10 Inspiration Drive, Scarborough ME

10 Inspiration Drive, Scarborough ME
Gorgeous Gambrel

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Declutter Your Home: Why Being Organized Saves You Money

Declutter Your Home: Why Being Organized Saves You Money


Declutter your home and find out why being disorganized can destroy your bottom line.

        

If you’ve ever accrued a late fee after losing a bill, thrown away spoiled peaches you forgot to eat, or bought yet another pair of sunglasses because you couldn’t find yours, then you know being disorganized can cost you money.
At best, clutter in the home causes mistakes, late fees, overdue payments, and missed deadlines. At worst, a house in chaos can eat away at your finances, mar your credit, and reduce your productivity. That’s a whopping price to pay for being disorganized.

According to an Ikea “Life at Home” survey, 43% of Americans admit to being disorganized, and the average American wastes 55 minutes per day looking for stuff they’ve lost or misplaced.

“Do you think organizing is just for appearances?” asks Lisa Gessert, president of Organizing.buzz, a professional organizing service in Staten Island, N.Y. “Organizing your home is financially beneficial.” Gessert stresses to clients the need to sort, purge, assign things a home, and containerize. “This process saves people tons of money.”

Related: The Link Between Clutter and Depression

Here’s why being organized saves you money, and how to get your home into shape:

Disorganization in the Home Office Costs You:
  • Lost papers = time spent looking for them, money wasted on duplicates
  • Misplaced bills = late fees, bad credit causes higher interest rates
  • Missed tax deadlines = penalties
Home office with paperwork on shelvesImage: Cate St. Hill
If any of these sound familiar, you’ll need a home office system for dealing with important papers, bills, and personal correspondence. The Ikea survey found 23% of people pay bills late because they lost them. Wall-mounted bill organizers can help you stay organized. Look for ones with two or more compartments to categorize by due date.

“Having your papers organized will save time, help you pay bills on time, and allow you to be more productive,” says Alison Kero, owner of ACK Organizing, based in New York City.

Mount shelving and create a file system for important papers, such as insurance policies and tax receipts. Look for under-utilized space, such as converting a standard closet into built-in storage with shelves and cabinets for your papers, files, and office equipment. If you need to use stackable bins, don’t stack them around equipment that needs air ventilation, such as scanners and Wi-Fi receivers, since they could overheat and malfunction — costing you money.

Disorganization in Your Closets Costs You:
  • Missing clothes = money spent on duplicates
  • Hidden items = wasted time since you can’t see what you own
  • Accessory mess = wasted money on items you don’t wear, can’t find
Clothes organized in a closetImage: Libby Walker for HouseLogic
“Organizing often reduces duplication of possessions,” says Lauren Williams, owner of Casual Uncluttering LLC, in Woodinville, Wash. “No more buying an item for a second, third, fourth time because someone can’t find it.”

If closets are crammed, paring down is a must. First, take everything out. Rid yourself of multiples, anything you no longer wear, and assess your shoe collection. Create piles: purge, throw out, or donate.

For what’s left, you’ll need a better closet system. You can choose a ready-made system that simply needs installation, or create your own. PVC pipe can be used to create additional hanging rods, and you may also want to add shelving to store folded clothes, hats, and bulky items. Look for wire mesh shelving, solid wood shelves, or an all-in-one closet shelving system depending on space. Large and small hooks can be wall-mounted to hold belts, accessories, and scarves.

Related: Savvy Closet Organization Tips and Tricks
Disorganization in the Kitchen Costs You:
  • Expired food = wasted money
  • Overflowing pantry = can’t see what ingredients you have and duplicate them
  • Crammed cabinets = overspending on multiple dishes and gadgets
Since the kitchen is often the hub of the home, it has a tendency to clutter. No wonder the Ikea survey found 50% of the world’s kitchens have junk drawers. Categorize yours by adding small plastic or wooden drawer organizers for things like thumbtacks, rubber bands, scissors, and tape.

To avoid buying your third jar of oregano or second potato ricer, buy or build an organizational system for your pantry. Built-in lazy Susans work great. Use pull-out mini shelving to corral items like dressings, hot sauces, and vinegars. Tackle cabinets and counters by mounting behind-the-cabinet-door racks to hold items like pot lids or cutting boards.

Add pull-out drawers in your bottom cupboards to make everything easily accessible and easy to see. You’ll thank yourself when you get older, too.

Related: Smarter Ways to Use Your Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers

Disorganization in Your Living Areas Costs You:
  • Lost keys, missing wallet = late for work, lost productivity
  • Not being able to fully enjoy your home = you spend money elsewhere for fun
  • Blocked ventilation = utility costs rise
Organized living roomImage: Jennifer Kathryn Photography for The Everygirl
Your living space is where you want to get the most enjoyment out of your home. If you can’t relax and enjoy yourself there, you’ll constantly be seeking out other places to find solace and fun — and that can add up to a lot of money spent on entertainment and recreational venues.

And, meanwhile, you could be paying more than you should for the living space you’re not enjoying.

“I run into people whose homes are unorganized to the point of papers, boxes and ‘stuff’ blocking air vents that supply heat and air conditioning to their homes,” says Gessert. This costs a fortune in utility bills. Likewise, a jumble of electrical wires around TVs and home entertainment systems can be sucking energy from always being plugged in. Connect them all to smart power strips that can turn everything off with one switch.

Once you’re living with organization, you’ll start to see the benefits everywhere. No more dealing with late fees on bills, having to buy replacement earrings or bread knives when items go missing, and — perhaps best of all — no more having to leave your home in order to find relaxation and entertainment. After all, saving on bills can be a big boost to your monthly budget, but there’s no greater value than getting more enjoyment out of your home.

jennifer-nelson Jennifer Nelson is a Florida-based content writer who is always up for a home improvement project. She writes about remodeling, home repair, improvement, and design. Her work has appeared in Better Homes & Gardens, HGTV, DIY Network, and many other print publications and websites. Follow Jennifer on Twitter.


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Friday, February 19, 2016

101 Things I Love about Portland Maine


Footlights Theater in Falmouth
Fun and provocative material for an interesting night out.
http://www.thefootlightsinfalmouth.com

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Footlights Theater in Falmouth Maine



Love explodes on the Footlights Theatre stage, with the hit-larious play,Leonora Rabinowitz, I Love You
   Oh, sure, you think you know all there is to know about female sexuality. But do you know what it means if you “walk like a camel”?
    World-renowned sex therapist, Leonora Rabinowitz does, and she’s going to bring sixty-something Jane and her tightly wound daughter Valerie to a whole new level of understanding- just not the kind they thought they were after.
Written by Maine Playwright Hal Cohen
with Amanda Painter

190 US ROUTE 1, FALMOUTH ME 04105  
BOX OFFICE 747-5434     FOOTLIGHTSINFO @ AOL.COM   THEFOOTLIGHTSINFALMOUTH.COM

Thursday, February 11, 2016

101 Thing I Love about Portland Maine




JP's Bistro: a little gem on Woodford St in Portland!  Try their ribeye steak which is incredibly flavorful with fresh veggies.
Follow with  a delicious dessert like tiramisu.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Good Theater Shear Madness


Check out this year's season after you see Shear Madness which is a laugh riot of double entendres!!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Fun Things in Nearby Portsmouth New Hampshire

Kilwins Candies:  https://www.kilwins.com/portsmouth

Delicious fudge!





The Flower Kiosk:  http://www.flowerkiosk.com/

Gorgeous Succulents!

Tax Info for Home Owners

Taxes? Gross! Who wants to think about government paperwork, especially when your hand still aches from signing the 977 forms required to buy your first house? But listen up: As a new homeowner, you can typically wave bye-bye to the 1040-EZ form and say hi to itemizing your deductions on Schedule A.
That means you can combine the thousands you’re now paying in mortgage interest and property taxes with what you’re already paying in state and local income taxes. And bam! Suddenly, you’ve got more to deduct than the $6,300 standard deduction.

For recent first-time homeowners Ben and Stephanie Liddiard, buying a rambler in Layton, Utah, led to tax savings that fattened Ben’s paycheck by $100 every two weeks. If you’re like the Liddiards, home ownership will give you more deductions, so your taxable income will decrease and you could owe less in taxes.

How Can I Find Out Which Deductions I’m Allowed to Take?

Not everyone who buys a home will end up itemizing and owing less in taxes, says Anna Berry Royack, an accountant who sees many first-time home buyer tax returns at her Liberty Tax office in Catonsville, Md.

To find out if you’re eligible to itemize, add up your deductions with your handy home closing paperwork, says Berry Royack. The document you’re looking for is either a HUD-1 Settlement Statement or a Closing Disclosure. (Lenders used the HUD-1 until late 2015, when they switched over to the more consumer-friendly Closing Disclosure.) Here’s what you’re looking for:

One-Time Deductions

Loan costs and fees. “Different lenders call their loan costs and fees different things,” Berry Royack says. “Look for an ‘application fee’ or ‘underwriting fee.’ Also, if you paid points to get a lower interest rate, that’s often deductible in the first year. Your lender might have called that ‘buying down the rate’ or ‘discount fee’ instead of ‘points.’ Points are easy to find on the Closing Disclosure because they’re at the top of page 2 and labeled ‘loan costs.’”

Related: New Closing Docs Protect You From Surprise Fees

Recurring Deductions (Woo Hoo!)

1.  Mortgage interest. Most homeowners can deduct the interest portion of monthly mortgage payments — not the principle — each year. Exception: When your mortgage is close to being paid off, the interest is less than the principle. So even when combined with other deductions, you might not have enough to exceed the standard deduction. But that’s a loooong way off for most of us.

To see how the mortgage interest deduction plays out in real life, consider first-time homeowners Ben and Stephanie Liddiard. They moved from a $1,000-a-month rental apartment to a $168,000, five-bedroom, two-story, 2,300-square-foot house outside Salt Lake City.

They had some deductions as renters, but those expenses were less than the $6,300 standard deduction they each got ($12,600 for marrieds), so as renters, they opted to take the standard deduction.

When they bought their home, the combination of mortgage interest, property taxes, Utah’s 5% income tax, charitable contributions, and some unreimbursed medical expenses incurred during Stephanie’s pregnancy, added up to more than $12,600. Hello, itemization.

All these deductions reduced their income, so they owed about $2,600 less in federal and state income taxes.

Once they knew how much lower their tax bill was going to be, the Liddiards had two choices:

1. Leave their payroll tax withholding as it was and get a $2,600 refund the following year.

2. Adjust their tax withholding so the extra $2,600 wasn’t taken out of their paychecks any more.

The Liddiards went with No. 2. “I changed my withholding so I get about $100 more [in each] paycheck instead of a big refund,” Ben says. That’s smarter than letting the IRS hold on to that until refund season since the IRS pays zero interest on the money you overpay in taxes.

Tip: You know what would be an even smarter move? Opting to automatically divert that $100 per paycheck into a home repair savings account. Once you’ve saved a tidy 1% of the value of your home, you could use that money to fund your 401(k) or your kid’s college costs.

2.  Property taxes. Property taxes are also deductible, but they can be tricky in the year you buy the home because both you and the sellers owned the property during that year. Sadly, you only get to deduct the property taxes you owed for the portion of the year you owned the home; the seller gets the rest of the deduction.

This info shows up on the Closing Document as “adjustments for items paid by seller in advance” or “adjustments for items unpaid by seller.”

Tip: Who pays the property taxes in the year of the sale — the buyer or seller — is negotiable, but not who gets the deduction. Say you live in a sellers’ market and to sweeten the deal agree to pay the full year of property taxes for the seller. Nice negotiating! But you still can’t claim the full year deduction under IRS rules.

Other stuff on the not-so-deductible list:
  • Transfer fees for changing title from the sellers to you.
  • Recordation fees to put the title change into public record.
  • Homeowner or community association fees. They feel like a tax because you gotta pay ‘em, but they’re not.
3.  Mortgage insurance. Private mortgage insurance, which many homeowners pay each month if they put down less than 20%, is deductible for many every year you pay it.

Private mortgage insurance protects lenders when they accept low down payments. To claim the deduction, your adjusted gross income (AGI) must be no more than $109,000. The deduction phases out once your AGI exceeds $100,000 ($50,000 for married filing separately) and disappears entirely at an AGI of more than $109,000 ($54,500 for married filing separately).

Other types of insurance, like homeowners insurance, aren’t deductible unless you can claim a portion of the home insurance because you work at home exclusively. “People can get those two confused,” Berry Royack says.

The Magic of Itemizing

As the Liddiards found, sometimes buying a house is the trigger that, combined with other deductions you might have, makes it worth busting out Schedule A. That stuff you donated so you didn’t have to move it was probably a charitable donation. Those state and local taxes you paid could pay you back via itemization. Hopefully, you don’t have to, but you can maybe tack on medical and dental expenses above 10% of your income and casualty and theft losses.

Special Circumstances to Keep in Mind

If this is your first year doing your taxes as a homeowner, it’s worth splurging on an accountant to make sure everything goes down without a hitch. This is especially true if one of these special circumstances apply:

1.  You work from home. If you take conference calls in the same place your dog lives — that is, your home office is your exclusive, regular place of business — you might be able to deduct a portion of your home ownership costs under the home office deduction. “That’s a $1,500 deduction for a 300-square-foot office. Or you can deduct more if you have a larger office or the actual costs for you home office are higher,” Berry Royack says. The standard home office deduction is $5 per square foot. If you’re self-employed, you’ll be taking this deduction on Schedule C.

2.  Your lender sold your mortgage to a different lender. “That happens to a lot of people about five minutes after they walk out of the closing,” Berry Royack says. “If you’re one of them, you’ll need to remember to look for two sets of year-end disclosures — one from each company that had your loan.”

Add the numbers from both year-end forms to get the amount to deduct. If the numbers don’t look right, call the agency or company that services the mortgage and double-check the figures or ask your accountant to do it. “We see a lot of returns [at our firm], so we usually can tell if your property tax figure looks right, and we know where to check,” Berry Royack says.
Dona-DeZube Dona DeZube
has been writing about real estate for more than two decades. She lives in a suburban Baltimore Midcentury modest home on a 3-acre lot shared with possums, raccoons, foxes, a herd of deer, and her blue-tick hound. Follow Dona on Google+.

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    Monday, February 1, 2016