What if your house burns down tomorrow? What if your child is hospitalised? What if your jewellery gets stolen in a burglary? What if you are required to handle a deceased estate? Are you prepared?
Things happen and we all know it! But we also hope that they are not going to happen to us. And I sincerely hope that your life is a happy one with no tragic events.
Personally, I would describe myself as an optimistic and positive thinking person. Nevertheless, I would also describe myself as realistic. At least I try to be realistic and not to overreact in most cases. From my life experience, I know that things can and do happen, sometimes totally unexpectedly. I’m pretty sure if you are reading this, you have experienced this as well.
So, what is the last thing anybody wants to do when something has happened, like an accident, an illness or even death? Looking for paperwork! This is certainly one of those things no one wants to do during an already stressful situation.
Of course having all your critical documents sorted and documented can help this. You know this. However, have you done it? Does anybody else apart from you know where to find your vital documents? More often than not, the answer to this is unfortunately a big NO.
Why you should put your affairs in order NOW!
I would like you to think about this a bit longer. Even if nothing bad happens throughout your life, one thing will ultimately happen – we all have to die. Maybe not a nice thought, but a very real one. Have you ever thought about the state of your affairs that you leave to your loved ones? They will be grieving for you and certainly don’t want to go through all your possessions at this point in time to find a certain piece of paper they may need!
I encourage you from the bottom of my heart to do something about it now! If not for yourself, do it for your loved ones. Yes, it is a bit time consuming and most people find paperwork really tedious. However, it’s a one-off time and work effort, and once it’s done I guarantee you peace of mind.
How you and your loved ones can benefit
I’ve heard people say: ‘I don’t care what’s going to happen when I’m gone!’ Really? Do you truly want to add stress to your loved ones?
Sorting your affairs will benefit not only them but also yourself. Because it’s not just about dying -other things can happen. What if you travel and your passport and credit card are stolen? If you have a system going, these things will be scanned, quickly accessible and can be replaced much quicker than if you don’t even know your passport number. Or what if you have an accident and end up unconscious in hospital? You will certainly benefit if someone close to you has immediate access to your medical files that the hospital might need.
These are the top 5 benefits for everyone involved:
Less stress. You will feel less stressed if you need to access your important papers because you know what you have and exactly where everything is. This goes even more for your loved ones: they will most likely feel very stressed if something happens to you and be grateful forever if they know where to find the necessary documents.
More time. You will need to invest some time to get it all sorted. However, you will save a lot of time whenever you need a document because you don’t have to look for it anymore.
Better relationships. First of all, your family will probably be extremely grateful if you sort your stuff yourself. When dealing with important paperwork, you might also find gaps. For example, there might not be a will, but you always wanted to do one. Or you might realise that you would like to write down funeral instructions. Of course, it’s always good to not only write these things down but to actually talk about it in the family. I know this is not easy, but from my own experience, I know it’s such an immense relief to do so, and it can deepen relationships.
More money. If you have a complete overview of what you own and/or don’t own, you’ll have much better control of your finances. Also, when dealing with financial planners, bankers, tax accountants, etc., you always need to supply them with data that can be found in those important documents. If these service providers work on an hourly rate, you will save heaps of money by being organised!
More confidentiality. Sound weird? Well, if someone needs to find one of your documents and hasn’t got a clue where to find it, they might go through every drawer and cupboard in the house before they find the document (if they find it at all, because it might be stored in the bank or with an attorney or possibly not even exist – ever heard of those families that found a will months after the passing, after having spent loads of money on lawyers?). If they know exactly in which drawer to find your medical records, it will be easy as pie to find them, and they won’t find old love letters or other stuff you might want to keep confidential.
Still not convinced that being prepared is worth the effort? Well, then ask yourself this: if your very best friend were hospitalised tomorrow, would you want to help? Would you feel stressed? Would you know where to find her/his medical documents that the doctor urgently needs to help? Imagine if she/he had everything well sorted and documented and you only needed to read where the records are stored to get to them quickly. Would this be great or not?
Simply In Order can help you whether you choose to do it yourself or to engage a Certified Personal Document Specialist. We offer a free initial consultation, call 0413 216 589 to book today or find out more about Family DocuMap here.
Organised people have more money (and time for that matter)! Why? Because they don’t have to pay late fees, don’t lose uncashed cheques, don’t pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for off-site storage to store things they don’t need – the list goes on and on.
For many of us, times are tough, at least financially. Spending less is only one possibility to help you save money, but there are other things we can do to reach the same goal. One of them is being organised.
As a professional organiser, I frequently come across old cheques that can’t be banked anymore or payment reminders that have often incurred late fees. There are more substantial and often unnecessary expenses, too, such as paying an awful lot for off-site storage for things we don’t need. Or even people who pay for a bigger house to have enough space to keep all their stuff. Remember: everything needs space, and space doesn’t come free of charge!
Let’s start small and see what you can do to never pay your bills late again.
Deal with your financial affairs
Many people – including me – don’t like to deal with all the paperwork that comes with financial matters. However, it is worth the effort to have it under control at all times. You will feel so much better and might become more creative and resourceful, too.
Regaining control includes having
- a budget
- a system to track your expenses
- financial goals so you can plan accordingly
- a system to always pay your bills on time
This is how I have set up my personal bill-paying system that works a treat since many years:
- When an invoice arrives in the mail, I open it, throw the envelope in the recycling bin, and put the bill in an inbox in our kitchen. This box is emptied weekly, and all the actions that come with it are done weekly as well.
- From the inbox, bills go into a manila folder labelled ‘to pay’ on my desk.
- Every fortnight (a day after payday), I open this manila folder and pay the bills via online banking. It’s so easy to schedule payments nowadays, and I never miss a due date. I have mirrored my manila folders in my e-mail inbox and also check whether any bills are in this inbox.
- I enter the expenses into our tracking system which is a simple Excel spreadsheet.
- If I want or need to keep the bill, I note the date of payment on the top right corner of the invoice and file it straight away. I don’t print out electronic invoices but file them on my computer once they’re paid and then delete them from my inbox.
How to avoid high seasonal expenses
I’d also like to mention something we started a few years back. If you can, set up automatic payments for your utility bills. Especially gas (but also water and electricity) usage fluctuates a lot, at least here in Victoria with for seasons (yes, sometimes in one day!). However, with regular payments, you don’t have to worry about huge gas bills in winter because you will accumulate a credit during summer.
These are only a couple of possibilities to save money by being organised. Other tips include:
- meal planning
- having a home for everything so you don’t buy things you already own
- decluttering your space (because space costs money, remember?)
- avoiding off-site storage if possible
- re-thinking how many of one item you really need—are you sure you need 50 pairs of shoes?
Let me know what you plan to do with all the money you save by being organised!
Now is the time to become more organised at tax time to ensure you are doing everything you can to set yourself up to get the best return possible. Thanks to Neha Nayyar from Sum and Substance Bookkeeping and Accounting Services for this guest blog!
Rather than waiting for the end of the year to sort yourself out, now is the time to ensure you are doing everything you can to make sure that this time next year you have set yourself up to get the best return possible.
Here are my tips to make sure that in 2014 you are able to make good on that promise to yourself to be more organised at tax time.
- Eftpos/credit card your work-related expenses
ATO now accepts credit card and bank statements as proof of a claim so if you are shocking at keeping receipts then make sure you use credit card or eftpos for your tax-deductible expenses.
- Take a Photo of your receipts with your phone or iPad
The ATO accept scanned receipts as proof of your deduction so you could even throw away the original.
- Keep a logbook
Keep a logbook for your motor vehicle. You can do this on paper or use one of the many apps available on your smart phone to do this for you.
- Keep receipts for everything you are entitled to
This means making sure you know what you can claim. If you are unsure, the ATO have loads of fact sheets for different professions online that you can download and read. Or my rule of thumb is if you think there is even a tiny chance that you might be able to claim something, then keep the receipt and ask your accountant at the end of the year. We can’t claim without a receipt but if you are organised we can give you more options.
- Consider wealth creation strategies
Research that rental property, book an appointment with a financial planner, buy those shares you’ve been looking at or salary sacrifice your bonus or pay increase. Rental property helps you with major tax saving using negative gearing.
- Maintaining regular up-to-date books by appointing a bookkeeper
Enter everything into an accounting package in a timely manner or get a good bookkeeper to do this for you in a regular manner. Do not leave everything to the last minute.
Why not choose two of these tips to improve your result and then simply do something about it. It really is that easy and you’ll be much happier when you lodge your tax.
Neha Nayyar, CPA
Sum and Substance Bookkeeping and Accounting services or connect on Facebook
Working from home is many people’s dream but it can be challenging and daunting. Temptation to just go with the flow can be huge. Professional organiser Chantal Imbach, of Simply In Order, shares the power of routines.
There are plenty of good reasons to work from home. Some do it voluntarily and they thrive, others fall into it and may find it really hard.
I’m assuming you love what you do. Which is exactly what can make it so difficult to switch off and call it a day. It’s even more challenging if you own the business.
Due to plenty of misconceptions about working from home, some onlookers might think you hang around in your pyjamas all day, are unmotivated, lonely or antisocial – not to mention completely unaccountable for your time. This can, in fact, happen to home workers who are totally overwhelmed by the new freedom.
This is where routines come in. Well-established routines make your days easier and more productive. Some people will need only minimal structure; others, particularly those who find discipline and motivation hard to maintain, will require more routines and more time to transform them into habits.
So, what can routines do for you?
- They simplify your life
- They reduce stress and help you to be more relaxed
- They give you structure
- They help you to work towards a goal
- They foster habits
My top 11 routines for working-from-home
1. Define work days and hours. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the same days every week or from 9am-5pm. As a home worker, you have the flexibility to shape working days around family commitments, leisure activities or the natural ebb and flows of your workload. Personally, I have set days for certain work but I swap them if necessary. After all, this flexibility was a big incentive for me to become my own boss and work from home. Maybe you’re a night owl and more creative and productive in the evening? So, by all means, schedule your work or part of it into that timeslot. The working hours and days you choose need to take into account the nature of your business and clients, but as a home worker, you have the opportunity to shape your work around you life, and not the other way around.
2. Good morning! Start your day with a healthy and energizing morning routine. Set your alarm clock and don’t be tempted to sleep in on your workdays. Have a shower and breakfast and maybe even a short workout to start the day full of energy. Whatever gets you into gear.
3. Dress like you’d be going to work. This helps you to switch into ‘work mode’.
4. Have a break. Allow yourself at least one break in the workday. Sit down for lunch, go out to meet someone, go for a walk or read. If you have a tendency to forget the time because you’re so immersed in your work, set a timer. Many who work from home are glued to the screen all day. So, try to do something else during the break to give your eyes a rest, too.
5. Have a dedicated workspace. Define a space in your home as your workspace and make it a nice, tidy and inspiring place to be in. Whether it’s a whole room such as an office or only a desk or a table in the corner of your living room doesn’t matter. Personally, I prefer a room so I can close the door and symbolically call it a day. Try not to let your work take over the entire home. It is easier to switch off when your work isn’t constantly in your face.
6. Buddy up! If you struggle with concentrating on your work because of distractions in the home, find someone to be your accountability buddy. This can work over the phone or by meeting your buddy to work next to each other, be it in a public place or at home.
7. Get out! Some people can’t work when it’s too quiet. So, why not take your laptop to the library, the park or a café?
8. Plan your day. Typically, the to-do-lists of people working from home are endless. Hopefully, you will have your long-term and short-term goals set. However, you also need to break them down into daily tasks. My recommendation: allow a few minutes before you finish your workday to plan the next day. This prevents you from worrying that you might forget something. And don’t forget to allow time for breaks, too. Done? Go and enjoy your free time!
9. Stick to your plan. Take your work and yourself seriously. Don’t go to meet friends for coffee when you had a working day planned. Be honest and say that you’ve got a working day. Your work is not worth less just because you might not leave the house for it. Having said that, the beauty of working from home is more flexibility. Allow yourself some spontaneity from time to time – just not every time. Because, trust me, a lot of people will assume that you are available anytime, and you will need to work hard and consistently to convince them otherwise.
10. Call it a day. Stick to your closing time. If this is 5pm, stop doing what you’re working on and continue the next day. This is probably the hardest habit to adopt, and not always possible, but do give it a try.
11. Arrive in the ‘home mode’. Establish a daily routine that helps you to switch off. Consciously close the door to your workplace, or sit down to enjoy a cup of tea. Maybe you prefer going for a walk, cooking dinner or reading the paper – there are endless possibilities. This helps your mind to switch off and to switch to ‘leisure’ or ‘home’ mode.
You might use other routines or already have established some of those mentioned. Not all might work for you. Try to tweak them, so they meet your needs.