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Organize Your Shopping

December 12, 2011 by  
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When I posted on Facebook I had only one gift left to buy I was bombarded by jealous, stressed out and overwhelmed friends! With the days counting down many people are more frantic than ever.  Here are some tips to make shopping more efficient!

When your gift list is completed, is there one place the majority of gifts can be found?  List those stores in geographical order to make as few trips as possible.   Group trips.  Have a plan so you don’t make several trips to the store.

Carry your list with you on all errands.  Maybe you  discover a gift you need.   Record each purchase and price beneath the recipient’s name.  Keep a running total of money spent to stay within your budget.

Shop local when you can!  Many small business owners can help you with gifts & wrapping if you need.

Want to be more green?  The internet saves time, money and resources.    If you are travelling for the holidays you can have gifts shipped directly to your destination. Not only do you save time by avoiding long lines and packed parking lots, but you can comparison shop and save money too! Additionally, most e-commerce warehouses use 1/16th of the energy used to operate retail stores. And even overnight air shipping uses 40% less fuel than the average car trip to the store.

More Habits of Highly Organized People

December 8, 2011 by  
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The Holidays are a great time to get organized so you have less stress and actually enjoy the seasons celebrations!  Here are some suggestions to help keep you organized.

Get Out the Door Quickly. Have a place to keep all that stuff the moment you walk in the door.  The better organized this is (place for permission slips, car keys, the dog leash) the easier it will be for you to find what you need fast.

Ask for Help. Be willing to show your vulnerable and potentially embarrassed and ask for help when you need it.  Can’t bake everything from scratch?  Buy stuff already made or ask a friend for assistance.

Separate feelings from stuff. Keep items with real sentimental value (your grandmother’s necklace, a painting from Italy) and let go of the rest (cheap souvenir glasses, sweatshirts from high school, etc.)

Foresee Problems. Take time to anticipate problems and deal with them directly instead of waiting to tackle when they do happen.  Children’s toys stacked high and about to tumble?  Take time to organize before they all tumble out and you are left chasing parts.

Know where to Give. If you know someone can get good use out of your stuff, it will be easier to let go.  I have resources on my site at

What habit can you put into practice at this very moment?

What to Ask Before You Buy

December 5, 2011 by  
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One of my favorite commercials a few years back showed a bunch of people mesmerized by “pretty shiny objects” and they just stared in wonderment.  Sometimes it is like that when we go to a store, overwhelmed with music, shiny objects and sales.  Take a deep breath and ask yourself some questions before making a purchase.

Financial author Beth Kobliner suggests asking these questions for Can You Afford it?

Have you covered your monthly expenses?

Are your credit cards paid off?

Do you have the cash?

Is it with in your (clothing, household, etc.) budget?

Is the price tag reasonable?

Are you getting the best price?

Will you still want it tomorrow?

Remember to think before you buy.  Is there an experience you would rather enjoy? Consider how you will feel when the credit card bills come in January.

Holiday Lights for Less!

December 1, 2011 by  
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Watch your bills flatline and help the environment!

We  use an extraordinary amount of additional electricity during the holidays.  A 2003 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy determined that Americans consume about 2220 GWh of electricity each holiday season by using standard incandescent holiday lights -which is equivalent to all the energy used by Angola in one year.  The study concluded that a mere 20% switch by American households to LED Christmas lights would save 440 GWh (or 1/5th of electricity) during the holiday season.

You can purchase LED lights and recycle your old incandescents here:

To help organize your lights and/or extension cords re-use plastic curtain containers.  You can loosely wrap and store them.  Most are see through and easy to label with a sharpie!

Avoid the Gotchas

November 28, 2011 by  
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If you are like most Americans, the race is on to buy gifts. Shop Smart from Consumer Reports in December 2009 highlighted the big money wasters.  Don’t get trapped!

1.  Hidden debit-card fees. Banks previously rejected debit purchases that were overdrawn. Now, they will accept and charges range from $25-35.  If you spend big on one day you could be hit with several fees.  Some banks have said they will lower or eliminate fees, but I am not counting on that.

2. Phony Sales. Highly promoted door sales on Black Friday offer deep discounts on line.  Sometimes the item advertised is a phony come on to get you to buy something else and spend.  If you try to buy just the sale item on line they will cancel sale, back order or send you lower quality merchandise.  Returns can be difficult, if not impossible.

3.  Unnecessary warranties. Shoppers were expected to spend a billion dollars on extended warranties.  Stores keep as much as 50% of what they charge for them. When electronics and appliances break they repairs on average cost about the same as the extended warranty.

4. Gift Card Charges. SS advises against these.  Some come with purchasing and process fees, expiration dates, transaction fees & inactivity fees that unfairly diminish their value over time. 25% of people hadn’t used their cards since the last holiday.

5. Return Fees. Many electronic items are subject to a 15-25% restocking fee if they are returned open or if they aren’t in a factory sealed box. Merchants can’t resell as new any item after the package has been opened, so they penalize you for opening.

Shop safe!

Gratitude is Attitude

November 25, 2011 by  
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Whenever I give a presentation on eco-organizing  I always talk about organizing your mind.  This is about being clear about your priorities and goals; following your passion; surrounding yourself with good people; and enlarging your life.

For me, this also includes gratitude.  I have been in business almost two and a half years and there were days when I struggle.  How many people out there also started a business in the worst economic times?  What helped sustain me besides family, friends, my Women’s Power Networking group, Inside 919, etc. was my attitude.  I would remind myself that many of my problems were “first world.”  I had food, shelter, good health and family and friends that I could turn to if needed.

How often do you express your gratitude?

What are you thankful for in this Thanksgiving season?

In what other ways do you express your thanks?

Alternatives to traditional Holiday Cards

November 21, 2011 by  
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Hallmark says Americans send 1.8 billion cards during the holidays.  That’s a lot of cards to end up in the landfill!  You can still spread news and joy.  If you are short on time and money sending out cards this year, consider these options.
You can send holiday cards on line free.  It saves time, money, trees.

You can send the same card to up to 100 people.

Sends an e-card and plants a tree!

Allows you to set up reminders with your e-cards.

Remember, it’s okay to make the holidays affordable and save yourself time and money as well as reducing your stress!

Keeping the 5 R’s in Mind

November 17, 2011 by  
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Americans throw away an additional 5 million tons of trash – 25% more than usual – between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

Reduce: Think before you buy. Think again. Do you really need that item? The less stuff you have, the less you have to organize. Have or give experiences (Trips, tickets, special events, cooking/sewing/craft lessons, etc.)

Reuse: It’s great if you recycle your boxes from the holidays, but take it a step further and reuse them: drop off at a local moving company; donate to BJ’s or Sam’s; or find out if a business or non profit is moving and give to them.

Repurpose: Figure out how to repurpose an item. Get creative.  Instead of buying a special plastic case for ornaments, I use a wine case with a divider to store them.

Repair: Try and see if you can repair an item before purchasing another one.  If you can’t, giving it away on

Recycle: During the Holiday season it is really important to recycle. Recycling isn’t mandatory in Raleigh or in NC.  Do your part, but encourage the legislature to pass laws.  There is a program that offers incentives to people who recycle in form of gift cards. I asked them to add Raleigh to the list.

Repurposing Sweaters for a Cool Gift

November 14, 2011 by  
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Have old sweaters & friends that need gifts?  Repurpose your sweaters into mittens! Here’s how:

From the hem of the sweater, cut (back & front) a rectangle 12 inches high & 8 inches wide.  Then cut along the side seam so you have two pieces.

Fold each piece lengthwise with the insides facing out. Mark the thumbhole with pins.  It should be 2 1/2 inches wide &  2 inches from the top.

Sew 1/2 inch from the edge, leaving the thumbhole open.  Reinforce the thumbhold with a separate topstitch.  Then sew a 1/2 inch hem at the bottom.

Wabi sabi

November 10, 2011 by  
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As the holidays approach, wabi sabi is a good philosophy to keep in mind.  Leonard Koren describes it as, “The beauty of all things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, the antithesis of our classical Western notion of beauty as something perfect, enduring, and monumental.”  I sum it up this way: beauty in “as is”  such as the wrinkles on my forehead, the imperfect shaped tomatoes of my garden, and the scratches and grooves in my antique furniture.

So instead of worrying about creating a perfect holiday, with the perfect presents, behaviors, clothing and smiles…roll with the punches and delight when things don’t go as planned.  Take a deep breath, let it go and revel in imperfection.  Remember who and what is important to you and celebrate that.

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