25th Hour Organizing

"Because 24 Just Isn't Enough"

Organized Finances April 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christine @ 1:28 pm

I’ve recently been playing with my account on Mint.com and although it has its limits, it is very impressive. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Mint is a web-based application that tracks your finances – everything from your mortgage, credit cards, and spending habits – for free.

I still think that everyone should have a copy of Quicken or Microsoft Money, but in a pinch Mint can do a lot for you as well.

Wondering how Mint can possibly be safe? Check this out…

Mint.com’s Seven Layers of Security

You register anonymously.
We do not need any personally identifiable information from you to set up your account. We only ask for a valid email address, password and zip code.
We ask for your online banking user name and passwords, but we do not see or store that information.
That means no one at Mint, and no potential hackers of Mint.com, can access your banking credentials.
We connect securely to your financial institutions using one or more online financial service providers.
Your online banking credentials are stored only with these institutions enabling Mint to automatically and securely update your transactions and saving you from updating, syncing or uploading financial information manually.

All communication between Mint and its online financial service providers is encrypted using 128–bit SSL encryption, the financial industry standard for data protection

Mint provides bank-level data security for the transaction information we store.
  • Mint uses 128-bit SSL encryption to ensure that all communications between your browser and our Web site are secure.
  • We store transaction information in a secure facility, on our own servers, protected by 24/7 security guards and biometric scanners.
  • All Mint employees pass financial and criminal background checks as a condition of employment.
  • Mint.com has received the VeriSign security seal and is tested daily by Hackersafe.
  • Mint’s privacy protection standards are certified by TRUSTe.
  • Mint’s anti-phishing protection is provided by RSA Security, Inc.
Mint does not know your bank account numbers or credit card numbers.
Mint uses only your account login credentials for access to your account information and Mint does not store these credentials.
You cannot move money with Mint.
Mint offers valuable insights and analytic tools to help you better understand your money…but Mint is a “read only” service. Meaning: you can view and organize your money with Mint, but you cannot move money between—or out of—your bank, credit union or credit card accounts.

As I mention in my classes – knowing how much money is coming in, going out, and your overall financial bill of health is incredibly important. Every day I meet individuals who have no idea how much the spend on eating out each month, on utilities, clothing, et cetera. I also meet business owners who think it is too much of a bother to log how many miles they drive for business. When I showed one business owner how she could write off over $2,000 in business income just by tracking her miles, she became an instant convert.

Money talks.

It talks loud.

So…are you listening?

Here are a few ways to organize your financial health:

  • Examine your utility bills and consider using compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of standard bulbs – also consider shutting your computer(s) off at night. Potential savings: $25 + per month or $300 per year
  • If you don’t have one, create a simple budget in a spreadsheet program like Excel. List your potential expenses and take a long look at each of them, where can you save some money?
  • If you don’t use your cell phone much, consider switching to a pay-as-you-go service. We recently switched to T-Mobile and for $260 have two phones and enough minutes to last us for up to a year! That’s a savings of almost $60 per month from our previous service!
  • Have credit cards? Do you know what the interest rates on each of them are? Make a list (again, Excel works well for this) of the cards, balances, and interest rates. Pay off the higher interest cards first. Watch for better deals or even consider calling your credit card company and negotiating a better interest rate!
  • Keep an ongoing grocery list in a convenient location where all members of the family have access to it. Before you go shopping, plan your meals for the week – what are you going to want to eat and what ingredients do you need to make it?
Mint alerts can increase your financial security.

What A Fantastic Compliment! April 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christine @ 7:22 am

I just woke up about 15 minutes ago, grabbed myself a cup of coffee and was about to blog about my fantastic clean and organized office when I received the following email:

I got flooded with 200+ responses to this and yours is one of the most helpful. Thank you SO much!!
My best, Rachel”

Wow.Very cool. I’m one of a few in over 200! That sure brightened my morning! Rachael is a reporter and had posted a query to a service called “Help A Reporter Out” or HARO for short asking about a connection between clutter and ‘helping keep love away.’ I had given her some organizing ideas as well as my thoughts on how too much clutter can keep us from finding mates.

I look forward to reading her article in the near future. Her website is interesting as well, you can find it here.

So…on to today’s topic…My clean and sparkling, super organized office!

As I’ve said before, a perfectly clean, everything in its place home is usually an illusion. Everyone has a different level of cleanliness and organization and it is better to find our own personal level and try to keep that in mind. What you see on television, folks, does NOT exist in real life, it just doesn’t.

You have to be realistic too. Life gets in the way, we get busy, we stop putting things back into the place we had designated, get something else that crowds the area, or sacrifice staying organized for getting things accomplished.

My office and especially the office closet had hit an ‘all of the above’ designation. I got busy, I shoved my boxes of books into the closet, my husband added to it by bringing me a full box of copy paper, and the stack of books I wanted to sell on Half.com seemed to give birth and replicate and begin spilling out of the box I had kept them all in.

Once again, my walk-in closet could not be walked in.  Here are a few pictures to illustrate what I’m talking about…

No longer a 'walk in' closet

No longer a 'walk in' closet


What a mess! I pulled everything out and took all of the ‘to be sold’ books downstairs, found two empty shelves and even alphabetized them for ease in locating once they have sold. Then I went back upstairs and began pulling everything else that was in the closet OUT.

If you thought it was messy before, you will be shocked by the pictures that follow.

See to clean up a mess, you often have to make a BIGGER mess…

View from my desk

View from my desk

View from the closet

View from the closet

Now this all might seem rather intimidating. And I’ll admit, for a couple of hours it was. I was amazed at how one small little space could house so much STUFF. The pictures and frames I had stored there ‘just because’ were moved to more appropriate basement storage. The clothing I had hung there ‘to be ironed’ was moved back to my master closet where there is plenty of room for such things (I made that area a wasteland a few years ago by removing all of the clothing and shoes that no longer fit me). I repositioned the boxes of my organizing books into two stacks and found I had room to move the tall, deep black filing cabinet INTO the closet.

Should I even tell you about the car load of items that were promptly taken away by my husband to be donated?

My tall, super-hea

Closet - neat as a pin

Closet - neat as a pin

vy-duty shredder overheated twice and I filled the equivalent of at least seven tall kitchen wastebaskets full of shredded paper (old files I didn’t need anymore) and I still have three phone books left to shred!

So how does it look now? Well, I’m glad you asked! Here are the pictures…

Desk - Ready for work!

Desk - Ready for work!

Closet shelf - all in order

Closet shelf - all in order


The Woulda Coulda Shoulda Voice In Your Head April 9, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christine @ 5:46 pm

Talk about ‘associative thinking’ in my little corner of the world…

My husband was listening to an audiobook copy of “World War Z” and they mentioned “Kahlil Gibran University” which incited me to wonder if there was such a place, or if it as part of the fictional story. In any case, thinking of Kahlil Gibran led me to think of his book “The Prophet” which is where I found a beautiful excerpt that I included in my youngest child’s birth announcements. I will reproduce it here…

“Your children are not your children
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”

What does this have to do with the Woulda Coulda Shoulda voice? Again, that’s where the ‘associative’ part of the thinking comes in!

I have a 20-year-old away at college, and a toddler here at home. I hear the WCS voice a lot when I think of my oldest especially as I deal with my youngest each day.

I hear that same voice all too often as I tackle my Inbox and my various “to-do’s” – I am a small business owner, I wear many hats…bookkeeper, financial advisor, typist, secretary, file clerk, marketing rep, collections agent…to name a few. And sometimes, even for me, there are simply too many “to-do’s” and only one person to “get it done.”

And with the myriad responsibilities comes the “woulda coulda shoulda” (WCS) voice that tells me (and you) “If you woulda tackled that task first” or “You coulda been done by now if” or “You shoulda thought of that sooner” and on and on. Plainly put, the WCS voice sucks. Don’t listen to it.

Life is a learning adventure. When we fail, we learn. When we get knocked to the ground we find a new appreciation for gravity. When we lose a client we learn how to better keep the next one.

Learn what life and life’s lessons have to offer. Apply them in strategic ways to the business you are in and don’t sweat the WTCs.

Kahlil Gibran also had wise words for work itself. He said,

“And all work is empty save when there is love…
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit.”

That last sentence reminds me of why I am in business and what being in business means to me. To give it my all, to bring quality and integrity to every account I work with.


Did You Know?… April 7, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christine @ 3:40 pm

I recently visited the Small Business Administration website to get some facts and figures. It was an eye-opening experience…even for me. It brought home something that Jayanna DeWolf (the coordinator for eWomenNetwork here in Kansas City) said recently.

“Small business owners are in a unique and enviable position. They can take a good, hard look at their business model, identify a weakness and change their position on a dime, literally overnight, to one that is more effective. Big firms can’t do that.”

And she is so right. What a unique position we are in and how perfectly suited it is to our current economic climate! Take a look at these facts and figures…

How important are small businesses to the U.S. economy?

    Small firms:
    • Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
    • Employ about half of all private sector employees.
    • Pay nearly 45 percent of total U.S. private payroll.
    • Have generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs annually over the last decade.
    • Create more than half of nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).
    • Hire 40 percent of high tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer
    • Are 52 percent home-based and 2 percent franchises.
    • Made up 97.3 percent of all identified exporters and produced 28.9 percent of the known
    export value in FY 2006.
    • Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms; these patents are twice as likely as large firm patents to be among the one percent most cited.

Organized Cooking-Be Aware of the Season April 6, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christine @ 8:29 am

Organized cooking…there are just so many ways I could go here!

But for this morning let’s talk about the season we are currently in.



Spring greens.

On my way into my latest organizing class (two Saturdays ago) I picked up Tastebud magazine and paged through it. It caught my attention by having lovely large spears of asparagus on the front cover. It didn’t let me down. Inside were several relevant recipes for asparagus, two of which I cut out:

Fresh asparagus soup

Marinated pasta and asparagus salad


Asparagus is pretty darned expensive. So I suggest finding a nice little piece of yard, say 4 foot by 8 foot and planting some asparagus roots. It takes a couple of years for them to become well-established, but the results are fabulous! Fresh asparagus in the few seconds it takes to walk outside and harvest a handful of spears! And you can’t beat the flavor and quality of fresh asparagus.

Weeding isn’t even really necessary – although I do it so that the bed looks better – and asparagus grows easily and naturally in this part of the Midwest. Plant them and walk away — and start checking them in early spring (daily, they grow fast!) and enjoying the benefits of your one-time efforts.

There are a profusion of spring crops that will be ‘springing’ up soon…

Spring greens, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, strawberries, radishes and more. Most of these need very little effort to plant and harvest, but if you are short on time simply visit your local supermarket and buy them there. Think about those wonderful recipes and slow down from your hectic week with a fresh salad or soup – homemade or otherwise – they will remind you that life begins again each year!