Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where Does Your Clutter Collect?

I'd love to hear from my readers on this topic. I find that we all seem to have little piles of clutter on our desks or bedside tables. Where else does your clutter accumulate?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Social Security - Great Tips on When to Start Collecting

You have choices when it comes to collecting Social Security Benefits whether you're close to retirement or not. I recently read a great article from the Los Angeles Times and wanted to share some tips with you.

There are three different times in your life when you can begin to collect Social Security - age 62, 66 or 70. What age you pick can greatly influence the amount of Social Security you receive but there are other factors that can contribute to your decision as well.

The age your grandparents lived to and the age of your parents is one major contributing factor. Bruce Schobel, a Social Security expert, states that if your parents are living well into their 80's and 90's, choosing to wait until age 70 would be the better choice because you'll get more money each month - approximately 32% more than if you started collecting at age 62.

Starting your benefits at age 62 would come into play if you've had a major illness or your parents died at a younger age.

There are other factors that can influence your decision including whether you're single or married - married couples should claim benefits on the spouse who made the most money during their working years. Postponing your benefits can also increase the amount of your spouse's survivor benefits if the higher-earning spouse dies first.

Of course, the bottom line is that over a third of Social Security recipients claim their benefits at age 62 simply because they need the money - it is their primary source of income.

The Los Angeles Times article was written by Kathy M. Kristof of the Personal Finance, Business department. I give full credit for the contents of this article to her.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Something to Think About on November 4th

Real Simple's daily quote on Thursday really hit home with me and I'd like to share it with you:

The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oven Repair - Revisited

Last week, I blogged on how I had broken the door on my oven and had gone online to Sears to make an appointment for a repairman to come and assess the damage. I waited 10 days for the repairman to come and when he did, he told me it would cost over $600 to fix the oven because it needed 8 hours of labor and the part alone would cost $165.

After that experience, I figured it might be cheaper to purchase a new oven since they were on sale that week at Sears for $720.

So, last Saturday I went to Sears and spoke to a saleswoman who told me the following:

1. The oven was not in stock in the store and she could not tell if me the hinge that broke on my oven had been replaced on the newer model with a better hinge;

2. The cost to deliver the oven would be an additional $65; and

3. The cost to install the oven by a separate appliance person would be another additional $189.

So, after adding all that together, I realized I would be paying over $1,000 for a new oven that only needed a new hinge on the door.

On Monday I called Frigidaire repair and was given the number of a local appliance repair company in the valley. When I called them, I was told they could come out the next day to assess the damage. Because I was working on Tuesday and Wednesday, I picked Thursday morning for the repairman's visit.

He arrived on time on Thursday morning and approached the repair in a completely different way than the Sears repairman. He went out to his truck, found the part and quoted me a repair price of $180 including the part ($53) and labor. The oven door hinge was installed and the entire job completed in less than one hour.

So, I need to refute my previous post touting Sears as an answer to appliance repair when you don't have an extended warranty on your appliance.

The small independent stores are still alive and well and ready to serve you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Simple Closet Organizing Idea

I'm always recommending that my closet organizing clients try the backward hanger technique to determine what clothes they're actually wearing. The rule is to hang all the hangers backwards on the rod and, after wearing an article of clothing, hang that article back on the rod with the hanger facing the right way.

At the end of six to eight months, the clothing still hanging backwards on the rod are the clothes not being worn. This makes it easier to evaluate what to keep and what to donate from this select group of clothing.

So, I've decided to try this method myself for the next six months and see how I do. I'll let you know....

Friday, September 19, 2008

Learn to Say No - Make Yourself a Priority

Are we all taking on more than we can handle? Are we stressing ourselves out? I found this to be true when I was a parent volunteer at my daughter's elementary school a few years ago. I was the library parent volunteer, room parent, parent organization secretary and assistant chair of the silent auction.

When someone asked me to take on one more assignment, a good friend took me aside and gave me some of the best advice I'd ever gotten. "Just say no", he said. "No one will think any less of you, they'll find someone else, and you won't be taking on any more stress than you can handle".

I've taken that advice forward in my life and it has worked so well for me. So, thank you, dear friend.

Know your limits - know when enough is enough. Just say no when you feel you'll be taking on more than you can reasonably handle in your life. Take time out for you.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oven Repair - Part Two

Well, the Sears repairman arrived at 11:30 and pronounced my oven dead on arrival. To fix it would require 8 hours of labor (dismantling and putting the entire inside back together) and parts for a total of over $633. I can get a new one for $700. Look for me at the store, shopping for wall ovens.

Not a happy camper .....

My Broken Oven Story

So, I broke the oven door. I'll admit it - it was my fault. It just wouldn't open one night when I was making dinner and, since the dinner was inside the oven, I had to really pull hard on the door when it wouldn't open.

So, I figured I'd call Sears since I know they will repair any appliance, even if it wasn't purchased through Sears. Since we're renting our house, I have no idea where the owner purchased the oven - I only know that it was new when we moved in 2 years ago. Which doesn't explain why it broke already!

Anyway, it was a Sunday night and I knew Sears wasn't opened to call to make the appointment so I tried going online and see if I could make the appointment that way. Well, voila! I was able to go through the whole process online including listing the make and model of the oven, what was wrong with it, and the date I wanted the repairman to come to my house.

Now, it's Thursday morning and I'm waiting for the Sears man to come. They're scheduled to be here between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. It's 10:30 and no one's come yet. More about what happens next in my next blog.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How to Pack Glass for Mailing

I've just sold this vintage Fire King teardrop jadite bowl on Ebay and I thought I'd share my tips on packing glass for shipping with you. I've shipped over 400 pieces of glass through the mail and can proudly say that nothing has ever arrived broken.

Preparation is the key when packing glass. You will need the following items:

A strong, sturdy box suitable for shipping across the country - the Post Office will provide Priority Mail packing boxes free of charge. You can pick up some sizes at the post office or go on their website to order the sizes you need. You must buy them in groups of 25 online.

Strong packing tape - don't buy the cheap stuff - you'll hate it when it gets tangled and stuck together and it doesn't hold well on long distance travel.

Good quality bubble wrap - use clean, unpopped wrap. I'm using the large bubble size for this heavy bowl.

Styrofoam peanuts.

Tape the box together making sure to tape the center and both sides to keep the box strong. Remember that it may have to travel across the country - this box is going to Virginia - and it's going to be tossed into at least one mail truck.

Fill the bottom fourth of the box with styrofoam peanuts. This will provide a cushion for the glass.

Make sure the box you're using is large enough for what you're packing but not too large that the glass can shift during mailing. This 12x12 priority mail box is perfect for most pieces - they make a smaller size for cups or salt/pepper shakers.

Cover all sides of the glass with bubble wrap - tape completely to keep the glass protected. Again, you can't use enough tape especially when you're shipping vintage glass. If it breaks, there's one less vintage piece left in the world - they're not making any more.

Place the bubble wrapped glass in the box and fill with styrofoam peanuts on all sides and the top.

Make sure the peanuts fill the box completely - when you tape it shut it should feel full and the top of the box should not sag at all.

Tape the center and both sides of the top of the box as well. Attach your shipping labels and insure the package, if possible.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Delicious.com - Organizing your Bookmarks

delicious Pictures, Images and Photos

How do you organize your online bookmarks? Most of the time, the choices don't allow any way to sub-categorize or tag your favorite places. However, I've discovered a great choice called Delicious which you can download to your computer and not only create a place to save your favorite sites, but also access these sites from any computer, any place you go.

What I like best about "Delicious" is that I can categorize my favorite places with specific tags such as "organizing", "blogs", "colleges", etc. Since I have over 200 favorite places, having to scroll down and find the one I want is not an organizers idea of good time management.

You can also send Delicious bookmarks of interesting subjects to your friends and family who also have "Delicious" on their computers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Inspiring Quote for You

I receive Real Simple's Daily Quotes each day via email. Here's one I wanted to share with you:

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.

— Hans Hofmann

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Men's Wearhouse Suit Drive - Give to a Good Cause

The Men's Wearhouse is conducting their first annual National Suit Drive and they're asking for our help. By donating any gently used men's professional attire to their stores through October 31, 2008 you will receive 10% off your next purchase at the Men's Wearhouse stores nationwide.

The Men's Wearhouse National Suit Drive benefits at-risk men and youth transitioning into the workforce. The clothing they receive will be distributed throughout the community by local nonprofit organizations.

So here's another great reason to clean out those closets and donate your used men's clothing to a good cause. Even if you don't shop at the Men's Wearhouse, the donations you make can change someone else's life in so many positive ways.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Organizing in 15 Minutes - Your Sock Drawer

Here's a quick 15 minute organizing tip that will make your life so much easier when you're getting ready in the morning.

Start by taking all of your socks out of their drawer and placing them on your bed or another flat surface. Go through them and sort first by pair. Any socks left over should be set aside for now.

Go through each pair and be honest about their condition and whether you still wear them or not. Each pair you decide to keep should be folded together into thirds.

I have organized my socks in an easy to use and assemble sock sorter which fits right into my dresser drawer. This can be modified into different shapes to fit in many different sized drawers. One pair of socks should fit into each slot.

The socks that don't have partners should be set aside in the sock drawer for no more than two weeks. If their partners don't show up by then, the remaining sock should be discarded.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Martha Stewart's 100 Reasons to Get Rid of Clutter

I don't know about you, but I love Martha Stewart. I've been a fan since the late 80's when she released her videos on buffet lunches, Thanksgiving, and formal dinner parties. In fact, I started my collection of Fire King jadite because she used these dishes in her "Buffet" video.

I read this article, "100 Reasons to Get Rid of It" in Martha's "Blueprint" shelter magazine which was aimed at a younger audience. Unfortunately, the magazine is no longer being published although you can still read the articles on Martha's website.

Click here to read the article. I hope you will be inspired by some of the reasons.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Hungry Girl's Healthy Shopping List

Check out this great healthy shopping list from the Hungry Girl website. Hungry Girl is a website dedicated to teaching us how to make healthier choices in the foods we eat.