ID Theft - Don’t Let It Spoil Your Holidays!

View this video for a hilarious response to identity theft. Then read the article. Seriously!

Yes, it does happen. Especially at this time of year you can’t be too careful. People fall for email scams and more often, their private information is compromised.

Much as my clients protest, I insist you buy a good shredder. Situate it right next to your desk, plugged in and use it whenever you open the mail. Shred, shred, shred.

Never give out credit card or bank account information to anyone in an email (or phone call unless you initiated the call).

Items you must shred:

• Address labels

• Preapproved credit card offers

• Any paper with a signature, social security numbers, account numbers, email, etc.

• Documents with driver’s license, maiden name, passwords, pin numbers or other ID information

• Utility bills (phone, internet, gas, electric, cable, etc.)

• Financial offers, checks or new account solicitations

• Bank statements, loan information, ATM receipts, old/void checks, receipts, deposit slips

• Credit reports

• Credit card statements or receipts, bills, carbon copies

• Pay stubs, resumes or employment records, personnel information

• Legal or insurance documents, leases

• Investment or property transactions

• Medical and dental records including x-rays which require special handling

• Birth certificate copies

• Expired passports or visas, military IDs, other IDs

• Resumes, transcripts, school records

• Tax forms, returns

• Travel itineraries, airline tickets, luggage tags

• For laminated items, cut up with scissors and place half in two different garbage bags

• Digital data and media are especially important. There are secure companies that can shred these.

• Erase all hard drives before getting rid of computers

If you need help, call on me. I welcome your emails and calls!

Happy Holidays! And don’t fall for any scams!


End of Year Review

Even though we're all busy with holiday festivities, year end is the best time to consider and consolidate our organizing systems – so we can finally relax with a cup of tea and a good book.

Here is a shortlist of some important year-end items:

Tax Planning 
December offers the last chance to reduce your tax bill. None of us like tax preparation. If there are receipts, bills and papers scattered throughout your home and office, tax preparation become an arduous project. Efficient capture systems make tax season less onerous. If you didn't create a tax file at the beginning of the year, start one now to corral tax-related papers.

Medical Review
Check medical expenses to see whether you can take the medical deduction. If you are close to the amount needed, you may elect to do annual tests now to reach that amount. Review your flex spending plan. Some plans end on Dec 31 however others extend the period until March 15. Check whether yours says "use it or lose it" by year end. 

Financial Audit
After Hurricane Sandy, it should be obvious that home insurance and health insurance are essential. Review your insurances to ensure yours is in place for your current needs. You may want to do a photo inventory of your possessions to store offsite. Review your portfolio allocations. Some IRAs require minimum distributions by December 31 or you may face penalties.

Disaster Plan
Hurricane Sandy reminds us that stuff happens, even in the city. Let us help you create a Go bag and gather essential supplies so you are prepared for emergencies like extreme weather, power outages, terrorist events, fire, illness and injury. A family disaster plan gives you confidence that your family members know what to do and where to meet up if disaster strikes. We can help if you are facing caretaking challenges as well.

Digital Calendar
I recommend a digital calendar. Before January 1st, extend your repeated items into the next year. If you go to the gym on weekday mornings, schedule it in as a recurring event, reserving that time slot on your calendar. Enter important dates, birthdays and events. It's essential to program in travel from one location to another and transition times for different activities. Plan email for a few times a day, and no more. The beauty of a digital calendar is you can Block in your day and see exactly how it looks. Conflicts stand out so you don't plan more than is possible in 24 hours. It helps you to be realistic about time and make good  choices. Another benefit is redundancy. No worry if you lose your phone. It's synched to your computer, so you're back in business without missing a beat. If you need time management help, call us.

Paper Planner
If you prefer a paper planner, buy one now for the best selection. Stores run out quickly as they don't stock too many. You can customize a binder type calendar for your particular needs. Use only one paper calendar and keep it close. It should be as essential to your life as your cell phone or wallet. The trick is to use it daily. More than one calendar is a sure recipe for errors. 

Tech Upgrades
Take advantage of holiday sales to purchase upgrades for your business which you can use as business expenses. With up-to-date technology work is more efficient. Now is a good time to do a digital cleanup. Your computer will be happier and run more efficiently. We can help you with digital organization and a tech plan.

Office Sweep
Revamp your home office, whether it's a spot to do bills or a fully functional home office for business. We help with space planning and set up. Being organized makes work so much more fun when you are not drowning in paper and searching for supplies. We can transform your desk into a place where you want to work. If you run a business, now is the time to purchase a shredder, ergonomic chair or supplies you need to work efficiently. Don't agonize, organize – for a happier, more productive year and a more successful business. Cha-ching!

Vision & Plan
Finish old projects, clear clutter and make way for the new year. Write a plan for 2013, not a to-do list but a list of goals. What do you want to accomplish in 2013? What do you need to let go of to simplify your life? Organizing is not a project – it's a process where we set up systems that work for your lifestyle and how to maintain them. Let go of perfectionism. Magazine photos are created by stylists and photographers. Apply the principles and ideas but understand those pictures are not replicas of real life. Still, it's fun to look at them so gather those books and magazines together in one spot, and dream. Simplicity is the goal, not perfection. Let us help you get to a more organized life.

Winter Specials
Ask about our winter deals to sweeten clutter clearing and organizing in December and January. And remember, you get a free hour at your next session any time you refer a friend who books a four-hour session.

There's no better time to get organized. Call us now if you need help.