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  • April 12th, 2013

    Easiest way to financial paper organization, guaranteed.

    Week 4.

    I’ve been in business for 32 years and I rely heavily on my accountant at tax time.  I’m not a bookeeper but I found that if I’m organized with my paperwork then that is half the battle.  Of course I use Quickbooks but when my accountant asks a question and I need to find a receipt I don’t want to spend a day looking for it.

    So even when I’m totally un-organized in every other part of my business I have always kept my financial paperwork in order.  A few years ago I changed the way I keep my papers together.  I used to use pocket folders in a file cabinet, one for each month but that was a hassel.  So now I use a three ring binder with tabs to divide the 12 months and a clear pocket for each month’s receipts.

    Here’s what you’ll need:
    1. 3-hole Binder  ( a nice big fat one )
    2. 3-hole punch
    3. 12 clear page protectors that open on the top. The type made for 3-hole binders.
    4. 12 Tab dividers or sticky tabs to label each month

    How it works:
    At the beginning of each year put together your new binder with clear page protectors and dividers all labeled by month.  The receipts go into the clear pockets each month.  Your bank statements, or merchant statements are punched and place behind the receipts for that month.   this way you have both receipts and statements all in the same place.  It will be very easy to add new receipts.  Never having to look for lost receipts again.  A very simple, very easy system for keeping those important papers organized.

    It can’t get any easier.  Keep the binder at arms reach and make it easy to stay organized with your receipts. And your accountant will never complain about your financial paper organization again.

    Posted in Get organized | I Welcome Your Comments »

    January 25th, 2013

    5 Bins that will Effortlessly Clear the Paper Pileup.

    Week 3.

    So by now your paper is all sorted and put away but wait more paper arrived every day this week. What did you do with it? Let’s set-up a system before we recreate the problem. Clear the paper pileup once and for all.

    2 Incoming Mail Bins: The biggest problem most people have is the mail. It’s comes daily and includes a lot of junk. For me the biggest problem is the junk. It has my address on it so I can’t just throw it out. Right? So now I open the mail by the trash can, toss the junk after tearing off the address, then put the things I need into the incoming box that needs to be filed, and another for the things I need to take action on. On Friday afternoon I will file the papers into my new file system.

    Receipts Bin: My other big problem is receipts. First they clog up my purse then when I clean out my purse on the run I dump them on my desk. Not anymore! I’m much more pro-active on removing them from my purse and putting them in the file box. Most of my receipts are for business and need to be filed in my monthly bookkeeping folders. I’ll share that system with you next week.

    Shred Bin: I finally gave up on those cheap shredders for home use. They are useless and time-consuming. I now put all the stuff that needs to be shredded in a bin. Last week after I purged my files I had “a lot” of shedding. 21 pounds of it. I brought it to the UPS store and paid them to shred. How easy is that? So now as soon as my bin is full I’ll deal with it.

    Tax related: In the beginning of January I set up a file for 2012 taxes. As the paperwork arrives in the mail I put it in this folder. That way when I’m preparing my taxes it’s all in one place. I keep it in the cabinet close to my desk and after filing the taxes I then transfer it to the permanent tax folder in the cabinet that is further away.

    So maybe my system doesn’t work for you. Maybe your paper is different but if you make an easy plan and stick to it then you will be successful at maintaining order. Come back next week to learn how I organize my business receipts. A friend that is a professional organizer loved this idea so much she uses it with her clients.

    Posted in Get organized | I Welcome Your Comments »

    January 18th, 2013

    Create a File system for your Home Office.

    Week 2.

    Last week you did your visualizing and started your plan for the fabulous home office soon to come. So hopefully you did just that and have a list of things that you need to do. Let’s create a file system for your papers since that is what the majority of people complain about it in any office. Why is there so much paper in our lives? And it keeps increasing everyday. So take a few minutes and think about the type of paper you accumulate. What do you need to keep and what can you toss? What are the categories? How can you color-code your files to make it easier to maintain in future? Is one file cabilnet enough? I have two. One for files I need everyday and the other stores paper like taxes, 7 years of receipts, etc.

    Start by getting rid of anything that doesn’t belong in the office. Put it all in a box and move it to another room to deal with later, not too much later, deliver each item to it’s new home.

    The worse part of the process is purging and sorting the paper. So maybe break it up a little each day. Get some wire baskets to help you sort and set up a sorting station for this week only. Label your baskets and don’t forget you’ll need a trash can. Hopefully that will be full by the end of the week. I’ve read many organizing books and they all say to touch each piece of paper only once. Either sort it or toss it. Do NOT put it in a pile for things you don’t know what to do with. If you have too many of those then you didn’t plan well. Think it through and then revise the plan. Everything needs to have a place.

    Once you’ve sorted all the paper by category then you can start filing them all away. It’s not as big a job as you think. And when you chunk it down into smaller tasks you will be finished before you know it. If you’re having trouble staying focused then enlist a friend to help. Especially when purging. We tend to want to keep everything. A friend will not be attached to the sentimental things you are keeping.

    A tip: You may want to have a file for sentimental paper. I started a “smile” file for all those papers that I can’t part with for sentimental reasons. I pull it out a few times a year and trust me … I smile.

    Posted in Get organized | I Welcome Your Comments »

    January 9th, 2013

    Organizing the Home Office 8 week Challenge.

    Week 1.

    organizing the home officeFor two years I’ve been planning to get the office in order and I start the process and then business gets in the way and I never finish. Worse yet, in no time at all the mess is back. So today I analyzed the problem and I see that I always do a temporary fix so things look better right away but I never get to the part where I install a system to keep it that way. A few months ago I set up a plan then got too busy to implement it. So maybe I should start backwards, first visualize and plan.

    So today I decided to make this a challenge. I challenge you to join me in decluttering and organizing the home office. I was going to make it a 10 day challenge but let’s get serious. That is overachiever talk and I don’t think it will ever happen. How about 8 weeks? We can do that. Right!

    Week 1. Visualize.
    Write a few sentences that describe how you want the room to look and feel. What specific challenges do you have in the space? Are there enough shelves, a file cabinet, storage? Is your chair comfortable? Get it all in there.

    Now….work out a rough plan that you can refer to while we work each week. Sleep on it and write down things all week as you think of them. Don’t dig right in and make the mistake I kept making. Let’s take it step-by-step and get it all done in a way that will allow us to stay organized.

    Facelift in 15: Set a timer for 15 minutes and clear off your desk. Don’t get caught up in it…just do it. Click these photos to see what I accomplished. Not perfect but not bad for 15 minutes.

    See you next week. We will create a file system that will give everything a place.

    Posted in Get organized | I Welcome Your Comments »

    December 12th, 2012

    Hiring A Roofer: 5 Things To Consider

    Here in Texas, we’re no strangers to big weather. Thunderstorms, hail storms, tornadoes…we get hit with a lot. And our poor roofs take the brunt of it!

    Last April, a hail storm tore through Lewisville and beat us up good. We had to have our roof & gutters replaced. (I won’t even get into what happened to our cars!) Thankfully our insurance covered most of it but I was still responsible for paying a deductible AND finding a reliable company to do the job. I learned a lot through that process so I thought I’d share a few things that might help others who are going through the same thing now or after the next storm hits!

    1. Start your search at the BBB. There are lots of business reviews and you can easily see what a given company’s “rating” is. Ideally, you’ll identify a company that has an “A+” rating. Even if not, though, they should be reasonably trustworthy if they’re a member. You’ll be able to see any customer complaint history, too. Read, read, read and then read some more!

    2. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Get references. You’ll want to hear about other folks’ experiences, see the work that was done, etc. Confirm that they’re licensed and insured. Ask questions about customer service, timeliness, and anything else that comes to mind.

    3. Get multiple bids. I’d recommend getting 5, but that’ll take time & effort. The thing is, we saw some people bid us really low, but after some investigation there were hidden costs that made the overall cost skyrocket…I’m guessing this tactic is employed to prevent sticker-shock.

    4. Get a formal proposal or quote in writing. It’s important to forward-think and consider things like post-job-cleanup and completion dates and whatnot. Getting verbal agreements never flies…trust me!

    5. Don’t pay upfront! Our next-door neighbor got a “really good deal” because they paid up front and guess what? Their roof never got done! The outfit they used was a “storm chaser” and canvassed our neighborhood door-to-door. Their “company truck” was a personal vehicle and other red-flags were simply ignored. Suckers!

    We ended up going with an A+ rated roofing company in Plano called Daltex Contractors. They turned out to be awesome from start to finish. They weren’t the cheapest or the most expensive. I’m sure there are loads of reputable companies out there so just do yourself a favor and be selective!

    Posted in Tips & Ideas | I Welcome Your Comments »

    October 30th, 2012

    Guide to Choosing the Right Sofa Beds

    Sofa Beds are very handy pieces of furniture, and they will certainly go a long way in giving your guests a memorable and comfortable night. If you had guests for a slumber, and it turned out that you were out of beds then sofa beds would be the answer. A Sofa bed looks just like any other sofa, but it can be easily converted into a bed.

    This article will give you a guide to choosing the right sofa beds, and below are some tips to help you buy.

    Look at your living room area and ensure that your bed will not take up the entire room. This you can do by measuring the dimensions in your living room and comparing then against the sofa bed. It should not scrap your walls, but leave enough room for strolling.

    Consider the comfort it offers. This you can do by sitting and lying on it for about five minutes. Doing this will help you determine the quality and comfort that your potential acquisition can offer. A good sofa should be able to support your back and at the same time be of superior quality. Squeeze the cushions and ensure they are not too tough or gentle.

    Scrutinize the material used on the sofa and cushions. A good sofa bed should have layers of padding to offer maximum comfort and not have metal or wood protruding through the edges. Some beds are made of thin layer cushions, and these may not be the ideal ones to choose from lest you want to wake up with a backache. Ask your store if they do allow you to change cushions and replace them with ones that suit you.

    Durability is another factor to consider. Although you cannot determine this, but it may be beneficial to ask the store how long, your bed is likely to last. A genuine store will always be open with you and give you advice on how to increase its lifespan. Do your homework and check out how firmly tight the frame and bolts are so as to avoid any accidents.

    Consider the colour and how it will match with your walls and home décor. It is not just about the colour matching with your living room walls, but also with other accessories in the home. This is important, as it will ensure that your latest piece of furniture does not distort your household setup. If you are undecided on the colour, you could always take photos of your living room and let your chosen furniture store help you decide, you can also check design online on furniture stores like Bedroom World.

    Consider how genuine and legitimate your furniture store is. The last thing you want is to order something that will last you a few months before it starts falling apart. Different stores offer different quality products. Whilst most may sell genuine furniture, others may not and for this, it will be up to you to carry out a thorough research. Ask friends on a prospective furniture store and read reviews, these will help you choose effectively.

    Don’t be persuaded into buying something before you’re ready and absolutely sure about it, but take time to shop around and ensure that you get what your money is worth.

    Posted in Tips & Ideas | I Welcome Your Comments »

    August 6th, 2012

    Hot Trends for Right Now

    Here are just a few hot trends that I think are not going away anytime soon.

    1. Wallpaper is back. In a BIG way. I’m not talking about tiny flowers or your grandma’s wallpaper. Large bold patterned wallpaper is the look.

    2. Shades of orange are still hot this year. I’m seeing orange used as a pop of color or an accent wall. I love the shade of pumpkin and used it in my living room.

    3. The Collected Look is strong thanks to Nate Berkus. The baby boomers have been doing this for many years but he showed us how to do it in a more modern way. If your rooms look like something out of a catalog then it’s time to shake it up. Remove items that are too matchy matchy and go to a consignment store or flea market and introduce new/old things.

    4. If you want impact then this final trend is for you. Overscale items make a statement. A large light fixture, I love the super large drum shades especially if you have high ceilings. I’ve always loved large artwork maybe because I’m an artist. Here is one of my large colorful paintings in a neutral setting. That’s impact!

    Posted in Trends | I Welcome Your Comments »

    August 4th, 2012

    Creating Art for Your Home with Photos of Your Kids

    If you’re good with computers and have a photo editing application then creating art for your home is something you can do yourself. But if not their are services that will do this for you.

    art for your homeI created this as a gift for the mother of my Goddaughter. I take a lot of pictures of her and the camera loves her. So I started with the cute photo of her looking up at me.
    art for your homeI cropped the photo tight and used only her head and removed the background so it would be less busy and kept the background transparent.
    art for your homeNext I copied that layer of her head so that I had two copies of it. The top copy I applied a filter that took out a lot of pixels and made is look posterized. Kind of like something from the 60’s. But then I overlayed it over the other layer to put back in some of the information posterization removed. This is the tricky part. You need to play with it depending on the photo. I then added a shadow around her head and picked a bright color for the background.
    art for your homeNext I changed the color of her dress. I found a color that complemented the background color. I also added a black border around her head.
    art for your homeRepeat all these steps to make for unique versions and then put them all together in one photo. The result is your very own Warhol creation of someone you love. You can print this yourself on your inkjet printer or order a canvas online.

    Imagekind will create a canvas print or you can purchase a framed print of your finished piece. Click here.

    Posted in Art for the Home, Tips & Ideas | I Welcome Your Comments »

    February 23rd, 2012

    A trend in home textiles

    Ikat fabrics have been around for centuries but is a current big trend in textiles for the home. Ikat is a near universal weaving style common to many world cultures. You can find Ikat textiles from Mexico, South & Central America, Thailand, India, Japan, Philippines, and Bali. Ikat floral patterns are traditionally used in Europe on Mallorca, Spain.

    There are a large variety of patterns ranging from subtle to very bold. I’m drawn to the more bold, colorful fabrics. These chairs were given new life with this bold Madeline Weinrib Ikat fabric.
    Ikat fabrics for the home

    The trend is so big I’ve seen designers mimic the look with paint on the walls. When done in a subtle pattern it look stunning.

    There are outdoor Ikat fabrics as well. Add some Ikat pillows to your outdoor furnishings and you will get a more finished looking outdoor “room” with a tropical feel.
    Outdoor ikat fabric

    Posted in Tips & Ideas, Trends | I Welcome Your Comments »

    November 3rd, 2011

    Saving Time and Money: DIY Guide to Building a Bunk Bed

    Children often clamor for bunk beds when they share a bedroom with another sibling and have grown tired of the limited play space available at floor level. After all, squeezing two beds into a single room leaves little extra space for free play, whereas two beds stacked one on top of the other provide just as much sleeping space but leave more available room on the floor. Unfortunately, not everyone has the option of purchasing a high quality, pre-built bunk set. So if you want to put bunks in your kids’ room but can’t afford to buy a set, you’ll just have to build the structure yourself.

    Since you’re trying to save money and have never built a bunkbed structure like this before, let’s start with a simple design. To build a twin-over-twin sized bunk structure that adequately and stably sleeps two children, you’ll first need to have the appropriate building material for the main frame. Wood is a good choice for first-time builders, as it is easily cut and manipulated, and won’t require welding or other more advanced processes that metal bunks would need. When choosing a wood, select something strong and durable. Most hardwoods work well, such as birch, oak, or cherry. If you’d like to save on expenses, you can choose pine as well. Pine is perfect for painting later so you don’t have to stick with the natural wood color if you don’t want to. If you do choose pine though, be sure to uses a southern yellow pine. White pine is quite soft, and wouldn’t be stable enough for bed building.

    Once you’ve picked out and purchased your building material, you’ll have to lay everything out to begin building. Start with the base of the lower bunk, as this will help to support the rest of the structure. When all else fails, always start from the bottom and work towards the top. Since this is your first bunk building project, measure the width of the base slightly larger than is typical, to provide extra foundational support. The base should extend several inches further than the size of the twin mattress being placed on it, and it should be completely flat. Use a level to ensure the base is flat in its entirety before moving on.

    Once the base has been constructed, you’ll have to assemble four beams that will support the top bunk. Use as few separate pieces as possible, as that will help to improve structural integrity. The beams should be evenly spread out, and you can use supplemental cross pieces to connect the beams for further support. You can use metal clamps and nails to secure the wood.

    After that section is finished, you’ll simply need to build the support section for the top bunk. This layer should be slightly smaller than the base, and considerably lighter (though still strong enough to support the full weight of a body). Line up the top section so that is sits directly over the base, and so that weight is distributed evenly between the four beams. If effectively installed, there should only be a little give on the support beams when a body moves around on the top bunk, and the base should be stable regardless. Once stable, you’ll be able to craft some bars for the top bunk to prevent rolling off, and you’ll also have to install a small ladder so your child can climb to the top bunk and access it easily.

    Paint and design is up to you or the taste of your children, as really, your concern should be on bed sturdiness and child safety. Though exact measurements will depend on the type of building material you use and the construct of the room you’re putting the bunk bed set in, so long as you test for sturdiness and strength along the way, the set should hold up well.

    Posted in Tips & Ideas | I Welcome Your Comments »