Financial Clutter

Gems Among the Stocking Stuffers

As a Professional Organizer, I find the holiday season agonizing.  So much emphasis on shopping — buying things that will be given to people who probably don’t even want them. I love getting my weekly e-mails from the Container Store, but when they sent me one about this year’s collection of “Stocking Stuffers”, I got nervous. Stocking stuffers are the ultimate junky gift — emphasizing quantity and low price over quality.  The Container Store offers free shipping if you order $100 worth…

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Your Digital Afterlife

One of the most eye-opening sessions that I attended earlier this year at the annual conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) was entitled “Creating a Will for your Virtual Life”.   Heather Ahern, a Massachusetts-based Professional Organizer, said that you should create a digital estate plan to ensure the appropriate disposition of your digital assets, just as you would do with your tangible assets. Since attending that session, I’ve come across a number of articles — in AARP…

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In Praise of Automatic Bill Pay

Have you ever felt stressed because you knew you had bills due but weren’t sure where the bills were or if you had missed the deadline?  Have you ever been charged a late fee?  Have you ever spent hours on the phone trying to straighten out a bill payment that was never received? If these sound like common occurrences in your life, I have three words for you: automatic bill pay.

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Ditching Some Tax Paperwork

Let’s assume that you dutifully filed your 2013 taxes in recent months.  You’ve got to hold on to your supporting paperwork for three years, since that is how long the federal government has if they decide to audit you.   (If that number surprises you, see my earlier post entitled “How Long Should I Keep My Personal Tax Records?”)  Most states — including my state, New York — also only have three years to audit you.   (You can check your state here.)…

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Better Ways to Spend

I was intrigued by a book review in the weekly magazine The Economist, since the book in question delivers the same message that I have been telling my clients: spend your money on experiences, not things. According to “Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending”, by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, behavioral research indicates that the excitement brought on by material purchases wears off quickly.  A much better strategy, the review states, is “to spend money on experiences, like interesting trips, unique meals, or even going…

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