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10 E-mail Timesavers

By Randy Dean

  1. Handle “Quick Little” E-mails Right Now. If acting on the E-mail will take 3 minutes or less, get it done right now! Then file or delete removing from your inbox.
  2. “Task” E-mails That Take Longer. Determine what the task(s) is, then add to your appropriate task list. When I find open time in my calendar I can prioritize the most important and act on those in an appropriate fashion. Then move to a folder or delete it.
  3. Don’t Use Your E-mail Inbox as a “De Facto” Task List! Define the action required for an E-mail once, and act on it. Don’t use your inbox as your only file folder causing you to re-read e-mails and wasting valuable time.
  4. Make Folders and Use Them! It is fine to keep e-mails to reference if you feel you need them; just don’t keep in your inbox. Build a personal file system for your e-mails, with folders that naturally make sense to you, so you can quickly and easily move your completed e-mails, as well as you can quickly locate them when you need them again.  MS Outlook allows you the ability to make sub-folders inside of folders for even greater organization.
  5. Don’t Keep Attachments You Don’t Need.  Attachments require more storage space, if you have already saved the attachments to a different location, you can always keep the email and remove the attachment to free up space.
  6. Make Your Sent E-mails “Task Oriented.” For every e-mail you send, every recipient will have a clear, defined task with a specific due date. Tell each recipient 1) why they received your e-mail, 2) what they need to know in the e-mail, 3) what task needs to be completed, and 4) when they need to have it completed by. Think about how productive everyone could be if all e-mails were sent and received like that.
  7. NEVER Send an E-mail With a Singer Open Task to a Large Group! Don’t send a task request to a large group and say “someone needs to take care of this.” Chances are NOBODY will, because no one truly owns the task. In your E-mail make it very clear who owns the task and when it is expected to be completed by.
  8. Use Your “Signatures” Tool as an Auto-Emailer” Many programs allow you to save multiple versions of your signature. If that is the case, you have the capability to then use the signature tool as a way to quickly send repeat messages that you know you will use often. You can just drop the signature into a new e-mail, personalize it with the recipient’s name, and send as if it were an original composition. This will save time from retyping from scratch.
  9. Use SHIFT-DELETE for Junk and /or Spam Messages.  When junk mail makes it to your in box: What to do? If you are a PC-based user of MS Outlook, Lotus Notes, or GroupWise, simply “Single-left-click on that message (don’t double click, that will open it), hold down the SHIFT key, and hit DELETE.  This will permanently delete from you inbox and your deleted items folder as well.
  10. Whatever You Do, Don’t “Bling”! It is the sound your e-mail program makes to alert you that “You’ve Got Mail”. Far too many professionals drop whatever they are doing to check their inbox, derailing their focus and momentum, as well as hindering their productivity. Develop a regimen that allows you to check your e-mails 4-7 times per day. This will allow you to still be responsive without hampering your efficiency.

10 E-mail Timesavers

By Randy Dean

  1. Handle “Quick Little” E-mails Right Now. If acting on the E-mail will take 3 minutes or less, get it done right now! Then file or delete removing from your inbox.
  2. “Task” E-mails That Take Longer. Determine what the task(s) is, then add to your appropriate task list. When I find open time in my calendar I can prioritize the most important and act on those in an appropriate fashion. Then move to a folder or delete it.
  3. Don’t Use Your E-mail Inbox as a “De Facto” Task List! Define the action required for an E-mail once, and act on it. Don’t use your inbox as your only file folder causing you to re-read e-mails and wasting valuable time.
  4. Make Folders and Use Them! It is fine to keep e-mails to reference if you feel you need them; just don’t keep in your inbox. Build a personal file system for your e-mails, with folders that naturally make sense to you, so you can quickly and easily move your completed e-mails, as well as you can quickly locate them when you need them again.  MS Outlook allows you the ability to make sub-folders inside of folders for even greater organization.
  5. Don’t Keep Attachments You Don’t Need.  Attachments require more storage space, if you have already saved the attachments to a different location, you can always keep the email and remove the attachment to free up space.
  6. Make Your Sent E-mails “Task Oriented.” For every e-mail you send, every recipient will have a clear, defined task with a specific due date. Tell each recipient 1) why they received your e-mail, 2) what they need to know in the e-mail, 3) what task needs to be completed, and 4) when they need to have it completed by. Think about how productive everyone could be if all e-mails were sent and received like that.
  7. NEVER Send an E-mail With a Singer Open Task to a Large Group! Don’t send a task request to a large group and say “someone needs to take care of this.” Chances are NOBODY will, because no one truly owns the task. In your E-mail make it very clear who owns the task and when it is expected to be completed by.
  8. Use Your “Signatures” Tool as an Auto-Emailer” Many programs allow you to save multiple versions of your signature. If that is the case, you have the capability to then use the signature tool as a way to quickly send repeat messages that you know you will use often. You can just drop the signature into a new e-mail, personalize it with the recipient’s name, and send as if it were an original composition. This will save time from retyping from scratch.
  9. Use SHIFT-DELETE for Junk and /or Spam Messages.  When junk mail makes it to your in box: What to do? If you are a PC-based user of MS Outlook, Lotus Notes, or GroupWise, simply “Single-left-click on that message (don’t double click, that will open it), hold down the SHIFT key, and hit DELETE.  This will permanently delete from you inbox and your deleted items folder as well.
  10. Whatever You Do, Don’t “Bling”! It is the sound your e-mail program makes to alert you that “You’ve Got Mail”. Far too many professionals drop whatever they are doing to check their inbox, derailing their focus and momentum, as well as hindering their productivity. Develop a regimen that allows you to check your e-mails 4-7 times per day. This will allow you to still be responsive without hampering your efficiency.

What can your home’s equity provide for you?

HELOC flyer no mouse print*As of 3/16/2017, Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the highest Prime Rate (index) published in the “Monthly Rates” section of the Wall Street Journal on a monthly basis, but APR cannot decrease below floor rate of 3.00%.  (As of 3/16/17 the Prime Rate is 4.00%.)  After 12 month introductory fixed rate, rate adjusts based on Prime Rate plus a margin ranging from -0.25% to .50% depending on credit score.  Maximum 18% APR.  This Home Equity Line of Credit is available for primary residence only. First Savings Bank primary checking account with direct deposit required.  Minimum loan amount of $15,000.  Maximum loan amount $250,000.  Total loan-to-value ratio may not exceed 80%. Minimum credit score of 670. Closing cost may apply if title insurance is required or for loans that require an appraisal.  Offer eligible for new loans; existing HELOC with a renewal date of May 31, 2018 or sooner; or an existing HELOC that the contract amount increases by at least 25%.  This loan is not available for the purchase of primary residence.  Standard Rates & Fees apply for credit scores under 670. Property insurance is required, and if applicable, flood insurance will be required.  Minimum monthly payments equal to 1% of unpaid balance or $50 whichever is greater. Paying only the minimum payment may not be sufficient to repay principal and interest and may result in a balloon payment. Consult your tax advisor regarding deductibility of interest. Subject to credit approval. Other restrictions may apply. Offer expires August 31, 2017.

 

6 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Finances

As spring cleaning season begins, the American Bankers Association is encouraging consumers to put a priority on organizing their finances. ABA has highlighted six tips for getting your financial house in order.
“With the tax season ending, spring is a great time to take a close look at your budget and bank account,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “You’ll have a clear picture of your financial situation, and you can make stress-reducing moves now that will pay dividends throughout the year.”

ABA recommends these six tips to help consumers organize their finances:

  • Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you are paying in interest. Begin paying off existing debt, whether that’s by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
  • Review your budget. A lot can change in a year. If you’ve been promoted, had a child, or become a new homeowner or renter, be sure to update your budget. Determine what expenses demand the most money and identify areas where you can realistically cut back. Develop a strategy for spending and saving – and stick to it.
  • Check your credit report. Every year, you are guaranteed one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports and check them for any possible errors. Mistakes can drag down your score and prevent you from getting a loan, or cause you to pay a higher than necessary interest rate.
  • Download your bank’s mobile app. From the palm of your hand, you can make a deposit or access a record of all your recent transactions. Be sure to download the latest updates when they are available.
  • Sign up for e-statements, paperless billing and text alerts. Converting to paperless billing will help keep your house—physical and financial—more clean and organized, and will help protect you from fraud.
  • Set up automatic bill pay. By signing up for automatic bill pay, you’ll never have to worry about a missed payment impacting your credit score. You can set it so that money is withdrawn from your checking account on the same day each month.

Click here to learn more about protecting your finances.

5 Important Questions When Choosing Your First Home

Moving into your own place can be exciting and frightening at the same time. The American Bankers Association suggests considering the following questions when choosing your own home.

1. How much money do you have saved up?​

Start with an evaluation of your financial health. Figure out how much money you have for a down payment. Down payments are typically 5 to 20 percent of the price of the home. But be sure to keep enough in savings for an emergency fund. It’s a good idea to have three to six months of living expenses to cover unexpected costs.

 2. How much debt do you have?
Consider all of your current and expected financial obligations like your car payment and insurance, credit card debt and student loans. Make sure you will be able to make all the payments in addition to the cost of your new home. Aim to keep total mortgage payments plus utilities to less than 25 to 30 percent of your gross monthly income. Recent regulatory changes limit debt to income (DTI) ratio on most loans to 43 percent.

3. What is your credit score?
A high credit score indicates strong creditworthiness. Both renters and homebuyers can expect to have their credit history examined. A low credit score can keep you from qualifying for the home you wish to purchase or a low interest rate on your mortgage loan. If your credit score is low, you may want to delay moving into a new home and take steps to raise your score. For tips on improving your credit score, visit aba.com/consumers.

4. Have you factored in all the costs?
Create a hypothetical budget for your new home. Find the average cost of utilities in your area, factor in gas, electricity, water and cable. Find out if you will have to pay for parking or trash pickup. Consider the cost of yard maintenance and other basic maintenance costs like replacing the air filter every three months. Don’t forget to factor in real estate taxes, mortgage insurance and possibly a home owner association fee.

5. How long will you stay?
 Generally, the longer you plan to live someplace, the more it makes sense to buy. Over time, you can build equity in your home. On the other hand, renters have greater flexibility to move and fewer maintenance costs. Carefully consider your current life and work situation and think about how long you want to stay in your new home.

 

8 Ways to Stop an Identity Thief

More than 15.4 million Americans were victims of identity fraud last year, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. Below are eight tips to help consumers protect their information and avoid becoming a victim.
“Identity fraud continues to be a major problem for consumers,” said Doug Johnson, ABA’s senior vice president of payments and cybersecurity policy. “Fortunately, there are ways consumers can protect themselves, like being cautious about what information they share and who they share it with, especially online.”

ABA suggests following these eight tips:

  • Don’t share your information. Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.
  • Shred sensitive papers. Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
  • Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements and other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don’t mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.
  • Use online banking to protect yourself. Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.
  • Monitor your credit report. Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com.
  • Protect your computer. Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure the website is secure.
  • Protect your mobile device. Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen. Use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware and avoid opening links and attachments – especially for senders you don’t know.
  • Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.

Click here to learn more about protecting your finances.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Money

How soon is too soon to talk to your kids or grandkids about money? If they are old enough to ask for a toy or a bike, they are old enough to start learning financial lessons that will last a lifetime. The best financial lessons are part of everyday experience. Look for opportunities to talk about money, read books aloud and play games that center around spending money wisely. Be open and honest when you discuss your financial experiences—good or bad.

Here are some examples of teachable moments to help you get started:

At the bank

  • When you go to the bank, bring your children with you and show them how transactions work. Get the manager to explain how the bank operates, how money generates interest and how an ATM works. Ask the manager for a tour—be sure to ask to see the vault.

On payday

  • Discuss how your pay is budgeted to pay for housing, food and clothing, and how a portion is saved for future expenses such as college tuition and retirement.

At the market

  • It’s easy to give clear examples of “needs” and “wants” using different kinds of foods at a grocery store. Milk (for strong bones) is a need; soft drinks are a want. Explain the benefits of comparison shopping, coupons and store brands.

Chores and allowances

  • Assign chores and give them a monetary value. Discuss ways to budget and divide allowances. Encourage children to set a financial goal, such as saving for a bike, and figure out how to achieve it.

Paying bills

  • Explain the many ways that bills can be paid: over the phone, paper or by check, electronic check or online check draft. Discuss how each method of bill pay takes money out of your account. Be sure to cover late penalties, emphasizing the importance of paying bills on time.

Using credit cards

  • Explain that credit cards are a loan and need to be repaid. Share how each month a credit card statement comes in the mail with a bill. Go over the features of different types of cards, such as ATM, debit and credit cards.

Browsing the Internet

  • While online, explain to your children how valuable their personal
    information and privacy is to you, to them and to online predators. Discuss the risks and benefits of sharing certain information. Then, as a family, make a list of rules for keeping personal information safe online.

Planning a vacation

  • Whether you are planning an outing to a local amusement park or a once-in-a-lifetime trip, emphasize the value of saving as a family. Set a family savings goal that involves your children. Figure out the cost and discuss ways everyone can help to reach the goal.

10 Fascinating Facts About U.S. Currency

We work for it. We wish for it. We save it. We spend it. We gain it. We lose it.
Above all, we need it. Yes, money certainly does make the world go round.

In America, that money takes the form of paper bills (printed by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing) and coins (produced by the U.S. Mint). However, the coins

that jingle in your pocket and the bills you stuff in your wallet today are far different from the ones originally produced in the late 1700s.

As you would expect, over the last 200+ years our currency has seen many, many changes — both big and small. That’s a lot of U.S. money trivia to keep up with!

So, WalletPop set out to uncover the most interesting tidbits about American currency
and share our favorites with you.

Read our questions and answers to discover 10 fascinating facts about U.S. currency.

1. What is the typical lifespan of a dollar bill?
That depends on the denomination of the note. Here are the average lifespans
according to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing (or the BEP):

$1 bill – 22 months
$5 bill – 16 months
$10 bill -18 months
$20 bill – 24 months
$50 bill – 55 months
$100 bill – 89 months

Bills that get worn out from everyday use are taken out of circulation and replaced. Coins usually survive in circulation for about 25 years.

2. What percentage of bills are $1 notes?
Just under half of the notes printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing are $1

notes. In fiscal year 2009, the exact percentage was 42.3%.

3. Has a woman’s portrait ever appeared on U.S. paper money?
Martha Washington is the only woman whose portrait has appeared on a U.S. currency note. It appeared on the face of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1886 and 1891, and the back of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1896.

4. Has an African American ever appeared on U.S. currency?
No portraits of African Americans have appeared on paper money, but commemorative coins were issued in the 1940s bearing the images of George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington, followed more recently by the release of a Jackie Robinson coin. Paper money does bear the signatures of four African American men who served as Registers of the Treasury (Blanche K. Bruce, Judson W. Lyons, William T. Vernon, and James C. Napier) and one African American woman who served as Treasurer of the United States (Azie Taylor Morton).

4. What was the largest bill every printed?
The largest bill ever printed was the $100,000 bill; it was actually a Gold Certificate issued in 1934. These notes were used for transactions between Federal Reserve banks and were not circulated among the general public. President Woodrow Wilson was depicted on the bill.

5. How wide is America in pennies?
A mile of pennies laid out is $844.80. By this Standard, America is about $2.5 million wide, coast to coast.

6. What does “E Pluribus Unum” mean?
The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco describes what this motto means and

how it came into use:

“E Pluribus Unum” is used on many of our country’s seals and most of our currency and coins. During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress issued a
three-dollar bill bearing the motto, “Exitus in Dubio Est,” which translates to “The Outcome Is in Doubt.” Despite congressional pessimism about the war, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson proposed the more prophetic motto, “E Pluribus Unum” — “One From Many.” The motto first appeared on the Great Seal of the United States in 1782. The Great Seal, however, didn’t appear on U.S. currency until 1902.

7. What’s with that creepy single eye?
The so-called “all-seeing eye” that sits atop the pyramid on dollar bills was included as a reflection of divine providence. This was not the only option that was considered to fulfill

that desired theme. A depiction of the Children of Israel in the Wilderness was also
discussed as a possibility.

8. What type of paper is U.S. money printed on?
Surprise! Our so-called “paper currency” is actually not paper, but is made of cotton/linen material. It consists of a 75% cotton / 25% linen blend with silk fibers running through it.

If it were made of paper, it would fall apart if you accidentally left it in your pants pocket
and sent it for a whirl in your washing machine.

9. How durable is paper currency?
As we mentioned above, accidents happen. Fortunately, our “paper currency” is built to

take quite a beating. The BEP says it would take 4,000 double folds (first forward, and
then backwards) before a note will tear.

10. Is a torn up dollar bill still worth anything?
According to the BEP, it is. Its website explains: “The BEP redeems partially destroyed or badly damaged currency as a free public service. Every year the U.S. Treasury handles approximately 30,000 claims and redeems mutilated currency valued at over $30 million. Experts examine damaged currency and can approve the issuance of a Treasury check for

the value of the currency determined to be redeemable.”

What will you do with your tax refund?

- ForbesWasik

If you’ve filed your taxes — and waiting or received your tax refund — the great challenge begins: Whether to save or spend that modest windfall.

Like most people, your eyes probably light up with the possibly of getting that flat-screen TV, coveted article of clothing or even a little vacation. Personally, I like to spend my “found” money on musical instruments.

I know this is incredibly boring, but that Treasury check can do you the most amount of good if you don’t spend it. You’ll have to embrace that part of your brain that treasures long-term and prudent thinking. Sigh.

Nearly half of U.S. taxpayers expect a refund this year, according to Bankrate.com. “The percentage is highest among millennials (66%) and drops considerably with age; 49% of Gen Xers expect a refund, as do 34% of Baby Boomers and 26% of the Silent Generation.”

 

Surprisingly, most of those surveyed are at least thinking about doing the right thing with their refunds. That means not blowing it on an impulse purchase.

“Just 6% of U.S. adults who expect to receive a tax refund this year plan to splurge on something such as a vacation or shopping spree,” Bankrate found. “The most popular uses for the money are much more practical: save or invest it (34%), spend it on necessities such as food or utility bills (29%) and pay down debt (27%).”

Now for the do-the-right thing stuff. I always like the idea of saving over spending, especially when it means filling in some holes in your overall financial plan. Here are four essential items:

– Emergency Funds. Most Americans come up woefully short on this rainy day stash. The general rule of thumb is to cover at least three months’ worth of monthly expenses in case you’re unemployed.

But a better way of looking at the right-sized emergency fund is to cover all of your temporary expenses plus out-of-pocket costs for home, health and auto insurance as well. Remember that most people have deductibles on policies. This is the amount of money you need to cover something if you file a claim.

I’d also recommend that self-employed people have six months of emergency savings. And if you’re a homeowner, you need to save for appliance replacement and home repairs.

– Retirement. Have you fully funded your retirement plans? Remember you can also fund a conventional or Roth IRA. This will supplement your 401(k) savings. The Roth is a good back-up because withdrawals are tax free (after age 59 1/2).

The annual limit for both kinds of IRAs is $5,500. If you’re over 50, the max is $6,500.

– Debts. Pay down your credit cards first. Remember you can’t deduct that kind of debt from your taxes, so pay it off. All of the finance charges you’re paying are going into a hole.

– Special Purpose Fund. While some people don’t feel the need to do this, others like the idea that money is earmarked for special things like a big vacation, appliance, vehicle or other large expenditure.

 

Study: Bank Customer Satisfaction High, but Sales Pressure Poses Risks

March 1, 2017
-American Bankers Association

Banks have steadily won back customer trust since the financial crisis, but that trust could be endangered by sales pressure that isn’t based on the customer’s best interest, according to a new study by J.D. Power. Banks are now reporting record levels of customer satisfaction, and approximately 8 in 10 consumers say that their banks act in their best interest, that they trust their banks to do the right thing and that their banks act ethically.

The study found that high-pressure sales tactics and unexpected new accounts or fees reduced trust and increased the likelihood of switching. Although rare, more customers over time reported being pressured to adopt a product they did not want or need — 11 percent in 2015 versus 3 percent in 2011. Eight percent said they avoided going to branches because of the sales pressure.

The study also showed that 14 percent of customers said they have had accounts opened or funds transferred without their knowledge. Digging into these responses, J.D. Power found that these customers reported one of three experiences: simple and easily corrected errors, such as a typo in a Social Security number; identity theft or fraud by another customer, such as an ex-spouse in a divorce case; or unauthorized account openings by bank staff.

While the overall number of customers affected by these incidents is small, they are much less satisfied. More than half of those who had an unauthorized account or fund transfer or unexpected fees said they will definitely or probably switch banks in the next year — versus just 6 percent overall.

But banks did not need to eliminate sales pitches for customers to report satisfaction. Customers reported high levels of satisfaction when they received financial advice and product pitches, provided they also felt that bank staff had thoroughly identified customers’ needs and tailored promotions to those needs. More than 8 in 10 customers in this category said they would definitely continue to use their bank.

ABA’s Center for Regulatory Compliance recently released a Sales Practices and Incentive Compensation Assessment Matrix to help member banks assess and manage risks posed by their sales practices and incentive compensation programs.

7 Tips for Improving Your Credit Score

An important step to finding a home, whether you’re renting or buying, is ensuring that you have a good credit history. The American Bankers Association suggests the following tips to improve your credit score.

Request a copy of your credit score report – and make sure it is correct.

Your credit report illustrates your credit performance, and it needs to be accurate so that you can apply for other loans – such as a mortgage. Everyone is entitled to receive a free copy of his or her credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies, but you must go through the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.annualcreditreport.com​, or call 1-877-322-8228.  Note that you may have to pay for the numerical credit score itself.​

Set up automatic bill pay.

Payment history makes up 32 percent of your VantageScore credit score and 35 percent of your FICO credit score. The longer you pay your bills on time, the better your score.  Avoid missed payments by setting as many of your bills to automatic pay as possible.

Build credit through renting.

VantageScore’s scoring model, created by the three major credit bureaus, will now weigh rent and utility payment records. This will allow it to score as many as 35 million people who previously couldn’t get a credit score.

Keep balances low on credit cards and ‘revolving credit.’

Racking up big balances can hurt your scores, regardless of whether you pay your bills in full each month. You often can increase your scores by limiting your charges to 30 percent or less of a card’s limit.

Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed.

Keep this in mind the next time a retailer offers you 10 percent off if you open an account. However, if you need a new line of credit, don’t jump at the first appealing offer; compare rates and fees offered through mail solicitation, on the Internet or at your local bank.

Don’t close old, paid off accounts.

According to FICO, closing accounts can never help your score and can in fact damage it.

Talk to credit counselors if you’re in trouble.

Using legitimate, non-profit credit counseling can help you manage your debt and won’t hurt your credit score. For more information on debt management, contact the National Foundation for Consumer Credit (www.nfcc.org).

5 Things you need to know to declutter your home

5 things you need to knowIs clutter weighing you down? Winter is the perfect time to declutter your home and set yourself free. As daunting as it may sound, it doesn’t have to be. Look at the bright side, the less you own the less you have to clean and organize. More clutter = More stress. Sounds good but where do you start?

  1. Make a plan. Create a list and prioritize the areas of your home that need to be decluttered. Start small, it doesn’t have to be a whole room; it could be a drawer, closet or area that needs work. Congratulations, you have completed step 1!
  2. Be realistic. Dedicate 15 minutes a day, 3 days a week, to decluttering your first room/area. Pick an easy place to start. When you have completed one area then, and only then, move on to the next. Enjoy your success!
  3. Apply the hanger method. The last thing you want to do is donate clothing you wear or keep things you don’t. In an effort to identify the clothing you no longer need, hang all of your hangers in the reverse direction. After wearing an item, return it to the hanger facing forward. After each season you will have a more accurate picture of the clothes you no longer wear.
  4. Get 4 boxes and label them: Trash, Donate, Keep and Relocate. As you go about your daily life and find items in these categories, place them in their appropriate box. This is an easy yet highly effective way to help organize your home.
  5. Donate. You should feel good about the decision to donate items knowing these items will go to someone in need.

Relax and enjoy spring in your clutter-free home!

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