Posts filed under ‘organization’
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You can choose to receive delivery alerts whenever a package is addressed to you or whenever a package has been delivered.
I recently signed up for a similar service through UPS and it has made my life so much easier. I travel out of town quite frequently and I love knowing when packages are on their way. There is also a vacation hold feature of the FedEx site that will allow you to postpone deliveries scheduled when you know you won’t be home.
Note: This post contains affiliate links.
I recently cleaned out my inbox. I unsubscribed from just about every newsletter I receive and removed myself from a ton of unwanted junk that seems to wander across my path each day. I also unsubscribed from a huge number of RSS feeds to bargain blogs.
A lot of these blogs post multiple times throughout the day and my RSS reader quickly fills up with images of deeply discounted toys, clothing and other household items. While it’s great to get a bargain, it’s certainly not a bargain if you spend money on stuff you don’t need. After feeling tempted to buy things one too many times I decided to give the majority of those blogs the old heave-ho. (I did the same thing with magazines and catalogs a long time ago.)
It felt good to give them the boot. A lot of these blogs make their money from referral links to Amazon and other affiliate companies. Every time I take advantage of a bargain I’m dropping anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars in their pocket. There’s nothing wrong with this model. In fact, I belong to an affiliate company and make money whenever readers print coupons from my blog. From time to time I’ve also included affiliate links in posts, though this is a pretty rare occurrence.
I just think it’s important to remember that many bloggers do make money from listing these bargains and that the real way to save money is not to spend it. For me, it seemed easier to remove the RSS feeds from my reader then to continue the daily bombardment of items that were deeply discounted but ultimately not needed.
Last week I wrote about my struggle to rid my home of sentimental clutter. Thankfully I received a bunch of great suggestions on how to pare down the mess. Among my favorites were picking out the very best items, removing duplicates and limiting the amount of stuff so that it all has to fit inside one small tote. I followed a similar set of rules when figuring out which of my son’s clothes to donate.
It’s funny what I hold on to in life. After my son was born I had no problem boxing up all of my old clothes and dropping them off at the donation center. I didn’t want to look in the closet and think about the size I had been or the size I wanted to be. That decision seemed like an easy one to make. Keep some of the pregnancy related items in case another little one makes his or her way into the world, but discard just about everything else. I kept my pants, sweaters and sweatshirts, but most of my shirts, blouses and skirts went off in search of a better home.
So if that’s so easy to decide why is it so difficult to get rid of other things. I’ve been holding on to an old pair of snowboard boots for the past seven years. Why? Because I didn’t want to face the fact that my health problems prevented me from returning to the slopes. Did keeping those boots in my closet help me snowboard again? No, in fact I felt worse about myself every time I saw them. So why did I hold on to them? The answer, (when I forced myself to think about it), was an easy one. I held on to them because I simply wasn’t ready to admit that my health and life had unexpectedly and unpleasantly changed.
Sometimes we hold onto things because they represent a happier, or in my case healthier, time in our lives. It’s tough to let go of a past when the present and future look a less rosy.
Interestingly enough I wasn’t even good at snow boarding. In fact I was downright terrible at it. I learned when I was in my early twenties and being 6 feet tall and not the least bit athletically inclined I spent more time sitting in the snow then gliding on top of it.
So this weekend I dragged my old snow boots and a few pairs of snow pants out of the closet, threw them into the back of my car and sold them at a local sports store that buys and sells used equipment. I decided that though my body may never glide down the slope it has been very, very good to me. After all, it helped me conceive and carry my son, something that I didn’t think would be possible when I first got sick so many years ago. I am grateful for my current health and although not perfect I am thankful for my body.
I hope those boots see the slopes again even if they won’t be strapped to my feet.
In 1999 I bought a children’s medical kit for $5. You know one of those plastic boxes full of pretend thermometers, stethoscopes and blood pressure monitors. I intended to use it as part of my Halloween costume, but changed my mind at the last minute and switched from dressing like a doctor to dressing like a school girl.
Although I lived in a very tiny 9-by-9 room I found a small space to store that medical kit and when I bought and moved into my house it came with me. I held on to it with the intention of gifting it to my niece or nephew, but for one reason or another I kept forgetting to put it in the car.
Thirteen years later I found myself digging through the basement in search of that little plastic box. I know I placed it somewhere among the toys we’ve been handed down from friends, former coworkers and my brother, but for the life of me I can’t remember where I placed it.
I want to find that medical kit so my son and I can play with it. After all these years I want to make use of it. My niece and nephew are too old to care about it anymore.
As I searched through the basement I came across all sorts of other treasures I’d forgotten about. The dolls I’ve held onto since I was a child. The essays I wrote in high school and college, complete with typing errors and bright red grades. Photographs dating back to the sixth grade. So many random pieces of my history that bring so many memories flushing back to me.
I try to clear my house of unwanted clutter. I try my best to get rid of things we don’t use and don’t need. In my heart I know that I could digitize a lot of these things. I could scan the photographs into my computer, along with the old essays and other random things, but I’m not sure it will feel the same when I look at them.
There is nothing quite like holding onto the very paper you wound into your typewriter. The white out marks won’t look the same from my computer screen. And viewing an old photograph won’t be nearly the same as holding one of those old fashioned Polaroid pictures in the palm of my hand.
So what’s a girl to do? It’s not like I look at these things often. I know people who move a lot wouldn’t have the desire to box these up and move them from one place to another, but I don’t plan on moving anytime soon. Should I dedicate a small area of the house for these legacy items or finally give them the old heave-ho?
This week I decided to take a stab at the plastic containers full of baby clothes and toys in my basement. My original intent was to donate most of my son’s stuff to a local charity. Although I’m pretty sure my husband and I will try for a second child it seemed kind of silly to hold on to everything. After all, we don’t know if the child will be the same gender or born at the same time of year.
So I started the great dig on Friday. Only moments into the first box I realized this was going to be a lot harder then I ever imagined. I started with my son’s earliest items, the clothes and blankets he wore during his very first days on this earth.
Of course, I wanted to keep the onesie and blanket we brought him home in. Then there was the little hat a friend knitted and the swaddle blanket we dressed him in on his first day. “Okay, okay,” I thought, “those were no brainers. Now let’s find some things to donate.” The problem is that every little outfit brought memories flooding back to me. Every little terry cloth sleeper, every blanket, every little onesie made me smile. I can’t believe how much my son has grown in a year and every time I pulled an item out of the box I stared in disbelief at how little he once was.
A friend of ours is expecting a baby in April. So I dug through the boxes and found a few sleepers and onesies that were super cute, but no where near favorites of mine. I found enough items to fill a large gift bag.
My husband’s cousin is visiting this week and their son is a few months younger then my son but much smaller in size. I bundled up a few items that might fit him. Again they are super cute, but not really favorites of mine. Some of them were actually hand-me-downs from a former coworker of mine and a bunch of the items were never worn by my son.
I didn’t get rid of nearly as much stuff as I expected. Despite the fact that I’ve taken thousands of photographs of my son in these clothes I couldn’t bear the thought of getting rid of them just yet. I’m not normally sentimental about stuff, but it was clear that this wasn’t going to be an easy process.
I did decide to donate a bunch of holiday related clothing. Friends and family provided us with lots of Thanksgiving and Christmas gear that is really too cute to sit inside a box waiting for our next child.
I also pulled out everything that I didn’t absolutely love. My son was given a lot of clothes from friends and family and then received a ton of hand-me-downs. If I felt a special affection for an item I kept it, if I didn’t think much about or thought it was cute, but not ridiculously adorable, then I donated it. All in all I ended up with three grocery bags full of baby clothes sized newborn to twelve months.
I managed to cram all of the remaining baby clothes into one large plastic container. I also kept a smaller container with sleep related items like baby blankets and sleep sacks. It still seems like quite a lot of stuff, but my heart isn’t ready to pass it on to another family just yet.
When I was younger I noticed that my parents rarely lived in the same areas of the house. My dad tended to spend his nights working over the kitchen table and my mom often moved into the bedroom to read or watch television.
My husband and I moved into our house just over ten years ago and we have certainly divided and conquered various areas in our home. My husband works primarily out of the study. It’s where all of his computers are set up and it’s where he processes photos, tracks our spending and works on various aspects of his business.
The living room is my domain. It’s where I play with my son, cuddle up with a good book, write and blog. At only ten months old my son has already taken over a good number of rooms in our house. He has his own bedroom, a playroom (a sun-room we rarely used until his arrival), and over half of the living room.
His stuff has also taken over a good portion of the basement. In his mere ten months on this earth I have amassed four tubs of clothes and a closet full of outgrown baby equipment. With his height in the 95th percentile he outgrew his baby swing, bouncy seat, cradle and co-sleeper long before hitting the six month mark. Those odd shaped contraptions are now piling up in various corners of the basement. They seem to be impossible to stack and all need to be thoroughly covered and wrapped to avoid dust, kitty litter and mold.
Though we all live in the same house I am fascinated by the ways in which each of us finds a space to call home.
I’m happy that we’ve divided and conquered this way. While my husband tends to be a very neat and orderly guy he will let mail accumulate on his desk or keep a pile of newspapers stacked on the floor for days waiting to be read. With his own space he can keep all of this exactly how he wants. It’s out of my line of sight and into his control.
Similarly if my son’s toys are haphazardly distributed all over the living room I don’t much care. I let him play wherever he wants in that room, (it’s baby proofed so he doesn’t need to be placed in a playpen), but I tend to keep his toys in the back of the room out of the path of foot traffic. If he wanders into that space while playing I simply throw those toys into a fabric box at end of the day. I used to pick up all of his toys after he went to bed, but over time I’ve found I’m not so bothered by seeing his stuff on the far side of the room.
Before I had my son I thought this kind of thing would drive me crazy. I’m not the kind of girl who likes to see a lot of clutter laying around, but I don’t seem to mind his toys. Maybe it’s because they are so bright and colorful and I love that we’ve been able to baby proof the living room so he can have free reign of it.
I did find an old basket in the closet that I now use to carry our belongings upstairs. With a little one in tow it’s not so easy to travel up and down the steps as it used to be. If I find items downstairs that need to go up I place them in the basket and take them upstairs at the end of the evening. This has worked wonders for my husband’s stuff too. He tends to take his socks and belt off when he comes home from work. He previously put these on the steps and I had to walk over them anytime I went upstairs. Now he throws this stuff in the basket and no longer worry about tripping over his belongings.
Of course, we do have one area of the dining room that piles up with things. I’m not exactly sure how it happens, but a hodgepodge of miscellaneous items always seems to make it’s way into that corner. Every time I walk by that area I cringe just a little. I do my best to weed through it at least once a week, but I really wish stuff didn’t accumulate there in the first place.
There are also those areas in the basement that I try to avoid including the overflowing storage shelves full of unused computer equipment and other random electrical devices. Or the boxes of hand-me-down toys just waiting for my son to get old enough to play with.
What about you? Do you have separate areas in the house from your spouse or partner? Do you have tricks for keeping your house neat and orderly? Do you have areas in your home that you try to avoid?
My husband finally decided to dig through the pile of computer equipment and hardware that is stacking up in the basement. While he still has a ways to go, (you should see how many cords are haphazardly falling in and around the storage solution downstairs), he did manage to dig out a couple of items we no longer need.
Six eBay sales later we earned roughly $250. eBay and PayPal captured nearly $30 in fees, but I’m still happy that we cleaned up some clutter and made a little cash in the process. We have at least two other items for sale that will hopefully net us another $50.
I found the bidding for my auction’s pretty interesting this time around. Before listing I placed watches on similar items just to see how much my auctions might earn. If the range was above $10 I listed the item. Item’s less than $10 will probably be shipped off to good will. Between the hassle of getting buyers to pay, dropping items off at the post office and fees from PayPal and eBay anything less than $10 doesn’t seem worth it.
This time around I measured and weighed items precisely so buyers could pay the exact price for shipping. I also offered multiple shipping services like UPS and USPS, though not one single buyer chose the higher UPS option.
I listed two identical items for sale which may have been a mistake. The first auction went for quite a bit, but the second auction sold for 20% less. I think a lot of people were watching the first auction because it received quite a few bids. Perhaps they were also watching the second auction, but didn’t have enough time to bid after the first auction ended. Next time around I need to end the auctions on different days or at least provide more time between their endings. In the big scheme of things I do think the combination of prices was just about average. The first auction sold for more than comparables, while the second sold for less. The average of the two was right in line with other auctions I watched.
I feel good about finding a second home for most of this stuff. We used much of this equipment when I was working from home, but now that I’m staying home with my son I don’t need much more than a simple laptop.
Now the question is how do I get my husband to finish the job of cleaning up the unwanted equipment in the basement? I don’t want to use the money as an incentive, because I know he’ll just buy more stuff that will ultimately end up next to the piles we already have downstairs, but I’m afraid if I don’t find a way for him to continue cleaning those other items will remain there indefinitely. Any ideas?
I love technology. I also love organization. When you combine the advancements in technology with the ability to organize your finances I think you have a win-win scenario.
Let’s take banking for example. All of my bank transactions are handled online or automatically. I used to hold checking and savings accounts at a brick and mortar bank but a few years ago I closed them and opened accounts at the same bank that holds my brokerage account.
There have been HUGE advancements in banking technology in the last few years. When I received checks in the past I had to take them to the bank or mail them in prepaid envelopes and wait a few days for them to show up in my accounts. These days I have an iPhone application that lets me snap a picture and see the funds immediately.
If I have a problem or question I can call the bank 24 hours a day and ask all sorts of questions and I can use bill pay to schedule and pay all of my bills. My online account now provides the ability to link my credit card accounts. I am automatically notified when a new card is due and with a gentle email reminder I never miss a payment.
I almost never write checks by hand anymore. My bill pay list includes over 100 people that I’ve paid for various goods and services over the years. I simply enter an amount and a date and rest assured that the bill will be paid. When I receive similar services I don’t even need to look up addresses or phone numbers. All of the details are listed right in my bill pay address book.
Rather than receiving credit card bills or bank statements in the mail I now read them all online. It’s so easy to track spending when you can download a monthly credit card statement and review the transactions line by line.
My husband and I use Gnucash to categorize and track our expenses. Each month we copy and paste data directly from our credit card statements to our spreadsheets. We can generate charts that display all sorts of information from income and expenses to net worth bar charts. These provide us with snapshot views of our finances in mere seconds.
I also generate an expense pie chart to determine where all our money is going. As I mentioned in the early post it helps us visualize where we’re spending money and ultimately helps us figure out what to cut back on. The majority of our money is spent on mortgages, charitable contributions, utilities, food, utiliies, cars, insurance, medical expenses and our rental property.
Some people use Quicken or Mint to track their money. We’ve chosen Gnucash, but the capabilities are similar. My suggestion is to find a tool that you find easy to use. If you find it cumbersome you won’t track your money.
If you leave a job don’t forget to roll your 401(k) into an IRA. It’s a lot easier to move all of the money into one bucket then to try to maintain money in different accounts at different banks.
My dad is famous for opening up accounts at various banks to earn bonuses. You know the type open a savings account and earn $100, move your direct deposit to an account and earn an extra $300. Unfortunately, this leaves his finances in complete disarray. He has to manage a few hundred dollars at one bank and a few hundred at another. When you have ten or fifteen accounts this can get rather tricky.
My husband and I keep all of our money in the same place. When we log in we can view an instant snapshot of exactly how much money we have. My husband and I are very open with one another. If you and your spouse have a similar relationship, (I hope you do), I suggest setting up power of attorney rights on all of your accounts. With this paperwork in place I can view all of my husband’s accounts online including retirement accounts that I am not a joint member of. My husband can do the same.
If you aren’t comfortable with technology you should start small and try one thing at a time. Start with learning how to log in to your online accounts. Then move all your money to one bank so you can view all accounts at once. If that goes well link credit cards to your bank accounts so you receive email notifications when bills are due and start to pay bills online and on time.
Once that’s in place try your hand tracking software like Mint, Quicken or Gnucash. While it’s nice to see the numbers it’s even better to view them in pretty graph form.
If you are a long time reader you know that I’m a bit clutter phobic. As a result of my desire to keep my house neat and tidy I’ve purged quite a few unwanted items over the last few years and feel better every time I send a box off to goodwill. When a charity calls to ask for donations I can almost always scrounge up a box or two of unwanted items in need of a better home.
Luckily I married a man who also craves an organized home. Last Saturday after spending nearly three hours preparing and cooking freezer meals my husband decided to reorganize the kitchen cabinets. He pulled every item off the shelves, stacked them into categories, set aside those items we no longer need or want and placed the remainder of items neatly back inside.
At the end of the day we got rid of 17 wine glasses and kept only two. Funny enough we don’t even drink wine. We kept them on hand for guests, but most if not all of our friends prefer beer, so the glasses went off to the donation pile. We also got rid of eight drinking glasses that were purchased from random restaurants and establishments we wanted to remember. We realized we can remember them just fine without looking at a cup with the name on it, so they were wrapped and placed in a box too. There were also a couple of mugs, cups and other random containers that we decided could go.
Our cabinet now contains fifteen glass storage containers in small, medium, large and extra large sizes, two stacks of plates (big and small), four ball jars, eight drinking glasses, two mugs, four thermoses, three large serving bowls and one glass pitcher. These are all things that we use on a regular basis.
The misfits and unwanted items all sat in a pile on the dining room table. Among them were a couple of mugs I tend to use during the holidays. You know the type, over sized mugs with penguins and snowmen images that are just perfect for hot cocoa and marshmallows.
This got me thinking about the amount of holiday centric items I keep around the house. How many of these items actually make their way out of the box at Christmastime and how many just take up space in the basement and never see the light of day?
I certainly don’t want to get rid of all of our Christmas and holiday decorations, but I wonder how many I need to make the place feel homey and bright. Do I really need a door decoration for every occasion? Among the pile in my basement are those that read, “Welcome Spring”, “Happy Halloween” and “Merry Christmas.” I also have two Christmas wreaths and a pink heart shaped display for Valentine’s Day.
We’ve received a lot of holiday ornaments over the years, but less than half are actually hung on the tree each year. What about all those bowls and plates with Santa Clause’s picture and those perky reindeer? It seems strange to part with these things but silly to keep them on hand when they are used only once a year.
Why does the very thought of getting rid of this stuff make me feel like the biggest Scrooge? Isn’t it fun to decorate the house for the holidays? Am I taking all the joy out of it? Can I pare Christmas down to two plastic tubs; one for decorations and ornaments and the other for strings of lights for the indoor tree and outside bushes? I think I can.
I haven’t bought new items like this in years, but believe it or not I used to have a hand towel for every holiday. Seriously! I used to have a set with flags for 4th of July, pumpkins for Halloween, clovers for St. Patrick’s Day and little pink bunnies for Easter. I purged my home of those long ago and don’t feel any worse for wear for having gotten rid of them. I think it’s finally time to make a dent in the rest of my holiday centric decorations.
How about you? Do you store a lot of of holiday centric items in your home? Do you feel Christmas wouldn’t be the same without them?
Despite losing quite a bit of weight since my pregnancy I am nowhere near fitting into the majority of my pre-pregnancy clothes. I decided I could either dwell upon this fact or move on from it. I dumped all of the clothes from my closet and dresser out onto my bed and started digging through it.
Rather than taking my typical approach to purging I decided to create two piles. The first was everything that I love to wear. These items are not necessarily the most stylish or beautiful. This pile included my go-to clothes. The ones I find myself pulling out of my closet on a regular basis. This included clothes that I feel good in, that make me look good or are unbelievably comfortable. The second pile contained a bunch of clothes that I rarely or almost never wear.
I tried on each of the items in my pile of ‘every day’ clothes and weeded out anything that didn’t fit or was too ratty and worn. If an item didn’t fit I asked myself whether I still loved it or whether I would be willing to part with it. If I didn’t think I could live without it I folded it up and placed it in a very small cardboard box. When all was said and done I placed less than ten items in this box, sealed it up and placed it in the bottom of my closet. Hopefully I’ll lose those last ten pounds in the next few months. If I do the box will be opened. If I don’t the contents will eventually be donated.
As I searched through the second pile of clothing. I was most surprised by just how many articles of clothing I own but almost never wear. I had a few shirts that never fit as well as they should have. A bunch of dresses and skirts I bought on deep discount for special occasions, blouses I purchased for work and a pile of clothes I received as gifts. The last category included a random assortment of t-shirts from places other people visited or blouses from family members that didn’t fit when I received them.
As I weeded through this pile I asked myself why I never seem to wear these items and whether or not I saw that changing at any point in the near future. In the end I decided to donate all but a couple of shirts and dresses.
After bundling up the unwanted clothes and placing them in bags bound for the donation center I was quite amazed by just how little clothing remained. When all was said and done I managed to downsize from a twelve drawer dresser like this one
to a three drawer dresser which is pretty similar in size to the one below.
I also managed to get rid of at least one-third of the clothes in my closet.
That extra weight gain provided me with the incentive to clear out my clothes. I still have a couple of items remaining that fit, but aren’t necessarily loved. If I lose those ten to fifteen pounds I’ll get rid of a few more of those.
If only it were as easy to purge this unwanted weight as it is to get rid of my unwanted clothing. Sigh.