Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!!

halloween Pictures, Images and Photos

Wishing everyone a very Happy Halloween. Don't eat too much candy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Home Staging - Make Your Home Appealing to Buyers

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Staging your Home to Sell (Complete Idiot's Guide to)

It's a buyers market right now and if you're getting ready to sell your home, staging your home is something you should consider - giving your home the edge over all the others.

I'm recommending the book "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Staging Your Home to Sell" by Julie Dana and Marcia Layton Turner because it gives a complete overview of home staging from start to finish.

The book defines home staging as a new service designed to help prepare your home to sell while maximizing its appeal to potential buyers. When you "stage" a home, you are making changes that will improve the opportunity to sell the property.

Home staging presents your home in its best light because buyers are known to choose a home based on how much space and amenities the property has.

The first part of home staging is determining how much you want to spend to stage your home. Most home stagers recommend spending 1-3% of the asking price for the home. If your home is listed at $500,000, you would spend between $5,000 to $15,000 for home staging. This price would include carpet and floor cleaning, rug replacement (if necessary), electrical or plumbing improvements, painting, new lighting and some light landscaping. The percentage you spend would depend on the age and overall condition of your home.

If you're balking at spending money to stage your home, consider this statistic - the sooner you sell your home, the more likely you will receive close to or above your asking price. The longer the house sits on the market, the lower the selling price will ultimately be - you've lost the "buzz" factor.

After you've determined what, if any, improvements you need to make to stage your home in an effective manner, you must tackle the clutter. This means removing all personal effects - framed photographs, knick-knacks, posters, artificial plants, trophies - anything that fills your flat surfaces and makes your home look cluttered. Clear all paper off your desk and other surfaces as well.

Take down old curtains - let the natural light fill your home. Remove old area rugs and extra furniture. Buy a nice set of towels which you will only display when the home is shown. Don't wash them - keep them nice and fluffy and new.

This is a good time to get rid of those extra items you don't want to move to your new home. Put it away, give it away, store it or sell it. Consider renting a temporary storage unit for the time your home is for sale. Store those items you want to bring to the new home but need to clear out for home staging purposes. Consignment shops will take furniture in good condition to re-sell for a small fee.

Remember, light and spacious are the keywords. And the more you do to stage your home for sale, the less you'll have to do once it sells.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Collectibles - How to Donate When They're No Longer Valuable

beanie babies Pictures, Images and Photos

You caught on to the Beanie Baby craze in the late 90's. You've been collecting Star Wars figures for years now and have run out of space and interest.

What do you do with these collectibles when they're no longer worth more than you paid for them?

Collecting collectible toys/action figures can seem like a good idea at the time - low starting prices which may increase in value over time. You figure if you keep them intact, still in their original packaging, they'll double, maybe triple in value. Unfortunately, most of the time that isn't the case and worse yet, you weren't the only one who thought that way.

My recommendation comes from personal experience in this area. Other than one wingless yellow duck that I sold for big bucks back in 1998, the Beanie babies I collected for my daughter became a big burden for storage and display space. What I decided to do was donate them to a senior citizen center who had a fundraiser for a local children's orphanage. I tallied the value of each Beanie Baby based on current Ebay values at the time, and took that as my tax write-off.

Lot 17 Stormtrooper, Ben Kenobi, TIE Fighter Pictures, Images and Photos

My husband did the same thing with his large collection of carded Star Wars figures a few years later. We created an Excel spreadsheet of each item and its value. We gave these spreadsheets to our accountant at the end of the year and took the tax write-off. The toys were donated to the local Salvation Army who works directly with children's charities in the area.

So don't despair - there is a place for every collectible - whether you sell it on Ebay and make a profit or donate it to a good cause and just take the tax write-off.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Organizing on the Go

Music Pictures, Images and Photos

Here's a link to a fabulous organizational blog post by Michelle Payne of - a website for those who teach music. This website helps teachers set lesson plans and fees, deal with billings, scheduling recitals - basically anything that a music teacher would need to know to run their own business.

This particular blog deals with helping to organize music teachers who travel from student to student and basically work out of their cars. Check it out - you'll find some great information that's sure to help you even if you're not a music teacher.

Here is the link:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A "Real Simple" Quote for Your Day

Every so often, I post a quote I receive in my daily emails from Real Simple Magazine. Here is another one I thought you'd like to see:

Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.

— Anthony J. D'Angelo

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Poll of where clutter collects

A few weeks back I posted a blog asking readers to tell me where clutter collects in their homes. These are the most frequent responses I received:
Bulletin board
Night stand/dresser
Top of refrigerator
Under the bed
Office desk
Dining room table

I will be touching on each of these areas in future blogs to discuss ways to organize and cut out the clutter.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tim Gunn's Guide to Style - the 10 Essential Pieces for Your Wardrobe

Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style

Lately I've been evaluating my own clothing style and have decided to pare down to a basic color pallet and style to keep from over burdening my closet with clothing I don't like or don't wear very often.

I love to watch Tim Gunn both on "Project Runway" and on his own show "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style".

He recommends purchasing 10 essential items for your wardrobe that you will have and wear forever. They are as follows:
Basic black dress pants
Classic white shirt
Basic black dress
Trench coat
Everyday dress
Alternative to a sweat suit
Neutral skirt and jacket
Basic black boots, pumps and ballet flats
Any occasion top

Having these 10 essential items in your closet allows you to dress up any outfit and always have the basics when you're getting dressed in the morning. Add a simple belt or classic jewelry but don't get bogged down in trendy clothing that won't last and will be outdated by the end of the season.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Having an Organized Book Fair

This week we had our semi-annual book fair which was a huge success. We have a great group of dedicated parents who help make this book fair a wonderful event and fundraiser for the school.

But a book fair is nothing, if it's not organized. Organizing a book fair is easy if you remember to group your books by category - similar to how a library is laid out. Have all fiction books together - picture books displayed on tables and chapter books displayed together by author and reading level.

Non-fiction books should be displayed by themes and categories - e.g. ancient cultures, the West, art and painting, dance, music, etc.

Make sure you have non-fiction books that appeal to young children too - how-to-draw books and books on space, transportation and animals.

In other words, know your audience. Gear your books towards the children and families you know will shop at your book fair and who will buy the books they love the most.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Container Store - Great Affordable Source for Shipping Boxes

I've been doing a lot of Ebay selling lately and am always on the lookout for great deals on shipping products. I've found that The Container Store has great prices on shipping boxes - plain white cardboard boxes in many shapes and sizes. The prices run from 89 cents to around $4.99. They also have good prices on packing peanuts as well.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Decorating for Halloween

One of my favorite holidays - Halloween - is almost upon us. At my house, we love to decorate for this holiday because you get to use your imagination and make it as scary or fun as you like.

Today I'm getting out all the decorations we'll be using this year. You can see that we have quite a few boxes of Halloween decorations. We won't be using everything this year as we're not having a Halloween party and our teenage daughter will be going to a friends house on Halloween night. We don't get any trick-or-treaters in our new neighborhood which is a disappointment as we used to get over 300 kids at our old home.

Remember each year when you take out the decorations to weed out those you no longer use. This will make room for the new items you bought this year. Donate your old decorations to a school or children's hospital if they're in good condition. The same goes for old costumes.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Students - How Are You Making Your Student Planners Work for You?

Students – How are you Using Your Student Planners?

We’re well into the second month of school now, and I’m wondering how many students are really using their school planners to their best advantage.

Are you writing down all your long and short-term assignments in the dates provided? Are you allocating time each evening to tackle a portion of that term paper that’s due before Halloween?

Now’s the time to re-think if you’re using your student planner to it’s fullest capacity.

In August, I posted a blog about Student Organization in which I recommended using a blank Teacher Planner for your calendaring needs. What’s great about these planners is that there are no pre-selected dates or information crowding the spaces you need to use. You create the planner you want.

Here are a few suggestions for making the most of your student planner:

Use your planner for everything in your lives – not just school activities. Plan your exercise times, community service projects, weekend and social activities too.

Don’t forget to bring your planner to every class. If you have a free period in school every day, plan what you will do to make the most of that free time. Study for that test tomorrow or get a jump-start on your homework.

Make a list of your goals in your planner. Try to list at least 4-5 goals (personal, health and educational) each month and see how many you can accomplish. Don’t feel bad if you don’t get through the list – just transfer those you didn’t get to and still want to accomplish onto the next month’s pages.

In other words, make the planner do the work.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

Long Term Storage - Is It Worth It?

About three years ago, we moved from a 4-bedroom house into a 2-bedroom apartment for 14 months. We realized at the time that we couldn’t possibly fit everything from our house into the apartment and there were many things we wanted to keep for when we would be in a larger home again.

We shopped around and finally settled on putting our possessions into a large 10x30 storage unit at Public Storage. It was a convenient location and the unit was on the ground floor which meant we could drive the moving van right up to the unit and unload without having to use elevators, stairs, etc. Anytime I needed to retrieve anything from the unit, it was an easy experience.

The downside of these storage units is, of course, the price. We paid approximately $550 a month to rent this unit which translated to $7,150 over the 14-month period.

As this was a temporary situation, we were able to justify the cost of storing our items which included over half of our household furniture and possessions.

However, recently I’ve seen commercials for these storage unit companies touting slogans like “Packrats of the World Rejoice” or “Your Stuff Will be Happy Here”. Sure, your stuff might be happy, but will you?

If you are not planning on moving from your current residence and you have so much stuff that you’re thinking of putting some of it off-site into long-term storage, please think again.

Although that “first month free” might sound appealing, you won’t get this “bargain” unless you sign a one-year lease. If you’re storing a bunch of boxes of old papers, furniture you just can’t seem to part with or anything of no real value, you will have paid for these items at least five times over by the time you empty the storage unit.

Let’s say, for example you store the following items in a 5x5 storage unit for one year: your brother’s couch, an old chair from your great-aunt, some boxes of old books and school papers, and kitchen stuff your Mom no longer wants but you can't bear to part with. The value of those items better be well over $875 or you’ve just paid that much for one year of storage. Think what you could have spent that money on!

It’s important to remember that we can’t keep collecting more stuff to the point that we need outside storage to handle it all. If you can live without it (and you will be if you’re putting it off-site), you really don’t need it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What Type of Learner Are You?

Franklin Covey put together a great article about learning types which I would like to summarize for you here:

Studies have shown that people generally possess one of three types of learning styles:
Visual, Auditory or Tactile/Kinesthetic.

If you are a Visual Learner you:

Learn best from reading;
Like to see things written out; and
Use words and diagrams as memory aids

If you are an Auditory Learner you:

Recall spoken stories better than ones you’ve read;
Follow oral instructions better than written ones; and
Say words in your head as you read silently

And, if you are a Tactile/Kinesthetic Learner you:

Enjoy doing experiments and role playing;
Are good at puzzles and mazes; and
Can often put things together without instructions

Finding out which learning style works best for you will help to better handle your files and paperwork at home or in the office.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I Love Fall!

I went to the store this morning and bought my first pumpkins of the season. Fall, especially the month of October, is my favorite time of the year. I will be getting the Halloween decorations out in the next few days and will post some pics and tips for you.

What will you be doing to decorate for the holidays?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

100 Thing Challenge - Ebay Sales

For the past three weeks I've been paring down my collection of jadite Fire King dishes, cups and bowls. I've sold about 30 pieces and made a pretty good return on my investment.

I've been selling on Ebay for over 10 years and still believe it is a great way to make a little extra cash and also to find that elusive collectible you remember from your childhood.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Storing That Airline Blanket & Pillow You Just Paid For

Well it's official, Jet Blue is actually charging $7.00 if you want a pillow and blanket on your next flight. I guess the good news is that you get to keep the blanket and pillow you just paid for. It's probably just a matter of time until the remaining airlines follow suit.

So, the question is, what are you going to do with these items now that they're yours? After returning from your trip, wash the blanket and pillow cover and store them inside your luggage for your next airline trip. Or, alternatively, store them in your trunk with your emergency kit for use in case you get stuck in your car or the kids get tired on long car trips.