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Wednesday, January 16 2019
USE WHAT YOU HAVE

Another year is underway. Have you made any resolutions? (Honestly, I hate that question.) I don't make resolutions anymore because I have a tendency to fail. I stop exercising after about a month, I start eating more desserts than I should after a few months of eating healthy. It's just too much pressure!

Instead, I set a goal or an intention. I find I am much more successful that way and it makes me feel much less pressured.

Last year, my goal was to declutter and upgrade my entire home, from top to bottom. Yes, one whole year to do so. I focused on one room a month, for twelve months. I planned it out in great detail at the beginning of the year. I decluttered what needed to be, did some cosmetic upgrades and tweaked some organization in my home. By year's end, I was thrilled with the results.

Although I did not get to the basement like I had planned, (mainly because some things took longer than expected), I am setting a goal for the next two months to finish decluttering and organizing the entire basement. With being as busy as I am, this goal is reasonable and achievable.

This year, I decided to have a theme. I decided to name my theme for 2019 "Use What You Have".  I am fortunate to live in a nice home and have what I need. Last year's project re-aquainted me with all that I have. I realized, I have enough. As the saying goes "Enough is enough". I am going on a buying diet. I am going to focus on using what I already have, instead of purchasing more. This is especially true for me when it comes to clothing and shoes. I am resisting the urge to purchase more and simply use what I have.

I plan on making more use of my serving dishes and trays, which have been stored away since my wedding in 2002 and infrequently used.

I plan on burning the candles I have been storing. I love candles and love to use them but I have aquired a lot and have not made it a habit of burning them. Now I will!

I plan on reading the books I have aquired without getting more. This is particularly true for my fiction books. I love books! People give me books! I can't resist accepting their offers to take their books they no longer want. I have enough!

Honestly, now that I am in my late 50's, I recognize that I have to be honest with myself and need to make sure I will have enough time to get to make use all of my possessions. Trust me, storage is not an issue. I have plenty of room, but, I don't want to run out of time before I have used what I have.

Hopefully, this is food for thought. Is it possible for you to go on a purchasing diet, like me, this year, and "Use What You Have"?

I am curious as to what you believe you have enough of and what you can avoid purchasing more of this year. Post a response to this blog below and share your thoughts. Let's all inspire each other to Use What You Have.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with too much stuff in your home and want to simplify, don't hesitate to contact me.

I am here for you!

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, April 17 2017
HOW TO MAKE MONEY FROM YOUR CLUTTER

With the Summer season just around the corner, many of us get on the "decluttering bandwagon" to freshen up our wardrobe and various areas in our home. Did you know that you can actually make money from your clutter? It's true!

Do you have CD's, DVD's, blue rays and video games you are no longer using or want? Why do they need to take up precious real estate in your home, then? Decluttr.com is an online site where you can sell these items. Simply scan the bar code on your item to learn the value, ship them and the money will be direct deposited into your account or even sent to you via check the next day. How easy is that?!?! And...better yet, the site even pays your shipping!  You have no excuses!

Nextworth.com is a site where you can sell get a quote, ship for free and get paid for your smartphones, tablets, video games, laptops, ipods, video cameras, portable audio and wearables such as FitBit.   

Do you have designer clothing you would prefer to sell instead of donate or throw away? Then, Tradesy.com is for you! All you need to do is list the items in your closet or dresser that you want to sell. (Good photos will help you sell your items faster.) Once they sell, the site sends you a pre-paid, pre-addressed shipping kit so you can send your merchandise. They take 9% commission on each sale. Certainly, making 91% is better than having the item take up space in your closet! 

If you take a closer look around your home, I am sure you will locate items that you are ready to part with and have just become clutter. Why not sell them and make some money?

Hint, hint - You can then use the money you've made to hire a professional organize like myself to declutter and organize the various areas of your home that are just too overwhelming for you to deal with. It's a win-win situation!

If you are in need of A Better Space, don't hesitate to contact me. I am more than happy to help!

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 01:44 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, November 09 2015
WHAT ARE YOU SO AFRAID OF?

I have been working with clients for over 11 years, and over the course of that time, I have spoken with hundreds and hundreds of people.  

Although I have been able to help so many people over the years, sadly, there are still so many who chose not to move forward and get organized.  Are you one of them? 

When it comes right down to it, it's not the money nor the time involved that is used as an excuse to not move forward.  If you want something bad enough, you will find a way to get it.

The real reason is fear.  There are so many reasons that fear gets in the way.  Here are some that I think are most common.

1.  Fear of losing the memory if you let go of something.  I always say the memory will remain in your head and in your heart.  Taking a picture can help remedy this, as well.  

2.  Being afraid you will upset the person who gave you something that you are not particularly fond of.  I call that "Gift Guilt".  Why not pass that "something" onto someone else who can make better use of it and enjoy it instead of storing it somewhere, unused.  

3.  Envisioning that it will be difficult to make changes in the way you do things and have to build all new habits.  It is not as difficult as you might think.  I make it a point to provide solutions that are customized to my clients' particular style, so the changes feel more natural.

4.  Focusing more on what it will cost - in time, money or effort.  The value in getting organized quickly becomes obvious and outways the cost.  Investing in yourself is invaluable.  Making positive changes can last a lifetime.   

5.  Feeling embarrassed to show anyone, including a professional such as myself, the fact that you live in such a cluttered or disorganized home.  From the first time that we meet, my clients recognize that I am non-judgmental.  I find that it is not as bad as they think it is.  That is because my focus is on the potential of a given space and formulating a plan of action to provide "a better space" that we can envision for a particular room or an entire home.  Although I do see the present condition, I can see "the forest through the trees"!  

6.  Being afraid of letting go because you think you will end up needing that item again some day. I call that "someday syndrome" and explain how that can be detrimental. 

7.  You have a fear of failure.  You think that your attempts to get organized won't work. On the contrary, the systems that I put into place do work because they are so easy to maintain.  Again, that is because they are customized, so they are a natural solution that meet your specific needs and coincide with how you function.   

Which of these sound familiar to you? What are you afraid of?

On a day to day basis, living in fear only results in people remaining in a cluttered environment.  

As we work together to create longlasting results, I spend time coaching my clients and get them past their fears.  This is what creates the positive changes in their lives that they can experience for years to come.  

Unfortunately, some never experience that change because of their overwhelming fear. Are you familiar with the quote by Albert Einstein: "Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"? 

If you want different results, you have to do things differently and that involves change. Admittedly, the fear of the unknown can be scary, but with the proper guidance from a professional organizer, such as myself, can you past your fears and onto a much more organized and happy life that is much less stressful.

We have all been there.  I have certainly gotten past fears stepped out of my own comfort zone throughout my life, so I know how it feels.  Getting to the other side of fear, however, provides a profound sense of relief and freedom.  Opportunities open up when you open yourself up to change.  

This holds true when you let go of the obstacle of fear in relation to getting organized. What waits for you on the other side is peace, serenity, time, room to breathe, reduced stress and control of your surroundings. It's so freeing!  

If you want a life without clutter, you need to know that it is possible if you just get past your fears.  You simply need to take action!  Take that first step and don't be afraid to reach out for help. I am here for you.

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 10:20 am   |  Permalink   |  6 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 12 2015
LADIES - LISTEN UP!!

As you probably already know, I focus my professional organizing business on residential organizing and helping busy moms and women with home-based businesses.  

I not only physically declutter their homes but, often times, work with them to organize their paperwork.  As a rule, I always ask them questions about various aspects of paper management, including financials.  Usually we are creating a new filing system that reflects their specific needs, which requires me to ask about various aspects of their financial picture.  

Quite often I meet with women who are unable to answer some of my questions when it comes to the household finances. Some do not know what bank accounts exist, if they have a life insurance policy, if they have an investment portfolio or what company holds their mortgage.  I met with someone recently who could not even tell me if their house had been paid off.

Often I meet women who never get involved with their own marital financial assets. They don't pay the bills, ask about retirement, look at credit card statements, inquire about investments or bank accounts, and they let their spouses handle all financial matters.

It is hard for me to imagine that women are so trusting of their spouses that they simply let them handle everything without knowing what is going on.  I find it frightening.  

When I was 36 years old, my husband passed away, leaving me to raise my 6-1/2 year old son.  I was immediately able to jump in and handle all of the finances and was able to quickly transfer utilities, investments, bank accounts, the deed to our home and other financial aspects to myself.  Why?  Because I knew where everything was located and what we had.  

Ladies, as someone who has had personal, first hand experience with the sudden loss of a spouse, I ask you to please be informed. Whether because of death or divorce or even incapacity of your spouse, you need to always know what is going on.  There is no problem with your spouse handling it all, but there is a problem with you not being informed!  

Take time to look at bank statements, credit card bills, mortgage statements, meet with your financial advisor, ask questions and sit down with your spouse so that you can talk about all aspects of your financial picture.  Be sure you know what your credit score is. Establish your own credit by opening a major credit card in your name only, if you have not done so already.  

Continue the conversation from time to time with your spouse so you are always aware of your particular situation.  

I cannot stress enough how passionate I am about making sure that we, as women, are knowledgeable about these matters. We cannot solely depend upon our spouses to handle it all and keep ourselves in the dark.  Don't let another day go by without having the conversation.  You have a right to know, so take the steps necessary.  Knowledge is so empowering!

  

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 02:53 pm   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, November 18 2014

I am curious.  What are your shopping habits?  

Are you the type of person who goes to the grocery store or the department store with a list of things to purchase and sticks with it? Or, are you the type of person who goes without a list and has no idea what you are going to purchase and just "sees what happens"?Did you know that the latter choice is one of the contributors to clutter?  

Interestingly enough, I have found that most men are the type that go to the store, get what they need and leave.  They tend not to be the brousing type.  I know there are exceptions.  Not to stereo-type but when it comes to sports equipment, cars, motorcycles tools or other hobby-related items, you might just catch them brousing in a store and coming home with more than they intended.

Women, on the other hand, are generally "shoppers" in the true sense of the word.  For the most part, they are the ones that come home with items they had no intention of purchasing when they first entered the store.  Whether its food, clothing, decorative items, they fall victim to the enticement of those "bright, shiny objects".

Remember, a deal is only a deal if it is going to save you money on an item you use.  Don't use a coupon on an item you don't use just because you have a coupon.   

These days, it is especially easy to shop "without intent", thanks to the internet.  We are bombarded with pop-up ads and can easy brouse a site of interest.  Before we know it, UPS is at our door with items we chose simply by clicking a few buttons.  Painless, right? It might not be painless at first, but over time, these purchases can become clutter.

I cannot tell you how many times my clients complain about having "too much stuff" and the feeling of overwhelm.  A lot of times, it has to do with purchasing items without intent.  

I coach my clients to set healthy boundaries for the items they possess and how to make smart, intentional choices so that clutter can be eliminated and balance can return to the home.

With the holidays quickly approaching, we will all be doing more shopping.  Do yourself a favor.  Shop with intent and keep the clutter at bey.  

If you are feeling overwhelmed with your clutter and don't know where to begin, I can help.  I will bring balance back to your home so you can enjoy what you do have and what makes sense to keep.

In the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!   

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 07:56 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Monday, October 14 2013

The holidays will be here before you know it and you will be shopping in the malls and in the local stores.  Now is a great time to organize your wallet so that using it will be easier. 

You probably use your wallet on a regular basis.  (I know I do!)  When was the last time you cleaned it out?  Are you able to find what you need when you need it?  How long does it take you to find that credit card you want to use or a store reward/loyalty card?  Is your wallet bursting at the seams with receipts and information?  Do you need to hold it together with a rubber band?  (Yes, I've seen this!)

 

Here are five simple steps to organize your wallet:

 

1.  Purge your receipts.  I recommend that you do this daily to keep it all under control.  Log the debit expenses into your checking account ledger and put your credit card receipts in an envelope until the bill arrives.  Hold cash receipts for no more than 30 days following a purchase in case you need to return something. 

 

2.  Use digital coupons.  If you carry store loyalty cards or paper coupons in your wallet, they could be taking up too much space in your wallet.  Try using digital coupons or a smart phone app instead.  Try Passbook for iPhone.  They attach your phone and loyalty number so you don't need those cards anymore.  (This might free up your keychain as well!)

 

3.  Determine your "Must Haves".   Everyone has difference needs and routines.  There is not one way to organize your wallet.  Whatever works best for you is the right way.  However, that does not mean it should be stuffed or stretched beyond its limit.  Take a few moments to figure out what you really need to have in your wallet on a regular basis.  Consider how many credit cards you need to carry with you at all times.  Do not carry your social security card in your wallet!  For me, I keep it simple:  debit card, major credit card, wholesale store membership card, drivers license, health insurance card, AAA membership card, some business cards, and a small amount of cash.  The rest of my credit cards are kept in a separate wallet that I use when I am going shopping at a particular store.  (I plan ahead for any excursions to the store.)  

4.  Decide whether your current wallet fits your needs.  There are many types of wallets to choose from.  Find one that comfortably fits what you need.  Sometimes a wallet can be too big for your needs and you can downsize.  Sometimes you need a longer one to fit your contents.  (Remember to make a copy of your credit cards and keep them in a safe place in case your wallet gets stolen.)

 

5.  Have a spot for emergency money.  Keep a small sum of money in case of emergency in your wallet.  Sometimes you find that a store only takes cash (my local produce store is a good example) or you find that your credit card is not working.  Fold up some cash and keep it separate for use in an emergency only. 

 

What do you have in your wallet that can be removed?  

 

If you find that you are overwhelmed with your clutter and need help getting and staying organized, contact me.  I am here to help!

 

In the meantime, Happy Organizing!  

 

 

 

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 03:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, October 02 2013

Are you struggling with debt?  Are you fed up and ready to do something about it?  Is your debt weighing you down?  Perhaps its time to go on a debt diet.

If you are seriously ready to gain control of your finances, I have some ways to help.

1.  Figure out your total debt.  Do you have any idea how much you owe?  Do you know what the current interest rate is on each of your credit cards?  Are you able to figure out how long it is going to take you to pay off your debt?  Collect all of your monthly statements and make a list.  When you have a clear picture of your financial obligations, you will be able to make better decisions about how to manage it.

2.  Stop spending.  You need to start by figuring out where the money is coming in from and then where it is going.  Most people discover that they are spending more than they are making.  Figure out what things you could easily do without and stop spending money on them. 

3.  Prioritize your debt.  There is a difference between secured and unsecured debt.  Secured debt has an underlying asset, such as your home or car that can be repossessed if you don't make payments.  Unsecured debt does not have assets backing them up.  The worst that can happen is that your credit score drops.  Make sure to pay on the secured debt first.  Be sure to pay your taxes to keep Uncle Sam happy.  Then, pay those credit cards with a focus on those with the highest interest rates.  Try to pay more than the minimal balance.   

4.  Repay your debt.   First you want to reduce your interest rates.  Start by learning your credit score by getting a copy of your credit report.  You are entitled to a free report once a year from the various reporting agencies.  What is your FICO score?  If it is not above 720 (a perfect score is 850), work to raise it by paying all of your bills on time and not applying for any new cards.  Every time your apply for a new credit card, your FICO score goes down.  Every time you make a late payment your FICO score goes down.  Every time you cancel a credit card, your FICO score goes down.  Take steps to avoid doing these.  With a higher score you can contact a Customer Service supervisor and attempt to get a better rate.  You could refinance a car loan for a lower rate.  Consolidate student loans, refinance your mortgage. Then, put as much money as you can toward paying off those bills. 

4.  Create a monthly plan.  Attempt to spend no more than 35% on housing expenses (including taxes, insurance, upkeep and your mortgage).  Attempt to spend no more than 15% on transportation (including gas, insurance, car payments).  Put 10% of your income away for savings.  Put 15% towards repayment of debt including credit cards and 25% on other aspects of your life. 

5.  Earn more money and make hard choices.  Ask for a raise.  Sell some valuable items.  If you are unable to do so, you might need to sell your car or look for a less expensive place to live. 

Do you need to go on a debt diet?  You might want to start with my U CAN DO IT BUDGETING SYSTEM.  It is an easy 6-step process to figure out what is coming in, what is going out and where it is going.  Simply visit my ABS Store right here on my website.  You can download it immediately and begin your debt diet today!

In the meantime, happy organizing! 

 

     

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 04:30 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, March 24 2013

More and more people are starting home-based businesses these days.  Did you know that it is expected that there will be more than 20 million home-based business in the United States by the end of 2013? 

I have been in business almost nine years.  I have found that there are some great advantages:

  • I can create a flexible work schedule.  
  • I can control my work environment.
  • I can deduct a portion of my home expenses on my income tax return.
  • I have created a great sense of independence by being my own boss.
  • I focus on doing what I enjoy the most - helping others get organized
  • I find it easier to balance work and personal responsibilities.
  • I have an overall greater level of fulfillment and satisfaction in my life.

However, there are some disadvantages that you need to learn to overcome:

  • It can be difficult to turn work "off" when your workspace and personal space are intertwined.
  • Working from home can be very isolating. 
  • Home-based businesses can cause stress on the family.
  • It can be difficult to grow your business working as a solo-preneur.
  • Depending on the type of business you have, you need to consider if there are zoning regulations you need to explore.

The key to running a successful home-based business is organization, commitment and accountability. 

CREATE A SEPARATE WORKSPACE.  It is critical that you have a separate workspace in your home away from your personal space.  You can use a bedroom, a section in your basement or even change a formal living room into a home office.  Find a location where your work will not interfere with your family life.  At the end of the day, you want to be able to walk away from it.   

YOU MUST GET ORGANIZED!  It can be overwhelming but it is the key to your success.  Create a space where you have everything you need close by to run a successful business.  It is important to know where everything is located at all times.  By doing so, you will stop wasting time.  Adding up all the times throughout the day that you cannot locate something and having to try to find it will make you realize how much time you are wasting.  Being organized with reduce stress.  By doing so, you will enable yourself to think more clearly and make decisions faster. 

SET A SCHEDULE.  One of the biggest transformations that occurs when you start your home-based business is the difficulty in determining your work schedule.  When you work from home, you are not necessarily working 9-5 like you might have in the past.  Your day might be divided into chunks, especially if you have children.  You might work in the morning and then when the children come home from school, you take four or five hours to be a parent.  You will probably need to return to your "office" later that evening and work some more.  If you are in direct sales, you might be doing in-home parties at nights and on weekends.  You might need to attend networking events several nights a week.  You should determine a schedule that best fits your needs for your business and your personal life.

UNPLUG.  Besides closing the door to your office space, you need to unplug.  It is helpful to end your work day by clearing up your desk and writing a "to do" list for the next day.  Otherwise, your mind will race alll through the night with thoughts of what you need or want to do.  You will feel overwhelmed and exhausted.  If you don't take some "me time" at the end of the day, you willl burn out fast.  That will take a toll on your body and in the end, will cost you money.

GET AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER.  Find someone you can account to on a weekly basis.  Decide what you want to accomplish.  Let them know what you intend to do and the following week you can detail what you did in the past week.  If you get stuck, you can bounce ideas off of them to get your past your obstacle so you can keep moving forward.  Accountability is a powerful tool in growing your business.

When I work with people who have home-based businesses, I focus on paper management, time management and putting in customized systems to maximize potential. 

If you are overwhelmed with the prospect of getting organized when it comes to your home-based business, contact me.  I can help.  I can provide you with a system made just for you and be an accountability partner so you can maximize the potential for growth in your business. 

In the meantime, have a great week!

 

 

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 10:55 am   |  Permalink   |  6 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 02 2013

Happy New Year Everyone!  OMG - Where did the year go?  I don't know about you but I had a crazy busy year and it just flew by.  I was so busy in December that I did not post more than one blog (Sorry about that!), but I am back in 2013 to again blog on a regular basis to keep you on track for getting and staying organized. 

I am working diligently on my health and well being.  I am drinking lots of water, eating three meals a day and eating more fruits and vegetables, leaving less room for junk food and taking a walk every afternoon. 

I think at the end of the year I fell off the cliff a bit and now getting myself back on track. 

One goal that many set for the New Year is to be more aware of their finances.  With the "fiscal cliff" not being resolved in time for the New Year, I think it is more important than ever for all of us to track our expenses.

Although we will be putting out more for taxes (and milk!) and perhaps losing some benefits, I truly believe we can make a budget that works for us.  

Looking carefully at your expenses and seeing where you can make better choices is key.  Taking a look at your priorities and the long term benefits of your financial decisions is vital.  Investing in hiring a professional organizer is a good example.

Since becoming a professional organizer over 8 years ago, I have worked with clients time and time again to help them create a household budget based on their income and help them create a plan to get out of debt if need be.  Talk about long term effects! 

My personal circumstances have changed over the years, but one thing stayed the same - I use a budget to keep track of my income and expenses.  For the past 15 years, I am proud to say that I have been completely debt free.  I do have a mortgage and a car payment each month but if I put anything on a credit card, it is paid by the end of the month.  No interest fees for me!

Although this Country has fallen off the "Fiscal Cliff", we can make strides to not do the same thing personally.  Creating a budget and knowing what is coming in and what is going out will avoid our own "cliff".

Setting manageable goals and sticking with them, whether it is financial or otherwise is important.

If you need assistance in creating a budget, I recommend that you check out my "U Can Do It Budgeting System" at my ABS Store.  This system can be downloaded immediately and you can begin to create your very own budget for the New Year!  

Need assistance with budgeting or any other type of organization to get your New Year off to a great start?  Contact me.  I am here to help.    

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 12:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, September 20 2012

Can you believe I just said that!  Well, it's true! 

It's true that decluttering can lighten your load.  If you wish to sell items you no longer want, you CAN make some money.  That's true.  However...

Have you ever thought about this?  Although repairing broken items instead of purchasing a replacement can save you money, you sometimes end up with more clutter than when you started.  It is likely that you will add new items before the old items leave your home and, if you don't get rid of them quickly, they can linger in your home and take up space.

Here are some ways to AVOID the "clutter build-up" that can occur:

1. Stocking up on coupons and sales flyers.  They can start to fill up precious space in your home if you do not have a specific space to keep your coupons (as well as the large quantities of things you get that you might not need - just to satisfy the requirements of that coupon).

2.  Buying in bulk.  It's true that shopping at BJ's, Costco or any other warehouse type store can offer big savings and the convenience of purchasing paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc. is helpful.  However, be careful when it comes to perishables (meat, poultry, dairy) and other items that expire.  It's possible they can expire before you get the chance to use them and then you are just wasting your money.  Also, purchasing in bulk is great if you have the room to store such items.  If not, don't buy more than you can store. 

3.  Saving useless things to make something new.  We all have good intentions but saving scraps of wrapping paper, buttons that come with that new sweater or those single socks with no mates can create clutter.  If we do not have a clear plan for how we are going to use them and a deadline in which to do so, it just all becomes clutter.  Get rid of them!

4.  Saving things that need repair.  It's true that you can save money by doing your own repairs (like hemming pants or sewing on buttons) but if you don't continually keep up with the repairs, the items can become a pile of clutter.  I have seen this time and time again when working with my clients.  Sometimes the cost of having someone repair the item for you may be higher than replacing it.  (A zipper on a jacket, for example.)  Skip the repairs that cost more than 50 percent of what it would cost to buy a new one and immediately get rid of the old one.  

5.  Collecting items for consignment.  Clothing is a very popular consignment item.  Consignment can be great if you have the time to take the items to the consignment shop and it's exactly what the shop is looking for.  Otherwise, it's a waste of time.  Also, you tend to not get a great deal of money for your item.  Why not have a clothing swap party instead? 

Feel free to go ahead and turn your clutter into cash.  Just remember, your attempts at saving money just might be creating clutter.  Pay attention to your lifestyle and whether doing these things make sense.  Don't let your clutter consume your space or your time.

Let me know your thoughts.  In the meantime, have a great week!

 

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 11:26 am   |  Permalink   |  8 Comments  |  Email
Monday, April 02 2012

I have been in business now eight years - hard to believe.  In that time I have spoken with thousands of people about getting organized.  Whether it is over the phone, by email or in person, everyone says they either want to get organized themselves, or knows of someone.

The truth is, when it comes right down to it, most people are not truly committed to getting organized.  They just want a magic wand to be waived over their clutter to make it all just disappear.  Sounds nice but, it's not going to happen!

If you are truly committed, you either jump in and do it yourself or reach out for help.  This is not something that should be taken lightly.  If you want changes to happen, you have to take action. 

If you are at the point where you are in a state of overwhelm and just cannot seem to get it done yourself, contact a professional like myself to help you.  Take action!  Talking about it and then doing nothing about it will get you nowhere.

When you decide to hire a professional organizer, you need to be prepared for the commitment, not only to time but some expense.  However, when the job is complete and you can move on with your life, the paybacks cannot even be measured.

Your entire life can change for the better.  If you have ever taken the time to read some of the testimonials I have received from clients I have worked with in the past, you can see exactly how life changing it can be.  

Do yourself a favor - commit to getting organized and if you need some professional help.  Don't be embarrassed or ashamed.  Get the help you need.  You will be so glad you did.  And lastly, when you make that commitment, stick with it.  Make it the priority in your life that you so deserve.  Don't let "stuff" get in your way of your focus.  If it is that important to you, you can always find a way to make it happen.  Trust me, I know! 

I am here to help if you are ready to commit to getting and staying organized once and for all.

In the meantime, have a great week!

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 09:08 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, January 02 2012

Happy New Year!  I hope you had a great holiday season, but now it's time to get down to business.

As a women entrepreneur who began my Professional Organizing business over 7 years ago, I work with many other women entrepreneurs who struggle with time management and paper management in their home offices.  As a result, I pay lots of attention to the struggles with growth and prosperity that entrepreneurs alike contend with. 

There are many habits that can hold us back so I thought I would list some: 

  • Not returning phone calls.
  • Being late for appointments.
  • Not returning emails.
  • Not having a schedule.
  • Not filing important documents.
  • Not saving money or paying yourself first.
  • Failure to understand the law of reciprocity.
  • Handling mail or email more than once.
  • Forwarding nonsense emails.
  • Not scheduling events.
  • Not exercising.
  • Procrastinating.
  • Lack of systems.
  • Not choosing healthy foods.
  • Not drinking enough water.
  • Not taking time to rejuvenate.
  • Watching meaningless television.
  • Failure to invest in personal development.
  • Failure to listen.
  • Trying to be perfect.
  • Waiting for the right moment.
  • Failure to budget.
  • Lacking or not providing sufficient or efficient communication.
  • Having a messy or disorganized workspace or home.
  • Unprofessional voice mail.
  • Not having a dedicated workspace.
  • Not having a business card.

Which of these apply to you?  Choose two or three habits at a time and replace them with good ones. 

If you need help with time management, paper management, or organizing your messy and disorganized workspace or home, contact me.  I can help.

In the meantime, have a wonderful week!

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 04:44 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, September 07 2011

Many of you are women entrepreneurs.  This week I want to address a topic that I think would be a great interest to you in particular.  It relates to your business card. 

I am posting an article written by Kathryn Weber of K Weber Communications on this topic that I found facinating so I thought I would share it with you.    

The 3-Inch Killer Sabotaging Your Business --
How to Use Feng Shui to Design a Successful, Income-boosting Business Card
 

Purists will say you can't feng shui your car, your clothes or your looks, but that's not exactly true. While feng shui is the study of the environment and its effects on the occupants of a building, it can also be used as a method for designing, too.

One of the areas where feng shui can be the most effective is the business card.

A well designed business card is a mini-billboard. It can advertise for you, be carried and referred to, and it also makes an impression.

If someone likes your card, they'll hold onto it longer. If it's unpleasant or cheap-looking, it will often head to the trash.

Today more than ever, businesses and business people need every edge to get ahead.

One of the first steps is to give your business cards a good look.

They could look dated, tired, or maybe they don't have the correct information or there's a typo. There could also be images or colors that are in conflict. If so, this might be a good time to give your cards a redesign.

Use these 7 tips for designing business cards that work for you and provide a good representation of your company -- and help boost your income!

1. Promote your growth. Trees are representative of growth and movement. Most business cards are "felled trees." That is, they're a rectangle (tree) shape, yet they are printed on the horizontal. Try placing your card design on the vertical. This is called the "chai" shape and it's considered to bring money luck and much good fortune and riches. It also represents upward growth.

2. Use complimentary colors. As a rule certain colors and images don't go together, such as black and yellow, yellow and green, red and blue or metallic colors, green and metal colors. Complimentary colors include blue and white, blue and black with metallic colors, red and yellow, green and brown with red, yellow and beige with metal colors.

3. Logos should move forward. Any logo that looks like it's moving right to left will be going backwards. All movement in the logo should appear moving from left to right. This indicates forward growth and not heading backward. Even swirls and spirals should look and spiral to the right.

4. Stick with traditional shapes. Yes, an odd shaped or unusual business card will stand out...but not in a good way. Make sure you stick with traditional sizes because these will be saved and can be referred to again. Odd shaped cards and unique cards are often discarded.

5. Use plenty of white space. Having white space on your card brings yang energy to the card and enlivens it. It also enables you to write in any additional information that you want such as a private email address or phone number.

6. Double check the logo. It's important that if your logo has points that none of the points are aimed at your name as this is harmful poison arrows. A business person had a starburst effect for a logo and had a difficult time attracting business and on top of it was a needling kind of person, much like her logo. Make sure your name isn't directly below your logo or you will be under the weight of your company.

7. Incorporate colors and shapes relevant to your business.
Black, blue, purple
- the shape is wave-like and businesses include, musicians, shipping, counseling, driving, marketing, therapist, coach, restaurant, healing.
Green, brown - the shape is rectangular and is good for hotels, health, florists, nurseries, footwear, athletes, dancers
Yellow, beige, orange - the shape is square and relates to mining, real estate, psychics, nursing, education, charities.
Red, burgundy, deep purple - the shape is triangular and relates to feng shui, PR, journalism, photography, eye specialties, heart doctors, restaurants, entertainment, bars and clubs.
White, gray, gold - the shape is circular or arching and relates to jewelry, sales, computers, technology, surgery, medical, dental, insurance, and airlines.
Multicolored - excellent for getting recognition and being noticed!

 


© K Weber Communications LLC 2002-2011
Kathryn Weber is the publisher of the Red Lotus Letter Feng Shui E-zine and certified feng shui consultant in classical Chinese feng shui. Kathryn helps her readers improve their lives and generate more wealth with feng shui. For more information and to receive her FREE Ebook "The Cash Register at Your Front Door" visit www.redlotusletter.com and learn the fast and fun way how feng shui can make your life more prosperous and abundant!

****************************************

Gives you some food for thought, doesn't it?  Let me know what you think. Let me know if this article inspires you to make changes to your business card.  

In the meantime, if you are feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of getting your home-based business organized, let me know.  I am more than glad to help you eliminate the clutter and get organized. 

*This article has been posted with permission.

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 06:55 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 11 2011

Since I am such an advocate of organization and know first hand what a positive effect it can have on you, your home and your life, I hate to admit there might be a downside to being organized.

In an effort to free up my time, which is so precious to me, I made arrangements recently for my new health insurance carrier to automatically withdraw my monthly premium from my checking account.  I thought this would be the most efficient way to make sure that my payments were received on time with minimal effort on my part. Great idea, right?  Wrong.

Unbeknownst to me, my efficiency backfired.  As a result of what I thought was the best option, I was basically giving full rein to my insurance company to tap into my checking account and take what they wanted.  And, they did.

Not only did they deduct one month's premium from my account, they removed two!  This was done without my knowledge and without my consent.  

Of course, when it came time for them to reimburse me for the extra month (as soon as I discovered what they had done and confronted them about it), that was another story.  Suddenly, they were unable to deposit a refund back into my checking account electronically.  (I did not know it was a one way street.) They advised that they will be sending a check in the mail to me in the next few days.  That is not the resolution I was looking for and, needless to say, I was extremely upset that this occurred to begin with.  What gives them the right to do what they did?

The end result is that I have now elected cancel the "automatic withdraw" option which would have saved me time and effort and I will now have to send the payments to the insurance company manually on a  monthly basis.  (All because of their incompetency.)  I will now be setting up electronic payments with my bank instead since they are the entity I can trust to do the job right.

Lesson learned - as much as we attempt to be organized and efficient, it does not always turn out that way.  Sometimes, without the cooperation of other entities, the best laid plans do not pan out.

This will not stop me, however, in my quest to get and stay organized in not only my life, but those of my family, friends and clients.  Why?  Because it's the right thing to do!

Have you had any experiences where your attempts to be organized have backfired?  I would love to hear from you.

In the meantime, I am taking off for five days to enjoy the Jersey shore and wishing you an organized week.  

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 07:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, June 25 2011

It seems impossible, but it can be done. Some time ago, on the final installment of The Early Show  "Get Organized" series, professional organizer Peter Walsh shows how to pack for a week's vacation in just one carry-on bag. His secret? Streamline and focus.

It really all comes down to being practical but frugal, and thinking in miniatures, Walsh says. It's nice to have lots of options of things to wear each day, but you're sacrificing a light carry-on bag for a heavy suitcase in order to indulge yourself. Truthfully, a lot of people over pack and then end up only wearing the bare essentials, anyway, so you could have saved yourself from lugging a big bag in the long run.

Technically, in order to have enough clothes for a week, all you need is either 2 pairs of pants or 2 skirts (or one of each), and three tops. That's it. As long as all the tops can go with both of the bottoms, you have given yourself 6 combinations to wear. Then throw in a week's worth of underwear and socks. You can decide if your tops should be short or long-sleeved, depending on your destination. Then, pick two pairs of shoes that go with everything, and you can wear one pair plus your jacket while your travel. It's as easy as that!

As for your toiletries and cosmetics, the key is to have the small plastic bottles instead of regular sizes. Buy travel-size tubes of toothpaste, mouthwash, etc. You can buy small plastic jars and bottles for your favorite lotions and potions and then label them so you don't use body lotion as hair conditioner. Filling bottles with your own products can make you feel more comfortable while you're away, and you're able to save so much room by not bringing all of your full-size bottles.

A few things that are important to remember, too, are bags. You should bring along a light weight bag for your laundry, so you're not throwing any of your dirty clothes back in with your clean clothes. Also bring an assortment of Ziploc bags, because you never know when you may need them. They're great if you have a wet swimsuit or in case anything leaks. You can also use one for your jewelry or accessories to keep them together.

As for luggage, Walsh's tip is to have a very bright, neon luggage tag. Today, so many people have bags that look the same that an easy-to-identify luggage tag is a must.

---------------------

I think these tips are great and can really help you save you money, especially when it comes to travelling via an airline that wants to charge you per bag!

Try them out and let me know what you think!

In the meantime, have a great week! 

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 02:23 pm   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, April 09 2011

I don't know about you, but the dishwasher is one of the most used appliances in my kitchen.  The door must open dozens of times a day and it is filled with plates, bowls, glassware and silverware, among other items.

In order to maximize the potential of your dishwasher, consider the following tips:

  • Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer’s recommendations on water temperature.  Many dishwashers have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater to a lower temperature. This will save on your energy bill.
  • Scrape off, don’t rinse off, large food pieces and bones. Put the bones in the trash, not down the garbage disposer.  Soaking or prewashing is generally only recommended in cases of burned-on or dried-on food.  This will save on your water bill.
  • Be sure that when you run your dishwasher, it is full, but not overloaded.  You want to only run it when you have enough for a full load, but you don't want to over stuff it with items.  This will cause the dishwasher to wash less effectively and you might end up with some dirty dishes at the end.  That is a waste of time, water and energy!
  • Don’t use the "rinse hold" function on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each time you use it.  If possible, utilize the "normal" setting and save the "pots and pans" setting for when you really need it.  This will save water and energy as well.
  • Let your dishes air dry. If you don’t have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open a little so the dishes will dry faster. 

Utilizing these tips will enable you to make the best use of your dishwasher and save you money at the same time.

Do you have any other money saving tips when it comes to your dishwasher?  Share your thoughts.

In the meantime, have a great week!

 

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 03:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 18 2011

Lately I have been presenting a lot of seminars on various topics concerning organization.  Last week I did a seminar with a certified public accountant and we talked about the tax benefits if you have a home-based business.  I spoke on how to best organize your home office space so that you can locate your paperwork and keep accurate records for your business.

The major theme of that seminar was "Document, Document, Document".  It cannot be stressed enough as to how important it is to do; whether you have a business or not.

A perfect example came to light for me personally this week when I received documentation in the mail from Wachovia Bank which is soon to be changing over to Well-Fargo Bank officially in my area in mid-April.

The packet of information that was sent included the changes to the various types of accounts.  In reviewing the information, I came to the conclusion that, after decades of being with Wachovia, formerly CoreStates, formerly First Union, formerly PSFS, I did not like what they had to offer and decided I would be closing out my accounts and moving them to another bank.

In the old days, this was no big deal.  You went to the bank, spoke with the bank officer, closed out your account(s) and took your money with you.

Today, because of on-line banking - which I love because it saves me so much time - the transition will be a bit more complicated.  I have not spoken with any representative of the bank as yet but plan to do so within the next week or so prior to the switch over.

I am not sure what their policy is as far as record keeping for accounts that are closed out.  I have been doing online bill paying with Wachovia for the past 3 years and want to preserve that information.

This will be much easier for me to transition because I have kept good documentation of all of my bill paying activities. 

I always urge my clients to print out the confirmation after they have directed the bank to make the payments for a certain amount on a certain day because they provide a Confirmation Number. 

I am comforted by the fact that I have always kept good records of my transactions with the bank, not only on line, but by printing out a paper confirmation to attach to the back of each bill that I pay.  I have taken the steps to create a list of the entities involved, their address where the payment is electronically sent and their account numbers so that my transition will be so much easier.  I do not feel I am leaving anything behind but just moving forward towards a better fit for my financial needs.

The moral of the story is to document, document, document.  You never know when you will need to put your hands on important information that might not be accessible at some point in the future.

Just some food for thought...

If you should find that you need assistance with this or any other type of organization, contact me.  I will be glad to help.   

In the meantime, have a great and organized week. 

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 04:20 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, December 28 2010

The end of 2010 is only days away. With that in mind, this is a great time to do some tasks to prepare for and be organized in the New Year.  Here are some things you can do now to make 2011 more organized:

Reconcile financial accounts. Now is the time to get all of your financial paperwork for the year completed so you’re ready to file your taxes when your forms arrive.

Year-end personal goal and resolution review. Review all you accomplished over the course of the year and create goals and resolutions for 2011.

Back-up all digital data. Even if you do this daily, it’s good to take a final snapshot of the digital year.

Review beneficiary information on all investments and policies. If your family has grown or changed in the last year, now is the time to make sure your beneficiary information is current. Additionally, it’s a good time to do a general review of these investments and policies.

Review systems and routines. Are the systems and routines you follow meeting your family’s and home’s needs? If not, now is a good time to create new practices to implement in the new year.

If one of your goals is to create a budget for the coming year, I invite you to check out my "U Can Do It Budgeting System" in the ABS Store.   http://www.4abetterspace.com/abs_store

If you need some help getting more organized and creating some new practices to implement in the coming year, don't hesitate to contact me.  I am here to help.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, prosperous and organized New Year!

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 10:08 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, October 28 2010

Who doesn't have pets?  Most of us have or have had a dog, a cat or other types of pets at one time or another.  If so, you know how expensive it can be when they get ill and need medical attention. 

Commercial pet insurance can be expensive.  Like traditional health insurance for people, it doesn’t cover all medical procedures and treatments. Also, keep in mind that if you never need the insurance (we certainly hope so), you wouldn’t be able to get the money back that you paid the pet insurance company, accrue interest or be able to apply the premiums to another pet.

A better option is to consider setting up a savings fund.  Consider setting up a medical saving account for your current or future pets you might adopt. 

How to create a specialized saving account:

Start by putting a large amount (such as $500) into a special savings designated just for this purpose and then continue to deposit $20 per month into the account.  By simply creating a specialized saving account for your pet, you avoid being in the position where money has to be strongly considered along with treatment options.

Use this method whenever you acquire a new responsibility.  Simply deposit an eighth or a quarter of your saving goal into a dedicated saving account as the account’s start-up fund (or a multi-use account that you keep records for what money in the account is for what purpose). Once the saving account is open and initially funded, you set up an automatic transfer through your bank to put $10 or $20 (or whatever amount you choose) into the new saving account from your checking account every month. This automatic deposit removes the temptation to spend the money on something else.

You could create a specialized saving account for your automobile — $20 a month can be put aside in an account to cover service needs for your aging car. You can create a fund to save for larger home improvement projects or home organization project.

These specialized saving accounts reduce your stress, allow you to cover large expenses when they arise, and help you to live with an uncluttered budget (a budget where you spend less than you earn).

Do you have specialized saving accounts? Would setting one up help you to prepare for an emergency expense? What reasons do you have to create a specialized saving account?

I would love to hear your ideas!

In the meantime, if you need some help creating a budget, why not consider my U Can Do It Budgeting System that I developed based upon the budget I have used for myself for over 20 years?  You can find it at my ABS Store (look for the tab) right on this website.

Enjoy your week! 

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 08:06 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Friday, October 08 2010

Ever since I can remember, I have always advised my clients that an important aspect of paper management and budgeting involves keeping an eye on your provider billing statements, your credit card statements and bank statements.

So many people do not take the time to look at the itemized bill or statement and that is a problem.  The tendency is to look at the total and just pay the bill or not even look at a bank statement at all and just file it away.  It’s important to understand that mistakes are made and if you do not keep track of your statements, the mistakes go un-noticed.  As a result, you could be getting charged for items you should not be getting charged for or you could possibly not get credit for payments made.

A perfect example of this was mentioned in the news this week.  It involves Verizon Wireless and how they charged millions of customers for services they were not receiving.  Verizon Wireless is now required to reimburse those customers a total of more than $1,000,000.

Verizon Wireless was banking on the fact that so many of their customers do not check their statements and just pay their bills based on the total.   It is your responsibility as a consumer to make sure you check your bills, credit card statements and bank statements each and every time you receive them to make sure they are accurate.  If you don’t, no one else will.

So, do you check your statements?  If not, start now.  The next time a bill or statement comes in the mail or is sent to you on line, take the few minutes necessary to make sure your statements are accurate. 

Until next time, have a great week.

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 09:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, October 03 2010

My first husband passed away more than 13 years ago at the young age of 40 following a battle with cancer.  Although no one likes to think about losing a loved one, unfortunately, it is a reality. Fortunately, my husband were able to prepare for that day by getting the pertinent information together that was needed in order to handle his estate.

I recently learned of a website www.about.com that I would like to share with you. I found it to be an extremely helpful site with a set of downloadable PDF files that you can print out to aid in organizing all of the events after a loved one has passed away.

The Death, Dying, and Bereavement Guides include six forms to help plan the events after a death: compare funeral/burial/cremation options, information for writing a eulogy, data needed for an obituary and death notices, and flowers and donations thank you note wording suggestions.

Although it might sometimes be unexpected, I think it is a good idea to fill out the forms that can be filled out while you’re still alive and put them in a safety deposit box or other fireproof location in a folder called "In the Event of My Death". (Please note that safety deposit boxes are sealed upon death until such time as an audit can be done so a fireproof box might be a better option.)

I don’t think it is too zealous to plan ahead for something such as this. If I can spare my loved ones some work following my death, during their bereavement, that will perhaps help them get through the process much easier.

Do yourself and those you love a favor and prepare ahead of time. The site I mentioned above is an easy way to get it all organized.

On a brighter note, I hope you have a great week.

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 08:05 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, May 30 2010

Do you  know "How Long Is Too Long?" when it comes to keeping something?

This past week, I was working with a client who had bought a new home and was transporting all of his worldly possessions from one home to another.

First, the job was a lot larger of a task because no sorting was done ahead of time.  Everything went with him to the new home.  He put off the task and decided to just do it when he got to his new home.  (There is lots of extra time and effort and expense involved in taking this route.)

Second, a lot of the boxes that were being transported had been stored in the garage for the past 15 years! 

When it came time to sort through all the boxes, it was not surprising to me to find that he didn't actually want 90 percent of it.  He had moved it to the new home for nothing.  A lot of the items were in very poor condition, dated and not useable.

The lesson learned here is two-fold:

One, don't move to the new home without first going through everything that you intend to move to make sure you still want to take it with you and...

Two, procrastination can cost you time, effort and expense.  It takes a lot more time to haul the items, it takes longer to unpack the items and sort through them then just not packing them to begin with, and it costs more to move them when you have to pay a moving company to move excess items that you will end up getting rid of anyway.

Do yourself a favor.  When it comes to moving, do the work ahead of time by sorting through your items, putting like-items together and labeling the boxes clearly so you know what room they should be placed in your new home.

Finally, holding items in boxes that you don't open for 15 years clearly states that you just don't need them.  You didn't miss them all that time, you won't miss them now!

If you are moving to a new location, do it in an organized manner to save yourself that time, energy and money.  If you are overwhelmed with that prospect, feel free to contact A Better Space to get some help.

In the meantime, have a great Memorial Day weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 11:56 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 12 2010

Unless you are living under a rock or in a cave, you know and are well aware that we are still in the midst of an economic "crisis". This scares many people. The fear of losing your job, your home and/or your investments can be overwhelming. 

However, the one thing I have observed recently is that this "crisis" is forcing people to stop and think about their particular financial situation and have a desire to become more aware of where their money comes from and where it is going.

The number of people per month who are still applying for unemployment compensation in the United States is staggering.  Of the nearly 52 million U.S. homeowners with a mortgage, about 13.8 million, or nearly 27 percent owe more on their mortgage than their house is now worth, according to Moody’s Economy.com. Most people have seen their investments and retirement funds decrease by approximately forty percent. The average American has approximately $10,000 of credit card debt. No wonder everyone is scared.

Many have attempted to cut back on spending in order to make ends meet and attempt to get out of debt. However, without a plan in place, you cannot be successful. If you do some research, you will find that many financial advisors and other "experts" have put together systems for creating a solution to your budgeting woes. I have found them to be very complex and time consuming, discouraging most people from utilizing them.

In order to successfully create a plan for financial success, you need to create a budget. A budget will provide you with a way to not only analyze your income (by way of a pay check, investment rental properties, alimony, child support, governmental benefits, etc.) but will provide a visual aide to see where the income is going. You cannot budget your money if you don’t know where it is going.

So, how do you begin to even create a budget, you ask? You will need to determine your income, determine your expenses and then create your budget based upon that information. This can sometimes be a complicated and time consuming process.

You will need to determine whether your monthly expenses exceed your monthly income. Does your current problems involve the inability to save month each month? Do you wonder where all your money is going each month? Do you feel that your life is getting out of control because of your finances?

If so, you need to develop a personalized budget so you can better manage your finances. Ask yourself - "How can I possibly manage my money if I don’t have any idea where it all goes each month?" The answer - you need to become more disciplined with your money.

Many people make the mistake of cutting back so drastically that there is nothing left to enjoy. Many get caught up in the "this minor expense won’t matter" syndrome. Before you know it, "these minor expenses" are added over and over throughout a month and before you know it, they really add up. This is sometimes where overspending occurs. And, don’t forget that budgeting needs to include saving money. Planning for those things you enjoy makes it much easier to stick to your budget in the long run.

You may ask why it’s so important to record all of your expenses. It’s important because, if you don’t track your expenses, eventually they get out of control. You need to have a system and it needs to be documented.

Now, more than ever, everyone is looking for that simple way to manage and budget their money. No one wants to take time to work with a complicated system.

No one has the time!

Take the first step now. Acknowledge that you need to get on a budget and commit to finding the support and tools necessary to get it done!

If you need some assistance, I have developed the "U Can Do It Budgeting System" based upon the budgeting system I have used for myself for over 25 years as well as my years of experience setting up personalized budgeting systems for my clients. Visit the ABS Store right on this site learn more.

In the meantime, have a great week!

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 09:00 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Sunday, August 30 2009

Life is complicated enough.

I have found that people tend to make their schedules and tasks much more difficult than they have to be. While there are hundreds of things you can do to organize your life, I believe these seven tips alone can help.    

1. Simplify your morning routine. Take a shower and select what you are going to wear the night before.  Go for a more natural look and use less cosmetics to save time.  Get an simple  hairstyle that requires very little work and is easy to maintain.  Set the breakfast table the night before. Wake up a little bit earlier so you can feed the kids, walk the dog and/or have a cup of coffee without the need to race to work.

2. Simplify your schedule. Stop doing the activities that you are no longer interested in doing. Delegate. Consolidate your errands to save time. Pad each errand, appointment or task by about 15 minutes and you will stop rushing from one thing to the next. Don't fill your calendar to the max. Leave some time open for fun and relaxation in between your work-related or chore-related tasks. Stop saying "yes" to everyone and everything.  Learn to say "no" sometimes!

3. Simplify your processes. Is it taking too long to accomplish certain things?  If so, take a look at those tasks.  For example, if it's taking you an hour to balance your checkbook, you might want to consider using a computer software program to manage your money instead. Are you  tired of waiting in line at the post office for postage?  Consider ordering it online.  If it's taking you forever to file your paperwork, perhaps it's time to revamp your filing system.  It just might not be the best system for you.

4. Simplify your possessions.  Remember, when it comes to possessions, quality is more important that quantity. It's better to have a few very nice things than tons of not-so-nice things. Do you have more shirts than will fit in your drawer or closet?  Do you really need that many? Donate clothes you never wear and you'll be helping someone less fortunate while simplifying your wardrobe. Weed out your kitchen cupboards. Reduce the amount of plastic containers.  Get rid of the small appliances or cooking utensils you no longer use.  Have a yard sale. Before you go shopping, get rid of something you no longer need. Use the "one in, one out" rule.  If your kids are off on their own, you may even want to simplify and downsize to a smaller house.  Remember, less is more!

5. Simplify your finances. Consolidate your credit cards. Most people can get by just fine with just one or two major ones. And, don't spend beyond your means! In fact, if your credit card bills run very high each month, consider paying for purchases in cash instead. Pay your bills online whenever you can. Balance your checkbook each month, so you don't fall way behind. Set up a monthly spending budget and stick to it so you don't go overboard with purchases each month. 

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Do you want an EASY way to budget your money?  Are you tired of those complex systems that you can't maintain from month to month?  If so, the U Can Do It Budgeting System is for you.  You will be able to download this e-book onto your computer within minutes and be ready to create your own personal budget in less than one hour!  Simply go to the Budgeting System tab right on this website and download it today!

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6. Simplify your cleaning. Clean as you go, and you'll never have to deep clean. Rinse dirty dishes and put them in the dishwasher immediately after each meal so you don't have big pile-ups in the sink. (Remind your family of this rule, as well.)  Use only one or two cleaning products to clean your entire house--you don't need ten!  Create a cleaning schedule. You may choose to do a chore each day, such as vacuuming on Mondays, dusting on Tuesdays, etc. Or, you may prefer choosing a room a day, such as kitchen on Mondays, bathrooms on Tuesdays, etc. Divide up the cleaning duties among each member of your household. If your budget will allow, get a cleaning person to come in and clean once a week, or once every few weeks. 

7. Simplify your meal planning. Choose one day each week (include your family, if you'd like)to decide what you will have for dinner the next seven nights. Write those meals down and make a grocery list of the items you need to purchase to make match those meals.

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STAY TUNED - THE U CAN DO IT GROCERY SHOPPING LIST is being launched in September 2009!

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This is much easier than worrying about what you're going to make for dinner each day. Choose meals that take less than 30 minutes to prepare and cook. Make double, so you only have to cook every other night! Learn how to use a slow cooker so dinner is ready to eat when you get home from work.

 

Please keep in mind that with any plan, maintenance is the key.  By utilizing these tips regularly, I guarantee you will have A BETTER SPACE.

If you need further assistance with this or any other organizational issue, please contact me at A BETTER SPACE.  I will be more than happy to help.

Enjoy the last days of August!



Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 01:49 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, July 23 2009

My son recently graduated from high school.  He is continuing his education in the Fall at a local tech school for web design.

Around the time that he was going through the major transition from high school student to graduate, I was writing my "U Can Do It Budgeting System" e-book.  In speaking with various people, I began to recognize that there is a large group of individuals who need to be educated about finances and budgeting...high school and college students.

Did you know that only a quarter of teens have any idea how credit card interest works?  The average college student carries nearly $3,000 in credit card debt.  A bad credit rating can affect your child's ability to buy a car, a house or even get a job.

As a parent, it is important to discuss these and other money related issues with your teen before they leave the nest. But how?  Some parents are not confident that they have enough knowledge about finances, feeling they don't know how to give advice or even where to begin.

To get this important conversation started, start involving your teen in the family's financial situation.  You don't have to give away the ship but you can let your kids see you paying bills and getting their input some budgeting decisions.  Give them an example where a choice needs to be made.  Have them realize that in order to go away for vacation, you need to save up a bit to do so.  Ask them how they suggest you do that.   Showing them that the balance between spending and saving is so important and will take them a long way. 

If there is a big ticket item that your kids wants, don't just give it to them.  Explain to them that they can earn the money, either by getting a job or getting paid to do chores around the house that perhaps you would pay someone else to do so they can fund the cost themselves.  It will make it a lot more valuable to them.

Before your teens leave home, your teen needs to know how to balance spending with savings and the details of day-to-day living, such as how to balance a check book and how to stick to a budget.  The "U Can Do It Budgeting System" is a great tool to teach those who need help creating and sticking to a budget.  It is simple and easy enough that it works for teens as well as adults. (See the "budgeting system" tab for more information.)

Some great times to initiate this conversation with your teen is perhaps at snack time.  Get them to sit at the table with you with some fresh baked cookies and a glass of milk to get the conversation started.  I have found that it's a lot easier to have a deeper discussion with my teen when we are driving in the car.  I have his undivided attention.  Share some chores together.  By sharing some time together to get things done gives you a good opportunity to open up the discussion of finances.

Bottom line, get this conversation going.  It's important to your teen's future. 

 

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 09:40 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, May 10 2009

We are well into Spring and now is the time you will begin to see garage sales popping up in your neighborhood.

With the economy in its current condition, more and more people are finding ways to make a few extra dollars and one way is to have a garage sale.

However, do you know about Garage Sale Etiquette.  It does exist.  As a seller, you should follow these rules for good "garage sale etiquette".

1.  If your advertisement for your sale states it will begin at 8:00 a.m., be ready for people to arrive around 7:30 a.m. unless you include "no early birds" in your ad.  They tend to follow the adage "the early bird gets the worm".   If you do include the statement in your ad, don't sell to them until the time the sale is to begin. Tell them in a polite way that you will sell the item to them when the sales begins, no earlier.

2.  Make sure your pricing of your items is clear and consistent.  If you leave items unmarked or use a confusing pricing system, people will get frustrated and you will find that many leave without purchasing anything.

3.  Be honest about what you are selling.  If something is missing from a set or has been changed, tell your customers or post a sign with the item to explain it.  Don't knowingly sell useless junk.

4.  A garage sale is not the right venue for selling collectibles, antiques or other large ticket items.  People who shop garage or yard sales are looking for low prices on gently used items.  If you want to sell certain items for more money, sell them on E-bay, Craigs List or at a consignment shop or antique store.  Know the value of what you are selling and determine what venue it best fits.

5.  Make sure to tell your neighbors you will be having a garage sale in advance.  They may want to either join your sale and know to expect increased traffic on the street that day.  Be respectful of your neighbors' properties.  If someone arrives and parks in front of your neighbor's driveway, kindly ask them to move their vehicle to another location.

6.  Stage your yard.  Clean it up and don't leave out items that are not for sale, such as patio furniture, lawn equipment, etc.  I suggest moving them out of view, covering them wtih a tarp or blanket or posting a sign on them stating "Not For Sale". 

7.  If you are posting signs in the neighborhood, make sure the lettering is large enough and bold enough for drivers to read.  (I cannot tell you how many times I am riding past a sign advertising a garage sale and I can't read the date, the time or the location.   As a result, I don't give it another thought.  That's a lost potential customer!)  Once you post your signs, drive around and see how they appear to others.  Make sure they are legible to someone who is driving by at a decent rate of speed in their vehicle.  Make a note to yourself where the signs were posted.  (I will explain below.)

8.  After the garage sale ends, go back to the places you posted the signs and remove them.  (This is why you needed to note where you posted them!) 

9.  Make sure you have a cash box or apron with pockets so you can collect money and make change.  Stock up on $1 bills, $5 bills, quarters, dimes and nickels.  If buyers don't have exact change, you need to be prepared to make change for them.

10.  Lastly, be kind.  Smile, ask people if they need any help, engage in light conversation.  Not only will it help you financially to be warm and courteous but it will increase the likelihood of shoppers returning for any sales you may have in the future. 

Wishing you a successful garage sale!!

Until next time, if you have any organizing questions or problems you would like me to address, please send me an email at info@4abetterspace.com and I will be glad to help.

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 07:30 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, July 26 2008

In the past week or so there has been a lot of talk about the stability of the banks in our country and the security of our assets.  I received a newsletter from the President and CEO of ING Direct, Arkadi Kuhlmann, that contained the following information which I would like to share with you.

"So, you've put some money away and you're just letting it sit there and grow.  Or maybe you've stashed away some valuables in a safe deposit box.  If you haven't touched either in three to five years, you may never touch them again.  It's all because of state laws - called escheatment or unclaimed property laws - that require banks and brokerages to turn over unclaimed property, including un-cashed payroll checks, stock, bank deposit and more, to the State.  Property is classified as "unclaimed" when a Customer doesn't contact the bank where his/her money is held over an extended period of time and there has been no activity.

The State goverment is then supposed to identify and contact the rightful owners, and reunite them with their property; however, each State has a "who's who" list of people who "couldn't be found" and whose property has been seized."

Here's what you can do to avoid this:

- Login to any on line account at least once a year.

- For each bank account, make a balance inquiry, small deposit or withdraweal at least
once a year.

- Cash or deposit checks when you get them.

- Use gift cards, traveler's checks and gift certificates promptly.

- Visit your safe deposit box at least once a year.

- Notify any holder of funds of an address change or a new name.

- Make a list of all your account information including retirement plans, insurance policies, trust payments, and brokerage or other accounts, and give a copy to a trusted family member or friend.

Remember, if you ignore your assets, they could disappear.  You certainly don't want that to happen.

If you would like more information on this or any other organizing topic, please feel free to contact A BETTER SPACE.   I will be glad to help.

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 11:32 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, June 18 2008

So you've decided that you want to have a garage sale (or yard sale) and you don't know where to begin.  Here are some Quick Tips to create A Better Space in your home by getting rid of those items you no longer want, but wish to get a little money for them.

First, don't save things to sell at a garage or yard sale unless you have set a definite date for that sale.  Donate those items instead.

However, if you have determined a date (sooner as opposed to later), be aware that your time is valuable.  It takes a lot of time and energy to plan and hold a successful garage sale so be prepared to spend the time. 

Advertise in the local paper - post signs in your neighborhood with arrows pointing to your home. (Just remember to go back and remove them when the sale is over!) Post signs in local stores that you frequent. My bank has a community bulletin board that I use to promote my business. You can do the same for your garage sale. Get the word out!!!

Make it a family affair.  Get the kids involved.  Have them select some toys or games they no longer play with and books they don't read anymore.  Let them keep whatever money they make for themselves!

To get started, evaluate what you have and categorize it.  Use boxes for smaller items and a large blanket or drop cloth for larger items.  Visibility is key so make sure everyone can see what you have.

Once items have been categorized, you can use the box to indicate the price of the items or mark it "Priced As Marked" and then individually tag each item within that category.

Be reasonable.  Remember, it's a garage sale and customers are looking for bargains. Don't attach your sentiments to the item to determine it's worth.  Think about what someone would be willing to pay for the item.  You will make out better if you sell a lot of items cheaper as opposed to charging more for one large item.  You want the customers to buy a lot of things.  The goal here is to get rid of the stuff!

Make sure you have a cash box on hand for dollar bills and coins to make change.  Sometimes people bring large bills to a garage sale and you don't want to lose a sale because you can't make change.

Have some paper grocery bags or plastic bags for your customers to carry their purchases.  If you have fragile items, make sure you have some tissue paper or bubble wrap on hand.  Your customers will appreciate the extra effort you are taking to wrap up their precious belongings.

Negotiate.  If someone really wants something, let it go for a bit less than you originally priced it.  It's not worth holding onto for just a bit more money.  There is a chance you might not sell it at all!

Have fun!  Talk to people.  Be a salesman (or woman).  See if you can help them find what they are looking for. 

At the end of the day, let the stuff go.  Don't put it back in the garage or in the house.  Donate it to a local charity or post the items on freecycle.org.  Someone will make use of what you no longer want and you will keep it out of the landfill.

Take the proceeds from the day and do something fun with them - go to dinner with the family - buy something that you actually need.  And look around, you now have A BETTER SPACE!

For more information and assistance on any organizing issue you may have, feel free to contact me.  I will be more than happy to help you reach your organizing goals.

Wishing you a good week!

 

 

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 12:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, June 03 2008

Here's another Quick Tip for A Better Space -

I bet a lot of you are cleaning out your garages and other areas of the home in preparation for summer.  Below is some information you can use when considering making use of your local consignment shop.

If you have high-end furniture, for example, that’s too big for your space after you've downsized, it may be worth investigating the possibility of consignment sales. Be aware however, that although something may be of good quality, it may be out of style and a consignment agent will be less likely to take it on.

Before going the consignment route, research the various stores and agents in your area to be sure it is a worthwhile arrangement. You’ll usually receive a percentage of the selling price and some shops only take items they know they’ll sell.  Once you’ve given it to them you won’t have to ever take it back. This can apply to making use of E-bay stores as well. 

Remember, sometimes, it's just better to give it up and move on.  In some cases, if it has served it's time and you have gotten it's money's worth, it's time to just let it go. 

Separate emotional value from monetary value and you will have a better time deciding what to do with those "expensive" items.  I promise you will then have A Better Space.

For more information and assistance on any organizing issue you may have, feel free to contact me.  I will be more than happy to help you reach your organizing goals and create A Better Space for you.

Have a great week!


Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 11:37 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, February 19 2008

Since April 15th will be here before you know it, it brought to mind that you might need some Quick Tips for A Better Space when it comes to your finances:

If you are going to organize any one aspect of your life, I believe the most important is your finances.  If your finances are not in order, it can literally cost you money and may jeopardize your credit score.  That's very important and should not be ignored.  Using the following tips will reduce your chances of this happening:

1) All in one place.  

By keeping all of your financial records and files together in one place, you are on your way to getting organized.  If you can't find your bills, you can't pay them on time!

Create one central location for all of your pending bills. It can be a folder in a cabinet, a bin in your home office, a bill paying secretary (this is an accessory which sits on your desk top and has dividers in it for all 31 days of the month - not a person sitting on your desk paying your bills for you!)  Check this file once a week to ensure that you don't miss any deadlines.  

When new bills arrive, discard the outer envelope and all of the useless inserts. Put the bill and the return envelope into your Pending Bill file.  I suggest paying your bills 10 days ahead of their due date.  (These days, that doesn't give you much time, so plan ahead!)

2) Set yourself a schedule to pay bills and stick to it.

Select a time every week that is convenient for you and when you can have some peace and quiet without being interrupted.

3) Balance your checking account.

Although we all hate to do it, it's necessary.  However, if you balance your account on a regular basis--such as every time you pay bills--it will drastically cuts down on how far back you'll have to go to find a mistake.

If you use an online service to check your balance, you won't have to wait for your paper statement to arrive in the mail.  Also, if you use a system such as Quicken to keep track of your checking account, you can save yourself time and errors as well.

And, check your checking account balance often.  How many checks do you write?  How many deposits do you make?  You may want to check your account as often as once a day to once a week.  This is especially important if more than one person is using the account. This will help avoid those surprise ATM withdrawals that didn't get posted in your account register in time.  And list them chronologically!  It's so much easier to keep track of them that way.


4) Try direct deposit.

There are products out there that can make your life easier, such as direct deposit.  Just think, it will avoid your having to go to the bank to deposit your check, which will save you time and gas money.  Also, did you realize that direct deposits will often end up in your account before paper checks are given out!

5) Consider online bill paying.

Online bill paying is another great way to save yourself time and money! Rather than having to sit there and write a check, put a stamp on the envelope (more money) and hope that it gets there on time, you can simply visit the company's website and make an online payment. These days with all of the mail theft out there, it's actually much safer to pay your bills online.

Once you make a payment, make sure you print a copy of the confirmation for your records. If you prefer to pay bills only a couple of times a month, most companies will allow you to schedule your payment in advance and it's processed on your due date.  It doesn't get much easier than that!

6) Change your due date.

Contact your credit card company and request a due date in a specific part of the month.  This way you can count on when the payment will be made based upon your particular financial circumstances. 

7) Consolidate your accounts.

One way to simplify your finances is to eliminate any unnecessary accounts you may have. If you have an extra savings, checking, money market or investment accounts, consolidate them.  Even if there are minor fees associated with closing out accounts, it will be worth it.  You will not have to spend so much time keeping track of all those accounts, statements, etc.

8) Don't keep what you don't need.

You know all of those thick booklets you receive in the mail from brokerage houses? Those annual reports, etc. for stocks, bonds, investment accounts.  Unless you love reading them (Is there anyone who loves reading through or deciphering these reports aside from my dad?), toss them. You don't need them.  It just becomes clutter!


9) Make sure someone you trust knows about your financial picture.

Select someone who you trust and make them knowledgeable about what accounts you have and how to access these accounts. Tragedies do happen. Don't leave your loved ones in the dark as to how to sort out family finances in the event you're unable to.

Create a list of the company names, phone numbers, website addresses, account numbers, usernames and passwords and put it in a safe place for them to access if need be. It's also a good idea to check this information every quarter to make sure it's up-to-date. You can also file a copy of this information with your Will.

10) Make sure you have a Will.

The most important step you can possibly take to organize your finances is to have a current Will. Don't leave your loved ones with a huge financial mess.  If your estate is very simple, purchase a software package that will allow you to create a simple Will in the privacy of your own home in less than an hour. For a more complicated estate, please consult an attorney.  You don't want to create chaos for your family. It's best to insure that your wishes will be followed.  Don't put it off!  You just never know...

The moral of the story in reference to organizing your finances is to develop a plan that works best for you. Everyone's situations are different and what works for one person or family may not work for someone else.  And, when you find a system that works for you, be consistent.  Develop a consistent schedule and follow it.

Remember, this is the one area of your life in which you can't afford to be disorganized. By taking the simple steps listed above, you will be on your way to organizing your finances in no time and creating A Better Space!

For more information and assistance on this topic or any organizing issue you might have, feel free to contact me. I will be more than happy to help you reach your goals for organization and make your place A Better Space.

Have a great week!


Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 11:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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    A BETTER SPACE
    Phone: (215)491-5193
    Email:info@4abetterspace.com


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