he is the main money maker. You may or may not need more than what your job offers. But keep it in mind as an option, especially for the breadwinner in the house.

You never know what life will throw at you. You need to be prepared for anything!

 

Finances: Retirement

This is part 2 of a quick three part series regarding your finances. It falls more into the organizing your life for the future, not really the usual organizing the physical objects here now. But it’s something that I’m very passionate about and want to make all of you guys aware of the importance of being prepared.

TL;DR: Put any little bit you can into retirement NOW, especially if you have employer matching. Listen guys, I am not a financial planner and I can’t pretend to be. Do some Googling or ask some friends for financial planner recommendations.


If you’re like me, it’s very hard to visualize the long term future. I’ve only been working for about dozen years and am decades away from retirement. I have a small child and have only been married a handful of years. But, as I’ve learned, the time goes quickly. And starting right now is essential.

Benefits of starting early. $3k for the first 10 years (then nothing) gives $218k, while nothing for 10 years and $3k for the next 20 gives $148k

Over the course of a life, the early starter above made $3,000 contributions for just the first 10 years and then stopped (for a total of $30k) vs. the procrastinator who did nothing for the first 10 years, then paid for 20 years (for a total of $60k). The early bird has almost 150% more money for half the investment. Compounding interest is a huge deal. You can get so much money over decades if you start right now. I know it’s hard to find room in the budget.

There is a maximum amount you can contribute to your retirement funds, set by law each year. Recently, it has been $5,500 for both traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. Personally, I’m not able to save that much from my paycheck. However, anytime I get a raise, I go in and try to up the contribution amount to cover the raise so I won’t be tempted to spend it somewhere else.

If your company offers matching, please please please try to put some money into that retirement account! It’s literally free money! If I guaranteed you $2,000 next week if you gave me $1,000 this week, I bet you’d find room in the budget for that. When you don’t contribute to a matching retirement fund, you are missing out on free money.

One more quick note: check your beneficiaries on these accounts, especially if you’ve gotten married or divorced since the accounts were opened. Many accounts do not care what is in your will; it depends who the beneficiary is listed on there. If you have no beneficiary named, it will likely go to your next of kin, or in accordance with your will. But if you listed your spouse who is now your ex-spouse, they could get all of it. Just a warning!

If you’ve got some older kids who are approaching college, here are a two quick things of note I’ve come across time and time again. If you’re a parent, do not dip into retirement funds to pay for college. You won’t be able to get loans for retirement, but you can for college. Second, FASFA says that retirement savings are not counted as an asset when you are doing your student loan applications. To get more aid, move your reportable assets to nonreportable.

Retirement may seem like it’s light years away from where you are now, but it will come up so quickly and you need to be prepared! If you have any questions, please contact a local financial adviser. I promise, they are not intimidating at all and would love to help you out!

 

 

Finances: Day 1

This is part 1 of a three part series that falls more into the organizing your life for the future, not really the usual organizing the physical. But it’s something that I’m very passionate about and want to make all of you guys aware of the importance of being prepared.

Money background with a big question mark

Talking about finances is never a great subject, especially when it feels like no matter what you do, you’re always in the same place. No matter how many raises you get, the debt doesn’t decrease and the savings never increases. Student loans seem insurmountable.

There are so many different tips, tricks, techniques, hacks that claim to help. It can be absolutely overwhelming when you look at the THOUSANDS of posts and pins that describe what you can do to solve it. But…just like organizing your house, getting your finances in order is the same way: it needs to be personalized to what works for you and your family. So I can’t offer the best financial organizing tip to everyone out there. What is perfect for me may be the worst idea for you!

For me, I’ve found that I am not enough of an adult to use a credit card correctly. I loved getting the cash back and the points adding up. But it didn’t work for me. I’ve found that I tend to ignore how much money I’m spending when I don’t see it disappear every day. I struggled with it for years. It works for my husband, my mom, and potentially for you, but not for me. I need to see exactly where I stand. I get daily emails at 4:30 am from my bank, showing what exactly went into and out of my account the day before. On Mondays, when all of the weekend stuff pops in, I know exactly how much I have left for the remainder of the week until Friday’s payday.

Side note: I originally typed the sentence above as “how much I have left to spend for the remainder of the week, “showing a perfect example of  how NOT to think about money. Which leads me to my final thought on the subject:

The best thing I’ve found for me is to pay yourself first. I get paid every other Friday and I set up automatic transfers of money that day from my checking to my savings accounts, the kid’s savings account, and college funds on those days. My retirement funds are automatic from my paycheck. If I were really good, I would set it up so I can’t access my savings account so easily on my bank app. But I’m not that good. Maybe one day.

This falls more into the ‘organizing your life for the future’ category than the usual organizing the physical objects here now. But it’s something that I’m very passionate about and want to make all of you guys aware of the importance of being prepared.