Getting Organized Around Your Taxes

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It’s tax time! Are you ready?  Will you be filing on time or need an extension?  Either way, do you have your finances organized? 

I’m not a financial advisor but I do like having my finances  organized and file my taxes on time every year.  I have my  dad to thank for this and feel blessed that at a pretty young age was given the financial literacy to understand the basics, especially to not live beyond my means.  I vividly remember at 18 before going off to college my dad opening a credit card for me and him explaining that I was to pay it off every month no matter what I charged and this way I should never charge more than I can pay off. Advice I actually listened to. I appreciate these lessons now even more and especially as I start to teach my son about the basics of finance.

I’ve worked quite a bit over the last few years with a local fiduciary office that  manages high wealth clients.  I  help them to organize large, overwhelming cases that they don’t have the time or manpower to deal with.  This has given me an insider’s perspective into just how very important it is to stay on top of your finances by keeping them organized.  On more than one occasion 10 or more boxes of paper would be dropped off of just financial statements for someone’s estate that was in complete disarray.  I had to make heads or tails of it all, like a 10,000 piece puzzle.

From my own experience and from working with my clients, I’ve learned a few things about keeping your finances organized.

Here are my top 3 takeaways:

  • Keep all digital financial statements in one place.  Because so much is done online now and luckily we are saving resources by going paperless, lots of statements are coming to us via email.  So, create a folder specifically for that in your inbox.  In gmail, they’re called labels.  You may have several, for instance one is banking, investments and taxes for that specific year.

  • Put all paper statements in file folders by account, investment, or type.  If there is only one statement a year, maybe those could be grouped together in investments, for example.  

  • To organize your taxes all year long have a file folder or old school expandable file folder with pockets labeled with that tax year.  My 2019 tax folder already has donation receipts from the thrift store and acupuncture receipts from appointments I’ve been to this year.  When January of next year rolls around and I start to receive my tax statements I put them in the folder, too.  Once they’re all in one place (two including the email tax folder) I’m able to simply group things together before handing over to my accountant.

If you need help there is no shame in being disorganized. It’s never too late to create new habits so that next year it’s a breeze. If you need help or get stuck give me a call!

Happy Organizing!



I'm hanging on to it because........

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I’ve been helping clients get organized for about 7 years.  One of the biggest hurdles to being organized is having too much stuff. I’ve heard every excuse as to why people can’t get rid of things.  There. Are. So. Many. Excuses. 

I’d say the most popular excuses fit into the three categories listed below.  If you find yourself making similar excuses here are the questions I ask my clients to help them LET GO. 

  • I spent a lot of money on this.  I hear this one a lot!  I bought this cashmere sweater and spent a lot of money on it. BUT, you never wear it.  It doesn’t fit anymore.  Or you just don’t really love it. 

What if you knew someone else would wear the sweater and get good use out of it?  Love and cherish it?  Would that make you feel better?  There are so many great thrift stores and charities to give used items to.  Some will even come to your house and pick the items up for you.  

  • Someone special gave this to me.  This one is twofold. Either you are attached to the person that gave the item to you, hence you want to keep it.  My grandma gave it to me and she’s no longer here and it reminds me of her.  Or you are afraid that the person that gave you the gift will ask where it is. (Which by the way I think is so rude!)

This is really sweet.  I have asked on more than one occasion, would your grandma want you to keep it if you really don’t love it?  

Or, are you hanging onto a gift out of guilt? I usually have to remind my clients that when you give someone a gift, it’s theirs to do what they want with.  Of course, you hope they will love it, keep it and cherish it but you let go once you have given it.

  • I might need it someday.  You want to be prepared. You bought that mandoline because you envisioned yourself using it. Your friend made that beautiful appetizer with hers. You have 20 table cloths just in case. Or all those file folders you’ve been saving might be useful  one day.

My next question is always, “When was the last time you used it?  Really used it. If you haven’t used it, in a really long time, you probably aren’t going to.   If this item is collecting dust, still has the tags on, or you didn’t even remember you had it, it’s time to let it go.  Again, someone else would love to make good use of it.  

So try asking yourself these questions when you’re trying to get rid of something and if you get stuck, call me!

Happy Organizing!  



Two things I love- helping people get organized + international travel

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka with Dad and Asher

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka with Dad and Asher

Two things I love - helping people get organized + international travel. I've found that one of my favorite parts is planning my trips.  I love seeing new places, learning about different cultures and trying new foods. The sights and sounds of exotic locales are what dreams are made of to me.  

Before my son Asher was born, when I taught high school I travelled quite a bit. I was able to during summer, spring and winter break. There was Cambodia to see Angkor Wat, backpacking throughout Central America to volunteer in the National Parks in Costa Rica, learning to dive in Honduras and going to language school in Guatemala.   One summer, we cruised around the Aegean Sea on a Gullet in Turkey and I took students to Paris and Rome one spring.  I think one of my favorite trips to date though was two summers ago with Asher and my dad to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.  It was truly spectacular.  They say the Maldives won’t be there forever and I wanted to see them while they are still intact.


 One of the things I love most about these travels is planning the trip.  Pouring over the dreamy possibilities of what is to come.  There is usually a moment of overwhelm with so many choices but with time and research, it gradually all falls into place like the pieces in a well laid out puzzle.

  • The very first thing, as soon as you know you are ready to travel is to check your passport to make sure it’s still current and up to date.  You’d be surprised as to how many people book a trip assuming their passport is good to go.  www.travel.state.gov is the official site to renew and it generally takes 6-8 weeks so give yourself plenty of time.  Make a few copies of your passport,  to spread throughout your backpack and suitcase in the event of an emergency and if for any reason you lose it.

  • Check the CDC website: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel for up to date immunizations you would need for the countries you will be traveling to.  And of course, check with your doctor to see which ones they recommend. 

  • Pack Light! Of course it depends on what time of year you are traveling and whether you are going skiing in the Alps or to lay on the beach in Bali but you NEVER need as many clothes as you think you will. I try to take a tip from the French women who have a “uniform”. I have a few cute outfits that I can mix and match with other basics. I pack clothes that travel well, are made of lightweight materials, can be layered and don't matter if they get wrinkled.  

  • I've created a small travel first aid kit that I take everywhere, especially overseas.  It's in a clear toiletry bag and I include simple things like aspirin, ibuprofin, bandaids and neosporin.  You'd be surprised at how expensive or hard to find even simple medicines are in off the beaten path places.  I got dysentery once in Guatemala and just like to be prepared for anything.  

  • And lastly, make sure someone stateside has your itinerary.  It's easy to stay in touch, especially with free apps like WhatsApp that work internationally and allow you to message and video chat for free, as long as you have wifi.  But it's always a good idea that someone back home knows where you'll be and when.

    I'd love to help you plan or pack for your next trip!  If you'd like to book a consultation with me click here.

    Happy Organizing!

     



     




Morning Routines of Highly Successful People

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I love to read about and know how entrepreneurs become successful.  I’m an entrepreneur in the first five years of my business and busy mom of a ten year old.   Is there a magic formula? Is there something in the water where they live? In all the lists I read and reviewed, I’ve distilled it down to my top 5 favorite things they do first thing in the morning.  It seems that they all have a morning routine. Not necessarily the same one but A morning routine.

1. Highly successful people  wake up at the same time every morning.  Whether it’s 5am or 7am, even on the weekends and holidays.  This way your body is used to that time.

2.   They start their morning with meditation.  Even 5-10 minutes of meditation can cause the pituitary gland to secrete endorphins associated with positive emotions and experiences.  Meditation also can help combat anxiety and slow down the busy mind. I try my best to meditate every morning and have found using the Calm app really helps.

3.  They exercise in the morning.  There are a million reasons to exercise such as it helps you sleep better, it’s good for your heart but when you do it first thing in the morning you can ride the endorphin wave all day long.  Whether it’s a 30 min walk, bike ride, swim or yoga class but moving your body every day is key to a more productive, clear-headed day.  I’m not always able to exercise in the morning but when I am, I love energy it gives me all day long.

4.  Highly successful people eat a good breakfast in the morning.  Your brain needs fuel to do your best work and think clearly.  This one is my favorite because I love to eat a big breakfast. Sauteed greens with eggs and avocado is my go to and tends to keep my fueled for hours.

5.  They start their to-do list with their highest level thinking tasks first.  Especially if you’ve meditated, exercised and had a good breakfast, you’ll be at your peak first thing in the morning.  You can leave the smaller lower level tasks that don’t take as much brain power for the afternoon when you have your lowest amount of energy.  And if you can knock out a large project in the morning, you’ll start your day off with a win!

What morning habits/ routines do you swear by?  Have you noticed any changes when you stick to them vs. not doing them?  If you’re wanting to find an extra hour in your day to incorporate anything new I’d love to help you. If you’d like to schedule a call with me click here.



Olive Oil and Vinegar Separation Party

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I am not an event planner but I’ve been known to plan a party or two.  There were of course birthday, graduation (my own when I completed my Master’s), anniversary and an inauguration party where the candidate was not slated to win. She went on to be mayor for 8 years.

The most interesting party I’ve planned to date was my own separation party.  My ex-husband, Randy and I split-up when my son, Asher, was one. I wanted to acknowledge  the occasion with a meaningful event that showed we were separating thoughtfully. Randy and I had been through a lot together but we still had/ have so much love for each other and for Asher, who is now 10.  This was way before celebrities started “consciously uncoupling”. We knew no other way.

One of our favorite places to eat breakfast was next to an olive oil and vinegar place that was the perfect size.  After talking with the owners, they had the idea that everyone could also learn to taste both olive oil and vinegar.   As my mom would constantly remind me, “You know, you’re the vinegar, right?” The learning to taste would turn out to be the most fun part of the party.

In many ways, the party was simple.  Love would be at the core of everything done.  We decided that we would only invite people we were both friends with, so the list was kept to about 30.  The food was simple, delicious and from many of our favorite places. Hand made samosas from the sweet lady at the corner market, macarons from our favorite French bakery and the meats and cheeses from the great Italian breakfast place next door.

I gave a simple toast to our love and though it had morphed and changed into a new love it would continue to engulf each other, Asher and our friends.  A love that was still strong and true, just different. I was honored and humbled to have a friend tell me it was more meaningful than some weddings he had been to.

I’m proud to say, that 9 years later, Asher’s dad has a new partner and baby girl.  We are a truly modern family. Though we aren’t perfect (quite messy in fact), we are one that knows only love for Asher and all our really good friends.

Organization spills into every aspect of my life, especially the gatherings I have for friends. What’s the most meaningful, fun, unique gathering you’ve planned?


2 Step Desk Purge

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Happy New Year! If  cleaning up your desk didn’t quite make it on to your New Year’s Resolution list, don’t worry.  Let’s tackle it now. Together.

A clean, clutter free desk will inspire you to work, write, and get things done that you’ve been putting off.  

If you need extra motivation imagine your work area...

...a streamlined,

...organized

....   with lots of white space that will feel zen and light.

Plus, it’s an easy 2-step process.

Before we start purging,  what is your desk used for?  Working on?  Holding financial and household paperwork?  A catchall? Hopefully, it’s not this last one because if it is, let’s change that.  The ultimate goal will be a streamlined desk that is inviting and whispers to you, “come work here”.  

  1. Go through your desk and starting with the top, remove anything that does not belong there.  Like dirty coffee mugs, kids toys and maybe junk mail that you just never got around to opening. Put things back where they belong.  File things that need to be filed. In no time, you’ll be able to see your desk again.

  2. Make a list of essentials for your desk.  Do you have the basics?  Sticky notes, stapler, tape?  Or maybe you don’t use any of these things?

And the results will leave you breathless!  You'll feel lighter, more clear-headed and less stressed.  Not to mention the time you'll save in finding things you've misplaced.

Too easy? I know, clutter has a way of coming back once you’ve cleared it. Here are my top tips for  staying on top of an organized workspace:

  1. Set a weekly appointment with yourself to clean your desk area.  Maybe every Friday, the last 15 minutes of the day to tidy up so that you'll start work Monday with a clean desk.  

  2. Don't make piles but instead set limits. Instead of continuing to pile things on, put those things away, file them or throw them out! 

  3. Create zones, for example: a workspace for your computer, library for your books, storage area for supplies and filing area for your archives.  

What are you waiting for?!  Set an appointment with yourself to organize your workspace.  And if this isn’t your forte, give me a call, I love organizing desks!